This article was published as part of a content-sharing agreement between Army Times and The Fayetteville Observer.

FORT LIBERTY, N.C. — Retired Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell was running on the beach several months ago when he received a phone call from Command Sgt. Maj. Randolph Delapena.

Delapena is the senior enlisted leader for the 82nd Airborne Division. Troxell is a former senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Delapena told Troxell that he was one of seven paratroopers selected by 82nd Airborne veterans and military leaders within the division to be inducted into this year’s 82nd Airborne Division All American Hall of Fame.

Troxell stopped running, bent over with his hands on his knees to “take in the moment,” and called his wife, he said following an induction ceremony Wednesday, May 22.

“Then I just started reflecting on all of the paratroopers I served with, all of those who served before me, and it was again, overwhelming to understand that I’m going to be part of that group,” Troxell said.

Troxell spent 38 years in the Army from 1982 to 2020 and served in the 82nd from 1986 to 1992 and from 1995 to 1999.

“My formative years were in this division on this road on this base, and I got my baptism by enemy fire in Operation Just Cause and subsequent combat tours in Operations Desert Storm, and this what propelled my career for me where I ended up at the pinnacle of enlisted ranks in the Department of Defense,” he said.

2024 inductees

The 82nd Hall of Fame honors paratroopers whose acts of valor changed the division or those who impacted the division and continue to support it.

This year’s recipients “embody inexplicable commitment, extreme competence and unassailable character,” division commander, Maj. Gen. J. Patrick “Pat” Work, told Wednesday’s crowd.

“There’s no sunshine patriots, no summer paratroopers,” Work said. “Those types ain’t allowed in our hall.”

Among this year’s honorees are those who served in various roles, “from fire team leader to commanding general.” Of the inductees, there are two division command sergeants major, four first sergeants and two platoon leaders, Work said.

“Their journeys in North Africa, Sicily, Salerno Bay, Normandy, Caisson, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria led each of them to this hall of heroes,” Work said.

One of this year’s recipients, 1st Lt. Turner Turnbull, was posthumously inducted.

Turnbull and his battalion within the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment landed in France on June 6, 1943, and were ordered to defend an area north of Sainte-Mère-Église.

Turnbull’s unit was under Nazi fire for several hours and managed to secure Sainte-Mère-Église, but Turnbull died the following day from injuries he sustained in battle.

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Angel Serrano served 22 years of his 26 years of his active-duty Army career with the division.

Since his retirement in 2003, he has continued to serve the division as a safety officer.

“And since 2003, as (a) Department of Army civilian, he’s deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for this division four distinct times,” Work said.

Following Wednesday’s ceremony, Serrano said he prefers to “fly under the radar” and is shocked by being in the division Hall of Fame.

He said being a paratrooper means he’s “the luckiest guy in the world.”

“I wanted to continue to support and serve these paratroopers in any capacity that I was able to do so,” Serrano said.

For Troxell, being a paratrooper means “you’re part of America’s best.”

“You are part of the most storied division in the history of the United States Army and when you put that beret on, it means that you represent something larger than yourself and that you are expected to look like a professional, act like a professional so that you perform like a professional on the worst day of your life in combat against a foreign enemy,” he said.

Other paratroopers inducted into this year’s Hall of Fame included retired Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Christino Nunez, retired Command Sgt. Maj. LaMarquis Knowles and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Felix Acosta.

Read to see their biographies.

Staff writer Rachael Riley can be reached at or 910-486-3528.

In Other News
Load More