(Frederick, OK) On Friday, sixteen people from around the country, dressed in WWII fatigues, jumped out of a WWII-style C-47 at Frederick Army Airfield, which in now Frederick Municipal Airport.
They came from all around the country to have the opportunity to go through the the World War Two Airborne Demonstration Winter Jump School.
One of the 16, a former member of the Army, Hank Askin, traveled all the way from Frederick, Maryland to train at the school, according to KSWO.
“For me, I retired from the Army 5 years ago and Airborne was the one thing I never got a chance to do. I’m older now and I figured that had passed me and I’d missed my chance,” said Askin.
Askin and the other school attendees had their Airborne wings pinned by WWII veterans upon completion of the school.
One of the WWII veterans who attended the ceremony, Vince Speranza, is a legend in Europe. Speranza is remembered for filling his helmet with beer and delivering to wounded Airborne soldiers in a make-shift combat hospital in a blown-out church in Bastongne, Belgium. He was eventually told he would be shot and killed if he continued as it was feared the beer might kill the wounded soldiers.
It wasn’t until 2009, that Speranza found out about his legend, which was later bottled as Bastogne’s Airborne beer. Dutch and Belgian military officials told him that the legend of the soldier filling his helmet with beer for the wounded is still told and a beer -created in his honor- is consumed from a ceramic helmet today.
During his visit, he was shown a Nazi banner hanging in the Battalion Headquarters that he had signed more than 60 years ago but had never thought about since.
Speranza left the attendees of the WWII Jump School with a memorable experience as well.
“We had our graduation ceremony and celebration party on Saturday and got to party with this bad ass- Vince Speranza,” wrote Askin on Facebook.
Speranza, armed with his cane and a large cigar in hand, led the men in singing “Blood on the Risers,” a popular American paratrooper song from World War II.
Just as the Belgians and Dutch won’t forget his beer legend, these sixteen paratroopers won’t forget the sound of Spranza singing, “Gory, gory, what a hell of a way to die!”
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