by Pfc. Stephen Decatur
21st Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs
***image1***The instructor strolled by his surrounding students, shouting commands at breakneck speed like an auctioneer ramping up the prices on some exclusive sale. The troops, standing in a circle around him, responded to every order of the almost unintelligible language as if it was the way they were raised to speak, checking each other’s parachutes with speed and efficiency. It’s a time-honored scene at the U.S. Army Advanced Airborne School at Fort Bragg, N.C., but for Soldiers and Airmen in Europe, it was a brand-new sight.
The first jumpmaster’s course to be held in the European Command was hosted by 5th Quartermaster Company, part of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, at Rhine Ordinance Barracks July 11 to 27.
Airborne operations could not be performed without jumpmasters, said Staff Sgt. Jesse Feury, a jumpmaster instructor at the recent course. Jumpmasters ensure the safety of the jumpers in every aspect of the jump, from proper rigging of equipment, to the moment that Soldiers exit the aircraft.
The course is challenging. By the end of the second week seven of the original 62 students had already dropped out.
“Not just anybody can pass this course,” said Sgt. Robert George, a parachute rigger with 5th Quartermaster Company who went through the training.
From day one, students were bombarded with information. They learned a whole new set of nomenclature for equipment and tasks with which they had already been familiar as airborne Soldiers, they learned to remember sustained airborne training by heart – a task somewhat like memorizing the Soldier’s Creed, the NCO Creed, and the Ranger Creed all at once – they practiced operations on the aircraft both during live flights and in a mock aircraft at the training site, and they practiced jumpmaster personnel inspections until the word ‘drill’ seemed like an appropriately symbolic phrase.
“For a lot of the jumpmasters this will be their first experience at not passing a military course because of the mental stress placed on them,” said 1st Sgt. Albert Hinton, a Black Hat at the U.S. Army Advanced Airborne School who has been a jumpmaster since 1992, “Not all Soldiers can be jumpmasters … you may be the very best squad leader, but you may not have the ability to be a jumpmaster.”
By bringing the course to EUCOM, the Army supplied units including 21st TSC, 10th Special Forces Group, and the Air Force’s 786th Security Forces Squadron with vital training they needed to accomplish their airborne missions without the financial burden of sending them all the way back to the states. The advantage for the units is quite simple.
“If we have our own jumpmasters, then we can run our own operation,” said Maj. Thomas P. Sherman, commander of the 786th SF Squadron and a participant in the course.
Like in all military training, the servicemembers also learned a lesson in teamwork, this time between three services, including the Army, Air Force and Navy.
“All in all, this is an incredible experience not only from the training aspect, but also from the joint aspect,” said Major Sherman, “because when we’re flying under the EUCOM flag, we’re all going to have to work together.”