Killer Wind in the Mojave

Desert gusts maim paratroopers in mass airdrop

It was 6 a.m. The sun had just risen when a squadron of Air Force C-130's and C-141 Starlifters appeared over the Mojave Desert at Fort Irwin, Calif., some 130 miles northeast of Los Angeles. From three landing zones on the desert floor, plumes of colored smoke began to rise. At that go-ahead signal, the sky blossomed with parachutes as 2,300 troops of the elite 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., began the first phase of operation Gallant Eagle '82, a massive $45 million mock invasion...

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