327 AS Airman connects with the past
By Master Sgt. Jeff Walston, 913th Airlift Group
/ Published September 23, 2017
Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. --
On Sept. 17, 1944, more than 30,000 American and British paratroopers jumped from over 2,000 aircraft into the Netherlands’ countryside, behind enemy lines, to capture bridges across the Maas and Rhine Rivers as well as several smaller canals and tributaries during Operation Market Garden.
Operation Market Garden was designed to secure the bridges in order to outmaneuver the more heavily armed German defenses of the northern end of the Siegfried Line and ensure a swift advance of Allied Forces straight to Berlin. Planners believed, if successful, the war would be over by Christmas. It was not. Operation Market Garden failed, and, the war in Europe did not end until May 8, 1945. However, 73 years later, “The Largest Airborne Operation in History,” is still commemorated by paratroopers around the world.
The Royal Netherlands Army, 11 Air Assault Brigade, hosted “Exercise Falcon Leap,” Sept. 16th, 2017, on the Ginkelse Heid Drop Zone, Netherlands, near the city of Ede, to honor those who fought for freedom in Operation Market Garden.
U.S. Air Force Reserve Master Sgt. Scott Klobucher, a loadmaster assigned to the 327th Airlift Squadron, 913th Airlift Group, was chosen to be a member of an aircrew from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., to participate in this year’s commemoration.
Klobucher joined Airmen and one aircraft from the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock AFB, in the memorial jump. The lineage of the 314 AW dates back to World War II and the 314th Troop Carrier Group, which took part in both Operation Market Garden and the Normandy Invasion.
“This was a great opportunity to inter-fly with another unit on base and strengthen our relationships with the flying squadrons,” Klobucher said.
Service members and aircraft from the United States, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Poland, France and Germany took part in Exercise Falcon Leap.
“Being able to participate in such a historical event was a great honor and I was very grateful to be chosen to represent the 327th during this event,” Klobucher said. “I have gained even more respect for the brave men and women of WWII.”
Klobucher, also participated in a wreath laying ceremony at Ardennes American Military Cemetery in Neupre, Belgium, which honored members of several squadrons that current units at Little Rock AFB, can trace their roots back to WWII.
“This is a once in a lifetime experience working with the other countries in a peacetime capacity and the honor of actually performing personnel airdrops over the exact same drop zones used during WWII with 30,000 people watching has been the highlight of my career,” Klobucher said.