News: 2010 Cope Tigers Steps Off!
Story by Master Sgt. Cohen Young
Military jumpers from the U.S. and Royal Thai Air forces jumped out of a C-17 Globemaster III as part of the 2010 Cope Tiger Exercise, March 3.
More than 60 qualified Jumpmasters from the U. S. Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force Parachute Team completed three separate jumps over Bangkok, Thailand as the first major activity of Cope Tiger, which is an annual multilateral aerial large forces exercise conducted in the Asia-Pacific region that includes humanitarian and civic assistance programs.
It marked the first time that Thai forces jumped out of a C-17 in a static line format. 25 in all made the jump while 35 others performed High Altitude Low Observance jumps from the back end of the jet. Four U.S. Airmen also made the HALO jump. The jump mission was a huge success that allowed U.S. Air Force members from all around the country to participate in the event.
"It's an honor to be involved in a multilateral event like this and have the opportunity to train with others that share your job," said Floresville, Texas native Master Sgt. John Gaona whom is currently assigned to the Weather Squadron at Pope AFB, N.C.
Master Sgt. Gaona is a qualified jumper as well as a weatherman.
"I saw a message that they needed jump masters and I applied," said Gaona.
535th Airlift Squadron Loadmaster Staff Sgt. Todd Tichawa of Genoa, Ill., came along for the experience of the exercise.
"I came to help coordinate some of the missions here and it was a great opportunity to be part of the first-ever Royal Thai Air Force static line jump from one of our C-17's," said Tichawa.
Although the C-17 Globemaster used was based out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, it has been a team effort as the crew for this particular mission was comprised of pilots and loadmasters from Joint Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Elmendorf AFB and jump masters from Yokota Air Base, Japan, Eielson AFB, Alaska and Fort Lewis, Wash., in addition to Pope AFB.
Thai media gathered to watch the collaboration of the event and interviewed several personnel from both forces on what they expected out of this exercise.
"I'm really looking forward to all of the coordination with the Thai Air Force and completing more joint missions," said Capt. Kevin Jackson, Tennessee native and 517th Airlift Squadron.
The U.S. Air Force has more than 21 aircraft participating in the exercise with a good balance of fighter type aircraft as well as heavies known as the cargo and personnel carriers.
The two Air Forces will also conduct some humanitarian efforts to include dental and basic medical care to needed areas accompanied with a few donations as well.
Events like this illustrate the U.S. Air Force's stability in the Pacific Region through joint military efforts as well as humanitarian.