Tuesday, June 7, 2011

All American Week 2011

A few weeks ago I had the enjoyment of experiencing All American Week here at Ft. Bragg.  I vaguely remember this going on last year (it's an annual event, usually before Memorial Day) but without Gunnar here to explain anything to me, I really didn't know what was happening except for lots of road closers etc.  Ft. Bragg is home to the 82nd Airborne and they are called the "All Americans" because when they were first organized, there was a soldier representing each state, at the time.

Did you know this blog has a fact-checker now?  It's true.  And I'm sure if I messed up any of those historical details, we'll all be properly corrected.  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah!  All American week.  I sort of compare it to when you're in high school and they have Senior Olympics right before graduation, but on a much grander scale.  They had tug-of-war competitions and wrestling (rasslin'?) and combatives and volleyball, to name a few.  There was a Division Review, which is a really big deal type of ceremony.  I really wanted to go but had Gus's preschool graduation at the exact same time.

I was really glad to attend the few events that I was able to.  This whole Army base was teeming with veteran's from the past and it was amazing to me to see how far they had traveled to get here for this event.  There really is a lot of history here, most of it unpleasant war stuff, but it's still part of our country's history.  Here's a few of the highlights from the week...

This was the Division Run.  Imagine 20,000 guys running in formation.  Each company (little group of guys) had their own cadence to sing to.  This was a really neat thing to watch.  I'm working on uploading a video to show you the full effect.  One of the funniest parts was the accordion effect that happened over and over again.  Eventually the soldiers would get all bunched up, then they would be running in place till the whole group started moving again and they would have to run at a dead sprint to get back in place.  That's the Army!  Also, running with reflective belts when there's 20,000 people on a closed road seems slightly unnecessary but it was cute.

We were actually able to find Gunnar in the mess of people.  Not an easy feat considering they all look exactly the same!!

We headed over to Sicily Drop Zone a few miles away to watch the paratroopers jump competition.  They were jumping from these helicopters.  Very, very cool.

See the guys dangling legs?  Crazy!

Helicopters this close to me is always the coolest thing I've ever seen.  Every time. 

Three in a row!  I love it!!!

I argued with my Father in law quite a bit over this.  I was pretty sure this huge "tent" was really a huge parachute, but he wasn't convinced.  It really is actually a massive parachute and they use these to drop Humvees and crazy big things like that. 

Break time

We came back to the Sicily Drop Zone to see a Joint Operational Access Demonstration.  Logistically, the entire set up was a nightmare getting to and from the drop zone (why expect anything else?) but the actual demo was pretty interesting.

The kids enjoyed the show but it was HOT that day and we spent a lot of time sitting around waiting for the next thing to happen.


They invented a game of running back and forth, which I liked a lot better than the previous game of making snow angels in the dirt.

The Army has a marching band.  Who knew?

This guy was in Gunnar's unit too.  I loved meeting and talking to these guys and hearing their stories and their pride.

Jumping instructions.

"Jumping" seems to be a waste of energy.  Gravity will get you where you're going.

Humvee that was dropped from a C-17.

This was breathtaking.  Seriously.  Dozens of paratroopers dropped from a C-130.  This was amazing to watch.  Alternate title "It's raining men".

Weapons demo.


More helicopters!!

Just wouldn't be right if they didn't blow something up!