***image1******image2***Eleven 21st Theater Support Command Soldiers from the 5th Quartermaster Company, 191st Ordnance Battalion, 29th Support Group, earned the right to wear Belgian Military Parachutists badges on their Class A uniforms in Schaffen, Belgium, March 1.
The Soldiers completed two jumps from a helium balloon floating 1,000 feet in the air, said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Dooley, the 5th Quartermaster first sergeant.
“It was excellent. My first jump was excellent. It was perfect. The winds were perfect. The weather was perfect. The landing was soft. I didn’t have to slip, or turn in any way,” Sergeant Dooley said.
It was the first time members from the 5th QM jumped from a balloon.
“All of us were a little nervous because it’s the first time we have done it. With the balloon, it goes up slower and you have a lot of time to look at the ground and realize that you are about a 1,000 feet off the ground. The second jump everyone seemed a lot more confident,” he added.
Sergeant Dooley said the training the 5th QM received from the Belgians was critical. Training began at 8:30 a.m. on jump day. They trained on how to inspect the Belgian parachute, inspection drills and drills on the parachute exits, turns and commands.
The big difference for the riggers was the exit from the balloon. During aircraft exits, Soldiers never touch the sides of the aircraft and then just step out. Soldiers put their hands on the side of the balloon and jump out and down, the sergeant said.
The jumps are part of an ongoing partnership program. Belgians are scheduled to jump with the 5th QM in Kaiserslautern this spring, he said.
“We had a partnership with the Germans and that seemed to go well, and now we are reaching out to the Belgians,” Sergeant Dooley said. “Parachute partnerships are important because we learn from each other. It’s always good to learn from other countries. We help each other out.”
Safety is the main motivation for partnership exchange of Belgian Parachuting School First Sgt. Maj. Oliver “Olly” Sevestre, a jump-master instructor or “Despatcher.”
Units that jump in Europe should strive to understand and learn the equipment and techniques of all militaries jumping in Europe, Sergeant Major Sevestre said.
The Belgians are the only military in Europe to jump from balloons. The balloons are used for training, Sergeant Major Sevestre said.
5th QM is the only Aerial Delivery Resupply Company in United States Army Europe. The unit’s mission is to provide aerial delivery resupply and air items maintenance to units in theater and beyond.