US takes partnerships to new heights

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Damon Kasberg
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force and Army counterparts joined together with service members from nine allied countries to participate in International Jump Week here July 6-10.

The five-day event was hosted by the 435th Contingency Response Group and it gave multiple nations the opportunity to work side by side, increasing interoperability and strengthening relationships.

"The overall goal of this event is to get everyone to work with each other," said Staff Sgt. Chris Zavala, a 435th Security Forces Squadron jumpmaster. "We're all NATO allies, so it's important we know each other's procedures and that people take the skills they learned here back to their home stations."

Paratroopers traveled throughout Europe, including England, Poland, Greece, France, Germany, Estonia, Czech Republic, Belgium and New Zealand to build stronger partnerships by jumping out of C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 37th Airlift SquadronAS at Ramstein Air Base.

"It's difficult to do jumps in England because of the weather and aircraft availability," said Royal Air Force Sgt. William Bunday, an Airborne Delivery Wing jumpmaster. "The U.S. always has several shoots to jump and aircraft available. This is my second year coming to Jump Week and everyone always enjoys it. It's a great time and we'll come back every year we're invited."

The feeling of building camaraderie by jumping out of an aircraft thousands of feet up in the air together was a sentiment shared throughout the group of paratroopers.

"Being able to jump with the foreign paratroopers is an absolute privilege," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Vincent Cipolla, a Special Operations Command Europe intelligence analyst. "We build a strong esprit de corps and camaraderie during this week."

International Jump Week is an annual event giving paratroopers the opportunity to practice high altitude, low opening and static line jumps. Pilots, loadmasters and parachute riggers were also able to train on their proficiencies during the week. Supporting units at the drop zone included Air Force and Army personnel, air traffic controllers, and medical teams.