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    Airborne Operations - The Universal Language

    Airborne Operations - The Universal Language

    Photo By Sgt. Angela Morrow | Sgt. 1st Class Szykulski performs safety operations inside the aircraft and...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    352nd Civil Affairs Command PAO

    FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Every year during the holidays, jump masters from opposite ends of the world come together to complete airborne operations for a worthy cause at Fort Bragg, N.C.

    For the past 18 years, U.S. and partner nation paratroopers have filled the skies over Fort Bragg for the Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop. This year, it is expected that more than 4,000 people donate over 6,000 toys for children in need.

    Participating in his first Operation Toy Drop, Sgt. 1st Class Szykulski, a civil affairs paratrooper with the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion out of Columbus, Ohio, jumped with German paratroopers.

    For the airborne operation, paratroopers donate toys for the chance to train with jump masters from other nations, learn about their training tactics and earn partner-nation jump wings. Szykulski already has his Canadian and Chilean jump wings, but earning his German jump wings this year has significant meaning.

    “It has been more than just doing jump master duties with them. I could not work any job in Germany and be able to engage in such high levels of responsibilities with them like I could here," Szykulski said. "It helps they understand English, but working and sharing meals for 16 hours a day for two weeks provides the opportunity to absorb cultural understanding and some good laughs.”

    Szykulski, who has served 12 years in the Army including two deployments to Afghanistan, became a jump master in 2012 and also has an Air Assault badge.

    In order to be a civil affairs Soldier, it is important to balance physical and mental skills.

    Szykulski has a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a minor in Arabic from Ohio State University, as well as, Arabic training at the Defense Language Institution.

    Szykulski was joined by Staff Sgt. Aldo Blanco, a civil affairs team sergeant with the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion from Miami. They both went through extensive airborne operations training with the German team to ensure everything would be smooth and safe when it came to the jump.

    “Working with the Germans has been amazing as we have established an amazing brotherhood and all for the love of the airborne,” Blanco said. “It has helped me understand how they work as jump masters and improved my overall airborne skill set.”

    Both Blanco and Szykulski agreed that conducting airborne operations with their German counterparts was a unique and rewarding experience they will never forget.

    Not only does this operation enhance Soldier skills, but it builds relationships with U.S. allies. Since Sept. 11, 2001, tens of thousands of Soldiers have deployed overseas, often working side-by-side with coalition partners. Operation Toy Drop expands on this experience of working with many of those nations and it helps a worthy cause for the holidays.



    Date Taken: 12.04.2015
    Date Posted: 12.09.2015 12:38
    Story ID: 183771
    Location: FORT BRAGG, NC, US 

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