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Operation Market Garden honored 73 years later: Jump to remember

French and British paratroopers congratulate each other after successfully landing on the drop zone during exercise Falcon Leap Sept. 15, 2017, at the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone, Netherlands. Approximately 750 paratroopers from eight different countries participated in exercise Falcon Leap and the commemoration of Operation Market Garden. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

French and British paratroopers congratulate each other after successfully landing on the drop zone during exercise Falcon Leap Sept. 15, 2017, at the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone, Netherlands. Approximately 750 paratroopers from eight different countries participated in exercise Falcon Leap and the commemoration of Operation Market Garden. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Paratroopers from multiple countries load a C-130J assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., Sept. 14, 2017, at Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands. Aircrew from the 62nd Airlift Squadron conducted a personnel drop over Ginkelse Heide, the drop zone used during Operation Market Garden in 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Paratroopers from multiple countries load a C-130J assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., Sept. 14, 2017, at Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands. Aircrew from the 62nd Airlift Squadron conducted a personnel drop over Ginkelse Heide, the drop zone used during Operation Market Garden in 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

A C-130J from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., is flown over the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone as paratroopers conduct a static line jump Sept. 15, 2017, during exercise Falcon Leap. Aircrew members from the 62nd Airlift Squadron worked alongside eight different nations to honor and remember the sacrifices made in 1944 during Operation Market Garden. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

A C-130J from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., is flown over the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone as paratroopers conduct a static line jump Sept. 15, 2017, during exercise Falcon Leap. Aircrew members from the 62nd Airlift Squadron worked alongside eight different nations to honor and remember the sacrifices made in 1944 during Operation Market Garden. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

A C-130J from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., is flown over the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone as paratroopers conduct a static line jump Sept. 15, 2017, during exercise Falcon Leap. Aircrew members from the 62nd Airlift Squadron worked alongside eight different nations to honor and remember the sacrifices made in 1944 during Operation Market Garden. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

A C-130J from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., is flown over the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone as paratroopers conduct a static line jump Sept. 15, 2017, during exercise Falcon Leap. Aircrew members from the 62nd Airlift Squadron worked alongside eight different nations to honor and remember the sacrifices made in 1944 during Operation Market Garden. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Paratroopers gather their belongings after successfully landing on the drop zone during exercise Falcon Leap Sept. 15, 2017, at the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone, Netherlands. Approximately 750 paratroopers from eight different countries participated in exercise Falcon Leap and the commemoration of Operation Market Garden. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Paratroopers gather their belongings after successfully landing on the drop zone during exercise Falcon Leap Sept. 15, 2017, at the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone, Netherlands. Approximately 750 paratroopers from eight different countries participated in exercise Falcon Leap and the commemoration of Operation Market Garden. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Paratroopers from multiple countries jump from a C-130J assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., Sept. 14, 2017, at Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands. Aircrew from the 62nd Airlift Squadron conducted a personnel drop over Ginkelse Heide, the drop zone used during Operation Market Garden in 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Paratroopers from multiple countries jump from a C-130J assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., Sept. 14, 2017, at Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands. Aircrew from the 62nd Airlift Squadron conducted a personnel drop over Ginkelse Heide, the drop zone used during Operation Market Garden in 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Parachute canopies fill the sky as paratroopers from eight countries land at the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone during Falcon Leap Sept. 15, 2017, Ermelo, Netherlands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Parachute canopies fill the sky as paratroopers from eight countries land at the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone during Falcon Leap Sept. 15, 2017, Ermelo, Netherlands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

A World War II and Operation Market Garden veteran stands for a moment of silence to remember those who sacrificed their lives 73 years ago on Sept. 16, 2017, at Ede, Netherlands. This event marks the 73rd anniversary of Operation Marked Garden, the largest airborne operation in history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

A World War II and Operation Market Garden veteran stands for a moment of silence to remember those who sacrificed their lives 73 years ago on Sept. 16, 2017, at Ede, Netherlands. This event marks the 73rd anniversary of Operation Marked Garden, the largest airborne operation in history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Chief Master Sgt. Lewis Holston, 314th Operations Group superintendent, surveys the drop zone prior to paratroopers exiting Sept. 14, 2017, near Ede, Netherlands. Days prior to executing personnel drops during the Operation Market Garden event, aircrews conducted personnel drops during exercise Falcon Leap. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Chief Master Sgt. Lewis Holston, 314th Operations Group superintendent, surveys the drop zone prior to paratroopers exiting Sept. 14, 2017, near Ede, Netherlands. Days prior to executing personnel drops during the Operation Market Garden event, aircrews conducted personnel drops during exercise Falcon Leap. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

German paratroopers jump from a C-130J assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., Sept. 14, 2017, near Ede, Netherlands. Aircrew from the 62nd Airlift Squadron participated in Falcon Leap, an international airborne exercise.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)
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German paratroopers jump from a C-130J assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., Sept. 14, 2017, near Ede, Netherlands. Aircrew from the 62nd Airlift Squadron participated in Falcon Leap, an international airborne exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

Parachute canopies fill the sky as paratroopers from eight countries land at the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone during Falcon Leap Sept. 15, 2017, Ermelo, Netherlands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)
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Parachute canopies fill the sky as paratroopers from eight countries land at the Houtdorperveld Drop Zone during Falcon Leap Sept. 15, 2017, Ermelo, Netherlands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

Freedom isn't free; the price isn't paid by one country alone.

Allied troops wearing different uniforms, originating from different countries were transported on a C-47. Sitting shoulder to shoulder, they prepared to jump from side doors of the aircraft into the unknown. Confident their mission would be a success, they had no idea the majority of paratroopers were about to fall to their deaths.

Allied troops rallied Sept. 18th, 1944, to execute Operation Market Garden. Comprised of approximately 41,700 American, British and Polish service members, it was the largest airborne operation of World War II.

The plan was to secure the bridges over the rivers Maas, Waal and Rhine in the Netherlands from the Axis powers. This would enable the Allies to outmaneuver the Axis’ defenses on the Siegfried line, ensuring a swift advance toward Berlin, Germany.

Operation Market Garden was a two-part airborne operation in which paratroopers were inserted into enemy terrain to seize an object of value, later ground troops would move in and secure the objective.

Allied commanders constructed the operation hopeful it would end World War II by December 1944, however, Axis forces were much stronger than anticipated.

What was supposed to be the turning point of the war, became a failed operation creating approximately 17,000 Allied casualties.

To honor those service members who fought for freedom, the Royal Netherlands Army hosted a memorial parachute jump Sept. 16th, 2017, on the Ginkelse Heid Drop Zone, Netherlands, near the city of Ede.

Aircraft and service members from the United States, the Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom, France and Germany partook in the memorial jump.

One aircraft flying in the memorial jump belonged to the 314th Airlift Wing from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark, whose lineage dates back to World War II. Their predecessor, the 314th Troop Carrier Group, took part in both the Normandy Invasion and Operation Market Garden.

“We did this because it is our history,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Benjamin Spain, 314th Operations Group C-130J evaluator pilot. “The 314th and 62nd were units participating during Market Garden in 1944. It’s important for us to come back and remember what the guys in our unit did back then.”

While Little Rock AFB aircrew flew the C-130J over the historical drop zone, paratroopers from the six countries sat in the belly of the aircraft and prepared to conduct the same jump that their predecessors did in 1944.

“Although we all come from different nations with our own languages, we all speak the same tongue when it comes to being a paratrooper,” said the Netherlands Royal Air Force Brigadier H.G.J.A. Smits, 11 Air Assault Brigade Commander. “The memorial jump brings together paratroopers from various nations to share knowledge and work on their interoperability.”

United by the powerful ideal of securing freedom for all, Operation Market Garden erased cultural barriers between those who participated in the operation during World War II.

 “I saw men who were hungry, exhausted and hopelessly out numbered. Men by who all the rules of war could gladly have surrendered and had it all over with, men who were shelled until they could’ve been hopeless psychopaths and through it all they laughed, they sang and they died. They kept fighting because they knew they were told that this battle would shorten the war, for others,” an account from an U.S. service member stated.

The memorial jump was followed by a wreath laying ceremony, where multiple wreaths were laid in honor of the bravery of the men who sacrificed their lives.    

“Only in unity can we live in freedom,” said the mayor of Ede, Netherlands. “The memorial jump reminds us freedom cannot be taken for granted. Let us follow the example of every veteran and every soldier of then and now. Let us remember them, honor them and respect them so that we never forget.”

 

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