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82nd Airborne, 3rd Special Forces Group soldiers test new parachutist life preserver

08 shleton 4Some 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
Mott Lake.

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)

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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)

National Airborne Day celebrates legacy of elite paratroopers

11 Operation Husky 5Fort Bragg will celebrate National Airborne Day on Aug. 14 at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum located in downtown Fayetteville. The annual gathering brings together current and former soldiers to honor the legacy of courage and excellence synonymous with the American paratrooper.

“The annual celebration honors the first official military parachute jump by the U.S. Army on Aug. 16, 1940,” said Elvia Kelly, Fort Bragg garrison spokeswoman. “Every year, Fort Bragg comes together to bring history to the forefront through a variety of ways, including parachute demonstrations by the U.S. Army Golden Knights and U.S. Army Special Operations Black Daggers.”

The family-friendly event will begin at 8 a.m. and finish around noon. The public is invited to attend the free event to learn more about paratroopers and the mission of the 82nd Airborne Division that calls Fort Bragg home.

“Visitors can expect a display of multiple weapons systems from the 82nd Airborne Division and other supporting units, a parachute demonstration from the U.S. Army Special Operations Parachute Team Black Daggers, the U.S. Army Golden Knights performing a High-Altitude Low Opening (HALO) demo jump and displays inside of the museum for the community to enjoy,” Kelly said.

The schedule includes parachute packing and mock door demonstrations, Black Dagger free fall and secure LZ demo at 11:45 a.m. and a Golden Knights free fall and demo at noon.

The 82nd Airborne Division “All American” Rock Band and Quintet will perform live music throughout the event. The celebration will have a food truck and an ice cream truck on site and bottled water will be available.

“When we observe National Airborne Day, we’re commemorating a segment of history that highlights the first successful military parachute jump in 1940,” Kelly said. “It’s a significant point in Army history contributing to Fort Bragg becoming the home of the airborne, a culminating event in which the surrounding community can celebrate with us.”

In 1940, a test platoon of volunteers from the 29th Infantry Regiment made the first U.S. Army parachute jump from an aircraft. Since that first jump, airborne soldiers have shared a distinguished tradition as elite units setting an example of determination and courage.

National Airborne Day is also a time to recognize the vigorous training of airborne soldiers and units in the Army. The Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, teaches soldiers the techniques involved in parachuting from aircraft and landing safely. The Jumpmaster School trains personnel in the skills necessary to jumpmaster a combat-equipped jump which means ensuring other soldiers’ parachutes and equipment are correct. A jumpmaster is also trained in procedures for rigging equipment containers and door bundles. The Military Free Fall School at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, is part of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School on Fort Bragg. The joint forces school trains all aspects of free fall parachuting and the use of high altitude-low opening (HALO) and high altitude-high opening (HAHO) parachuting techniques.

Pictured above: U.S. paratroopers in this file photo take part in the invasion of Sicily, code-named Operation Husky, in July 1943. Lessons learned from the campaign proved invaluable to future airborne operations in World War II.

Pictured below left: Paratroopers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, descend during an airborne operation on Fort Bragg June 30. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Lee Antreas)

Pictured below right: First Sgt. Adam Barfield, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, awaits his jumpmaster inspection before boarding an aircraft on Fort Bragg June 30. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Lee Antreas)

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Pictured above left: Paratroopers board a C-17 Globemaster III on Fort Bragg on April 13. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Hannah Strobel)

Pictured above right: Special Operations soldiers conduct free fall training in the sky above Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. (File photo courtesy JFK Special Warfare Center and School)

Methodist University School of Nursing receives half-million-dollar grant

15 Nursing StudentThe U.S. Department of Health Resources and Services Administration has awarded a grant of more than $499,000 to the Nursing Department at Methodist University. The funds target specific training for pre-licensure public health nursing students and faculty to recognize and respond to opioid use and strengthen the professional development of public health nurses across North Carolina.

The investment in MU by HRSA to equip tomorrow’s nursing health care professionals is a solid investment and a step in the right direction to combat North Carolina’s opioid crisis.

MU’s was the only program in the Carolinas, public or private, to receive the grant and only 10 other nursing programs in the country received the award (including Ohio State University, Texas A&M, University of Tennessee, Emory University and the University of Cincinnati).

“During the early days of the pandemic shut-down last spring, everyone became acutely aware of the need for highly qualified public health nurses,” said Shannon Matthews, director of Nursing at MU.

“In addition to community strain on the public health system due to COVID-19, opioid overdose and substance misuse have reached all-time highs in Cumberland County and surrounding communities," Matthews said.

The Methodist University Nursing Program graduated its first Bachelor of Science in Nursing class in 2014. Since then, the program has awarded nursing degrees to more than 170 graduates, many of whom have remained in North Carolina and the greater Fayetteville and Cumberland County areas. The program provides future nurses with a hands-on education using state-of-the-art simulation technology — including the MU General Simulation Hospital — as well as simulated patients of all ages. Cameras are equipped throughout the hospital to observe and guide students through their studies.

“Nursing is one of the jewels in the crown at Methodist University — a university that is becoming rapidly known for its excellent health care programs,” said MU President Dr. Stanley Wearden. “This investment from the U.S. Department of Health Resources and Services Administration will not only help educate our students but prepare them for the hard work ahead in combatting North Carolina’s opioid crisis as health care professionals.”

Methodist University’s Simulation Education Training-Recovery Now (SET-RN) is led by highly qualified and experienced public health nurse educators and prepares public health nursing students to directly impact objectives in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

For the next two-years, the goal of MU’s nursing program is to prepare 75 unique pre-licensure nursing students with enhanced public nursing competencies to recognize and respond to substance and opioid misuse by creating enhanced interprofessional education simulation exercises in their state-of-the-art facilities.

“Simulation scenarios and clinical experiences reflective of substance misuse will be threaded throughout the nursing curriculum to help our graduates recognize and respond to adult, adolescent, and pediatric clients with substance misuse and overdose in a variety of settings,” said Matthews.

With this new grant, MU will strengthen statewide support and professional development by delivering workshops for nursing faculty and collaborate with state professional nursing organizations.

Nursing faculty member and Simulation Director, Mitzi Averette, MSN, RN, CNE, CHSE, is a long-time advocate for recovery and will be the project coordinator. Averette has strong connections in the community and is a champion of increasing public awareness and resources to address substance misuse and developing programs to reduce stigma associated with substance use disorder. Averette has already begun work establishing collegiate recovery groups on local campuses and promoting training for faculty and students in recovery strategies.

“We are excited to begin this project and the positive impact it will have on public health nursing and the care of those struggling with substance use disorders,” Matthews said.

Methodist University is an independent, four-year institution of higher education with about 2,000 students from across the U.S. and more than 40 countries. MU offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs (including doctoral-level options) on campus and online. To learn more about MU visit methodist.edu.

Pictured: The federal grant Methodist University received targets specific training for pre-licensure public health nursing students and faculty to recognize and respond to opioid use and strengthen the professional development of public health nurses across North Carolina. (Photo courtesy Methodist University)


FTCC launches campaign to attract more adult learners back to college

14 99431256 3072861549424143 3731088603145568256 oDr. Larry Keen, President of Fayetteville Technical Community College, is calling on adults across the greater Fayetteville region to visit BetterSkillsBetterJobs.com as a first step to gain the skills they need to secure the jobs they want.

“After a year of challenges like no other, we know most adults understand it’s time to skill up, retool, and retrain — either to advance in their current careers or to change careers entirely,” Dr. Keen said. “So we are making an extra push this summer to reach out to and inform as many adults as possible about the variety of fast, flexible and affordable programs we offer.

“From allied health training, to automotive systems technology, to systems security and analysis, and many more programs, our courses are a direct pipeline to many of our region’s top employers,” Dr. Keen said. “That’s why we hope everyone will visit BetterSkillsBetterJobs.com today to quickly connect with us and explore all of the opportunities we offer that can lead to better skills, a better job, a bigger paycheck and an even brighter future.”

FTCC is a regional source for education and training in Cumberland County, with campuses in Fayetteville and Spring Lake, and an educational training center on Fort Bragg. The college offers more than 200 job-ready programs.

The Better Skills. Better Jobs. campaign is a pilot project launched in early 2021 across five North Carolina community colleges to proactively reach out to and attract more adults back to college. Other key funders and partners for the initiative include the John M. Belk Endowment and myFutureNC.

“The John M. Belk Endowment is pleased to partner with Fayetteville Technical Community College and four other outstanding community colleges to catalyze and supercharge their efforts to recruit and support adult students,” said MC Belk Pilon, President and Board Chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. “In a matter of months on a community college campus, adult learners can acquire skills and credentials that can change their families’ economic trajectory.”

“The vast majority of higher-wage jobs today require more than a high school diploma, but that is something that less than half of North Carolinians in this age range currently have,” said Cecilia Holden, President and CEO of myFutureNC. “We know better skills lead to better jobs and to a stronger and more economically vibrant North Carolina. We are very pleased to be partnering on this important new initiative.”

The John M. Belk Endowment is a private family foundation committed to transforming postsecondary educational opportunities to meet North Carolina’s evolving workforce needs. Its mission is aligned with the vision of its founder, the late John M. Belk, who served four terms as mayor of Charlotte and was CEO of the department store company Belk, Inc. Now led by Mr. Belk’s daughter, MC Belk Pilon, the John M. Belk Endowment continues to partner with innovative, results-oriented programs in North Carolina to further Mr. Belk’s values, legacy, and focus on the value of education as a means to personal fulfillment and community vitality. For more information, please visit jmbendowment.org.

myFutureNC is a statewide nonprofit with the goal to create a stronger, more competitive North Carolina. myFutureNC is working across sectors and in communities throughout the state to close gaps in the education pathway, to promote alignment between educational programming and business/industry needs, and to ultimately improve educational opportunities. For more information, please visit myfuturenc.org.

For more information about FTCC’s Better Skills. Better Jobs. initiative, visit BetterSkillsBetterJobs.com/FTCC/.

Pictured: The Better Skills.Better Jobs campaign aims to get adults the instruction and job skills that lead to better employment opportunities. (Photo courtesy FTCC)

Find your way forward with a rewarding STEM career

13 N1809P02001CThe world has changed dramatically over the past year. We have faced unprecedented challenges that affected every single aspect of life.

We have adapted, overcome and improvised on a daily basis in order to cope with the new normal of life. From wearing masks in public and keeping a safe distance to complete isolation, people have made major adjustments to their lives in order to cope with the pandemic. And, sadly, for many, the situation created by the pandemic has ultimately led to a desperate struggle for survival.

Fortunately, we live in an era of technology. We are able to do things now that were impossible for past generations.

We can telework, order food online, Skype, Facetime and teleconference from our homes or even from the palms of our hands. Even during times of isolation, we are able to stay virtually connected and be productive.

Throughout the pandemic, a good number of people were able to continue working and feed themselves, thanks to the advances of the last century and especially the last few decades.

We now take things such as cars, computers, smartphones and the internet for granted, but these items have made coping with the pandemic a completely different experience when compared to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

We still face challenges, however, and it doesn’t look like things are going to go back to what we remember as normal for a while. To face these challenges, we are going to need fresh new minds to invent new ways of doing things. We now have a generation of young people who grew up in a world of technology and have an innate understanding of how to live in a cyber-connected world.

Unfortunately, technology can be a two-edged sword, and with so many distractions, many are falling short of their true potential.

The U.S. education system has been pushing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and careers for years because of the shortage of people in these degree fields.

Now that we are faced with new challenges stemming from the pandemic, we need STEM-educated individuals now even more than ever. Who will research new cures, invent new ways to work and communicate, or design the next generation of ventilators?

An old adage (late 1800s) states, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” But these words are far from the truth. Think of everything that has been invented since the late 1800s. Had this been true back then, we would still be riding horses for primary transportation and reading by candlelight. Without the technological advances of the last century, our current crisis would have been much more difficult to navigate.

So, here’s a call for individuals to accept the challenge to become the next generation of scientists, inventors and engineers. You may be the one who invents something new that positively changes
our world.

FTCC’s Associate Degree Engineering program can help you begin this exciting journey. Fall classes begin Aug. 16. Apply for Fall classes today and allow FTCC to help you find your way forward. For more information visit https://www.faytechcc.edu/.


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