Military-Grade Awesome


050711-F-5964B-106U.S. Army personnel from the 18th Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C., sit aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III from the 16th Airlift Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., before a non-tactical proficiency jump at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., July 11, 2005.

I’m glad that they’re going to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft and not me…

  • fodder650

    Sadly the inflight movie was GI Jane.

  • Oh, hell, that's just a monthly Hollywood jump, so called because you're only wearing a parachute, like you see in the movies, and not a rucksack packed with 70 pounds of field essentials, a weapons case with whatever you carry in the field (I used to hump an M203 grenade launcher and at least one LAW when I jumped into the field back in the early eighties), and your webgear with canteens, cartridge cases, a knife or two, first aid kit, and a protective mask, M17 hung onto your body as well. Your ruck would be lowered below you on an 18 foot long line once you left the plane and checked your canopy, and maybe you would lower your weapons case as well, then you would orient yourself to the wind and watch out for fellow jumpers while descending. The ruck would hit first, then you would land. Then, pack your 'chute into the kit bag, don your ruck, grab your weapon, and hump all that shit off the DZ, then spend a month in the field, crawling around in the woods and sleeping in the mud. Hollywood jumps like this were just plain fun, no gear whatsoever besides your chute. Leave the plane, your 'chute opens, you steer the 'chute to the ground, land, stuff your 'chute into the bag, walk off the DZ to the bus or truck, and go to chow. Hollywood jumps are every paratrooper's favorite way to spend the morning.

    • The Professor

      Paratroopers carry a helluva lot gear with them when they jump for real, don't they. I presume that's necessary because they're jumping in ahead of everyone else and who knows when there will be a supply line. What's the biggest weapon that a troop like the one above would carry on a jump? Something like an M-60? I know nothing of that world but I find it interesting.
      I grabbed the picture because the perspective is very striking, and you can really see how big the inside of C-17 really is. I'm trying to imagine the same scene, but at night and getting ready to jump into hostile territory. What would go through your mind on the long flight out. I can't, I have no reference, but I imagine that it's profound.

      • Yeah, you can carry an M60, I never did, but it will fit into the weapons case, I don't remember the designation, something like an M1950. The gunner carries the gun itself and one barrel, broken down, and his AG (assistant gunner, or ass gunner) carries the spare barrel, tripod, and traversing and elevation mechanism, the T and E, in his case. The ammo carrier, usually a really new but big private, carries bandoliers of spare ammo belts in his.

        We used to jump out of mainly C130's, which are way smaller and more cramped than this leviathan. I've jumped from C141's, which are extinct now, but they were more narrow than this if I remember correctly. A C130 carries about sixty jumpers, and you're crammed in there like sardines, knee to knee, with your rucks on your knees, four rows like this but no aisle between all those grunts looking at each other. When the aircrew had to go from the front of the plane to the back, they'd just walk on us, on our rucks, or they'd tightwire walk on the central row of seatbacks, and we didn't care. The bird would be flying nap of the earth over the Alps (I was stationed in Italy, and we trained in Germany, in Bavaria, so we flew up and over the Alps) and many of us would be airsick and puking into plastic bags, so we didn't care what the Air Force was doing. Positive gees, negative gees, banking left and right, and no windows so you have no idea what the plane is about to do next, and of course we're all hung over as hell because you always get drunk as hell before you go to the field, I mean who doesn't? So, you just try to sleep until it's time to stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door and get the hell off of that damn plane, night or day, and hope that the weather at the DZ allows you to jump, otherwise you have to spend another hour or so in the damned C130 while it lands at Rammstein or some other hellhole and then you have to ride to the DZ in a Deuce and a Half, instead of landing there yourself. Yeah, back then, I'd much rather take care of the landing by myself than riding around in the plane for another minute.

        • The Professor

          Thanks for that reminiscence, it paints a vivid picture. It sounds like the flights to wherever were incredibly unpleasant, although getting as drunk as possible the night before wasn't the best thing to do to improve the situation. I can appreciate the reasons for doing it though. I can almost feel the need to get off that plane and be free, at least until you touch the ground.
          Being a paratrooper sounds like a tough way of being a soldier, ranging from generally unpleasant to really nasty most of the time. Would you do it again, given the chance, assuming that you were a young fool again but knowing what you do now?

  • Well, getting plowed the night before pretty much assured that you would just fall dead asleep the minute you were seated on the plane. And, it's FUN! Try it sometime! It was about a three hour flight, if I remember correctly, or more, because the Air Force needed to get their air time in, so they would take a circuitous route, and they love to perform their little acrobatics flying through canyons and the like. If you can sleep through all that, you're better off. Also, you don't eat breakfast that morning, just skip it no matter how hungry you are. You want nothing in your gut that you might see a second time.

    Yeah, I'd do it over again. You bet I would. I did some pretty exciting things, went to some great places, met people whom I'll never forget. Yeah, being on jump status is pretty grueling. We trained hard both in garrison and in the field, took it seriously. It's something I can look back on with pride. Yeah, I earned my jump wings, wore them proudly, can truthfully say that I was a paratrooper, an airborne infantry soldier. However I don't refer to that much nowadays, I mean I never saw combat, while there are plenty of fine young men and women in harm's way right now, and I respect the hell out of them. My military service is a source of personal satisfaction that I did the right thing for myself and for my country, and had one hell of a great time while doing it, and saw a good portion of the world, to boot.

  • Mike England

    That certainly is one huge-ass airplane. I was in the 82nd for a short while in the early 80s. We jumped mostly from C-130s but sometimes C141s. That plane (the Starlifter) was so sturdy I think they cut them in half and added an extra 14 ft or something when they had been flying a couple years. (C-141A converted to C-141B – VERY imaginative naming convention, eh? )
    I just posted a comment on an 82nd alum page a couple days ago; something like this:
    I am extremely grateful to the Great Jumpaster in the Sky, that I was able to be a member of the 82nd when I was very young.
    That said, I am equally grateful to the very same Great Jumpmaster that I have completed my military service and I no longer have to endure some things I remember not-too-fondly, and some other things today's warrior elete must tolerate, things I purely cannot understand.