I’m a vocally proud frog-hopping leg. To those outside the military, a leg is someone not qualified to jump out of perfectly good planes. To some, being called a leg is a derogatory term, but I fully embrace it. I didn’t avoid airborne training because I was afraid of jumping out of planes, I avoided it because I love my knees! My first platoon sergeant as a young Soldier was a lifelong Ft. Bragg paratrooper. He was completely broke and I vowed I didn’t want to be old and unable to walk.
But, there are MANY troops that do it and love it! Heck, I would LOVE it myself if the parachutes landed me a little softer on the ground. The new chutes are a big improvement over the older ones, but still drop at a rate of 19 feet per second. That’s about 5 feet per second slower, but I much prefer something along the lines of 5 feet per second!
My bucket list does contain a desire to learn to skydive. Just not with an Army chute. But, that doesn’t make these photos any less cool for those wondering what the view is like of the Soldiers who make a career out of jumping out of planes.
Staff Sgt. Travis Surber, a native of Franklin County, Va., and a paratrooper with the 173rd Brigade Combat Team’s Battle Company of the 2nd Battalion 503rd Infantry Regiment parachutes out of a C-130 Hercules Transport Aircraft and into the Ukraine sky.
This marks the first time the “Sky soldiers” of the 173rd have jumped in Ukraine and they’ll be training and conducting multinational airborne operations, a situational training exercise and a field training exercise here from through Aug. 5 as part of Rapid Trident 2011. Rapid Trident 2011 is a U.S. Army Europe led, multi-national exercise taking place at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Yavoriv, Ukraine. It is designed to promote regional stability and security, strengthen international military partnering and foster trust while improving interoperability between participating nations. Rapid Trident 2011 involves approximately 1,600 personnel.
In addition to the U.S. Army Europe and Ukraine, participants include: Latvia, Belarus, Moldova, Slovenia, Canada, Poland, Serbia, the UK, Lithuania, Estonia, California and Utah National Guard and U.S. Air Force Europe. Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. This exercise will help prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host- nation support from civil and governmental agencies. Rapid Trident is a part of U.S. European Command’s Joint Training and Exercise Program, designed to enhance joint combined interoperability with allied and partner nations. The exercise also supports Ukraine’s Annual National Program to achieve interoperability with NATO and commitments made in the annual NATO-Ukraine work plan.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team is one of the U.S. Army’s most highly decorated units having particularly distinguished itself during the Vietnam War and having produced fifteen Congressional Medal of Honor recipients including Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.