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Army Sgt. Eddie Reyes, Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT VALLEY, Ga., Jan. 12, 2009 –
Army Reserve soldiers conducted an airborne jump here Jan. 9 for a group of civilian employers during the first Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve “Boss-lift” event for the 421st Quartermaster Company, 143rd Sustainment Command.
For Michael Price, a crime-scene unit sergeant for the Birmingham Police Department, attending the event was a small way to show his appreciation.
“I attended the event to show one of my employees support before he heads out to Afghanistan,” he said. “There is a lot more going on than people think. It is not a weekend getaway. It is amazing how they balance their civilian lifestyle with their military duties. It is truly amazing.”
Markus Heinrice, vice president of Derco Aerospace, said he continues to have a large amount of respect for the soldiers who work in his company after experiencing his first trip aboard the C-130 and watching soldiers jump into the landing zone.
“It was spectacular to see what these citizen-soldiers do to train and maintain their proficiency,” Heinrice said. “We have had a number of soldiers employed in our company that have been deployed to the Middle East. Not only do we appreciate the sacrifices these soldiers make, but also the event itself was superb, and I cannot think of anything they could have done better.”
Planning for the event, which officials plan to conduct annually, began in August, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jim Micko, the quartermaster company’s special projects sergeant, said. Unit leaders coordinated with the Air Force Reserve and kept track of regional jump activity to find the best time to execute the project.
“To the person looking from the outside in, it might seem easy to just put civilians inside of a plane, but it is not that easy,” he said. “Logistics have to be right, the maintenance of the planes has to be current, and we have to plan so that our jump does not impede the efforts of the Air Force in supporting the troops in combat. This was a joint-service event that was coordinated perfectly between the Army Reserve and the Air Force.”
The ESGR Boss-lift program seeks to improve relationships between citizen-soldiers and their employers by showing the employers what their employees do in their military service, Micko said.
Soldiers briefed more than 20 civilian employers about the various tasks performed during a drill weekend, which include rigging parachutes and training drills before a jump. Several soldiers demonstrated the process and steps used to rig a parachute for personnel and supply drops, and the various spot checks along the way ensure proper parachute openings.
The employers got a tour of the unit’s facilities and saw the different types of parachutes used to drop supplies from the air to soldiers on the ground, including the G-12 Container Delivery System used to drop fragile items at a low velocity. Briefers pointed out the attention to detail needed in accomplishing each task, noting that simple mistakes could cost a soldier’s life. The employers learned that each soldier periodically jumps using a parachute he rigged to preserve trust and cohesion within the unit.
After the briefings, soldiers rehearsed plane-exiting procedures and proper landing techniques. Using a structure made of pipe and wires simulating the back of an Air Force C-130, soldiers attached their static lines to the wires, performed last-minute inspections and checks with jumpmasters, and completed simulated jumps, practicing their landings into a sand pit.
After the rehearsals, the employers boarded a C-130 Hercules transport from the Air Force Reserve’s 94th Airlift Wing, 700th Airlift Squadron, and ascended into the skies. Soldiers simulated an airborne jump without jumping out so the employers could get a glimpse of all the steps needed for a successful jump. After the 45-minute flight, the employers visited the landing zone so they could watch their employees complete the airborne jumps.
“We were able to provide the civilian employers with a simulation of an actual airborne jump without placing them at risk,” Air Force Master Sgt. Pete Kowalski, the C-130’s crew chief, said. “Events like these help them understand, and give them a reason to support what we do. Plus, the thrill of flying on a military aircraft should encourage other civilian employers to participate in the program, because not everyone gets to be in one,” he added.
(Army Sgt. Eddie Reyes serves with the Army Reserve’s 204th Public Affairs Detachment.)