Fort Benning will mark the 20th anniversary of Operation Just Cause on Dec. 17.
To celebrate the military strike, which took place on Dec. 20, 1989 and resulted in the capture of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, there will be an Airborne jump followed by a dinner in Heritage Hall at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center.
Anyone who jumped during the invasion of Panama, and who is still on Airborne status, is invited to participate in the commemorative jump, said Capt. John Savell, officer-in-charge at the National Infantry Museum. Others who served in Operation Just Cause are invited to participate in all other activities.
The jump will take place at 11 a.m. at Fryar Field on post, and spectators are welcome.
The invasion, ordered by President George H.W. Bush, was for regime change, said Dave Stieghan, Infantry and Fort Benning historian, in a release. Noriega hijacked a national election and trafficked drugs from South and Central America to Main Street, and the president cited four reasons for the invasion — to protect American citizens living in Panama, defend democracy and human rights in Panama, combat drug trafficking and protect the Panama Canal treaties, which transferred the canal to Panamanian control in 2000.
Operation Just Cause was well planned, Stieghan said. It was the first operation after the Goldwater-Nichols Act to get all the services working together and the first time the military used the special operations forces — Rangers, SEALS and Delta Force — as a single instrument.
And it was the reason Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the Armor School command sergeant major, made the Army a career, he said in a press release.
A tank commander with C Company, 3rd Battalion, 73rd Armor Regiment (Airborne) assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade, said the spirit of the paratrooper came out in that operation.
“I went from ‘proud to be in the Army’ to ‘I don’t want to do anything else,’” Troxell said. “We fought like we trained.”
For more information about the jump or the dinner, call Capt. John Savell at 706-545-2771 or 706-905-0926.