By Story by Sgt. Tackora Hand
338th Quartermaster Theater Aerial Delivery Company
“This is an exciting opportunity to showcase our efforts to build a powerful logistics capability available to unit commanders who need critical equipment and supplies delivered,” said Capt. Jacob McCollum, commander of the 338th Quartermaster Theater Aerial Delivery Company.
This week 338th soldiers conducted historic training by dropping a joint precision aerial delivery system attached to a 2,000-pound training bundle from 10,000 feet. While this system was fielded nearly a decade ago, never before was a mission approved in the Midwest due to the drop zone size requirements.
“This was a first for Indiana aerial delivery and is a remarkable sustainment capability for the 38th Sustainment Brigade” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Gibson, the Indiana National Guard senior airdrop systems technician. “This training showcased our diverse deployment capabilities in aerial delivery.”
Using GPS, steerable parachutes and an onboard computer, the system is able to direct itself to a drop zone without being manned. Special operations and airdrop community soldiers use the aerial delivery system in austere climates such as the Middle East and Africa. With improvements in technology making the system more accurate, the Indiana National Guard was approved by the program manager to train with the system at Camp Atterbury along with various other states.
“This opportunity to bring together so many different components and professionals in the Aerial Delivery world is priceless,” said Staff Sgt. Philip Craig, an Indiana National Guard jumpmaster participating in the training. “Not only do we experience the new equipment but have time to train and learn from each other.”
Soldiers of the 421st Reserve Quartermaster Corps Aerial Delivery Company from Fort Valley, Georgia, and the 56th Troop Command Aerial Delivery Detachment with the Rhode Island National Guard joined in the training. Additionally, the 20th Special Forces Group from Louisville, Kentucky, and the 2nd Psychological Operations Group, U.S. Army Reserve unit from Twinsburg, Ohio, participated in the jump.
“The opportunity to work with and collaborate with the Indiana National Guard over the last week has been an extremely beneficial to our soldiers,” said 1st Lt. Johanna Erickson, the executive officer for the 421st U.S. Army Reserve Quartermaster Corps Aerial Delivery Company. “They played a key role in helping to organize our missions to ensure they are executed successfully.”
Countless hours were invested in the coordination of this one-of-a-kind training operation.
“Following the drop, we sent six to eight jumpers on each pass using the new double bag static line parachute system.” said Staff Sgt. Matt Purdy, a jumpmaster from the 338th Quartermaster “It takes a tremendous amount of preparation for us to conduct a training like this. It was awesome to watch unfold.”
The soldiers weren’t the only ones to recognize the significance of the training event, the leader of the company’s battalion did also.
“Gone are the days of rigging parachutes for jumpers alone,” said Lt. Col. Dennis M. Baltimore, commander of the 38th Special Troops Battalion. “This will demonstrate our capability as a theater aerial delivery company and no longer just a rigger support team. Aerial sustainers to the rescue!”