News: A is for airborne
Story by Sgt. Christopher Freeman
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Leading paratroopers out of the door of a perfectly good airplane might seem crazy to some, but to one senior noncommissioned officer, it’s what he needs to do.
Sgt. 1st Class Luis Irizarry-Ramirez, battalion air and ammunition noncommissioned officer in-charge, 528th Sustainment Brigade, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, earned the Senior Parachutist Badge June 21, at Luzon Drop Zone, in Camp MacKall, N.C.
“It’s pretty exciting to see someone move up and get their star,” said Staff Sgt. Juan Armendariz, a transportation management coordinator assigned to the 528th Sustainment Brigade, U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
There are many requirements that must be met before attending the Advanced Airborne Course, but that is only the beginning for new Jumpmasters.
“Paratroopers wanting to attend the AAC, commonly referred to as Jumpmaster school, must complete12 jumps and be on Airborne status for one year,” said Irizarry.
These jumps must be conducted on ‘high-performance’ aircraft, such as an Air Force C-17s or C-130s.
Before leading paratroopers out of aircraft, service members must go through the AAC.
“I went for the first time (to AAC) with 12 jumps, which is the bare minimum,” said Irizarry. “I failed the first time, but went again when I had about 18 jumps and passed.”
Giving up is not in this NCO’s vocabulary.
Irizarry experienced many challenges in school.
“The most challenging part was memorizing all the (material) prior to going there,” said Irizarry. You take a test on Day one on all the parts of a parachute. It’s called the nomenclature test.”
Besides the testing portion, there were extensive amounts of hands-on training during jumpmaster school.
“When you are doing (Jumpmaster pre-inspection) during Jumpmaster school, it’s hours and hours of practicing,” said Irizarry. “Your fingers get destroyed from so much poking and sliding.”
Motivation and determination is key to pass the course.
“We need to be in charge of the airborne operations and the paratroopers, because that’s what non-commissioned officers do,” said Irizarry. “(Jumpmasters) take charge of those paratroopers. As a leader, I felt like that’s what I need to be.”
Just graduating AAC is not enough to be awarded the Senior Parachutist Badge.
To earn the Senior Parachutist Badge, service members must graduate the AAC and complete 30 jumps. The jumps include 15 jumps with combat equipment, two night jumps, one of which must be done while serving as a Jumpmaster, and two mass tactical jumps.
“I met all the criteria except for the last ‘mass tac’,” said Irizarry.
“This is when you jump with paratroopers exiting multiple aircraft out of both doors,” said Irizarry. “It is designed for a large amount of paratroopers hitting an objective fast.”
These jumps keep jumpmasters ready to deploy paratroopers at a moment’s notice.
Jumpmasters never settle. The standard has already been set. Once the standard has been achieved, only the Master Parachutist Badge remains. The star, however, puts paratroopers in a more elite class of jumpers.
“Irizarry worked hard to get here,” said Armendariz. “He is a very deserving NCO.”