82nd Airborne Division Association

Who we are...

The 82nd Airborne Division Association is for anyone who ever served in the 82nd Airborne Division, and anyone who is currently serving on active duty on jump status; or, has ever served in any of the uniformed services on either jump or glider status and was honorably discharged. The Association was organized in England, prior to the Normandy invasion (1944). We have members who have served with the 11th, 13th, 17th, 82nd, 101st Airborne Divisions; 187th, 503rd, 508th Airborne Regimental Combat Teams; 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) as well as troopers from Special Forces, Airborne Rangers, Marine Corps Recon, Navy SEALS, and Air Force Special Tactics personnel.

Our Mission Statement

  • Further develop the bond between current and past Airborne forces of the U.S. Military
  • Maintain a record of the history and accomplishments of Airborne Troopers.
  • Maintain a close liaison with active Division.
  • Support the 82nd Airborne Division Memorial Museum.
  • Provide scholarships through the Association Educational Fund to recently separated Active Duty Troopers and Dependent Children of Veterans, and Active Duty Troopers.
  • Honor the Jumpmaster, NCO & Trooper of the Year
  • Provide support to Veteran and Active Wounded Warriors of the Division.
 

All Posts (8)

A message from Walter Scherr:

           Hello again to the great people of the 82nd Airborne and to all of the Airborne Divisions that make up this country's great military; I thank you for your service.

           As I had mention in my previous letter, I would breakdown the contributions I have made and how you can take advantage of them.

 Donation to the 82nd Airborne Association

 Walter Scherr and the Walter and Vera Scherr Foundation are pleased to announce a major new initiative with the 82nd Airborne Association.  Walter has committed to a generous donation totaling $250,000 to support the members of the 82nd Airborne Association and a new partnership with The Center for Discovery.

The donation is divided into three parts:

 • $100,000 for a Scholarship Education Fund to support for members of the 82nd Airborne Association.

 •$100,000 for the development of an Adventure Challenge Program to help safely reintegrate service men and women of the 82nd Airborne who are returning from service.  This program will take place in partnership with The Center for Discovery on their upstate NY campus and is also expected to include a career training component.

• $50,000 for the purchase of the indieGo power wheelchair for disabled veterans.  indieGo is a power wheelchair device that was developed with major grant funding from the Google Foundation by a team of rehabilitation and power mobility specialists at the Walter and Vera Scherr Maker’s Lab located at The Center for Discovery.

If you are eligible to take advantage of the donations please feel free to contact:

Bill Bauer execdir@82assn.org

           I am honored to be able to help you wonderful people of the 82nd and I look forward to all the stories of how my gift to you has changed your lives.  Please visit my websites WaltersWay.org and WaltersCommunity.com and show your support for our cause and enjoy all of the videos, photos, and stories that reflect all that I do for you and others of this great nation.  Thank you again to all that serve in the greatest military this World has ever seen.

"God Bless America",

                  Walter J. Scherr

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Walter Scherr Letter to 82nd Airborne

82nd Airborne Association:

Thank you very much for letting myself and my wife along with our team attend this year's 100th Anniversary of the 82nd Airborne.  It had been an honor to witness the pride and at times the pain that saturated the room as the memorial and banquet had unfolded that weekend.  I myself was unable to attend but had seen many photos and videos of the event and it humbled me. 

I would like all of you to visit my website WaltersCommunity.com and see the photos and videos of this great event as it was captured throughout the weekend.  Many have already viewed the videos published on my YouTube and Facebook sites, I thank you for that.

One way of giving back to you at the 82nd, I had offered over 500 award winning books to you as my thanks for the gracious invitation to your celebration.  If you were fortunate enough to have taken "Walter's Way", I hope you had the chance to read the book; I look forward to your reviews.     

In the coming weeks I will again reach out to you and explain how to take advantage of the contributions I have put in place to benefit many of you great people of the United States Airborne.  This gift was put in place to help you the individuals and your families overcome obstacles you face every day; such as education, rehabilitation, and disabilities that you may be struggling with.  Most of all to help this great nation of ours "The United States of America" to continue to be the best in the World with the best people in the World; you our nation's military!

Thank you,

Walter J. Scherr   

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A paratrooper from the 82nd Airborne Division jumps out of a C-17 jet transport during a training jump last month at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Matt Couch/WUNC

The 82nd Airborne Division's identity and culture are built around one thing: parachuting into combat.

But the division was formed in 1917, a quarter-of-a-century before there was such a thing as paratroopers.

In the popular imagination, its story starts with a single man.

"That's Sgt. York's helmet that he wore on the day he earned his Medal of Honor," said historian John Aarsen, director of the division's museum at Fort Bragg, N.C., as he stood in front of a display case. "And that's his uniform that he toured the U.S. in."

York has been called the greatest American hero of World War I. He killed more than 20 German soldiers while assaulting a machine-gun unit and almost single-handedly captured another 132.

And yes. The division has its own museum. And a series of podcasts on the unit's history.

Civilians can visit, but the 82nd Airborne mainly uses it for something else.

"Primarily the museum is here to train soldiers," Aarsen said. "I'm here to train soldiers to know their history, and a lot of it is I'm here to reinforce those values. The esprit de corps of the 82nd."

In short, the division has turned its extraordinary history into a crucial tool.

Every new paratrooper is brought to the museum. It's a way of maintaining a consistent culture and set of values in an organization that has constant turnover as soldiers cycle in and out — far more turnover than most civilian companies experience.

That history offers lessons in tactics and strategy. And helps young soldiers deal with a job so daunting that their method of getting to the battlefield can kill them.

"An 18-year-old in 1943 jumped out of the door over Sicily, and did what he needed to do," Aarsen said. "And you are an 18-year-old in the United States Army, and what I'm asking you to do is no different than what happened in that door in Italy. And you can do it. There are 75 years of soldiers like that, soldiers standing in that door all this time."

Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division walk towards the jump door during a training jump last month at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Matt Couch/WUNC

A Veteran Remembers

One of the 82nd's soldiers standing in a door on D-Day was 20-year-old Kenneth "Rock" Merritt.

Kenneth "Rock" Merritt jumped into Normandy with the 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day in 1944.

Jay Price/WUNC

He was the second man out of a C-47 transport over Normandy - hours before landing craft hit the beaches - into a sky lighted only by German tracer rounds.

"If somebody tells you, no, you're not scared, he's either lying or he's a fool," said Merritt, now a 94-year-old retired command sergeant major.

The plane was flying much lower than his practice jumps, and the parachute barely had time to slow his fall.

Merritt came down in in a briar patch, and a German machine gun fired at him as he wriggled out of his parachute harness. Then an American transport plane fell towards him, on fire. As it passed just overhead he saw the lines trailing out that had yanked open a load of paratroopers' chutes.

That, he thought to himself, meant they had gotten out.

Then Merritt collected his equipment and crept away to find the rest of his unit. What was left of it, at least.

"On D-Day, my entire chain of command got killed," he said. "Not wounded, not captured, all of them got killed."

Merritt was among the nation's first paratroopers. He said back then they were taught they could beat any five men in a fight, and that they were the best soldiers anywhere.

They were also taught to move up two levels of command if their leaders were lost in battle. By dawn, that training seemed clairvoyant.

Merritt says nearly 2,100 in his regiment made that jump. After a month of fighting, fewer than 1,000 were left.

He also was part of a big combat jump into Holland in a battle depicted in the movie A Bridge Too Far. And he fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

Later Merritt was sent to Korea and Vietnam, and retired after rising to one of the Army's highest positions for enlisted soldiers.

During 35 years in the Army, he served with various units. Many were good, he said, but none matched the spirit and leadership of the 82nd.

Battles Fought On Many Fronts, And Not Just In Combat

The full sweep of the unit's history is almost too much to absorb, from York's exploits, to the 82nd's dramatic role in the Normandy invasion, to a long list of other famous battles and conflicts, right up to multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. 82nd troops are still in both those countries now.

With an Army AH-64 Apache helicopter passing above, paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division march across Sicily Drop Zone as part of the Airborne Review at Fort Bragg, N.C., last May. The 82nd Airborne celebrated its 100th birthday with a week of events and demonstrations, culminating in the Airborne Review.

Matt Couch/WUNC

After World War II, it became the first Army division to be permanently integrated, and it has had roles in every major conflict since then except the war in Korea.

Soldiers of the division were sent to keep order at the desegregation of the University of Mississippi, to riots in Washington, D.C., after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. They served humanitarian missions in Haiti and south Florida after Hurricane Andrew.

The big parachute assaults in World War II were perhaps the most famous chapters of the 82nd's history. But they led to a lot of casualties, had mixed success and prompted a question that goes right to the heart of the unit's identity. A question people are still asking: whether it makes sense for the Army to maintain such a large unit of paratroopers.

Other units, particularly in special operations, make combat jumps with small numbers of troops. But large jumps have been rare since World War II and paratroopers of the 82nd haven't made a large jump since the invasion of Panama in 1989.

"But just as the 82nd doesn't do an airborne assault doesn't mean the capability hasn't been put to use," Aarsen said. "Hurricane Katrina was like that. The 82nd is the only unit in the Army that can load on an airplane 18 hours after you call it up and be moving to where ever you need it. Because it's rehearsed."

Rehearsed a lot.

Remaining Relevant

In one sense, the 82nd's specialty is parachuting. In another, it's being ready. One of the division's three brigades always has some of its soldiers ready to board aircraft, and ready to fight, within 18 hours. That's a role called Global Response Force.

That speed is something no other unit that size offers the Pentagon.

Sometimes being ready means not fighting at all. Aarsen said the Pentagon held the 82nd out of the war in Korea because it wanted a quick way to respond in case of surprise aggression from the Soviet Union.

And sometimes being ready means being used — but as a threat. The 82nd is credited with averting a conflict in Haiti in 1994 just by loading into planes and getting into the air.

One reason large combat jumps are rare is the increasing sophistication of anti-aircraft systems. The 82nd is experimenting, though, with something that could help against many foes: a light armored vehicle that can be dropped by parachute.

John Gordon, a senior defense researcher with RAND Corp., has been working with 82nd leaders on plans for the unit's future, including the use of something like the eight-wheeled LAV-25s the unit has borrowed from the Marines for testing.

The 82nd wouldn't need to use a full set of vehicles for every mission, but having enough ready would give it more flexibility, Gordon said.

"With many of these potential opponents today, the number and quality and range of their air defense systems is such that you're going to have to find a place to land the paratroopers outside the range of the air defense systems," Gordon said. "And if that distance is a long, long way and the paratroopers are limited to foot mobility it's going to take them a while to reach their objectives.

"But if the soldiers and enough vehicles could be dropped a short distance from an objective like an airport, they could be out of range of its anti-aircraft defenses, but close enough to attack quickly," he said.

A Tradition Endures

Army Spc. Kevin Bogucki, left, of the 82nd Airborne Division prepares for a training jump last month at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Matt Couch/WUNC

Aboard a hulking C-17 jet transport, young paratroopers prepare for a training jump. Army Spc. Kevin Bogucki is among them. As the plane banked and turned towards a drop zone, Bogucki was nonchalant about jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft for a living.

"They get a kick out of it when I tell people, it blows their mind," he said. "Me, it's old news now. Oh, I got another jump today."

Soldiers get hurt on jumps, and not just combat jumps. Mainly it's ankle injuries. Though there's worse. One of Bogucki's friends broke his hip after another plummeting soldier fell into his parachute and they got tangled.

They are all volunteers, one more thing that sets the 82nd apart.

Bogucki said that it was the extra $150 a month that first got his attention, but once he got into the 82nd, he said, it became obvious that all the talk about it being special wasn't just talk.

Now, he said, he believes that it really is better than other units.

"It is," he said. "Absolutely. You...go on training things like this all the time [and] it has to pay some dividends."

A few minutes later, Bugucki and dozens of other paratroopers stood, all burdened with heavy packs, rifles and parachutes.

They filed back to the two open doors of the huge jet, the men in front of Bogucki vanishing one at a time into the night sky until finally he was standing in the door.

Then, just as "Rock" Merritt had done so many decades ago, Bogucki jumped.

Source: JAY PRICE FROMNORTH CAROLINA PUBLIC RADIO – WUNC npr.org/2017/08/24/545757890/82nd-airborne-division-celebrates-its-100th-anniversary

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“It didn’t make any sense. I was a fat Jewish kid from New York. I was the kid who was picked on in high school. I was the kid who didn’t play any sports. I was afraid of heights. What was I doing in the 82nd? I didn’t belong there.

But, I had a great squad leader. He made me realize I could actually do stuff by just doing it harder than anyone else. I realized that if I pushed myself hard enough I could be the same as the guy who grew up an athlete or the guy who was born to jump out of planes or the guy who grew up tough. I had to work harder than they did, but I could meet the same standards. In the end, being an All American Paratrooper was the best and the hardest thing I ever did. Every day I was in the 82nd was exhausting for me.

When I left the 82nd, I got back to New York City and was living in my folks basement. This was back in ‘96 when the internet was new. I didn’t really know anything about the internet but I saw there was opportunity. I said ‘I survived the 82nd, I can figure this out.’ I taught myself the internet. Then I taught myself IT. I got a job in downtown New York. I never planned to be in business for myself, but I did well at my first firm and thought ‘I can run all this myself.’ So, I started consulting for small businesses. Everything that I learned in the 82nd about paying attention to detail, about inspections, all of that came naturally to me and I kept growing in the business.

I started doing cybersecurity for energy companies. Then finance companies. I wanted to keep it small, but I found out my wife likes money [laughs]. So, I went to big companies and said ‘look, don’t just bring me on for consulting, outsource your entire IT infrastructure to me.’ I got a reputation and my company kept growing and growing. It still is. What I do is really cool but I’m finding that it’s only cool to people like me [laughs].”

Jonathan Schwam, 1992 - 1995, Sergeant. Mr. Schwam is the owner and principal architect of Core 82 Inc., an information technology consulting firm based in New York City. Mr. Schwam named his company after the core values of the 82nd Airborne Division that he applied to be a success. Mr. Schwam now uses his platform to hire All American Paratroopers departing military service.

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FACES OF THE 82ND

"The All American Paratrooper is the greatest Soldier alive.

1962. We went into Mississippi - the entire Division - to protect James Meredith when he integrated into the University of Mississippi. When it was all over they asked President Kennedy: 'Sir, why did you have to send the 82nd Airborne Division to get one man into college?' He said 'This is an important job. When you want your job done right you send your best. The best this country has is the 82nd Airborne Division.' I was there. That was the day I made Sergeant Major.

I still say to this day there ain't no Division that comes close. Trust me, I know all the others. I know how they train. I know what they do. I been watchin'.

Leadership principles. Leadership plans. PT. Hard training. They just do all that stuff better. Always have.

When I met President Trump I said 'Sir, I am Command Sergeant Major Rock Merritt and I represent the 82nd Airborne Division. Sooner or later, in all probability, you will need the 82nd Airborne Division. They will be ready.' He shook my hand and said 'Thanks, Rock. I know they will be.'"

Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Kenneth "Rock" Merritt, 1942 - 1977. Rock jumped into Normandy and secured Hill 131 on D-Day and then jumped into Nijmegen and went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. He would go on to serve in Operation Power Pack and the Vietnam War. In July 1944, General Ridgway presented Rock Merritt with a Silver Star for valor earned while fighting near La Cuiroterie, France.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/82ndAssociation/ 82nd Airborne Division Association Facebook page

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