Friday, January 25, 2008

Last Jump: XVIII Airborne Corps Heads Out Door

BY Sgt. Jeremy D. Crisp

Col. Ron S. Gallimore, XVIII Airborne Corps assistant chief of staff for the Army National Guard and paratrooper since 1973, gives a safety briefing to Corps' Soldiers Jan. 15. This was the last pre-deployment jump for the Corps as it heads to Baghdad to take over its role as Multi-National Corps-Iraq. "

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Army News Service, Jan. 23, 2008) -- The XVIII Airborne Corps Special Troops Battalion performed its last pre-deployment jump Jan. 15 at Sicily drop zone on Fort Bragg - heading out the door of a C-130 high-performance aircraft before heading to Baghdad.

Sixty-two paratroopers participated in the jump, to include a number from the 270th Signal Company, all deploying to take on various roles in, or as, the Multi-National Corps-Iraq. Some of these Soldiers have already left to begin their deployment, with others on the way over the next month.

But this jump was a little more special for one Soldier, because where a deployment begins, some things come to an end.

Veteran of 83 jumps, Col. Ron S. Gallimore, had to get a letter from the secretary of Defense to keep from being forced to retire at the age of 60 - an age he will hit while deployed with the Corps.

Gallimore, a master parachutist and the XVIII Airborne Corps assistant chief of staff for the National Guard, said he won't have the time to jump upon redeployment before he will retire, "So this looks like it will be my last jump," he said.

He added that being around paratroopers is one of the reasons he joined the Army well over 30 years ago.

"It's magic," Gallimore said. "Being able to be around young paratroopers makes me want to get up in the morning."

Although the last jump before deployment for Gallimore and the Corps, it proved to be a first of sorts for some.

As Gallimore patrolled the line during manifest call, he asked the ranks, "How many of you, will this be your sixth jump?"

Scores of hands popped up, indicating their first jump after graduating airborne school.

For some, it was only their seventh jump, including Pvt. Mary Shannon Whitley, a medic with the Corps' Surgeons office.

"I feel good about our last jump," Whitley said while waiting for the plane at Green Ramp on Pope Air Force Base.

She said she was looking forward to getting the deployment started, and this was one piece of that.

Two days after the successful jump, scores of Soldiers headed out the door on their way to Baghdad as the advance party for the Corps deployment. Others left a week prior, with the remainder leaving before the middle of February.