What does a day in your life look like? (Walk us through your normal day)
On a typical duty day, the morning starts off with PT. Normally I like to incorporate a 5 mile run and free weights, followed by recovery yoga. Preparing for Airborne operations includes many moving parts. Our shop is pretty small, so between the seven of us, we are responsible for making sure that our static line chutes and applicable reserves are on the right pack cycles and we have chutes ready to go for operations at any given time. We support 19th Group, 10th Group, and Special Operations Detachment Korea Airborne personnel on proficiency jumps with the MC-6, as well as support free fall operations for the yearly "Arch Angel" exercises and any further training requirements for our team guys with the MC-4 and RA-1 respectively.
Once we ensure we have the appropriate chutes cycled for packs and repacks, we calibrate other necessary equipment for contingent operations to include altimeters, oxygen equipment, GPS units, etc.
Keeping this equipment operational and within cycle is necessary to ensure operational effectiveness. Another key area to this is maintenance. Although it is overlooked by many, chutes and rigging equipment become damaged and need to be repaired. Our section ensures that these things are repaired properly and according to FAA regulations using various heavy duty and light duty sewing machines.
Jumpmasters and Riggers alike are responsible for ensuring unit personnel are always current for Airborne operations. We ensure that all jump personnel on the manifest lists are current with their Airborne jump training and ensure all personnel are properly trained during Airborne Refresher classes.
Lastly, we spend a lot of time planning for rotational deployments and current training operations. Whether its ensuring our equipment is ready to support our operational personnel overseas or on domestic operations, coordinating logistical requirements to support these operations and personnel without interruption is paramount to mission success.
What makes you get up in the morning? What do you love about your profession?
Working with some of the most inspirational people in the US Army and supporting their mission at home and abroad is the most motivating aspect of this job. Being responsible for critical lifesaving equipment is a massive responsibility. Our deployed soldiers and personnel training at home depend on us to be technically proficient because their lives depend on us to never make a mistake. I love knowing that we support the silent professionals getting the job done in a hostile global environment that expects and accepts no recognition for the success of our mission.
What lead you to become a soldier, officer, etc?
I joined the military five years after 9/11 when I graduated high school. My various positions in different branches and jobs eventually lead me to the "group" environment. Knowing that every single day we are making a direct impact on the international scale is enough to conceive that I am giving back to the country that has provided me so much opportunity.
What are the most challenging aspects of your profession?
Being a parachute rigger is one of the few jobs that parallels with direct civilian license requirements with the FAA. Ensuring we are technically and tactically proficient in multiple parachute delivery systems and rapidly adapting to changing regulations can be a challenge at times. However by doing so, we are ensuring that our personnel and equipment is always ready at a moment's notice to fulfill any mission requirement.
What do you love to do in your free time?
In my free time I enjoy flying small aircraft, hiking, hunting, and spending as much time in the Colorado wilderness as possible.
What are your thoughts on the HHV ATE Helmet?
The HHV ATE helmet is a much more cost-effective solution to many of its competitors. It provides the same levels of ballistic and personal protection, and comes in many customizable features. I upgraded my suspension and padding system, and even after those upgrades, it was still less expensive than the Ops-Core. Since getting one of those Ops-Core helmets from supply is hit or miss with support personnel, it's nice knowing that I can keep this piece of kit ready to go without having to deal with having to integrate current accessories with an older style helmet. For Airborne operations, this helmet is ideal. It is lighter weight, better fitting, and extremely comfortable. I have never noticed pinch points or discomfort even on long ruck marches, tactical training, or while sitting in aircraft for extended periods of time. Any accessory on the market fits onto this helmet, including oxygen systems and night optic devices. It functions well with Peltor communication headsets, and keeps your head cooler and drier compared to the standard PASGT helmet system. One of the nicest features was the customizable color schemes versus the standard olive drab color, the Multicam blends well with the current OCP uniforms. Hands down, the HHV ATE Helmet gets the mission done without having to be on a waiting list for the unit to upgrade your kit if you're in one of those units, and provides the level of safety and comfort every soldier needs.