Dozens of students step back in time as they walk into the Frederick Army Airfield. They train for 10 days, while honoring the World War II paratroopers.
“It’s also our way of saying thank you to them,” said David Brothers, the Executive Officer of the air wing. “It’s our way of getting a feel for some of what they did, what they experienced.”
For Bill McKinley, that means getting a feel for what his father did. And he has his two sons to experience it with him.
The inside of the C-47 features the photos of veteran paratroopers and one picture is of McKinley’s father.
“I put him kind of in a position where he could see us go out the door,” said Bill.
“Which is good because you get pretty nervous when you jump out, but it’s nice to be able to see his picture right before we jump,” said Bill’s son, Steve. “Especially considering he did two combat jumps. We’re not getting shot at, so that’s inspirational to us.”
And for those who actually served in our military, it’s a new place they can call home.
“I’m a Marine Corps veteran for 20 years, in 2012 I walked away from the Marine Corps, I retired and this huge chasm was created from the camaraderie was I had on a daily basis,” said Jon Tehan, ADT Senior Drill Instructor. “I found this place, like I transferred to this unit out of the Marine Corps even if it’s only for a couple of weeks or weekends a year. This is kind of like my unit.”
Their style of dress, style of jump training, even down to the barracks they sleep in, all imitate the way things would have been back during World War II.
But that wouldn’t have happened without the City of Frederick offering the Airborne Demonstration Team the actual World War II Hangar, back in 2005. And it took a group of dedicated individuals to get it restored.
“Every single floor was covered with debris and mess,” said Col. Raymond Steeley/ Commander of the ADT. “Every single person that was in our organization picked up a shovel, picked up a broom and went to work. We completely re-did all the rooms, we recovered the roof, we’ve done repairs completely, to get it back to the state that is was in 1942.”
And now it’s a place where people can not only honor our veterans, but a place where they can feel what it was like to be them.
If you like to see all of this in person, the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team will be having an Open Hangar Day Saturday from 8am to 3pm at the Frederick Army Airfield.