Commemorative parachute jumps honoring WWII heroes
By Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert, 136th Airlift Wing/ Public Affairs
/ Published August 22, 2013
NAS FORT WORTH JRB, Texas -- U.S. Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Del Atkinson, 136th Security Forces Squadron, a former U.S. Army paratrooper, 101st Airborne Division (air assault), is a member of the Liberty Jump Team who performs commemorative parachute jumps honoring WWII heroes as well as veterans of all Wars and Foreign Conflicts.
"I joined the team because I wanted to give back to the "Greatest Generation" the World War II veterans, "said Atkinson. "They overcame all obstacles and persevered to win the victory on all fronts."
Liberty Jump Team was formed in 2006. Their jumps commemorate the D-Day invasion and the liberation of Europe as well as perpetuating the service of those who have served after, including today's brave men and women of all services.
The LJT recruits from active and inactive military parachutists with an in-house jump training operations and school located in Denison, Texas.
"We use a C-47 as a jump platform and have conducted airborne operations all over the U.S. as well as in Amfreville, Carentan, Liesville Sur Douve, Angoville au Plain, France as well jumps commemorating Bastogne and Holland," said Atkinson.
The team is comprised of predominantly active duty and retired military from the 82nd, 101st, USAF Pararescue Operators, Rangers and Special Forces members that have a very honorable reputation said Atkinson.
They are the only civilian team in the U.S. to jump at Fort Benning, Georgia in 2009, 2011 and this year 2013 for the 1BN 507th PIR (the Airborne School). They jump several times a year at different events across the U.S. at air shows or military bases and of course Normandy, France.
"We are the lead in jump every year in Normandy, France for the combined forces military jump plus numerous other jumps," said Atkinson.
One of their team members includes USAF Senior Master Sgt. (ret) Denny Darnel, a former pararescue jumper, who is their jumpmaster and a member of the Texas State Guard here at the 136th Airlift Wing. He is a master parachutist, High Altitude Low Opening jumper and FAA master rigger.
Atkinson states, "My best experience has to be Normandy in 2012. I met some great American Heroes who have since passed, but I listened to their tales of combat operations as they parachuted into Normandy at the early hours of June 6, 1944. They are very humble and they all said they were just doing their job ... true American Heroes."
In 2012 Atkinson earned his Dutch jump wings while jumping in Normandy. He has a total of 42 jumps under his belt.
"What better way to 'honor' them than jumping out of a perfectly good airplane in a WW II uniform at 1500 feet above ground level. They love it ..." concluded Atkinson.
The LJT will perform at Alliance Airport, Oct. 18, 19 and 20, 2013. For more information, go to their website at www.libertyjumpteam.org.