Veterans from 317th Troop Carrier Group celebrate 70 years

Published: Oct. 12, 2012 at 10:19 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2012 at 3:41 AM EDT
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FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - Many of them served our country nearly 70 years ago, and Friday, they celebrated their history on Fort Benning.

The Jungle Skippers are soldiers from the 317th Troop Carrier Group who served during World War II and are known for their historic troop drops throughout the war.

Now, decades later, these men, like 91-year-old Major Robert Cook, still remember what it was like flying in the air.

"I used to buzz the button for the guys to get out of the back end of the plane if I wasn't flying it," said Cook.

Cook, a Jungle Skipper, joined other veterans to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the 317th Troop Carrier Group on Fort Benning Friday afternoon.

They watched as men from the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team dressed like soldiers from WWII jumped out of a WWI C-47.

"It is kind of embarrassing almost because you walk up and they make such a fuss over you. Its, we are here to make a fuss over them. And, it really hammers in why we exist again to remember, honor, and serve those brave soldiers," said Dan Cutting, with the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team.

For many of these veterans' family members, it was a chance to connect to the past.

"My father was a pilot with one of the squadrons. To be here with these men, after my father passed three years ago, I just thought it would be a good time to start reconnecting with some of the men he served with," said Phil Brinson, whose father was a Jungle Skipper.

For Cook, the celebration re-enforced why he was a pilot and not a paratrooper in the war.

"But, today, they are well equipped, well trained and they probably have real pilots flying instead of characters like me," said Cook.

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