|101st Airborne troops in France, 1944|
While I was preparing to enlist in the army in 1985, I told the MOS (military occupational specialty) coordinator (the person the steers you into the job they want you to have) I wanted first and foremost to be a paratrooper, he informed me that there were no slots opened for that. When I told him that I would wait to enlist until there were, he amazingly enough managed to find me one. After basic training and AIT (advanced individual training), I would be heading to Ft. Benning, Georgia for Jump School.
After jump school I assumed I would be assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, since it was the US Army's only remaining airborne division. Out of tradition, the 101st still had "Airborne" as part of their title, but they were (and still are) instead, a helicopter assault division and not a paratrooper division. Oddly enough, I received orders for the 101st. I was disappointed that I would not be on jump status and missing out on the extra $110 a month hazard pay, but also proud that I would get to serve in such an esteemed unit.
Not long after I arrived at the replacement depot awaiting assignment to a specific unit, I was approached by two NCOs wearing the red berets of a paratrooper, who asked me if I wanted to to be a "lurp". I had no idea what a lurp was (actually, LRRP) so I asked and was told it was short for, "Long Range Recon Patrol", and that their unit was an all volunteer unit (you could not be unwillingly assigned) called the Long Range Surveillance Detachment and that if I met their higher physical standards (which I did), I could be a part of their unit and be on jump status.
|Vietnam era 101st Airborne LRRPs|
If I'm not mistaken, my old LRSD unit has since been disbanded and there are no remaining units in the 101st still on jump status. I really miss those guys and greatly regret not keeping in touch with all my old army buddies. It's now been more than 25 years since I was in the service, but I'm still proud to have served as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division.
But although I did a lot of crazy, dangerous, and often miserable duty- I was fortunate to have never seen combat because the time period that I was in (1986-1990) was a relatively peaceful one for America- I'm not proud because of any of my modest accomplishments, I'm proud because I followed in the footsteps of my heroes, those of America's Greatest Generation; those who fought, bled, served, and died defending our freedom from 1941 to 1945.
There are few WWII survivors left- we are losing about a thousand of these men and women every day and they will soon all be gone. This Memorial Day weekend I encourage you to get on Netflix or Amazon and watch Honor Flight- and make your kids watch it, too.
To all of our veterans and to those currently serving, my humble THANK YOU, is not nearly enough!