Billboard Sign for I-10 Traffic Going East
Erected by Acadiana Airborne Chapter
Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge and Monument
Located at the Atchafalaya Welcome Center
On Interstate-10 at the Butte La Rose Exit 121
The Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge and Monument is a result of efforts by the members of the Acadiana Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association. In 1988 the National 82nd Airborne Division Association challenged it's member Chapters to pursue having a bridge in their State designated an "Airborne Memorial Bridge."
The Acadiana (Louisiana) Chapter accepted this challenge by pursuing this by petitioning the Louisiana State Legislature requesting that they designate the 18 mile elevated expressway bridge across the Atchafalaya as the "Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge." After much work by a number of the Chapter members, including Representative Don Bacque (a Chapter member) the Louisiana Legislature in 1989 passed Act 793 naming the Atchafalaya elevated bridge as the "Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge."
Chapter members raised the money paying for the monument and concrete benches you see in front of the Welcome Center. The purpose of the Monument is to raise the public's awareness of the contributions to American History made by the US Army (and other branches) Airborne Forces. The term Airborne forces refers to US Army paratroopers and glider borne troops. The US Army's Airborne units contributed greatly in winning WW II. The best known (and perhaps greatest) contribution was the D-Day Airborne Assaults made into Normandy France, June 5-6, 1944. These were led by the United States 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions who jumped and glided into strategic objectives, seizing them and preventing the German forces from counter attacking and destroying the American, British and Canadian beach landings that were to follow.
NOTE: The main reason the 82nd Airborne Division Association asked Chapters to have bridges in each state designated as their "Airborne Memorial Bridge" is that one of the primary objectives of Airborne Forces (paratroopers and glider borne forces) is the seizure of bridges for regular forces to use when they follow the paratroops.
The monument was dedicated on October 20, 1990. Members of the Legislature, the Department of Transportation and Development, the US Army from Ft. Polk, LA and members of the Acadiana Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association.
The Louisiana Tourism's Visitor Center to the West of the monument. This beautiful visitor center gives information about the Atchafalaya river basin and the immediate area, known as "Acadiana" or the area settled by the Acadians.
Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge Monument located at mile marke 121 on I-10 East of Lafayette, LA. The 18 1/2 mile elevated bridge is in the background.
Wording on the face of the monument that backs towards the 18 1/2 mile bridge. This bridge was designated by the Louisiana State Legislature as the "Louisiana Airborne Memrial Bridge."
Back side of the monument. Note the circular concrete benches that allow one to sit and reflect.
Chapter Chairman Roosevelt Solomon address the group of members, family members and friends of the "Acadiana" Chapter.
Chapter Member Jim Welsh who was one of the the members who worked to gain the Legislative Act dedicating the I-10 18 mile elevated bridge over the Atchafalaya basin expains some of the work involved.
Background on US Airborne Forces
The United States Airborne Forces came into being with the formation of the 82nd Airborne Division at Camp Claiborne, LA in March 1942. The United States Army had begun experimenting with the training and formation of paratroop units.
In April 1940 the War Department approved plans for formation of an Airborne Test Platoon. This was formed from volunteers of the 29th Infantry Regiment at Ft. Benning, GA. Once they proved the concept, the Army decided to form Parachute Battalions. The first was the 501st Parachute Battalion, followed by the 502nd Parachute Battalion.
With the outbreak of World War II, the 82nd was reactivated on March 25, 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana under the command of Major General Omar N. Bradley.
On August 15, 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division became the first airborne division in the U.S. Army. On that date, the All-American Division was redesignated the 82nd Airborne Division.
Simultaneously, the 101st Airborne Division was activated at Camp Claiborne, LA from a cadre drawn from the 82nd Infantry Division.
The following Airborne Divsions and units were formed:
11th Airborne Division formed February 25, 1943.
17th Airborne Division formed at Camp Mackall, NC April 15, 1943
13th Airborne Division formed at Camp Mackall NC on August 13, 1943.
These units and many more separate Airborne Regiments and Battalions such as the 503rd Airborne Regimental Combat Team, the 517th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, the 509th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, the 550 Airborne Battalion and the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion contributed greatly both in the European Theater of Operations and in the Pacific to the winning of WWII. Airborne forces have also been instrumental in combat during the Korean War, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm and in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 82nd Airborne Division Association is the only Airborne Division Association that is open to any US (or Allied) airborne veteran.
The Acadiana Chapter (and the 82nd Airborne Division Association) are looking for qualified veterans (jump or glider qualified) for membership.
For more information on the Acadiana Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association or any other military Association, please contact us by calling at (337) 684-6175 or (337) 288-2730 or by e-mail. You may write Acadiana Chapter / 82nd Airborne Division Association; 2424 Pierre Matte Road; Branch, LA 70516-3631. E-Mail
I am an Airborne trooper! A paratrooper!
I jump by parachute from a plane in flight. I volunteered to do it knowing well the hazards of my choice.
I serve in a mighty Airborne Force - famed for deeds in war-renowned for readiness in peace. It is my pledge to uphold its honor and prestige in all I am. In all I do.
I am an elite paratrooper - a sky trooper - a shock trooper - a spearhead trooper. I blaze the way to far flung goals - behind - before and above the foe's front line.
I know that I may have to fight without support for days on end. Therefore, I keep mind and body always fit to do my part in any airborne task. I am self-reliant and unafraid. I shoot true, and march fast and far. I fight hard and excel in every art and article of war.
I never fail a fellow trooper. I cherish as a sacred trust the lives of the men with whom I serve. Leaders have my fullest loyalty, and those I lead never find me lacking.
I have pride in the Airborne! I will never let it down!
In peace, I do not shirk the dullest duty nor protest the toughest training. My weapons and equipment are always combat ready! I am neat of dress --- military in courtesy - proper in conduct and behavior.
In Battle, I fear neither foe's ability, nor under-estimate his prowess, power and ability. I fight him with all of my might and skill - ever alert to evade capture or escape a trap. I never surrender My goal in peace and war is to succeed in any mission of the day or die if it needs be in the try. I belong to a proud and glorious team, the Airborne, the Army, my Country. I am its chosen pride to fight where others my not go to serve them well until the final victory. I am a trooper from the sky! I am my nations best! In peace and war I never fail. Anywhere, anytime, in anything,
I AM THE AIRBORNE!