NATO countries land successful Jump Week

by Senior Airman Katherine Holt
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

More than 200 paratroopers from six NATO countries participated in airborne jump operations during International Jump Week Monday to Thursday.

Paratroopers from Germany, U.K., Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Army jumped out of aircraft from Papa Air Base, Hungary, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and the 37th Airlift Squadron here.

Service members got the chance to jump under the command of foreign jumpmasters and guided their chutes toward a small drop zone in Southwestern Germany.

Although earning foreign wings is an accomplishment in itself, the event allows each of the nation’s service members to take away new capabilities and experiences.

“It was a great day for international parachuting, and the weather was very accommodating,” said Maj. Jason Medsger, 435th Security Forces Squadron commander and primary jumpmaster for the annual event. “It’s great to build partnership capacity with jumpers from other countries; this is great for camaraderie.”

For one Airman, the opportunity to experience Jump Week is one he will never forget, he said.

“It seems like the airborne community is the same everywhere ― gung-ho, ready to get the job done ― whatever the mission,” said Airman 1st Class Hutch Stilgenbauer, 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron tactical air control party specialist.

The 26-year-old Houston, Texas, native jumped for the first time since airborne school this week.

“Everything was exactly the same as jump school. It was a good jump,” he said. “It was awesome for (the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing) to invite us out here to jump and it was great to get so many countries and specialties from all over the world together.” 

This year is the third annual and successful Jump Week hosted by the 435th Contingency Response Group under the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing.

“Building these partnerships with our allies is just as important as jumping,” said Col. John Shapalnd, 435th AGOW commander. “It’s great because jumpers from all over get to share experiences, (tactics, techniques and procedures), jumps and war stories with each other. That bond is resilient and lasting.”