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 440th gets a monument at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum
 The first monument to recognize the Air Force at the museum
 
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Airborne and Special Operations Museum Moument Unveiling
Col. Merle D. Hart, right, former 440th Airlift Wing commander, and Honorary Wing Commander, Mr. Don Price, of Fayetteville, perform the honors of unveiling the 440th Airlift Wing memorial monument at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C. (Photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Brody/ 440AW PA Office)
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440th honored with a monument at the ASOM

Posted 10/7/2011   Updated 10/7/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Lisa Moore
440th Airlift Wing


10/7/2011 - Pope Field, N.C. -- More than fifty historic monuments honoring airborne and special operations Army units line the entrance into Fayetteville's Airborne and Special Operations Museum. Now there is one that honors the Air Force.

In a ceremony Friday, September 30, a new monument was unveiled to honor Pope Field's 440th Airlift Wing for its contributions and efforts during the World War II era.

Before a crowd of about 50 people, Col. Merle D. Hart, who was the 440th Airlift Wing commander until last month, and Honorary Wing Commander Mr. Don Price of Fayetteville performed the honors of the unveiling. During his remarks, Hart spoke about the history of the unit and it's partnership with the Army past and present.

Also at the ceremony was 18th Airborne Corp and Fort Bragg Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. Rodney Anderson who commented on the strong ties as well.

"This is fitting that we memorialize the history and legacy of the 440th with this stone," he said. "We're family."

The monument contains an etching that highlights the units first operational airdrop mission in 1944. In support of the Normandy D-Day invasion, more than 13,000 aircraft supported the operation in which 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany. The 440th Airlift Wing, then named the 440th Troop Carrier Group, was among the units tasked to transport paratroopers into battle.

The unit was to airdrop the 82nd Airborne Division's, 3rd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment and two platoons of Company C, 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division behind the Normandy, France landing beaches of Omaha and Utah.

Equipped with twin-engine Douglas C47 Skytrains, the 45 aircraft of the Troop Carrier Group executed the mission at speeds between 100 and 125 miles per hour. Experiencing intense anti-aircraft fire on the run into the drop zone, several aircraft and paratroopers were lost.

The 440th Troop Carrier Group, for their actions this mission, earned the Distinguished (Presidential) Unit Citation.

Made of North Carolina white granite, in Latin and English the heritage stone reads "Nunquam Non Paratus" which means "Never Unprepared." Also etched on the stone is the unit motto: "440th Airlift Wing Putting the Air in Airborne - Since 1943."

The monument bears four distinct emblems which speak to the units history. On the top the left is a 440th Airlift Wing medallion with the units' current insignia.

On the top right is a medallion that reads the 440th Troop Carrier Group - the units original name. This emblem also encompasses the Bragg-Pope moniker to represent the historic and present partnership that dates back to when the unit was established.

In the bottom left corner is the U. S. Army Air Forces, USAAF, "Hap Arnold Wings." The USAAF was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force. The Hap Arnold Wings are how Airmen commonly refer to the Army Air Corps symbol, the emblem was used before the U.S. Air Force was created as its own military service in 1947.

And, in the bottom right corner is the present U.S. Air Force symbol that was introduced in the year 2000. It was derived from the "Hap Arnold Wings."



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