Friday, August 23, 2013

Airlifters enable jump week

by Airman 1st Class Soo C. Kim,  374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The C-130 Hercules shakes with turbulence as it hits a thermal updraft. The seats are packed with adrenaline-soaked Soldiers fully equipped in gear and parachutes.

"Ten minutes!" A jumpmaster yells out over the aircraft noise. "Ten minutes!" Soldiers reply as they prepare themselves for the aircraft's drop zone entry. When given the order, they hook into the zip-line and line up ready to take the dive.

Time seems to fly by as the aircraft steadies its route. "Five minutes!" is announced and soon after comes the call, "Two minutes!"

The loadmaster opens the troop door, letting in blinding light that shines on the Soldiers' determined faces. Beyond the door is nothing but a free-fall to earth.

The aircraft enters the drop window and a voice announces over the radio, "Green light, green light! Go, go, go!"

The paratroopers leap out the door, their C-9 parachutes rapidly deploying behind them. Olive drab canopies open above them, and the Soldiers steer into the wind toward the landing zone.

From Aug. 21-23, 2013, Army Special Forces paratroopers participated in joint jump training with aircrews from the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

"We conduct airborne operations training in order to maintain proficiencies for any possible future combat airborne operations," said Army Staff Sgt. Adrian Colon, 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group.

During the week, the Soldiers participated in multiple jump sorties aboard three C-130 Hercules assigned to the 374th Airlift Wing.

"We had number of people conducting combat jumps, jumping with their combat equipment and we also had people conducting sustainment jumps, with just their parachute and no equipment," said Army Capt. Robert Shumaker, the Headquarters Support Company commander.

The training began with mission briefings, gear checks and run throughs of multiple jump scenarios on the ground before taking to the air.

"The training was a success," Shumaker said.

According to Army Staff Sgt. Emerson McArthur, lead jumpmaster, this training was a rare opportunity for him and his fellow jumpers.

"Today we had three birds following each other for combat mass attack operations," McArthur said. "Normally we don't get to do that, but the 374th provided the support for us."

Not only was the training beneficial to maintain proficiency for the jumpers, but it was also a step necessary for the jumpers to advance into higher ranks.

"(Today's) jump was required to advance to senior jump master status," McArthur said. "(This type of jump) doesn't happen often and we appreciate the support we received today."