Tomorrow, August 16th is National Airborne Day; there will be a celebration at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum from 10 AM to 3 PM. Here is a flier for the event. Fort Bragg is of course home to the biggest installation of airborne soldiers, commonly referred to as the “Home of the Airborne.” Airborne forces are a very versatile group of soldiers capable of being dropped behind enemy lines and virtually anywhere in the world. They were an integral part of the invasions on the beaches of Normandy and have remained an essential and fearsome fighting force ever since. On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Command Sergeant Major (Retired) David Clark at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum. For those in the area, I would highly suggest visiting this museum for both the engaging exhibits and the military history.
CSM Clark was inducted as a distinguished member of the Special Forces regiment in April 2003. With over 62 years of federal service, and 35 years of active duty service, CSM Clark is an excellent embodiment of the airborne divisions that serve our country. While on active duty faced with opportunities for advancement he said, “‘People would ask well what do you want to do?’ I would say, ‘Just put in one line (on the application) I want to jump.’” CSM Clark has over a whopping 60 years of jump experience and is also HALO qualified. He currently serves as the Plans and Capabilities Specialist of the U.S. Army JFK Special Welfare Center and School. At 84 years old, CSM Clark still works every day, he said to me that he gets to PT at 5, gets out of PT around 7 and stays until 6 in the evening. In his words the heart of being an airborne member or the heart of a soldier is simply, “service.”
I truly enjoyed talking with CSM Clark about his experiences in the armed forces. We talked about faith as well, CSM Clark said that Christ was the single mosth important relationship he had and that all credit was to Him. Additionally, we talked about CSM Clark’s dedication to service for this country, a dedication that is evidenced in all our airborne members. CSM Clark concluded our talk with this, “I think an airborne soldier is the greatest human being in the United States as far as the safety of the nation is concerned…And that’s what I tell those kids (young soldiers) when I do talk at those graduations, you are the difference, you are what keeps the nation free.” Feeling the call to serve and having the courage to respond to that call by the young men and women of this country is an incredible testament to their high character. I sincerely hope that you will join me in honoring the men and women of the airborne this weekend and in your own way throughout the year.