All-American Paratroopers Lay Wreath at ANC

By Kevin M. Hymel, Historian on 8/14/2023

Under mostly sunny skies and light breezes—perfect jump weather—veterans of the 82nd “All American” Airborne Division gathered at Arlington National Cemetery’s (ANC) Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Aug. 9, 2023, to lay a wreath and remember their fallen comrades in arms.

Nearly 200 veterans arrived to Memorial Amphitheater in four buses, many wearing 82nd Airborne baseball caps or shirts, and others in maroon berets. They watched the 9 a.m. changing of the guard at the Tomb, executed by members of the 3d Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). As the guards switched out, one of them scraped his steel heel on the ground, a unique salute to the veterans in attendance.

Fifteen minutes after the changing of the guard, four 82nd Airborne members, past and present, laid a wreath at the Tomb: the commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Col. Jason Schuerger; the division’s command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Calvin Overway; former 82nd Airborne Division commander Gen. David M. Rodriguez (ret.); and the president of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, Gary Covey.

The Old Guard Soldier who escorted the wreath layers wore his own jump wings, as well as jump wings from the Polish Army—a testament to his own airborne experience.  

ANC’s Chief of Staff Col. Michael Binetti enjoyed seeing such a large group of paratroopers come together to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. “It’s always moving to be able to connect with veterans from other generations,” he explained after the event. “We shared the experience of jumping out of airplanes. I heard their stories, which weave that tapestry of service and sacrifice.”