National Airborne Day — August 16
A Legacy of Courage and Valor
Every year on August 16th, the United States honors the indomitable spirit and bravery of its airborne forces through the observance of National Airborne Day. This significant day traces its origins back to a single, pivotal moment in military history that changed the landscape of warfare and showcased the remarkable capabilities of airborne units.
A Leap into History & The Evolution of Airborne Warfare
The genesis of National Airborne Day can be traced to August 16, 1940, when a group of daredevil soldiers from the U.S. Army Parachute Test Platoon took a bold step into the skies. These intrepid individuals embarked on the U.S. Army's first official parachute jump, a groundbreaking event that marked the birth of airborne operations in the United States.
Their leap from an aircraft demonstrated the potential for rapid deployment of troops behind enemy lines, effectively paving the way for the establishment of airborne units within the military.
As a result of that pioneering parachute jump, airborne units played pivotal roles in a myriad of critical missions throughout World War II. From the capture of key objectives during the D-Day invasion to the defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, airborne forces showcased their adaptability and agility.
The Establishment and Observance of National Airborne Day
The significance of airborne operations led to the establishment of National Airborne Day as an official observance on August 14, 2002. President George W. Bush signed Proclamation 7582, designating August 16th as National Airborne Day. The proclamation can be read below.
Like other military observances, National Airborne Day is a time of reflection, gratitude, and remembrance. As each August 16th rolls around, it is an opportunity for the nation to express thanks to the people who have worn the wings of an airborne soldier, as well as those who continue to serve in airborne units today.
Flying U.S. Military Flags Outdoors
The Department of Defense Directive 1005.8 asserts the order of precedence of military personnel, which we can safely assume mirrors that of military flags on an Outdoor Flagpole. That order is as follows: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard Flag moves up right behind Navy when the Coast Guard operates as a service of the Department of the Navy during a time of war.
As of this writing, the D.O.D. Directive has not been updated to include the Space Force flag (current as of 2003).
The recent addition of the Space Force flag has, therefore, generated some confusion. Most visible examples show the Space Force flag placed between the Air Force and Coast Guard flags. However, though it meets with historic precedent and follows the same guiding reasoning, this precedent has not been documented in writing that we have found.
In a mandatory directive from the Secretary of The Air Force (downloadable here) in August of 2020, the Space Force flag is ordered to be flown in the sixth position, after the Coast Guard flag (as pictured throughout our website).
When the flags are being flown on multiple Outdoor Flagpoles, the American Flag should always be flown first in line. If you are flying flags from one or more military branches on the same pole as your American Flag, it/they should be of equal size or smaller and flown below the American Flag.
Displaying United States Military Flags Indoors
When displaying Military Ceremonial Flags, the order of precedence remains the same as when they are displayed outdoors. The American Ceremonial Flag is always displayed first in the order. It’s also important to remember that when a Military Ceremonial flag is presented by a color guard, either indoors, during a parade, or on the playing field, a Parade Carry Belt must be worn.
Military Desk Flags and sets are another way to show your support for U.S. Armed Forces. Desk flags are small and versatile; they can be displayed on a podium, a desk, or even a window sill. These small flags can also be waved during a parade or celebration for any military observance.
Proclamation 7582 — August 14, 2002
The history of Airborne forces began after World War I, when Brigadier General William Mitchell first conceived the idea of parachuting troops into combat. Eventually, under the leadership of Major William Lee at Fort Benning, Georgia, members of the Parachute Test Platoon pioneered methods of combat jumping in 1940. In November 1942, members of the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, conducted America's first combat jump, leaping from a C-47 aircraft behind enemy lines in North Africa. This strategy revolutionized combat and established Airborne forces as a key component of our military.
During World War II, Airborne tactics were critical to the success of important missions, including the D-Day invasion at Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, the invasion of Southern France, and many others. In Korea and Vietnam, Airborne soldiers played a critical combat role, as well as in later conflicts and peacekeeping operations, including Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm, Haiti, Somalia, and the Balkans. Most recently, Airborne forces were vital to liberating the people of Afghanistan from the repressive and violent Taliban regime; and these soldiers continue to serve proudly around the world in the global coalition against terrorism.
The elite Airborne ranks include prestigious groups such as the 82nd Airborne Division, "America's Guard of Honor," and the "Screaming Eagles" of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Airborne forces have also been represented in the former 11th, 13th, and 17th Airborne Divisions and numerous other Airborne, glider and air assault units and regiments. Paratroopers in the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps, the 75th Infantry (Ranger) Regiment and other Special Forces units conduct swift and effective operations in defense of peace and freedom.
Airborne combat continues to be driven by the bravery and daring spirit of sky soldiers. Often called into action with little notice, these forces have earned an enduring reputation for dedication, excellence, and honor. As we face the challenges of a new era, I encourage all people to recognize the contributions of these courageous soldiers to our Nation and the world.
Now, Therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 16, 2002, as National Airborne Day. As we commemorate the first official Army parachute jump on August 16, 1940, I encourage all Americans to join me in honoring the thousands of soldiers, past and present, who have served in an Airborne capacity. I call upon all citizens to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-seventh.
GEORGE W. BUSH
Do You Celebrate National Airborne Day?
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Have a great day, from your friends at LIBERTY FLAGS, The American Wave®.