Fort McCoy News August 22, 2014

Special Forces Soldiers conduct Airborne training

STORY & PHOTOS BY SGT. 1ST CLASS KASSIDY SNYDER
Joint Force Headquarters-Illinois National Guard Public Affairs

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — With great weather for Airborne training, approximately 30 Special Forces (SF) Soldiers with the Illinois National Guard's Company A, 2nd Battalion, 20th (2nd, 20th) Special Forces Group (Airborne) of Chicago, conducted day and night static-line and military free-fall operations here Aug. 8.

Photo for Airborne article
Special Forces Soldiers with the Illinois National Guard's Company A, 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) of Chicago, conduct a static-line jump from a CH-47D Chinook from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation Regiment of Peoria, Ill., at Fort McCoy.

Three CH-47D Chinook helicopters from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 238th (2nd, 238th) Aviation Regiment of Peoria, Ill., provided transportation to and from the sky for the SF Soldiers. Static-line jumps were performed from roughly 1,500 feet, while free-fall jumps were from 14,000 feet.

"We rarely get the occasion for night jumps, and it's a great opportunity to stay proficient and keep our jumpmasters current," said Company A, 2nd, 20th's commander.

During the night, Soldiers performed a high-altitude high-opening jump where they opened the parachute immediately and traveled a lateral distance of 9 kilometers to the drop zone.

SF Soldiers must conduct four jumps a year to maintain jump proficiency. Jumpmasters are senior Soldiers who manage airborne jump operations. They inspect all equipment prior to loading the aircraft, confirm in-flight navigation and act as a safety for proper exiting procedures.

"It's always an interesting mission for us and good real-world training for the Special Forces," said Capt. A.J. Hager of Galesburg, Ill., a Chinook pilot with Company B, 2nd, 238th. "It keeps us proficient transporting troops and allows us to assist Soldiers within the Illinois Guard."

Photo for Airborne article
Special Forces Soldiers descend to a Fort McCoy landing zone after a military free-fall jump.

Company B, 2nd, 238th returned from Afghanistan in December and was back to fully mission capable in April. The company typically does two or three paradrop operations a year in addition to passenger and cargo movement and external loads, said Hager.

SF Soldiers complete a multitude of missions from maritime operations to surveillance and reconnaissance.

"Airborne operations, both static-line and military free-fall, provide a means of infiltration; it is our way of getting to work," said Company A, 2nd, 20th's operations officer.

A majority of the Soldiers with Company A, 2nd, 20th are traditional Soldiers who also hold a full-time civilian career ranging from attorney to rocket scientist and physician assistant. Ages range from the early 20s to late 40s.

"Within the span of those ages, the knowledge and experience we have allows us to adapt a lot easier and think out of the box to meet mission requirements," said Company A, 2nd, 20th's commander. "Most SF Guardsmen serve because they like the flexibility to have a civilian job, but do it because they want to be here, too."