On a clear and sunny day, paratroopers and Family members gathered at Sicily Drop Zone Nov. 16, to celebrate Molly Pitcher Day — a celebration for those in the field artillery community that honors Mary Hayes, an artilleryman’s wife during the Revolutionary War.
During the event, hosted by the 18th Fires Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Family members witnessed live-fire demonstrations and airborne operations. They were also afforded the opportunity to learn about the equipment and artillery systems on display and shoot blank ammunition with numerous military weapons.
“It’s nice to see everyone from the unit come out and support their Soldiers,” said Michelle Dominguez, a Family member. “We don’t get to see what our husbands do that often, so it’s nice to see all the displays.”
Molly Pitcher,’ whose real name was Mary Hayes, gained notoriety as an Army wife due to her actions on the battlefield. She would provide soldiers with water during the fight and when the soldiers were thirsty, they would yell ‘Molly, pitcher’ to have a drink brought to them. However, when her husband was injured, Hayes took control of her husband’s cannon and continued firing at the British. She was later enlisted in the Army by George Washington because of her fearless actions.
“It’s a wonderful legacy that ‘Molly’ left behind for us,” said Dominguez.
Hayes is an inspiration to this current generation of Army wives, she added.
“We all want to be supportive of our husbands and help set their minds at ease so they can do their jobs to the best of their abilities,” she said.
As part of the day’s activities, paratroopers from the division were recognized for their accomplishments during the ‘Best of the Best’ competition. During the four-day competition, they competed in various events that challenged and tested their artillery skills and knowledge of today’s battlefield.
For one paratrooper assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, having an awards ceremony on this day was extra special.
“To have our team win and be recognized on Molly Pitcher Day, it made winning this competition that much more significant,” said 1st Lt. Shawn Papadinec, a fire support officer assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT.
Papadinec’s team was recognized during the awards ceremony as the division’s best fire support team.
“It was a great experience to compete against the best forward observers from around the division,” he said.
Papadinec said the competition was fierce throughout the four days. He also feels the importance of winning this year was amplified since troopers from his team had also taken home top honors the previous year.
“They were anxious to keep the trophy in the brigade,” Papadinec continued.
Col. Stephen G. Smith, commander of the 18th Fires Bde. and Command Sgt. Maj. Roger W. Jacobs, the brigade’s senior enlisted advisor, presented the awards to this year’s winners.
“These paratroopers deserve to get recognized for their accomplishments and for their hard work this week,” said Smith. “This event could not have been possible without the planning and coordinating of great noncommissioned officers,” he continued.
Ultimately, Molly Pitcher Day proved to be filled with fun activities that brought paratroopers and Family members together to celebrate the legacy of Mary Hayes and to recognize those who stand out among their peers in the field artillery community.
“Once again, the sun has shined on the artillery,” added Smith.