Evolution is a marvelous phenomenon that we daily see in multiple aspects of our universe. However, the products of evolution can sometimes create confusion. This is often the case with the three organizations that support Sky Soldiers and their families under the Sky Soldier umbrella.
What started as a social gathering of fewer than 50 Sky Soldiers in 1967 at Fort Benning evolved into three organizations that support those who wear or wore “The Sky Soldier Patch.” These organizations can best be described as fraternal, charitable and memorial and are the 173d Airborne Brigade Association, the 173d Airborne Brigade Association Foundation, and the 173d Airborne Brigade National Memorial Foundation.
The 173d Airborne Brigade Association is the parent organization from which the other two entities evolved. The Association’s mission statement includes words such as “…develop the common bonds…. assemble and maintain the awards… preserve and publish the history of The Brigade…. perpetuate the memory of Sky Soldiers who died in the service of their Country…. be of assistance to Sky Soldiers in matters pertaining to Veterans Affairs… render acts of charity and service to the community and the Association.”
As the fraternal wing of the organizations under the Sky Soldier Banner, the Association’s Board of Directors (that includes representatives from each of its Chapters) maintain a massive membership roster, plan and support annual reunions, promotes the growth of the Association, maintains the Sky Soldier PX and the Association Website and publishes and distributes the excellent quarterly Association magazine. Its fraternal activities are supported by membership dues and other fund-raising activities.
Because of the expanded scope of its activities, the 173d Airborne Brigade Association transferred its charitable activities to the recently created 173d Airborne Brigade Association Foundation or Sky Soldiers Foundation. This organization fulfills the charitable aspects of Sky Soldier support by providing core signature programs that include the 173d Airborne Wounded Warrior Program, the Bereavement and Gold Star Program, and the Scholarship Program. It supports its extensive charitable works in large part through Combined Federal Campaign donations and other fund-raising activities.
The Association, in 2006, directed the 173d Airborne Brigade Memorial Committee to charter an independent National Memorial Foundation that would subsequently build a world class National Memorial located on the campus of the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning. The 173d Airborne Brigade National Memorial Foundation, Inc. raised funds and broke ground for the Memorial on the National Infantry Foundation’s Walk of Honor in 2008 and dedicated the Memorial in 2010. The National Memorial Foundation is governed by an elected Board of Directors that is supported by prestigious military and civilians who constitute its Advisory Board. The Memorial Foundation is self sustaining and is building an Endowment Fund to maintain the memorial through donations to its Spartan Club.
The 173d Airborne Brigade National Memorial Foundation maintains the Sky Soldier National Memorial, adds data to the black granite panels as events dictate and conducts appropriate ceremonies at the Memorial consistent with its mission to perpetuate the Sky Soldier legacy and honor its fallen warriors.
The Memorial Foundation maintains sole ownership of the 173d Sky Soldier Memorial. It is solely responsible for the Design, Construction, Content, and Maintenance of the Sky Soldier Memorial. As sole owner of the Memorial, it holds the copyright of the image and must grant approval for its use on any publication or product bearing that image. The Memorial Foundation is solely responsible for the planning and execution of ceremony’s held at the Memorial. While visitors are welcome to visit the Memorial, individuals and groups wishing to conduct ceremonies there must obtain approval from the Memorial Foundation at least two weeks in advance of any ceremony or program.
Given Murphy’s law, with three organizations that have similar names but distinct and unique Missions, confusion will sometimes exist. To get answers when questions exist or to determine how you best can contribute to any of the Sky Soldier programs, apply the KISS principal (Fraternal, Charitable and Memorial) and contact the appropriate point of contact.! It’s as simple as that!
173d Airborne Brigade Association https://skysoldier.net/
Sky Soldier Foundation https://www.skysoldiersfoundation.org/
173d Airborne Brigade National Memorial Foundation https://www.173dairbornememorial.org/