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    Parachute rigger tests equipment to be fielded to Soldiers

    Parachute rigger tests equipment to be fielded to Soldiers

    Photo By Spc. Alicia Clark | Staff Sgt. Viviana Y. Paredes prepares to jump. It is part of her job to test...... read more read more



    Story by Pfc. Alicia Clark 

    20th Public Affairs Detachment

    By Pfc. Alicia C. Torbush
    20th Public Affairs Detachment

    CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - "There's nothing special about me in particular," said Staff Sgt. Viviana Y. Paredes, a parachute rigger with the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate. "What is special is what I do and who I do it with."

    Paredes joined the Army in 2001 in order to become a U.S. citizen and to acquire citizenship for her two older children.

    She set out from the start to become part of the 82nd Airborne Division after she witnessed the U.S. invasion of Panama in December 1989, from Torrijos International Airport, where paratroopers from the 82nd conducted their first combat jump since World War II.

    As a devout Roman Catholic, Paredes says she prays three times before she jumps: once when the plane goes up, once when the jump master starts to give commands and the last time when she hands her static line to the safety and then steps out the door.

    Each jump is an adrenaline rush, said Paredes
    ABNSOTD conducts testing by dropping equipment rigged with parachutes from airplanes to ensure the equipment functions after multiple airborne drops.

    "We test everything that needs to be dropped out of an airplane," said Paredes, a native of Panama.

    The test directorate conducts the final evaluations before a piece of equipment is fielded for air drop operations, explained Paredes. Each piece of equipment must be able to withstand multiple rigorous airborne drops.

    There are about 1,700 parachute riggers in the Army and only 10 percent of them are female. There are just over 40 test jumpers in ABNSOTD. Each test that the parachutists perform is congressionally mandated and each item goes through rigorous evaluations prior to being tested in the air.

    "Anytime I get on a plane with my peers, it is reviving history and tradition," said Paredes. "I am part of an elite force."

    Paredes recently revived history by commemorating National Airborne Day, Aug. 16, 2008 with a display that showed the past and present airborne unit patches as well as photos of Soldiers and of many airborne units.

    "The display just reinforces her love not only for the military, but also for the Airborne," said Maj. Mike Foster, liaison officer, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition Logistics and Technology.

    The display is about nostalgia, explained Paredes.

    There is no airborne mission in Kuwait, so the camaraderie that a person gets from being part of this select group of Soldiers is missing. The display brought so many people forward to share their stories about being airborne.

    "I tell my husband all the time that I am like a stool," said Paredes. "A stool has three legs that hold it up. I have the military, my family and my religion."



    Date Taken: 09.14.2008
    Date Posted: 09.14.2008 04:56
    Story ID: 23626
    Location: CAMP ARIFJAN, KW 

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