September 27, 2012

A Bridge Too Far

Staff Sgt. Bruce Cobbeldick | 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs | VICENZA, Italy -- Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team traveled from Vicenza to Arnhem, the Netherlands from Sept. 20 to Sept. 23, to participate in events celebrating the 68th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, a massive Allied airborne offensive in World War II.

A contingent of 21 soldiers from the brigade jumped into Arnhem's landing zone alongside paratroopers from Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Canada, Poland and Belgium. The majority of the brigade is currently deployed in support of International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The original Operation Market Garden was at the time the largest airborne operation in history, a combined effort by U.S. and British paratroopers to secure bridgeheads over the Rhine and Meuse Rivers in Holland. Logistical failures and fierce German resistance forced the Allies to abandon their gains, but in recent years the anniversary has become an opportunity for paratroopers from all over Europe to train together and commemorate shared history.

“It is a fantastic chance to establish rapport with our partnership units. This was a very rewarding experience jumping with our fellow paratroopers from these countries,” said Master Sgt. Melvyn Lopez of Caguas, Puerto Rico. “Airborne soldiers share a more intense bond, since they can appreciate and relate to what it takes to conduct these kinds of operations."  (READ MORE)

Waves of paratroopers land in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden in September 1944

British Paratroopers, September 1944

Paratroopers inspect a broken glider. Operation Market Garden 1944.

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