While in Fayetteville North Carolina recently, I visited the Airborne Museum with my son in law who had just returned from Afghanistan. He is stationed nearby at Ft Bragg. The Airborne Museum is an amazing place to visit for anyone interested in military history and the Airborne and Special Forces.
I was delighted to learn that the very first “Special Operations Group”, which eventually morphed into the Special Forces, was an American and Canadian group. Their insignia was a red arrowhead with the US at the point and Canada written along the body of the arrow. These were the first commandos out of planes as part of a joint allied forces operation.
The “Devil’s Brigade”, officially the 1st Special Service Force, was a joint World War II American Canadian Commando unit Organized in 1942. The brigade fought in the Aleutian Islands, Italy, and southern France before being disbanded in December, 1944. Many modern American and Canadian Special Forces units trace their heritage to this unit
The Museum is very well constructed and entertaining as well as informative and it has been put together accurately to show the arial forces in all eras. The realism of each “set” depicting the different periods from WWI all the way to present was quite striking. The attention to detail is as good as Hollywood gets with actual planes, tanks, vehicles and helicopters complete with mannequins to stand in for their lost counterparts.
I was quite stuck by the realism of the glider display as my Dad was with the airborne engineers in Burma and of course the Viet Nam display. I was saddened with the memory and reminder that half of the men I enlisted with died there.
I found it interesting that the museum was right in the middle of Fayetteville and that a beautiful veterans park had been designated by the city. In my day, most military bases were considered blemishes on a community and barely tolerated by the locals. In most cases as GI’s, we were treated badly and with disgust and occasionally spat on. Maybe they were really just upset with Nixon?
I noticed a much different attitude on this trip through the US. The military and civilian population coexist and support each other in Fayetteville. Service men and women travel in uniform and are upgraded whenever possible, extended every courtesy and often acknowledged for their commitment publicly in the air and on the ground.
Again in my day, the politics of the time and the unpopularity of the war, sorry conflict, we were all considered “bums” and publically disgraced and discarded.
I don’t mean to be overly patriotic but I do have a high regard for the men and women who put on a uniform and defend our rights and freedoms. I don’t have to agree with the politics or the reasons they get put into harm’s way. I am pleased and to see that some things can change and that more of us acknowledge their sacrifice.
Perhaps it’s a sign of our times, the horrific memory of 911 or the procession of hearses carrying our fallen men and women home in boxes in Canada and the US. For all of them past and present I am forever grateful. For my Dad, Uncle, Nephew, Son in law and my pals at Ft Dix, thank you.
If you haven’t seen “Taking Chance”, please do. It’s an excellent movie with Kevin Falkner. While it is about a US Marine, anyone in any country that honors their fallen will be touched by this movie.