FORT BRAGG, N.C. –
U.S. paratroopers conducted the first jumpmaster validation exercise in preparation for Operation Toy Drop with eight partner nations here Nov. 30, 2017.
“This is where all the jumpmasters, both foreign and American, are familiarizing themselves with the jump procedures,” said Col. Robert Sentell, U.S. Army Civil Affairs Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) operations officer and airborne commander for Operation Toy Drop. “Prior to jumping, you have to do actions in the aircraft, which means … no matter if you’re a jumpmaster or jumper, you have to run that crew through what happens in the aircraft.”
Prior to jumping, jumpmasters gathered before sunrise to conduct jump rehearsals and jumpmaster inspections.
“That’s going through and making sure, once each individual rigs up the parachute, they don’t have any deficiencies and that they’re safe to jump and ready to load the aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Randall Austin, a jumpmaster with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. “Anytime anyone rigs up, a jumpmaster will always make sure they inspect the jumper … from head to toe, starting at the helmet working all the way down to the leg straps.”
Established in 1998 by a USACAPOC(A) Soldier, Operation Toy Drop draws thousands of Soldiers each year with the opportunity to participate in a collective training and airborne operation conducted by U.S. and foreign jumpmasters.
“I’ve been jumping nonstop for 32 years, and this is the 20th anniversary of Operation Toy Drop. I’ve been doing [Toy Drop] the last seven years,” said Chief Warrant Officer Mike Rich, a jumpmaster and the Command Chief Warrant Officer for USACAPOC(A). “We’re training a lot of partner nations, so we want to make sure that everybody understands the procedures with all qualified jumpmaster personnel before we put the Joes in the aircraft.”
Eight partner nations - The Netherlands, Poland, Latvia, Sweden, Canada, Columbia, Italy and Germany - joined U.S. paratroopers for this year’s Operation Toy Drop.
“Every year we do Operation Toy Drop, and every year we work with different countries,” said Austin. “I’ve been in the military for 21 years, so I’ve jumped with nine or 10 different countries. It’s a chance for them to see how we jump, and then to go through the jump process with them, hear their commands and see how they do it. This jump we’ve got the Netherlands, Poland, Latvia, Sweden, Canada and Columbia. It’s different every year.”
Upon completion of Operation Toy Drop, participating paratroopers will receive foreign jump wings from jumpmasters of each of the partner nations.