Ceremony at Jefferson Barracks to honor first parachute jump from an airplane
Something dramatic and historic occurred on March 1, 1912 at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The first parachute jump from an airplane took place establishing a military capability that played an important role in helping secure freedom in the world.
At noon, on Friday, March 1, 2013 five famous U.S. Army Airborne units will pay tribute to the members of that “First Jump” team and to the men and women who served as U.S. Army paratroopers since that time.
St. Louis businessman Thomas Benoist had the idea for the original jump – to show a “pusher biplane” he designed was capable of carrying two men, one of whom would drop from the aircraft. Also, that pilots like Anthony Jannus who trained at Benoist’s aviation school, were capable of controlling the aircraft’s flight. Further, that a parachutist, Captain Albert Berry, the son of a balloonist, could successfully parachute from 1,500 feet onto the Parade Ground at Jefferson Barracks.
To commemorate the 101st anniversary of the “first jump”, Lewis Sanborn, 83, a Master Parachutist and veteran of the 82nd Airborne, will represent five sponsoring units by parachuting onto the parade grounds at 12:45 p.m. Watching his feat will be hundreds of dignitaries, invited military guests and the public.
Two monuments will be dedicated prior to the jump a pedestal marker with the story of the original jump, and a granite tribute stone to members of the five sponsor Army Airborne Units: the 82nd Airborne, the 101st Airborne, the 173rd Airborne, the 187th Airborne, and the Special Forces (Airborne).
Congresswoman Wagner will share thoughts on her work in Washington DC, as well as assignments as a U.S. ambassador and other leadership positions she has held. She also will speak as a military mother with a son serving in the 101st.
LTG Miller, now retired, has served in the military for 34 years, highlighted by commanding the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. He is a much decorated, two-tour Vietnam veteran. He earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge and Army Staff ID Badge. He is a graduate of Southwest Missouri State in Mathematics and holds a Masters of Science in Operational Research Analysis from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has completed the Officer Basic and Advanced Infantry Courses, the Army’s Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.
The Scott Air Force Base Band will perform and the 1175th Military Police
Honor Guard of St. Clair, Mo. will present the colors. A joint committee of the five airborne units has raised funds for the monuments and planned the program. Paratroopers throughout the area are invited, and expected to attend. “The 1912 event changed warfare, especially in WWII,” explained Bob Beller, chairman of the Joint Committee and member of the Gateway Chapter of the 82nd Airborne. “Airborne units are still integral to special military operations today.”