Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Remembering The Heroes of Green Ramp, 23 March 1994

A very special person asked me to post this so that we could all take a minute to remember the 24 Paratroopers who died as a result of an airplane crash at Pope Air Force Base on March 23, 1994.  This special person has saved many lives as a member of medevac teams in Afghanistan (and maybe Iraq, i've never asked him).  It is an honor to grant his request to remember the fallen from Green Ramp.

Please take the time to read the events of that fateful day in it's entirety and footnote references.  Here are a few excerpts:

"The twenty-third of March 1994 was a fitting day for an airborne jump. The skies were clear, with good visibility; the temperature was in the mid-sixties; and the winds were moderate, 4 to 6 knots. The XVIII Airborne Corps, stationed at Fort Bragg near Fayetteville, North Carolina, had scheduled two parachute missions, one in the late afternoon and another in the evening, using aircraft on the adjacent Pope Air Force Base (see Map). Required to undergo prejump exercises within twenty-four hours of taking off, Army paratroopers had assembled at Pope Air Force Base for training in the early afternoon. Units on the day's manifest were the 82d Airborne Division's 504th Infantry, 505th Infantry, and 782d Support Battalion (Main), as well as the XVIII Airborne Corps' 525th Military Intelligence Brigade and 1 59th Aviation Group (Combat) (Airborne)."

"Around 1410 an F-16D Fighting Falcon collided with a C-130 Hercules transport while both tried to land at Pope Air Force Base. The Hercules touched down safely. The F-16 pilots ejected as the fighter plummeted to the ground, ricocheting across the tarmac and sliding into one of the parked C-141 Starlifters. Both planes exploded in flames, hurling searing-hot metal through the air and spewing 55,000 gallons of fuel onto Green Ramp. The debris-filled fireball, "described by some as 75 feet in diameter," roared through the staging area where the paratroopers were preparing for airborne operations, stopping in the vicinity of the Airborne Gate on Rifle Range Road, which separated Fort Bragg from Pope Air Force Base (Diagram 1). The "rolling blaze" became "a swirling ball of death."

S. Sgt. Daniel E. Price of the 2d Battalion, 505th Infantry, sacrificed his life to save a female soldier he had never met before. Spc. Estella Wingfield, an information systems operator with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 525th Military Intelligence Brigade, remembered:

"All around the brigade chaplain "people were doing the same thing": rescuing soldiers, using their bare hands and canteens of water to "put out the last smoldering places." Meanwhile, ammunition exploded, and people shouted to get away. But no one paid attention. "It seemed irrelevant," Bebber said. Soldiers were responding the way they were trained to do in combat. Bebber became aware of the dead around him. Some were badly burned; others were "horribly cut and torn"; a few had no apparent injury but were just dead. About 10 feet away one soldier was "already the death-color of gray," although someone was attempting to revive him with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The Episcopal priest, who had entered the Army nine years before the tragedy, moved from group to group, speaking to the injured and helping to lift the wounded into the tactical and personal vehicles that began arriving to evacuate them to Womack. Other chaplains joined Bebber in praying and listening to the accounts of those who felt like talking."

"He looked me in the eye, grabbed me by the shirt, threw me several feet in the air and jumped on top of me.... An instant later, I heard the blast, felt the extreme heat from the explosion and the debris falling on us.... After the explosion and the rounds stopped going off, he whispered in my ear, "Crawl out from underneath me.'' I did and took off running.  Wingfield thought that Price was running behind her. When she realized he was not, she ran back to the spot where he had protected her from the explosion. He was dead. "He saved my life," she said."

"Proud of the heroes of Green Ramp, the commanding general of the 82d Airborne Division, Maj. Gen. William M. Steele, said:  It was soldiers saving soldiers. Soldiers putting out fires on other soldiers; soldiers dragging soldiers out of fires; resuscitating; giving soldiers CPR; putting tourniquets on limbs that had been severed; putting out fires on their bodies, sometimes with their own hands. Anything they could do to care for their buddies that were more seriously injured they were doing. They can't do that without knowing how. They responded the way they would in combat"


And now take a few minutes to remember and honor those who perished that day:

Capt. Christopher D. Dunaway, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Capt. Kenneth J. Golla, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Staff Sgt. Charles W. Elliott, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Staff Sgt. Daniel Camargo, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Staff Sgt. Daniel E. Price, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Staff Sgt. Harry L. Momoa Jr., Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Staff Sgt. Mark G. Gibson, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Staff Sgt. Waddington Sanchez, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Staff Sgt. Alan D. Miller, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Staff Sgt. James C. Howard, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Sgt. Alexander P. Bolz, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Sgt. James M. Walters Jr., Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Sgt Gregory D. Nunes, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Sgt. Vincent S. Strayhorn, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Sgt. Gustavo Gallardo, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Spc. Martin R. Lumbert, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Spc. Matthew J. Zegan, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Spc. Sean M. Dixon, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Spc. Bee Jay Cearley, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Pfc. Andrew J. Jones, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Pfc. Paul B. Finnegan, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Pfc. Tommy Caldwell, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Pvt. Mark E. Fritsch, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Pvt. Phillip J. Harvey, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

8 comments:

Coffeypot said...

God Leda, I must have had my head up my ass back then because this is the first I have heard about this. Though I feel horrible about what happened, I am not surprised at how the troops acted. Helping out a brother soldier is an automatic action, not a reaction. You help your brothers, even if it means you get hurt, too. I will say a prayer for them and those who didn’t make it. Thanks for posting this.

Stephen said...

I am moved to tears; Heroism is a common virtue in a place where those who would run towards danger are gathered together. This group of magnificent Soldiers make me proud to have worn the uniform.

Susan Katz Keating said...

*Moment of Silence*

Thank you for posting this.

Kriste Gerhard said...

Today, in Fayetteville, the Dogwoods are blooming, the birds are singing, the sun is shining and the breeze is gentle. Someone is smiling upon us and I, for one, am sipping my coffee with extra gratitude.

OldSoldier54 said...

Thank you, Leta. Thank you for remembering my brethren.

JihadGene said...

Remembered. Prayers sent for those still hurting from the Green Ramp tragedy

alvo69 said...

I take a bended knee and remember those that gave their all. THANKING and Honoring the 504th FOREVER.

Mr. Roboto said...

Thank You Leta. I walked away without a scratch that day but this time of year serves as a great anchor for me, to gauge where I am, what I am doing and who I've become.

Charlie Rock! (C Co. 2/504 PIR, White Devils)

Strike Hold!