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Patron Saint of Paratroopers



The parachute infantry of the 82nd Airborne are unquestionably the greatest light infantry in the world. They are currently serving in a forgotten war in Afghanistan. One of the Bear's sons served a tour there, and benefitted from divine protection more than once.

To whom did he owe this favor? St. Michael the Archangel? St. Louis IX? St. George?

Maybe.

Or maybe it was a young girl, whose feast is celebrated April 11.


St Gemma Galgani

St. Gemma Galgani was born in 1878, in Italy. She suffered from ill health and had to take over the care of her younger siblings when  her parents died. She herself died April 11, 1903 at the age of 25.

St. Gemma had an extraordinary spiritual life and endured much suffering. She experienced visions and allocutions, and displayed the wounds of Christ on her body. She was canonized May 2, 1940 by Pope Venerable Pius XII.

The Italian Folgore Airborne Division

The Italian Folgore Parachute Infantry Division established their training school in Tarquinia, Italy. The Passionist nuns there had the job of sewing patches onto the parachute infantrymen's uniforms. Moved by the risks these young men would undertake for their country, they took it upon themselves to incorporate relics and holy cards into their work.

The Italian paratroopers petitioned the Postulator General of the Passionists in Rome to name her their patroness, which he did. Holy cards were printed with the invocation "St. Gemma, Protectoress of Paratroopers, Pray for Us."

Why this unlikely saint for tough, elite paratroopers?

St. Gemma had just been canonized in 1940, near the beginning of WWII, the first war in which paratroopers would be used. She was very popular in Italy. She had survived dangers to her health and also spiritual traps. She was on unusually familiar terms with her Guardian Angel. No doubt the nuns had thought of the special dangers these young men would face when they added their "extras" to their uniforms. Yet there might be another reason.

St. Gemma is reputed to have levitated during her mystical experiences.

St. Gemma is also the patron saint of back pain. That is very appropriate for paratroopers! Landings are not gentle, and bad landings are not uncommon.

Here is the paratroopers' prayer:
Lord Mighty God who created the infinite spaces and the mysterious depths, look upon us, Paratroopers of Italy, in the fulfillment of duty springing from our planes we set off in the vastness of the heavens. Send the Archangel St. Michael and St. Gemma Galgani to be our guardians to guide and protect our daring flight, so that with our silk white parachute like mist before the sun, we may dissipate our enemies, always with faith and indomitable courage. Our young life is yours, O Lord! If it is written that we fall, so be it! But with every drop of our blood may arise innumerable stalwart sons and brothers who are proud of our past and may always be worthy to share in our future. Bless, O Lord, our homeland and our dear families! For them a peaceful dawn and sunset, and for us, O Lord, Thy glorifying smile. Amen. 
Source: St. Gemma Galgani website.

The Bear thanks St. Gemma and St. Michael the Archangel for looking after his son, both in training and downrange. May they protect all paratroopers, especially those in the 82nd Airborne, in the air, and on the ground. Please remember our soldiers in Afghanistan in your prayers once in awhile. They are undergoing nearly unbelievable hardships and the constant menace that asymmetrical warfare carries with it. No matter where they are, they are never safe. There are no lines, and their allies next to them are a greater threat to them than the Taliban.



Comments

  1. I think the guys a few miles to the east (Camp Lejeune)would beg to differ. :)

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    Replies
    1. Marines are not light infantry, though. They are in their own category. :-)

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    2. Bear's own division was the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division, although he was technically in a special unit of XVIII Corps about which he is not at liberty to say too much. (If you're imagining a top-secret "Bearborne" unit, the Bear is sorry to disappoint you. He was trained as a linguist, but actually did something else.)

      The Bear is happy to concede the 82nd's superiority if only because they still jump out of airplanes instead of having a bunch of helicopters. And it saves family arguments.

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    3. > 82nd Airborne are unquestionably the greatest light infantry

      Since the Rangers are more properly considered special operations, I guess one could concede to the 82nd "the best of the rest". It's the least one can do for those forced to wear a pink beret.

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  2. Attached to the XVIIIth Airborne Corps (Spec Ops) and a linguist. What a waiste. ;-)

    Just kidding.

    Btw, the Dragon Club had the ugliest women I have ever seen.

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    Replies
    1. You assume much ;-) Like the Army would train me in one thing, then actually use me in my MOS.

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    2. Ah yes, the Army's equivalent of the dreaded "needs of the Corps".

      As to the MC = light infantry, it would appear that there is a debate raging.

      Being the good Thomists that we are, we need to go to the sources. Here's one: https://www.strategypage.com/militaryforums/10-271.aspx#startofcomments.

      However, from my side and "experience" anyone who would consider an amtrak as a APC had definately never been in one. I stick with the light infantry.

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    3. Perhaps my Navy experience (yes I served in both Army and Navy, because I have a learning disability) is telling, but how can you call the Marines light infantry when they travel in an aircraft carrier with a displacement of 40,500 tons, have a squadron of F-35Bs, a well for deployment of LCACs, plus armored vehicles?

      As used in Afghanistan, parachute infantry typically performs long patrols on foot in very small formations. (Smaller now, even, than previously, for reasons best known to the Army.)

      And there's no escaping the fact that they get to where they are going by airplanes, not the gator Navy, and, if necessary Iin theory) could deploy effectively into combat by parachuting. (Not that we'll ever see that again, probably.) There's nothing lighter than floating out of the sky.

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    4. Perhaps my Navy experience (yes I served in both Army and Navy, because I have a learning disability) is telling, but how can you call the Marines light infantry when they travel in an aircraft carrier with a displacement of 40,500 tons, have a squadron of F-35Bs, a well for deployment of LCACs, plus armored vehicles?

      As used in Afghanistan, parachute infantry typically performs long patrols on foot in very small formations. (Smaller now, even, than previously, for reasons best known to the Army.)

      And there's no escaping the fact that they get to where they are going by airplanes, not the gator Navy, and, if necessary Iin theory) could deploy effectively into combat by parachuting. (Not that we'll ever see that again, probably.) There's nothing lighter than floating out of the sky.

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  3. Granted, in the modern battlefield environment the lines between light and "less light" units gets blurred. However, I like to used the old school definition, i.e. that which is not mechanised (armoured), is light.

    I speak from experience, but it has been a while since I "stood up, buckled up and shuffled to the door". Wikipedia also agrees with me. They call the MC "seaborn light infantry".

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