JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
Three U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 12th Operations Support Squadron had the opportunity to participate in a tandem freefall jump training exercise with members of the 4th Marine Reconnaissance Battalion at South Texas Regional Airport at Hondo, Texas, Dec. 11, 2020.
The training took much preparation and coordination between the 12th OSS, the 4th Marine Reconnaissance Battalion and the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron.
“Myself and the Airmen involved were very excited to participate,” said 1st Lt. Denise Johnson, 12th OSS aerospace physiologist. “A lot of our mission is routine training briefings, so getting out of the office to experience what we brief is necessary.”
Preparations for the jump began Oct. 3, lasted until Dec. 8, and consisted of checking parachute equipment, verifying the jump log, keeping up with physical fitness, completing swim qualification, and finalizing the training schedule and roster. Marine participants performed all required maintenance and began preparation for load out Dec. 8.
Staff Sgt. Patrick Doody, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion paraloft chief, Marine Forces Reserve, led the exercise and hosted classes to teach the 12th OSS Airmen how to pack a parachute and practice the required transition jumps.
The priority of the training event was to get Marines transitioned to a new parachute system, which was developed to be safer and more efficient for all participants. They also trained to advance the proficiency of parachutists, riggers, jumpmasters, and to build the skills and experience within the battalion.
Staff Sgt. Adam Powell, 4th Marine Reconnaissance Battalion freefall jumper, coordinated with Johnson and Airman 1st Class Joselito Umali, aerospace physiology technician, 12th OSS, for the jump from an U.S. Air Force C-130. The jump also helped Doody maintain his proficiency as a tandem offset resupply delivery system personnel master.
“Reading how to fall out of a C-130 is way different than actually falling out of one,” Johnson said. “It was a great overall experience, for the thrill of it and seeing first hand all the aspects of aerospace physiology that we brief.”
Johnson said it was also rewarding to see her Airmen jump.
For this training exercise, due to the ongoing pandemic, transition, refresher, sustained airborne training, and appropriate jump briefings were first conducted in a 20,000-square-foot open hanger reserved just for the battalion. At the beginning of each training day, the Marines participating had their temperatures checked and were screened for COVID-19 symptoms. Social distancing was practiced, and when social distancing was impractical, a proper face mask was utilized.
On Dec. 9 and 10, the battalion participated in personnel and aerial delivery parachute insertion progression training, including profiles that incorporate Low-Level Static Line, Joint Precision Airdrop System, Military Freefall, and Tandem Offset Resupply Delivery System Equipment. Marines from the 4th Air Naval Gun Liaison Company and the 3rd Force Recon also conducted parachute transition training.
“Military free fall is a specialized insert method for Reconnaissance Marines,” said Staff Sgt Adam Powell. “This type of training is critical to building, and maintaining the skills needed to conduct military free-fall, combat loaded, at night onto unmarked designated zones.”
“The goal is to have this training more frequently so the officers and Airmen get as much training exposure as possible,” Johnson said. “Qualifying for free fall training is a long process and has a lot of physical requirements and tests to be able to initiate the pipeline.”