Vets plan 82nd Airborne Operation Power Pack 50th anniversary reunion

Photo | Some Operation Power Pack veterans in May 2014 at the 82nd Airborne Museum, in front of a C123 Aircraft
From left to right: Gary Niethammer, Gib Lovell, Walt Rauscher, Jim Drainer, Bruce Harrell, John Urbach, Bob Hawkins, Fred Bolland, Ed Szalno and Ken Densmore

The 50th anniversary ceremonies for 82nd Airborne veterans who served in Operation Power Pack will be in May 2015 during All-American Week at Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C.

Operation Power Pack was a Marine and Airborne combat and stability mission, which lasted more than a year, in the Dominican Republic.

"It was the first combat mission for the Airborne after May 1945," retired Sgt. John Urbach said.

Urbach said they were alerted to unrest in April 1965, but didn't receive the full mission until they were in the air. They had been prepared to jump, but while in flight were given orders to de-rig. They got out of their chutes, and the planes landed at an airport outside Santo Domingo. They slowed down almost to a stop, lowered the tailgates and the men from the 82nd hopped out the back, he said.

"The planes weren't on the ground for more than a minute," he said.

Once a bridge was secured, Urbach said, they entered the city.

"After that it was just a mission of going to Santo Domingo, house-to-house searches, taking out the bad guys," Urbach said. By June, more than a dozen men from his company had died, he said.

In July, other members of the 82nd relieved Urbach's company. Urbach was discharged in December 1965. The operation continued.

Soon, the 82nd would send men to Vietnam and Operation Power Pack was lost to history.

"I'll be honest with you, we feel we’ve been forgotten," Urbach said. "A lot of the guys felt that we were kind of the forgotten mission that the 82nd had. So we're trying to rekindle that somewhat: to let people know what we did for the 82nd, for the country."

After his military service, he didn't reunite with his buddies from the 82nd who served in Power Pack until 48 years later at All-American Week. He said it so great, they invited a few more comrades for 2014.

Some men wore fatigues, one brought his old jumpboots and other memorabilia. They all shared stories.

"We brought old pictures, it's amazing what you look like after 49 years," he laughed.

"It’s been the highlight of this year," Urbach said of the reunion. "We shared some good moments and bad moments over the years being in the service, but when we all came together it was like we'd seen each other the day before. ... The camaraderie was just wonderful.

They wanted to share that camaraderie with all the veterans who served in the 82nd in Operation Power Pack. They began planning for a 50th anniversary.

"We’re hoping for hundreds," Urbach said. "I would be disappointed if we didn't have a couple of hundred guys show up down there for this reunion."

The planning for the ceremonies is in the early stages and includes potential for the usual events, such as a luncheon and division review.

But, Urbach said, the unique event they hope to get approval for is for all the Power Pack guys to jump the 34-foot tower.

"The 34-foot tower teaches you what you feel like when the parachute opens. You're on cables, almost like a jump line," Urbach said. "You'd be surprised at the number of guys who flunk out of jump school because they won't jump the 34-foot tower harnessed up."

He hopes division will work with them to make it happen.

"We definitely want to jump out of the 34-foot tower after 50 years."

If you are an 82nd Airborne Power Pack veteran or know one, contact Urbach to learn more about the reunion. His e-mail address is


  1. Sgt Urbach should have said it was the first combat mission for the 82nd Airborne since May 1945. The 187 Regimental Combet Team made two combat jumps in the Korean war.

  2. re Russ Spence's comments: Yes the 187 RCT did make 2 jumps in Korea! however, the 187 RCT was NOT part of the 82nd.

  3. We wanted to go! We had so many call-outs that went nowhere. As an automotive parts clerk, I was with a deuce-&-a-half, with my combat parts load. We went out Longstreet to LaMont, then to MacKeller. The Division combat (ammo) load was on 25 lo-boy trailers, parked along MacKeller Rd. I drove thru many times, BUT this time, the canvass was gone, and boxes and crates were strewn everywhere. It looked like a tornado had hit the 25 trailers! It really got my attention when they started handing out that OD & yellow stuff!

    I had about 10 M151 (jeep) tires in my basic parts load. The tarantulas loved those tires! I always found several hiding there. I never heard of anyone being harmed by them.

    I was assigned to an M60 machine gun for our first night in a live combat zone (I have never fired one). About 2:30 AM I heard a noise about six feet in front of the gun. Slowly, quietly, it moved closer and closer! All I have to do is squeeze that trigger. After about 10 agonizing minutes, I figured out that it was a FROG !!!

  4. I served with B company 2nd 325 INF 82 ABN and we airlanded at San Isidro Air Base (Dominican Air Base) spent a night and then crossed the bridge into Santo Domingo at night. I was in the lead company, lead platoon, and lead squad as 3.5 rocket launcher gunner. We met up with a Marine tank early in the AM coming from Red Beach where the Marines had landed. We established an international corridor took some sniper fire before being sent two days later to guard the electric power station.

  5. PFC William B. Johnson - Driver/Radio Operator for Battalion Commander LTC Robert E. Legg. My jeep was one of the first to be up and ready so I was told by CSM Erwin to drive Recon Plt. Ldr. LT. Johnson downtown to link up with the Marines. We crossed the bridge at full throttle and under fire.

  6. Don't know why I left out my unit.I have pictures from back then I would share.

  7. I am dominican and i would like to get some pictures. I need to make a posting on my Facebook page about Dominican War of 1965. can anyone help me, please? Thanks very much !

  8. I can't believe it's been 50 years since I turned 21 In Santo Domingo. Are there any troopers out there that remember "Ace"


  10. I was in Womack army hospital with Richard green, he lost his leg in DR. He was hit by a 37mm tank, his bed was opposite of mine, I could see the open wound when the Doctors made their rounds. I would love to hear from him. He was from the D. C. Area.

  11. I am dominican and i would like to get some pictures. I need to make a posting on my Facebook page about Dominican War of 1965. can anyone help me, please? Thanks very much !

  12. I was there and remember the deployment to The Dominican Republic during April of 1965. I was with the 82nd Airborne Division, Third Brigade, Company C, still have my "dog tags" serial number US 56382080 Honorably discharged 11/2/1966. Please include me in any future re-unions, sorry I missed the last one, didn't know about it, "AIRBORNE all the way"

  13. Please let us know of any other reunions, my husband Gerald Brown (Jerry) was in this group. He would have loved to have gone if he had known. I found this post while searching for him a vets jacket for Christmas. :)

  14. I was in a US Marine "Air & Naval Gunfire Liaison Company" (ANGLICO) and went down on the 28th with the 82nd. My first combat experience and was prepared to jump in when orders were changed in flight. Never saw an M-16 rifle before. Equipped with M-14 rifles my team & I ran out of the back of a C-130 with no ammo. When day break arrived we found an M-60 gunner and 'politely' asked him for a can of his ammo which he 'graciously' provided. He must have thought Marines were nuts.
    Yes, I was AIRBORNE all the way.

  15. Mac took part in Operation Power Pack and feels alone if anyone
    remembers Mac I hope you can help.I've tried to get him to go for
    a disability for ptsd but he just won't go.So if anyone can help him PLEASE contact him Thank You
    William McElhenny 5 Russell Street Watertown,MA 02472

  16. I was a Medic assigned to the 1/17 Cav(Recon)ABN and worked at the "Central Division Infirmary" at Ft Bragg. My enlistment was going to end on 4/28/65 but when the Dominican Republic spat came up I voluntarily extended my service (my MOS was 911.2) after a conversation with the Division Surgeon Dr. David Park (or Parks - my memory fails me!). We arrived in the DR on Day 2 of the invasion and ran the Aid Station for the 1/17 Cav and the Division HQ. After things cooled down in the DR I was allowed to return to Ft. Bragg where I exited the 82nd the day after I arrived back in the US (6/17/1965).