U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: December 24, 2002
Room dedicated to American paratrooper
NATICK, Mass. -- The Parachute Prototype Shop Conference Room changed its name and unveiled a new display during a dedication ceremony honoring the airborne soldier Dec. 9.
Renamed "American Paratrooper Conference Room," the meeting area, located next to the Airdrop and Aerial Delivery Directorate's Parachute Prototype Shop in Bldg. 45, is used by organizations around the installation and for visits. It's complete with audio-visual capabilities, boardroom table and padded chairs, but its decoration has a distinct airborne flavor.
Spread down the middle of the table is an elevated runway with models of Air Force planes taking off. On one wall, a mural of a sky and parachutes gives the backdrop to models of C-17s and their airdropped supplies. Early drawings of parachute designs, pictures and posters of information on airdrop developments line other parts of the walls.
In a corner is a modern-day paratrooper manikin ready to exit the side of a C-130. For the ceremony, manikins of a combat-ready paratrooper of the future, today and, shown for the first time, the paratrooper of World War II were on display.
Called "Sgt. Victor E. Landing," the manikin is dressed as a soldier prepared to drop into Sicily in 1943, authentically detailed from the helmet's pathfinder luminescent disks to the brown Corcoran jump boots with rawhide laces.
"I would say that Sgt. Landing is probably the best example of an early war American paratrooper as you will find anywhere in the world today," said Lt. Col. Charlie Dean, director of Operations and Customer Interface. Dean, Bonnie Jezior and Cathy Polito worked together to make the manikin as realistic as possible.
Five World War II paratroopers were among the guests invited to the event and were formally introduced to the attendees. In the same ceremony, a plaque was uncovered to recognize the contributions of World War II paratroopers.
"I think it's great we were invited here and that (Brig. Gen. Craig Peterson) and the staff are dedicated to honoring the paratrooper. We enjoyed the presentation and what we learned," said Irving Shanley, who along with the other veterans, looked at "Victor" up close. "A few minute things varied between units, but it's pretty authentic."
Berge Avadanian, a former Coast Guard employee at the Soldier Systems Center, said it was the first time he had seen the conference room. He briefly reflected on the war.
"When I think of our shortcomings, we were so unprepared, but we had 140 million people 100 percent behind us," he said. "I can't believe what I've seen today. My only regret is the thousands who aren't here but should be here."
During his opening remarks, Brig. Gen. Peterson, deputy commanding general for Homeland Operations, spoke about the history of airborne infantry, and its importance and effectiveness in warfare.
"(The Soldier Systems Center) has long developed parachutes and equipment. It's important to remind ourselves of the brave paratroopers who trust us to develop their equipment," Peterson said.
A video presentation noted the past campaigns and showed a slice of airborne life past and present. Natick's contribution to airdrop began in the early 1950s.
Researchers here developed the T-10 and then an improved version known as the T-10B. The Advanced Tactical Parachute System is the latest major parachute upgrade, said Edward Doucette, director of Airdrop and Aerial Delivery Directorate.
"We're in the midst of the greatest advancements since the 1960s," Doucette said, noting a new piece of equipment that can precisely airdrop supplies from as high as 25,000 feet. "In the future, the Army and Department of Defense will be presenting many challenges as airdrop will remain the standard form of resupply."
He also mentioned that his staff has a common desire to do their jobs because they can help soldiers.
"I believe this conference room will continue to be used to support paratroopers and is a tribute to the airdrop staff," Doucette said.
The Soldier Systems Center is part of the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM). For more information about SBCCOM or the Center, please visit our website at http://www.sbccom.army.mil.
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