News: Fury trooper recognized as the All American division’s jumpmaster of the year
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joe Armas
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Standing before a sea of more than 14,000 fellow paratroopers, one maroon-beret wearing soldier was recognized for his dedication to excellence, technical proficiency and willingness to go above and beyond the ordinary. A distinguished leader, airborne trooper and jumpmaster, Sgt. 1st Class John Bailey stood tallest among the 82nd Airborne Division’s best jumpmasters, earning the title of the division’s Jumpmaster of the Year.
Bailey, from Akron, Ohio, assigned to Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, was presented the award by Maj. Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the 82nd Airborne Division’s commanding general.
“The competition was a forcing function to make me a better jumpmaster,” said Bailey, who is a chief fire control noncommissioned officer.
“I wish I could have done this a long time ago. You’re forced to learn and really become proficient in certain areas that most jumpmasters aren’t familiar with.”
The Headquarters Battery senior enlisted leader, 1st Sgt. George Martinez, feels that Bailey is more than worthy of the honor.
“He truly deserves this recognition,” said Martinez.
Bailey’s known for motivating his paratroopers on a daily basis and acting as a role model for his seniors, peers and subordinates. “He is the go-to guy across the battalion,” added Martinez.
Everyone seeks his advice, whether it’s personal, professional, or anything having to do with airborne operations, said Martinez.
Martinez felt from the beginning that Bailey was a good fit for the competition.
“We hand-selected him out of the battalion to represent us because he was hands down the most knowledgeable jumpmaster we have,” said Martinez.
Bailey, who comes across as humble in nature, was surprised by the announcement that he had taken home top honors in the competition.
“I was in disbelief,” said Bailey. “Every jumpmaster who took part had the mentality that they were going to win. They are all competent and dedicated professionals. I’m just honored to have been chosen as the winner.”
The 82nd Airborne Division Jumpmaster of Year title comes with additional duties and responsibilities. Those duties include acting as one of the Division’s subject matter experts in parachute and airborne operations, as well as representing the Division at various historic celebrations and memorials.
Past winners have traveled to Normandy, France to represent the All American Division at D-Day memorials, and perform airborne duties as lead jumpmaster on a memorial jump. Past competitors have gone on to become instructors at the 82nd Airborne Division’s Advanced Airborne School.
Current instructors were not allowed to compete for the Jumpmaster of the Year competition. The cadre did however host the contest and judged the competition.