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"Mustard Stains"

To a paratrooper, there are few awards greater than that of the Mustard Stain.

This great article about junior enlisted paratroopers by an Army Specialist, takes a look back at the Airborne invasion of northern Iraq one year ago.

Paratroopers remember the jump into Iraq
Story by Spc. Adrian Schulte, SETAF Public Affairs
VICENZA, Italy -- It has almost been a year since about one thousand paratroopers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade parachuted into war, opening up the northern front in the effort to liberate Iraq. The March 26, 2003 jump was recently classified as a combat jump and the paratroopers who participated in it will now be able to stick their chests out with pride showing off the gold star, or “mustard stain,” that crowns their parachutist wings.

So what is it like to jump into war? Those troops, young and old, went through an extraordinary experience, one that many paratroopers can only dream of. Many of the Soldiers had been jumping for years, but for others, this would be their first jump after airborne school.

“I knew it was real when they gave us live ammo at the airfield. I knew then that there was no turning back,” recalled Pfc. Jerry Allen, Chosen Co. 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne). “I’ve never seen so many planes in my life,” he said referring to the Air Force C-17 Globemasters waiting to take them to war...

As we say so often in the blogosphere, go read the rest of the story.