August 16th – Celebrate National Airborne Day


DVIDS photo by Lt. Col. John Hall, 173rd Airborne Bridgade.


National Airborne Day, observed on August 16th each year, celebrates the accomplishments of the Army parachute tradition. The Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and the Army Golden Knights parachute demonstration team are among the best-known American paratrooper organizations. The accomplishments of Army paratroopers are noted across more than seven decades of service include Afghanistan in 2001, and the Iraq war in 2003.


President George W. Bush started National Airborne Day. The 75th Ranger Regiment, honored by President George W. Bush in 2002, when there was a presidential proclamation that August 16th be known as National Airborne Day. President George W. Bush stated, “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.”


Major Airborne Units in The U.S. Military:  The U.S. Army has several major units on airborne status.  The 18th Airborne Corps based in Fort Bragg, NC contains the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and several logistical support units on Airborne status. Additionally, the storied 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Italy is a legendary Airborne unit as are the 75th Ranger Regiment, the U.S. Army Special Forces, the 1st Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and other unique U.S. Army units on Airborne status. 


How to Become a U.S. Army Airborne Soldier.  The three-week U.S. Army Airborne School in sunny Fort Benning, GA is where all U.S. Army soldiers begin their Airborne skills to learn static line parachuting where a yellow nylon rope (the static line) that the soldier hooks to a cable inside an aircraft then pulls the parachute as the soldier jumps from the aircraft.  Soldiers train night and day on safe parachuting techniques and then perform five successful parachute jumps to become certified U.S. Army Airborne soldiers.


Airborne Insertion Techniques: Static Line, Military Free Fall (MFF), Helicopter Insertion, FRIES (Fast Rope Infiltration Exfiltration System), Rappelling, Helo-casting, Supplies & Equipment.  Airborne soldiers do more than use static line parachutes to use the sky to gain entry to an objective.  Soldiers use Military Free Fall (MFF – skydiving), helicopter air assaults into objectives, fast roping from helicopters 60’ in the air, rappelling from helicopters, relocating (jumping from helicopters into the water & swimming to shore), and parachuting supplies and vehicles into drop zones are all ways the Airborne soldiers get to their objectives.  Being Airborne entails a variety of airborne insertion methods.


The Hidden Heroes of the Airborne: Riggers, Jumpmasters, The U.S. Air Force, the Pathfinders, and Drop Zone (DZ) Control Parties.  Living as an Airborne soldier means relying on the U.S. Air Force aircraft and U.S. Army helicopters to infiltrate the objective.  In addition, the U.S. Army Parachute Riggers wear a distinctive red hat and are the true “hidden” heroes of U.S. Army Airborne operations.  Parachute Riggers clean, inspect, fix, and pack everything from personal parachutes to reserve parachutes to enormous supply bundles. Jumpmasters are select members of Airborne units that pre-inspect all parachute jumpers to ensure safe, effective, and on plan airborne operations.  Finally, drop zone parties of Pathfinders, weathermen, medical personnel, radio technicians, and Jumpmasters mark and inspect drop zones for safety. 


Famous U.S. Army Airborne Operations - Combat.  The U.S. Army has had several famous combat operations.  Here are a few of the lesser known ones.


  • Korean War - October 1950 – Sunchon, North Korea. U.S. Army Airborne units drop behind retreating North Korean forces to prevent their escape from advancing U.S. Army and allied forces.
  • Vietnam War – February 1967 – South Vietnam. The 173rd Airborne Brigade participates in Operation Junction City to surprise and attack Vietnamese Communist Forces. 
  • World War II – February 1945 – The Philippines. The 503rd Parachute Regiment earned its nickname “The Rock” by conducting a daring parachute assault to land on top of the fortress island of Corregidor. The 503rd landed on top of Japanese positions and fought viciously to successfully recapture Corregidor.


On August 16th, look up in the sky and remember the bravery, skills, and focused determination of some of the U.S. Army’s greatest soldiers – the Airborne!


Share Your Opinion – What are your stories of Airborne service?


Chad Storlie Airborne Bio: Chad Storlie attended Airborne school in August 1987 at Fort Benning, GA.  Storlie served for ~7 years on Airborne status in U.S. Army Special Forces units and for three years as a Static Line Jumpmaster.  Storlie was qualified to perform air assault, air assault load master, FRIES, STABO, rappelling, helocasting, and Delta Queen operations from a variety of aircraft.


Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 460 articles in over 206 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  Follow Chad @CombatToCorp 


Related information: 

USAA Leaving the Military Resources


Originally published in 2019, updated in 2022
Disclaimer: The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.


NC 0822

Occasional Visitor

It was interesting.   Most of the time the background info is never known.   Thanks. 

Chad Storlie USAA
Blog Author
Blog Author

@Bertie15 Thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Occasional Visitor

Incredible information about the history, sacrifices, and accomplishments of US Airborne units. 


As a Army veteran of OEF,  I will always remember Airborne leads the way.

Briana Hartzell USAA

Thank you for your service @670TH MP CO . I appreciate you taking the time to comment and share your thoughts. Have a great weekend!