Story by Jess Dupree, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs
Photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Dec. 12, 2017) – Santa Claus made a grand entrance into Eubanks Field here when he jumped out of a commercial aircraft for a crowd of Soldiers, Families and other community members during the Maneuver Center of Excellence 27th Annual Tower Lighting Celebration Dec. 11.
Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, who hosted the event, invited those on post as well as community members from the surrounding Chattahoochee Valley to celebrate the holidays while learning more about the Maneuver Center of Excellence.
“This is probably the only place in America where Santa doesn’t ride in a sleigh,” said Lt. Col. Scott Brannon, the 1-507 PIR battalion commander. “He jumps out of an aircraft and parachutes in.”
Activities, demonstrations and displays were laid out around Eubanks Field for attendees to learn how Soldiers at Fort Benning do their jobs and contribute to the community. Families and children got the opportunity to jump from a 34-foot tower, see working dog demonstrations, tanks displays and helicopter displays.
“We serve the community being an air ambulance detachment,” said Spc. Mark Lewis Von Nordeck, an aviation operations specialist with the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade here. “We don’t just do military assignments. We want everybody to know that we’re here, and we support everybody.”
Santa Claus jumped 10,000 feet from a Cessna 182 “Otter” aircraft, and landed on Eubanks Field as the crowd watched. He then rode a Fort Benning fire truck to his throne to hear holiday wishes and take family photos. The Silver Wings followed up with a night jump immediately before Santa helped Brannon flip the switch to light the 250-foot airborne jump tower.
“My favorite part was seeing Santa Claus jump out of the plane,” said Miriam Fernandez, an Army and Air Force Exchange Service employee on post. “My grandkids were so excited. They’ve done a fantastic job.”
View more photos on FortBenningPhotos.com.