Although still around, paratroopers are no longer as common of a sight as they once were. This type of unit was born during the Second World War, although history credits Benjamin Franklin as the first one to have thought of it, in the 1700s, when he proposed soldiers being dropped from balloons.
But the first country to apply the concept was Germany in the 1930s, when it founded the Fallschirmjäger that would later be dropped into combat over the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. In 1941, the British created their own paratrooper force, followed by the United States as soon as the country joined the war.
Since they came into being, paratroopers were involved in some massive and spectacular drops, with the largest one being during Operation Market Garden in September 1944, when over 34,000 troops descended from the sky in the Netherlands.
The invasion of Normandy, Operation Varsity, or the Battle of Crete also became massive operations in the paratrooper history books.
After the war, the use of these units significantly dropped, but that does not mean paratroopers are no longer around, or that they don’t look just as spectacular today as they always did. And proof of that is this recently released USAF pic (click main photo to enlarge) showing an undisclosed number of American and Japanese forces dropping over Guam.
The photo was taken by Master Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger and shows forces of the American 36th Airlift Squadron and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force falling from two C-130J Super Hercules planes high above in the sky.