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Historic parachute drop commemoration is March 29

Posted: March 22, 2018 6:57 p.m.
Updated: March 23, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Everyone from around the region, state and nation is invited to attend a special commemoration, to be held Thursday, March 29, at 2:30 p.m. on the grounds at INVISTA in Lugoff.

The 75th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony recognizes and honors one of the most significant training operations in U.S. Army history, Kershaw County Council Chairman Julian Burns, MG USA (RET) said.

“The ‘First Mass Parachute Drop’ was conducted by the U.S. Army right here in Kershaw County,” Burns said.  “And we will gather to honor this illustrious military feat that was so brilliantly executed by the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division 75 years ago. This proof of concept ultimately led to the mass landings at Normandy and victory in World War II. Kershaw County is proud to have played a role in the history of the famous 82nd Airborne Division.”

Burns, who will preside over the memorial service, said the guest speaker will be Col. Gregory Beaudoin, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. Special entertainment will include the 82nd Airborne Division’s All-American Chorus.

The 75th Anniversary ceremony is being organized by the American Legion Post 17; WWII C-47 Club 82d Abn Div., Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Post 5928; and the Marine Corps League Detachment 1147.

A lead event organizer, Major Theodore Podewil, USA (R), says there will be a variety of speakers and wreath laying ceremony honoring all those who participated including Troopers of the 505th, U.S. Army Air Force personnel and those who lost their lives in the operation.

“In addition to recognizing all the World War II veterans attending the ceremony and all other veterans, we will feature a presentation by noted military historian and author Robert Anzuoni,” Podewil said.

The ceremony is free and open to the public.

On March 29, 1943, in Kershaw County, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment from Fort Bragg made the first regimental mass parachute jump in U.S. Army history. The exercise was staged as an assault on the Wateree River bridgehead. More than 200-troop-carrying C-47 (Skytrain) transport planes carried the paratroopers to battle to the Lugoff area drop zone (DZ), located near the river crossing. A monument on U.S. 1 explains that the success of this exercise “established the feasibility and conduct of large scale parachute operations in World War II.”

Thursday’s ceremony will be held at 2:30 p.m. at the site of the 82d Airborne Division Monument, located on the grounds in front of INVISTA, at 643 U.S. 1, Lugoff. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

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