Servicemembers and civilians witnessed the christening of the DeGlopper Air Assault School, Jan. 22, during a ceremony hosted by Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commander.
Formerly called the Fort Bragg Air Assault School, the renaming memorializes the actions of Medal of Honor recipient Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 325th Glider Infantry Regiment.
DeGlopper sacrificed his life when he single-handedly distracted a numerically superior German force so that his platoon could establish the first bridgehead over the Merderet River during the World War II invasion of Normandy.
Using his automatic rifle, DeGlopper exposed himself to the enemy, drew their fire, and allowed his comrades to withdraw through a hedgerow, avoiding the Germans’ attempted flanking maneuver. Fighting through his wounds, DeGlopper managed to eliminate a large number of enemy troops heavily armed with automatic rifles and machine guns.
“Pfc. DeGlopper’s actions were valiant, the caliber upon which the legacy of our paratroopers and Soldiers is built,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Isaia Vimoto, the senior noncommissioned officer of the XVIII Airborne Corps and the guest speaker for the renaming ceremony. “It is only fitting that we carry the DeGlopper name and remember his heroic action and his legacy into the next chapter.”
DeGlopper’s glider regiment played a pivotal role in the transportation of troops, equipment, ammunition and sustainment supplies behind enemy lines during airborne operations in World War II. The plywood and aluminum-constructed gliders were cable-towed by aircraft, then released and piloted to their landing zones without engine power.
Glider operations were very dangerous and they often crashed or were shot down. By the time of the Korean War, helicopters and high-performance aircraft began to assume those delivery and mobility responsibilities and progression to modern-day heavy drops, sling loads and air assaults accelerated.
Producing air assault-proficient Soldiers on Fort Bragg saves units’ money on travel costs as well as enhances the readiness of rapidly deployable units such as the 82nd Abn. Div., which stands ready to deploy a battalion-plus task force with no notice as part of the Global Response Force.
“With the DeGlopper Air Assault School, we bring a training capability to our doorstep,” said Vimoto. “This school, and the history we tied to it, will sculpt our capabilities to fight and win our next war.”
The memorialized war hero’s two nephews, Robert Charles DeGlopper and Raymond DeGlopper, attended the ceremony and unveiled the archway bearing the school’s new name.
Robert was born just months before his uncle’s gallant actions and sacrifice and his middle name at birth was Clinton. He said his Family changed it to Charles after his grandfather decided there needed to be another Charlie in the house.
When asked how he felt about the renaming of the school after his legendary uncle, DeGlopper smiled. “It’s an honor,” he said.
The school officially opened Sept. 5, 2013, and teaches students aircraft familiarization and safety, rappelling, sling loading, aero-medical evacuation, and pathfinder and combat assault operations. The rigorous two-week course requires students to complete an obstacle course, a two- and a four-mile run, and a six- and a 12-mile ruck march. In its first year, the school graduated more than 800 students in 10 classes, augmenting the Army and the other military branches with servicemembers qualified to conduct air assault operations.