This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the 82nd Airborne Division. To commemorate the long and storied history of the unit, the 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs Office produced a podcast to showcase the many people and events that have added to the division’s legacy.
The All American Legacy podcast, which debuted Tuesday, is the military’s first podcast produced in an official capacity, said Staff Sgt. Will Reinier, 82nd Abn. Div. PAO noncommissioned officer and podcast host.
“What better way to celebrate the 100th anniversary than to talk about the division for the whole year,” he said.
Episodes will be released each Tuesday and will cover topics spanning the entire 100-year history of the division.
When choosing what stories they would tell on the podcast, Reinier said they tried to pick stories lost in history or those stories that are common, but that may have some myths or lore that need to be dispelled.
For example, he explained, one of the podcast episodes clarifies how the division really got its name. Many people think the division was named the “All American” division because it included Soldiers from all 48 states, but in reality, the name was the chosen winner of a contest held to name the new division. Vivienne Goodwyn submitted the name All American.
“There is no speculation. Everything we are saying we are able to back up with records and first-hand accounts,” Reinier said.
Other stories include delving deeper into the division’s history to provide context and explain why certain people or events are important.
“People might know the names Lt. Col. Emory Pike and Alvin York, but do they know what they did? Do they really understand the context behind what made them such a big deal? This is our opportunity to tell those stories,” Reinier said.
Although a huge part of the division’s history is its World War II operations, Reinier said only one episode is dedicated to that time period because those are well-known stories and they really wanted to focus on lesser known history and people.
“Everyone knows about the World War II paratrooper. That’s such an important part of our legacy, but that’s only four years out of the 82nd’s 100 that we have to draw stories from,” Reinier said.
Operation Power Pack is one of the topics discussed on the podcast with which many people might not be familiar. The operation sent paratroopers to the Dominican Republic in 1965 during the Dominican Civil War.
“This is a way for us to find those lesser known stories and give them their due justice,” Reinier said.
The idea to create this podcast and use this relatively new platform to tell stories came from Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, 82nd Abn. Div. PAO.
As an avid podcast listener, Reinier was excited about the new project. Drawing inspiration from some of his favorite podcasts like Serial, This American Life and Radio Lab, he sought to create a product that would educate people about the division in an entertaining and engaging way.
“I was blown away by how an episode of Radio Lab completely made me feel so much more educated on a subject that seemed so complex. They were able to break it down and use anecdotal testimonies or people’s personal experiences to explain these really complicated subjects,” Reinier said.
The All American podcast mixes interviews with subject matter experts, with readings from historical documents, audio clips from events and the hosts having conversations.
“I want this podcast to feel like you’re sitting in a car while all these really smart people are talking about the division,” Reinier said. “I want them to come away from it like they were part of a conversation they normally wouldn’t get exposed to.”
Reinier, a broadcaster by training, said making a podcast is very similar to creating a video product, just without the pictures. The technical side of producing the podcast was intuitive to him because of his experience working with video.
Despite his experience, he and his team encountered challenges with this new project, namely, time. Each episode required numerous hours of work. Combined with an already busy work schedule and only about four months to complete the first 10 episodes, the team had to make the podcast a priority in order to complete project.
“If we didn’t have the buy-in from the command and the PAO, we wouldn’t have been able to do it,” he said.
New episodes will air each Tuesday and can be accessed and subscribed to on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher. Episodes and podcast information also will be available via the 82nd Abn. Div.’s social media platforms — Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud and Twitter.
“If you are on the internet at all and have any relationship with the division (on social media) we are going to do everything we can to make sure you don’t miss out,” Reinier said.
The podcast could be an ongoing division product if staff changes allow for it to continue, Reinier said.
“This podcast is going to be a lasting legacy — this is the All American legacy that we’re telling.”