Jump qualified; Airborne ready

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mariette Adams
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Adrenaline kicks in and excitement begins to rise. The Army sergeant gazes 1,250 feet below as he prepares to jump out the back door of a C-130 Hercules aircraft.  As his excitement turns to fear he pushes past, and concentrates on the task at hand. He steps forward and hurls himself toward the ground at terminal velocity only to be saved by the parachute he packed.  

Searching for the drop zone, he keeps distance from other jumpers and faces the wind to ensure a smooth landing. Once on the ground, the feeling of satisfaction takes.

This wasn’t the first time Sgt. 1st Class Oscar L. Angel, the NCO in charge of parachute riggers assigned to the Joint Communications Support Element jumped out of an aircraft. Angel has jumped this type of jump hundreds of times.

As parachute riggers, these trained soldiers, must master all aspects of airborne parachute operations.

“We as parachute riggers manage the daily operations, pack parachutes, coordinate airborne missions and advise commanders on the airborne program,” said Angel.

They are also responsible for helping airborne service members remain jump qualified.

Here at MacDill, the parachute riggers attached to U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Operations Command Central and JCSE assist in training, retraining and certifying personnel from various units.

“Service members are required to jump once every three months for pay and proficiency,” explained Staff Sgt. Robert Little, a parachute rigger assigned to SOCOM.

In addition to keeping service members qualified, parachute riggers are trained to air drop essential supplies.

“We are qualified to air drop anything the mission might need to include ammunition, food, medicine, vehicles and fuel; you name it, we can drop it,” said Angel.

At all time, the parachute riggers keep safety at the forefront of their minds as they accomplish missions.

“The bottom line is we have people’s lives in our hands and every time someone steps out of the aircraft, they are trusting that, as riggers, we did our job correctly,” explained Angel. “Our motto is ‘I will be sure always.’”

Through the natural risks of the career field, they remain driven to provide a safe jump environment.

“My career field is highly motivated and mission oriented,” said Little. “In my 14 years as a parachute rigger, I've never seen a mission fail.

“We perform all tasks to standard and even when faced with adversity or unfavorable conditions, we always finish the job.”