State News

82nd Airborne celebration gets off to running start

Posted May 18, 2009 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated May 18, 2009 1:08 p.m. EDT

— The 82nd-Airborne Division is holding a scaled-down version of an annual celebration of its rich history as much of the unit is either deployed to Iraq or going to Afghanistan.

The Fort Bragg-based Army unit's All American Week celebration started in the early hours of Monday with the annual division run. It featured all the paratroopers running in formation at Fort Bragg.

"That was awesome. There's nothing better than a division run," said Maj. Gen. Mike Scaparotti, commander of the 82nd Airborne.

A memorial ceremony will be held Tuesday, and a picnic for troopers and veterans will take place Thursday. Since so few of the paratroopers are at Fort Bragg, the annual pass-in review won't be held.

The scale of the All American Week celebration has fluctuated in recent years, based on how many troops have been deployed overseas.

It was canceled in 2007, but last year, it fell in a time slot when the entire division was home. President George W. Bush spoke then and praised the 82nd Airborne as the most-deployed Army division since Sept. 11, 2001.

Despite the repeated deployments, Scaparotti said morale is good among his troops, especially after 12 months home.

"We've got troopers here on their second and third trips, some of them on as many as five, so you know it's not easy," he said. "But morale is good. The troopers know why they're here, they know why they're fighting, and they're ready to go."