U.S. Army Paratrooper
- In 1940, the War Department approved the formation of a test platoon of Airborne
Infantry the direction and control of the Army's Infantry Board. A test platoon of
volunteers was organized from Fort Benning's 29th Infantry Regiment, and the 2d
Infantry Division was directed to conduct tests to develop reference data and
operational procedures for air-transported troops.
- First Lieutenant William T. Ryder volunteered and was made the test platoon's
platoon leader, Lieutenant James A. Bassett was designated assistant platoon
leader, and forty-eight enlisted men were selected from a pool of 200 volunteers.
The platoon moved into tents near Lawson Field, and an abandoned hanger was obtained for training and parachute packing.
- Lieutenant Colonel William C. Lee, a staff officer for the Chief of Infantry,
recommended that the test platoon be moved to the Safe Parachute Company at
Hightstown, NJ and train using parachute drop towers from the New York World's
Fair. Eighteen days after forming, the platoon was moved to New Jersey and trained
for one week on the 250-foot free towers, which proved to be particularly effective
drops from the tower added realism otherwise impossible to duplicate outside of an
airplane drop, and proved to the troopers that their parachutes would function
safely. Impressed, the Army purchased two and erected them on what is now
Eubanks Field at Fort Benning. Two more were later added, and today three of the
original four towers are still in use. Parachute landing training was often conducted
by the volunteers jumping from PT platforms and from the back of moving trucks to allow the trainees to experience the shock of landing.
- Less than forty-five days after it was formed, members of the test platoon made their first jump from a Douglas B-18 over Lawson Field on 16 August 1940. Lieutenant Ryder and Private William N. (Red) King became the first officer and enlisted man to make an official jump as paratroopers in the United States Army. On 29 August, the platoon made the first platoon mass jump held in the United States.
Airborne School Video
- During Ground Week, Soldiers must pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). The Ground Week Airborne instruction begins with an intensive program of instruction to build individual Airborne skills. These skills prepare the Soldier to make a parachute jump and land safely. Students train on the mock door, the 34-foot tower and the lateral drift apparatus.
- Tower Week completes the Soldier's individual skill training and further builds team effort skills. To go forward to Jump Week, Soldiers must qualify on the Swing Lander Trainer (SLT), master the mass exit procedures from the 34-foot tower, gain canopy confidence and learn how to manipulate the parachute from the 250-foot tower, and pass all physical training requirements.
- Successful completion of the previous weeks of training prepares Soldiers for Jump Week. During Jump Week, Soldiers must successfully complete five jumps at 1,250 feet from a C-130 or C-17 aircraft. Paratroopers who successfully meet course requirements are granted an additional skill identifier and are authorized to wear the coveted "Silver Wing" on their uniform.
Basic Parachutist Badge
Wings awarded upon successful completion of course