Sixty-one years ago, 48 brave volunteer members of the U.S. Army Parachute Test Platoon pioneered a new method of warfare. Their successful jump led to the creation of a mighty force of more than 100,000 paratroopers. Members of this force were assigned to the legendary 11th, 13th, 17th, 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions and numerous other units that fought in every theater during World War II.
The soldiers of the Parachute Test Platoon also forged a unique warrior spirit, a relentless passion for victory, and a reputation that still strikes fear in potential adversaries. Beginning with the first combat jump by the men of the 2d Battalion, 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment, over North Africa in November 1942, airborne and special operations soldiers have made a total of 93 combat jumps.
Since World War II, paratroopers have continually distinguished themselves in battle, earning 69 Congressional Medals of Honor and hundreds of other awards for valor. Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of the first official Army parachute jump, I join all Americans in recognizing these heroes. We salute our Nation's sky troopers, both past and present, for their great service and personal sacrifice in the defense of freedom and liberty around the world.
Best wishes to all for a memorable observance.
GEORGE W. BUSH