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82nd marks 20th anniversary of Green Ramp tragedy

Mar. 23, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Base recalls teamwork following ramp horror
The wreckage of a C-141 aircraft at Pope Air Force Base after being hit by an out-of-control F-16 on March 23, 1994. The resulting fire killed 24 Army paratroopers waiting nearby. ()
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The 82nd Airborne Division on Monday will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the deadly Green Ramp accident that killed 24 paratroopers.

The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. at PAX shed 2 on Pope Army Airfield, N.C., according to information released by the 82nd Airborne.

Green Ramp is a staging area used by the Army and Air Force to prepare for and conduct joint operations.

On the afternoon of March 23, 1994, an F-16D Falcon collided with a C-130 Hercules transport plane while both were trying to land at Pope Air Force Base. The C-130 landed safely, according to an Army account.

The F-16 pilots ejected as the fighter plummeted to the ground, ricocheting across the tarmac and sliding into one of two parked C-141 Starlifters, according to the 82nd Airborne.

Both planes exploded in flames, hurling searing-hot metal through the air and spewing 55,000 gallons of fuel onto Green Ramp. The fireball swept across the staging area where paratroopers were preparing for airborne operations. The flames killed 24 soldiers and injured more than 80 others.

It was the largest loss of life for the 82nd Airborne Division in peacetime since World War II, according to information from the division.

“Twenty years ago today, disaster struck the Fort Bragg community," Maj. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, said in a statement. "As a community, we grieved for those who were killed and wounded during the tragic accident at Green Ramp. Now, as a community, we are remembering and honoring the paratroopers who lost their lives and those who suffered severe injuries on that day."

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