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NEWS | Dec. 15, 2016

Nashville riggers, Lifeliner Soldiers unite for airdrop training

By Sgt. Neysa Canfield 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Parachutes filled the sky above Suckchon Drop Zone, here, as Soldiers and equipment slowly drifted to the ground.

Soldiers from 74th Transportation Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Sustainment Brigade, 101st Abn. Div., and parachute riggers from 861st Quartermaster Co., a reserve unit from Nashville, Tennessee, teamed up Dec. 7 to conduct aerial delivery and recovery training.

U.S. Army parachute rigger Soldiers are trained to repair, build, pack and conduct maintenance on parachutes as well as securing supplies, equipment and vehicles for airdrops.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Philip Hamill, an airdrop systems technician with 861st QM Co., said aerial delivery missions, also called airdrops, provide the ability to distribute equipment and supplies to Soldiers in secluded areas. Training at home station is crucial in order to perform missions proficiently overseas, he said.

For the airdrop, Sgt. Kathryn Kidwell, a motor transport operator with 74th Trans. Co., ensured the drop zone was safe and secure for Hamill’s Soldiers and the bundles of parachutes to land.

Setting up a drop zone is a task she learned during jumpmaster and pathfinder school and she was excited to refresh her skills by setting up the area for the training, she said.

“It was a great experience,” explained Kidwell. “I was able to work with new equipment,; and the Soldiers from 861st [QM Co.] are very proficient at their job and were available if I needed assistance.”

As Kidwell prepared the drop zone, Hamill’s Soldiers made sure they packed everything properly by conducting inspections before and after boarding the bundles on the aircraft.

Hamill said that the training was beneficial to his Soldiers because it refreshed their skills and allowed them to perform a jump.  

“It has been a while since we have conducted training with the 101st, so when the opportunity opened up, we took it,” said Hamill.

In order to stay certified as a parachute rigger, Soldiers have to jump out of an aircraft once a quarter, Hamill added.

Once the drop zone was ready and the aircraft was loaded Kidwell, Hamill and the Soldiers of 74th Trans. Co. patiently waited for the drop.

Soldiers watched as the bundles and six parachute riggers exited the aircraft above the drop zone.

After all the bundles and Soldiers landed safely on the ground, Soldiers of 74th Trans. Co. quickly moved into action for the recovery phase.

Soldiers collected the bundles from the drop zone using a forklift and a Palletized Load System vehicle provided by 129th CSSB.

“Overall the drop went great and a lot of the Soldiers [in my company] were extremely excited to see the air operation,” said Kidwell. “When it was time for the recovery phase, they were motivated to show off their capabilities.”

Hamill agreed with Kidwell that all areas of the training were executed perfectly and said he hopes that the partnership between 861st QM Co. and the 101st Abn. Div. Sust. Bde. continues.