Several local veterans groups recently attended a commemoration ceremony at the flagpole and marker in front of Invista in Lugoff. The event marked the 71st anniversary of a significant event in the history of both our county and our nation. The following two paragraphs from A History of Kershaw County South Carolina (2011) by Joan A. and L. Glen Inabinet condenses and describes the event:
"In a significant operation in Kershaw County March 29, 1943, 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. Troop-carrying gliders, flying engine-less on silent wings, flew along with roaring transport planes. In the Lugoff area of the major landing zone near the bridge, a monument on U.S. Highway 1 explains that the success of this exercise "established the feasibility of and conduct of large scale parachute operations in World War II." Only a little over three months later, the 505th made the first U.S. Army regimental combat jump July 9 in the invasion of Sicily, the beginning of a decisive role played by American airborne troops in World War II.
"The site of thousands of white silk parachutes dropping through the skies in three waves of a mock attack awed local observers. Several reported deaths were a sobering part of the maneuvers that overall included Camden, Kershaw, and Lancaster. There was interest though in the fact that the first paratrooper to make the jump at Lugoff was a Camden youth, Ivey K. Connell, whose relatives excitedly greeted him at the Wateree Bridge with a basket of sandwiches and soft drinks. A few months later Connell died in a combat jump in Italy."
Individuals in the photo above are members of James Leroy Belk American Legion Post 17 and Marine Corps League Department 1146. The marker designating the site of the parachute jump is in the background.