The 101st Airborne Division will host a Day of the Eagles May 24 to celebrate a 76-year legacy of heroism, unique air assault capabilities and heritage.
“It’s an event for the Soldiers. It’s to honor those who are active duty – and past,” said Maj. Megan Marshburn, division planning officer for the Day of the Eagles. “It’s our celebration of being in this unit and having a long history and all the remarkable things everyone has done here since its inception.”
The community is invited to celebrate the Day of the Eagles. The day kicks off with opening remarks at 6 a.m., and then the division run.
“Anybody who wants to come out and watch the division run is more than welcome to come out,” Marshburn said. “The run starts at 6:30 [a.m.] and there will be a lot of traffic. So, the suggestion is to get there as early as possible.”
Families and friends may cheer on their Soldiers at a staging area located at 19th Street, between Kentucky and Tennessee avenues. Parking will be at Fryar Stadium, 5666 Wickham Ave. The 101st Airborne Division Band will provide music.
“Community [residents], community leaders, anyone who wants to come out, just come out and enjoy,” Marshburn said.
Following the run, brigades will host veterans breakfasts with the Soldiers at unit dining facilities. Breakfast will be served 8:30-10 a.m. Cost is around $5. Cash only for visitors.
“They’re inviting all the veterans who used to be in the units,” Marshburn said. “Anybody from the community – you can go eat at the [dining facilities] at the regular price.”
Starting at 9 a.m., each brigade will have an open house featuring static displays.
“They’ll have vehicles, equipment, personnel. Everything will be set up in the unit areas,” Marshburn said.
Fort Campbell guests may tour The Sabalauski Air Assault School at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. The school’s mission is to train Soldiers in air assault operations, sling-load operations and rappelling. TSAAS is located at 6883 Air Assault St.
“[The tour] will consist of a typical air assault brief of our schoolhouse history and what we do here at the air assault school,” said Sgt. Nathan Tolbert, TSAAS operations noncommissioned officer. “Then, we will take them out and show them our specialty demonstration of our more advance rappels – like the Aussie rappel – and then our [Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System] capabilities from the 34-foot tower.”
Tolbert said these demonstrations “show what their Soldiers do on an everyday basis when they come through the air assault school.”
While guests enjoy the tours and skill demonstrations, Screaming Eagles from each brigade will be competing in the Best Air Assault competition on post.
“It’s about six to eight events that will kick off at 3 o’clock in the morning and run until the afternoon,” Tolbert said. “Each brigade will provide teams for that event. Depending on how they score, we will decide which brigade will have the Best Air Assault Cup. There’s an actual trophy that will be handed out at the end with the names of the contestants that won and their brigade … They will hold the title for one year.”
Captain John Baer and Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Williams, 39th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div., emerged as the 2017 winning team with the fastest time. They received a trophy and commemorative axes for their achievement.
Tolbert said the competition “builds esprit de corps and team unity.”
“It’s always good to have that friendly competition between the brigades to know who can provide the best air assault qualified individuals to compete for this cup,” he said.
Day of the Eagles guests may tour the newly-renovated Brig. Gen. Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The museum is located at 5702 Tennessee Ave.
After a year and a half of construction and $6 million in building restorations and $1.5 million for exhibits, the museum staff celebrated a grand re-opening April 4 to showcase the new look. The museum documents the division’s inception in 1942 through its recent deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Every opportunity to show off the renovated museum is a great opportunity for us,” said 1st Lt. Daniel Herbster, division historian. “We’ve gotten a lot of rave reviews. Our attendance is way up. We were averaging 134 people per week at the Dreyer Field House. Now, we are averaging 696 per week at the Pratt Museum again. It’s a really nice facility.”
As part of the Day of the Eagles open house, Soldiers from each brigade will dress in period costume, representing 101st troops from the past.
“We’ll have one in World War II, a couple in Vietnam, one in Korea and one in Desert Storm,” Herbster said. “Since the Day of the Eagles commemorates the 101st, they just want some living pieces of history to emphasize ‘this is our history. This is our heritage.’ These are some of the uniforms we have worn.”
Herbster said the museum staff is excited to welcome guests for the open house.
“We expect a lot of vets and other folks celebrating the Day of the Eagles. We expect a little more attendance. It will just be an extra special time to have folks enjoying the museum,” he said.
After a morning of tours across Fort Campbell, visitors may eat lunch at dining facilities with unit command leadership and spouses 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Cost is around $7. Cash only for visitors.
Brigadier General K. Todd Royar, acting senior commander of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell, will be updating invited community leaders and guests at a community brief at 12:30 p.m. at division headquarters, 2700 Indiana Ave. Maj. Gen. Andrew P. Poppas is serving as the Resolute Support deputy chief of staff of operations and the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan deputy commanding general for operations during his deployment to Afghanistan. Marshburn said Poppas may send comments from downrange to be communicated at the community brief.
To close the Day of the Eagles, Fort Campbell will pause to honor the fallen Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division at an Honor Eagle ceremony.
Community members and division leadership will gather at 4:30 p.m. outside of division headquarters for Memorial Day remarks, a wreath-laying ceremony, playing of bagpipes, closing remarks and then retreat. Royar also will honor the winners of the Best Air Assault competition. A small reception will follow the ceremony in the atrium of McAuliffe Hall.
As for any event at Fort Campbell, visitors should plan accordingly for gate access to attend the Day of the Eagles, Marshburn said. All personnel without a valid Department of Defense identification card [CAC, retired ID and dependent] and have not previously received an access pass will be required to stop at the Visitor Control Center at the T.C. Freeman Gate [Gate 4], show proper identification, vehicle insurance, vehicle registration and be vetted for access prior to entry to the installation. Freeman gate opens at 5 a.m. weekdays.
“We just really want people to come out and cheer us for the run. Come out and tour the post. Come enjoy the Soldiers for the day,” Marshburn said. “It’s a great ending to a good week.”
DAY OF THE EAGLES SCHEDULE
3 a.m. Best Air Assault competition
6 a.m. Division run
9 a.m. Brigade open houses
9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Brig. Gen. Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum open house
10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The Sabalauski Air Assault School open house and demonstrations
12:30 p.m. Community brief with acting senior commander Brig. Gen. K. Todd Royar (invitation only)
4:30 p.m. Honor Eagle at division headquarters