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    Making communication possible for Operation Toy Drop

    Operation Toy Drop

    Photo By Sgt. Angela Morrow | The Information Technology (S6) Team, Capt Mike Carter, Sgt. 1st Class Marshall...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Angela Morrow 

    352nd Civil Affairs Command PAO

    FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Dawn breaks as paratroopers fill the sky. They are dropped from various aircraft littering the field. Communication can make or break an airborne operation such as this.

    That’s why information technology troops are on the ground providing service where there is none.
    “If you cannot talk to the aircraft or shift files via email, then nothing else can happen,” said Capt. Mike Carter, a signal officer with the 360th Civil Affairs Brigade.

    He is at Fort Bragg, along with other signal troops, to support the 18th Annual Operation Toy Drop.
    Paratroopers from seven different countries around the world have come together to support needy children since 1998 when Operation Toy Drop started as a joint-collective training and airborne operation.

    The first Operation Toy Drop had more than 1,200 Soldiers that raised 550 toys. In 2014, more than 6,000 toys were raised for children in need.

    Operation Toy Drop gives Soldiers the opportunity to train with partner nation jumpmasters and is run by U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC).

    Carter, from Columbus, Indiana, is participating in his second Operation and has lived the past 11 years in South Carolina.

    “It’s good that they asked us back to supply the Internet connectivity,” said Carter, who has a degree from Indiana University in Microbiology.

    Carter is a paratrooper and plans to jump during Special Operations Forces week which will continue his now 32 jump career over the past 16 years, including four tours in Afghanistan.

    In 2001, Carter came to Operation Toy Drop for the first time and was the 35th jumper on standby, which at the time was good enough to get him a jump slot and he earned his German jump wings.

    Since then, the operation has grown exponentially. Carter said, it is the best training not only for jumpers, but also for signal Soldiers.

    This is the second year for the Soldiers from the 360th Civil Affairs Bn. to be assigned as signal support for the operation. The assistant signal officer, 1st Lt. Angel Brooks, was at Operation Toy Drop in 2013 for the first signal mission.

    Their mission is to supply a network connection for the USACAPOC which is running the operation.

    “Having internet connectivity at the Sicily Drop Zone and Green Ramp is instrumental to the overall mission, it streamlines the process to ensure the admin portion for the jumpers runs smoothly,” Brooks said.

    Originally from Chicago, Brooks received a direct commission after achieving the rank of sergeant. He served as a medic at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Fort Jackson, South Carolina, before branching into Signal Corps.

    As a non-jumper, Brooks said Operation Toy Drop is great to watch and a welcome distraction from the typical day-to-day soldier activities. This year, the mission is more concise in comparison with 2013’s operation.

    Brooks who is serving his 17th year with the Army is also celebrating his 15th year of marriage and has 3 children.

    Sgt. 1st Class Marshall Williams is also celebrating an anniversary of sorts.

    He is back for the second time for the signal mission at Operation Toy Drop and is planning to retire October 2016 after 32 years in the Army.

    Williams described the signal mission as providing world class information technology support to USACAPOC(A) support elements and feels honored to be at Operation Toy Drop because of how much it means to the military and to the legacy of Randall Oler.

    “This is my first civil affairs unit. It has been different, challenging and rewarding but the [360th] S6 shop has the best Soldiers,” Williams said.

    Sgt. Hunter Lane has served seven years with the 360th and was with the signal team for the second time at Operation Toy Drop as well.

    Lane who is originally from Augusta, Georgia, said it is always great to hang out with other paratroopers, get advice and work with partner nation’s jumpmasters.
    Lane is on jump status and plans to jump with Carter in the second week of the operation. In 2013, Lane earned his Brazilian jump wings and currently has 25 jumps total.

    “This is a great training opportunity. It’s good to meet new people, get involved with the community and other units at Fort Bragg and it’s for a good cause. I enjoy helping others especially kids and family,” Lane said.

    Additionally, Sgt. 1st Class John Sutton and 1st Lt. Rachael Lezon with the 489th Civil Affairs Battalion from Knoxville, Tenn., joined the 360th to support the signal mission for Operation Toy Drop and provide their expertise on the set-up of the Special Operation Forces Deployable Node-Lite system.

    Without signal support, communication would not be possible at Operation Toy Drop. The communications system is capable of providing secure Internet through satellite connections that allows for communication from the drop zones to the aircraft, and also among the other support elements within USACAPOC participating the operation.



    Date Taken: 12.03.2015
    Date Posted: 12.04.2015 00:07
    Story ID: 183444
    Location: FORT BRAGG, NC, US 

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