MECHANICSBURG, Pa. –
On a cold and blustery late November day, Parachute Rigger team members from the DLA Distribution Susquehanna Pennsylvania, gathered to prepare for a military free fall qualification jump over Paddy’s field in the township of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
The unit worked with a flight crew from the Rotary Wing Aviation from Ft. Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, to jump from the CH47 Chinook aircraft, where they are able to complete one free fall jump. In addition to performing the jump, the riggers also executed jumpmaster duties on the ground at the drop zone.
While static line jumps are the common jump a parachutist would conduct in a combat situation, where large amounts of warfighters jump together from an aircraft, on this day, the riggers performed a free fall jump. Free fall jumps do not involve a static line – instead, warfighters would jump and deploy their own parachute.
Sgt. 1st Class Terrence Harris is the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the Aerial Delivery Textile Support Active duty unit. He conducts the administrative duties of the section and assists in the distribution of Aerial Delivery items to the warfighter.
What Harris likes about working at DDSP is the opportunity working here provides.
“I enjoy being able to learn more about the logistical area of my MOS (Military Occupational Skill) 92R (Parachute Rigger) that is over-looked in my field. The challenges for me at this level is the transition of having many soldiers in a platoon to just being in charge of four staff sergeants,” said the NCOIC.
Harris was conducting wind tests on the day of the military free fall.
“As the Drop Zone Safety Officer (DZSO) my responsibilities are outlined in TC 3-21.220, the jumpmaster manual. Testing the wind is to ensure that the maximum amount of winds allowed for operations is not exceeded before the exit of an aircraft.”
Harris added there must be a certified parachute rigger on the ground to mark the drop zone and perform malfunction duties in case there is an issue with a chute.
One would think with the weather as cold and windy as this day is, it may be better to wait, put it off, and hope for a warmer day. But, Warrant Officer David Lewis felt he needed to get one last jump in before his PCS (Permanent Change of Station). “I’m out-processing in a few days, so it’s better to get to a new station with a qualifying jump under your belt,” he said.
Before the Riggers load up onto the aircraft, they ensure their packs are secure – giving each other safety checks. Once he was good to go, Sgt. 1st Class Franz Tovar put his helmet on, buckled the chin strap and said, “Now this is what I call business casual.”
In addition to the service they provide to their customers, Harris said he is proud of the many community functions his team conducts, like this free fall, where they are able to visually display their support for those they serve, but in a different aspect other than a combat area.
“I will pack every parachute as though I am to jump with it myself, and will stand ready to jump with any parachute which I have certified as properly packed.” Those words are a direct quote from the Rigger’s Pledge, and team members from the Parachute Rigger Unit (Aerial Delivery and Textile Section) who pack each parachute at DDSP, stand, and oftentimes jump, by them.