Tuesday, 03 August 2021
Written by Audrey Hogue
The Special Forces Association Parachute Team was originally formed as the Green Beret Sport Parachute Club in 1961. The team is now a non-profit organization that shares the heritage of the Special Forces Regiment and works to highlight the service and sacrifices of military personnel and their families.
The team consists of active duty and retired military and includes Department of Defense support elements. The SFA Parachute Team maintains a nucleus of professional parachutists who perform free fall parachute demonstrations in support of local and national venues such as celebrations, sports events and holidays. Some venues include the Great American Shoot Skeet, Carolina Panthers football games and NASCAR events.
The team works closely with other non-profit organizations such as Special Forces Charitable Trust, Green Beret Foundation, Low Country Foundation for Wounded Military Heroes and Upstate Warriors.
Team members say their participation in public events and their tandem jumps help remind veterans and first responders that they are still valued members of society. The SFA Parachute Team relies on sponsorships for equipment purchases and tandem experiences for Wounded Warriors.
“Sometimes soldiers come back from deployment either physically wounded or they are experiencing wounds we can’t see. They sometimes feel forgotten or like they have no purpose in this world now that they are impaired or broken. So, my team, we strap them to tandem and remind them that they are important and still have that type A personality,” said Stanley “Bo” Kinnison, a member of the team since 1999.
Kinnison, who has 3525 jumps, said training is a crucial step for the men and women who jump on the team.
Once accepted on the team, Kinnison said a jumper will receive additional training that will build on the skills taught in either the Army’s Basic Airborne Course or the Military Free Fall Course. As parachutists have undoubtedly gained proficiency during their active jump status time in the military, Kinnison said additional training once on the SFA Parachute Team will increase overall proficiency.
Training for the team includes night jumps, water jumps, smoke jumps and flag jumps, as well as multiple accuracy jumps. Accuracy is something that is practiced in almost every jump, but accuracy jumps for a demonstration team require a parachutist to land in a specific area — usually within a 30-foot circle.
For more information on the SFA Parachute Team visit http://sfapt.net/.
Pictured below left: Bill, holding football, and Brenda Gatter finish a demonstration jump. The team also conducts tandem jumps with Wounded Warriors. (Photos courtesy Special Forces Association Parachute Team)
Tuesday, 03 August 2021
Written by Mike Shelton
Some of the nation’s elite soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division and 3rd Special Forces Group have finalized testing the Army’s new Parachutist Flotation Device or PFD.
Preparation for the PFD test started in mid-April with the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate performing intentional water landings in Jordan Lake, according to Maj. Camden Jordan, ABNSOTD’s executive officer.
“Planners synchronized early with local emergency management, law enforcement and state wildlife agencies to help support the Army’s water operations on Jordan Lake,” said Jordan.
Jordan went on to say rehearsals took place for the multi-tiered and complex infiltration technique before final testing in June.
“Located just west of Raleigh, Jordan Lake is one of North Carolina’s most pristine waterways, so these agencies provided swift water rescue teams, emergency medical technicians, small boat support and assisted in routing boaters away from the water drop zone while airborne operations are underway,” he said.
“We relied heavily upon the support of the community to execute this test. Local emergency services were the lynchpin to this entire test and could not have been executed without their outstanding support,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Reed, ABNSOTD’s operations noncommissioned officer in charge.
According to Dan Shedd, Senior Mechanical Engineer Developmental Command at Natick, Massachusetts, military planners try real hard to keep airborne operations away from bodies of water. He said on occasion, though, paratroopers can engage high value targets near large bodies of water so they must be equipped accordingly for safety.
With flotation bladders that can be inflated using an internal carbon dioxide gas cylinder or an oral inflation tube, once employed in the water, the PFD becomes critical in saving lives.
Shedd explained the PFD must suspend a combat-equipped jumper in a “lifesaving” posture for an extended period following an airborne infiltration.
“In real-world scenarios,” he said, “this critical time allows recovery teams time to locate and extract jumpers in the event of a water landing.”
Reed said operational testing with soldiers during early June saw participating paratroopers undergoing intensive training cycles geared toward preparing for deliberate water operations.
That training began with new equipment training so the soldiers could practice the proper rigging techniques and activation procedures.
“Anytime two lifesaving devices are being employed by one soldier, intense attention to detail is required for both proper fit and wear as well as how these systems interact during airborne infiltration,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan R. Copley, an ABNSOTD military freefall master jumpmaster.
The rigorous NET training test jumps required the test soldiers of 82nd Airborne Division and 3rd Special Forces Group to complete a full combat water survival test conducted in Fort Bragg’s
Sgt. 1st Class Steven Branch, a platoon sergeant and jumpmaster assigned to the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, gave the PFD a thumbs-up.
“The PFD is much easier to rig for static line operations,” he said. “We barely noticed having it on, and it can easily suspend a soldier with combat equipment for a long time if needed. Overall I was very impressed with every aspect of the PFD.”
ABNSOTD used the PFD test to train parachute riggers from across the airborne and special operations community in the proper maintenance and care of the new life-saving apparatus once they return to home station.
This "maintainer" training included system maintenance, repacking, repair, proper storage, handling, as well as rigging and employment during water landings.
Sgt. Issa Yi, a parachute rigger with the 151st Quarter Master Company said, "The PFD was easy to pack and required no special tools or materials to maintain."
Pictured above: A soldier with 3rd Special Forces Group prepares to enter Jordan Lake during military free fall test trials of the Parachutist Flotation Device. (Photo by James L. Finney) (All photos this page courtesy U.S. Army Operational Test Command)
Pictured below left: An ABNSOTD soldier prepares to enter the water prior to the start of pool testing. (Photo by James L. Finney)
Pictured below right: An operational test jumper from 3rd SF Group conducts a test trial from high altitude over Laurinburg/Maxton Airfield. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Timothy D. Nephew)
Pictured above left: An 82nd Airborne Division soldier exits a C-27 aircraft over Jordan Lake during testing of the new PFD. (Photo by Chris O'Leary)
Pictured above right: A 3rd Special Forces Group soldier undergoes vertical wind tunnel training prior to a live airdrop with the Parachutist Flotation Device. (Photo by James L. Finney)