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    Allied paratroopers look forward to Operation Toy Drop

    Allied paratroopers look forward to Operation Toy Drop

    Photo By 1st Lt. Joshua Wainz | Paratroopers fill the sky at Nijmegen Drop Zone for the 18th Annual Randy Oler...... read more read more



    Story by 1st Lt. Joshua Wainz 

    352nd Civil Affairs Command PAO

    FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Italy fell out of the sky at Nijmegen Drop Zone, Dec. 3. In a show of camaraderie, so did Canada, Colombia, Germany, Indonesia, Latvia, and the Netherlands. In response, the United States dropped Arizona and Texas.

    The Soldiers of these countries all participated in Operation Toy Drop, a charity event that allows paratroopers who donate a toy to the needy a chance to earn partner nation jump wings from allied jumpmasters.

    American paratroopers are entered into a pool and a lottery determines which U.S. members get to jump in the largest Army annual airborne operation on Dec. 5.

    According to Staff Sgt. Juan Felix, it’s all about the camaraderie.

    Felix has served in Operation Toy Drop for 10 years. He’s been a jumper, a stick leader, and a jump master in the drop, and has seen people from Mexico, Colombia, Italy, and many other countries participate.

    “I love hearing people talk about it for weeks, even months after, when they see each other at the PX, or the mall,” said Felix, originally from Tucson, Arizona.

    His big smile doesn’t seem capable of stopping.

    “You can’t beat the feeling,” he adds when talking about the toys given to the needy. “When you see all the toys donated being picked up, you can’t beat it. It gives me chills.”

    For Senior Airman Cameron Medford, with the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he decided his donation would cater to young girls.

    “A lot of it is toys for boys - G.I.Joes - and I wanted to get something for the girls,” Medford, a native of Denton, Texas, said.

    Medford, who is participating in his 15th career jump, joined the Air Force after high school, and serves as a Tactical Air Support Party member. His unit supports the 82nd Airborne Division with fixed-wing fire support from F-16, F-18s, and A-10s, and his position is as a liaison between the needs of the Army and the capabilities of the Air Force.

    The partner nation guests are all smiles as well.

    “It was a good jump,” said Sgt. Francois Duchesne, of the Canadian Army Advanced Warfare Center. Originally from Green Park, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, this is Duchesne’s first time at Toy Drop. He serves as a parachute rigger, and he and his team are testing the T-11’s capabilities which they are starting to use in Canada.

    Paolo Cecchini, with Italy’s Special Forces, was also excited about Toy Drop and is making his last jump with this drop. At 55 years old, he knows he will be out of the military soon.

    “An explosion went off … two meters away from me … when we breached a door,” Cechini said, explaining he is hard of hearing in one ear. Today, he is all smiles and excited in preparation for the jump.

    Bad wind conditions forced the last few jumps to be scrapped for the day. However, the 10-year Toy Drop veteran, Felix, was still smiling.

    “Can’t wait for next year,” he says, turning in his chute.



    Date Taken: 12.04.2015
    Date Posted: 12.04.2015 22:00
    Story ID: 183549
    Location: FORT BRAGG, NC, US 
    Hometown: DENTON, TX, US
    Hometown: SOUTHFIELD, MI, US
    Hometown: TUCSON, AZ, US

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