Paratroopers take to the skies

Story and photos by Sgt. Frank Sanchez III
21st TSC Public Affairs

In any nation’s military, paratroopers have always been viewed as belonging to a select fraternity.

At the 2009 International Jump Week, Soldiers and Airmen from five countries participated, bonded and learned from one another. The event took place from Aug. 9 to 14 and was hosted by the 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s 5th Quartermaster Company and the 435th Contingency Response Group on Ramstein.

The jumpers began their busy day with sustained airborne training conducted by U.S. jumpmasters at the 5th QM Co. rigger facility on Rhine Ordnance Barracks. They then traveled to Ramstein to suit up with U.S. T-10 Delta parachutes to perform multiple low altitude static-line jumps from the back tailgate of a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo plane.

 Sgt. 1st Class Herschel Gillins, a platoon sergeant with the 5th QM Co., talked about the importance of planning and participating in International Jump Week.  
“It builds bonds between different nations. We know for a fact that we can count on those nations if we’ve trained with them before,” he said. “When it comes down to more serious situations, we know who we can count on because we have that cohesiveness.”
The units participating in the event were from the German 26th and 31st Airborne Brigades, the Para-Commando Brigade from Belgium, the Dutch Marine Korps, the Dutch Air Force and an Italian Airborne unit.

On the American side, paratroopers came from the 5th QM Co., the 435th CRG and the 4th Air Support Group.

Master Sgt. Kai Becker, a German Bundeswehr paratrooper with the 26th Airborne Brigade, said he believes being an airborne Soldier means belonging to a truly special brotherhood. 

“I have jumped now in 25 nations all over the world, and everywhere it is the same,” he said. “When you come to an airborne unit, you are among friends.”