FORT CARSON, CO, June 9, 2006 - The week of May 17-21 was anything but ordinary as Colorado Springs experienced a meeting of past and present during the Currahee Reunion and Currahee Memorial Jump.
The reunion featured a mix of veterans from World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq who were all Currahees and served in the 506th Infantry Regiment, which is more famously known as the "Band of' Brothers" The unit is currently part of the 101st Airborne Division.
Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, at Fort Carson, joined in the celebration as they too were once Currahees before being reflagged.
On May 19, the Currahee Reunion and Memorial Dinner was at the Sheraton Colorado Springs Hotel where fallen Currahees were honored in a candlelighting celebration.
The fallen were again honored on May 20 when past and present soldiers jumped together in memory and honor of loved ones and friends who paid the ultimate price.
Steve Bale of Elaborate Skydiving in Calhan, and Randy Fortner of Colorado Sky Sports provided skydiving support for the event.
COL David L. Clark, commander of 2nd Brigade, 75th Division Training Support, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, was the prior commander of the 506th Infantry Regiment and then 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, after its reflagging, and said he came out to support the 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment Association (Airmobile-Air Assault).
This association is kind of an amazing thing," Clark said. "These guys embraced us prior to our deployment in Iraq."
Clark said the association of past and present Currahees gave much appreciated support during the deployment through endless care packages and complimentary flags. Clark said they also visited the wounded even though they didn't know them and they attended funerals of the fallen.
Clark said the reunions help keep the history of the unit alive as there is a common bond between past and present Currahees.
"We hold these guys in high regard," Clark said. "We are their legacy and they are proud of us."
Clark said it was nice to meet the people behind the association and to meet other veterans.
"It was good for me to get to see all the guys I served with in Iraq and Korea and to meet more," Clark said.
Clark said he hopes the reunion inspires current soldiers to become involved in the organization.
"It's just great to be around the guys who went before us and served our country, preceding us in service of our country, and current active duty who are serving," Clark said. "It's a rare opportunity."
CSM (retired) Norris A. Cole, 70, who was in the Army for 30 years, on jump status for 20 years and retired at Fort Carson in 1985, came to participate in the memorial jump, --his first jump in 20 years.
Cole said he was a member of the 101st Airborne Division when it reorganized in 1957 and he jumped for the men he served with in the unit. He loved jumping during his career, which included Vietnam.
"It was a considerable bit of fun," he said. "You can't do anything for 20 years and not enjoy it."
It was with that enjoyment that Cole jumped but his alertness to detail and proper procedure has never diminished over the years.
"There are old jumpers and there are bold jumpers, but there are no old, bold jumpers," Cole said.
Cole continued by saying the jump and being among veterans brought back a lot of memories for him. "I feel old, but I see guys who are the pioneers who paved the way for what I did when I came in." he said.
Cole said events such as the memorial dinner and jump are ways to bridge the gap between old and new.
"The younger jumpers now have more respect for parachute jumpers."
Cole and others jumped with sport parachutes and not the ones military personnel use today.
"'These things are Cadillacs compared to what I had," he said. "I had a Model T."
1LT Stephen K. Jennison, platoon leader for Predator Battery, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, participated in the jump as it enabled him to get another jump under his belt, but it also allowed him to mingle with World War II veterans.
"They went through hell and back and it makes all the troubles we had seem almost insignificant," Jennison said.
Having current soldiers jump with veterans from all eras is a good way to remember the past, Jennison said. He was part of the Band of Brothers for a few months during his 2006 tour in Iraq.
"So far it's been great," he said. "We had class yesterday and I got to talk to the guys. There's a lot of history. Everyone has respect for these guys. It's just amazing."
Dave J. Sas, a former recon soldier with 1st Battalion, 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment, and a Vietnam veteran, said he came out to watch the other veterans jump.
Sas, who normally jumps every year, said he couldn't jump this year due to a mountain biking accident. However, he'll be ready for next year.
"It's a lot of fun," he said. "I can't describe it. In the plane you can't see or hear when you go out and then it's dead silence and you're looking at the world. It's fantastic. You just pray you have a good landing."
Sas said it's fun to come out and be among other veterans. "I am so impressed with the new soldier," Sas said. "When we were in, most were draftees. We were in to do the job. We didn't choose it. These guys are choosing it. I am impressed with how professional the new soldier is."