Ramstein AB Airmen support Bulgarian military free-fall course during Thracian Fall 19

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kirsten Brandes
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airmen and aircraft from the 37th Airlift Squadron deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, provided primary airlift support for a U.S. sponsored military free-fall course in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Sept. 24 - Oct. 1, 2019.

As a central focus of exercise Thracian Fall 19, the military free-fall course, paired members of Bulgaria’s 68th Special Forces Brigade with contracted U.S. military jumpmasters to qualify the Bulgarian jumpers on a new type of parachute.

Bulgarian Brig. Gen. Yavor Mateev, 68th Special Forces Brigade commander, considers this type of training essential for maintaining readiness.

“Thracian Fall is one of the most important trainings for Bulgarian special forces,” Mateev said. “To be ready means that when something happens and we need to conduct real operations, we can sit in your plane and conduct safe and successful operations with the United States Air Force.”

U.S. Air Force Capt. Korie Roberts, Thracian Fall 19 mission commander, noted that the course gave members of the 37th AS the opportunity to practice their “bread and butter” airdrop capabilities.

“We get a lot of aircrew experience performing high altitude, low opening personnel drops and that’s great for our proficiencies, in addition to helping out the Bulgarians,” Roberts said. “This type of training really puts our interoperability to the test. We’re working with partner nations, exploring the capabilities that we share and how to make both of us stronger.”

Members of the 435th Contingency Response Group, also deployed from Ramstein Air Base, provided landing zone controllers to conduct airfield operations and ensure safety for all involved.

Staff Sgt. Cameron Piontek, a 435th CRG landing zone controller, only had positive things to say regarding his experience during Thracian Fall 19.

“It’s been great (and) they’ve been super cooperative,” Piontek said on working with the Bulgarian Air Force. “They’ve got a ton of stuff to teach us and we’ve got a ton of stuff to learn. They’ve been very welcoming and have given us everything we’ve needed to get our training accomplished. We’ve been able to help them out with some of their training as well, so it’s been kind of a win-win.”