Bragg soldiers, vets celebrate All American Week
Posted May 19, 2011 6:23 p.m. EDT
Updated May 19, 2011 7:12 p.m. EDT
Fort Bragg, N.C. — For the first time in five years, every brigade in the 82nd Airborne Division is home at Fort Bragg, allowing the post to hold its All American Week celebration.
The post canceled the annual celebration of the division's heritage last year because much of the 82nd Airborne was deployed overseas, and All American Week activities were scaled back in other recent years.
As the 13,000 82nd Airborne paratroopers gathered on Pike Field on Thursday during the pass in review ceremony, veteran Ray Henry said it sent chills down his spine.
"It's like home, actually. I feel comfortable here," said Henry, who served in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team in 1968-69.
Veterans also took part in the review, which was overseen by Maj. Gen. Jim Huggins, the commander at Fort Bragg.
"Without question, you have led the way and built a foundation of excellence for today’s paratroopers,” retired Command Sgt. Maj. Steve England told the veterans.
England also commended the families of the troops.
"“Even though the paratroopers on the field wear the uniform, their entire families share their life experiences," he said.
Family members of the 56 troops who died in the last year laid yellow roses at the base of a nearby monument, and the Army honored the fallen soldiers with a wreath-laying ceremony.
Units of the 82nd Airborne will begin deploying again this summer, and more than 8,000 troops will be overseas by the fall, with most in Afghanistan.