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    Air assault, parachute teams capture attention at American Heroes Celebration

    Air assault, parachute teams capture attention at American Heroes Celebration

    Photo By Sgt. Suzanne Carter | Capt. Daniel Edwards of C Company, 1-19 Special Forces Group commends his troops for...... read more read more

    AUSTIN, Texas - The air reverberated with the whomps of the chopper blades as the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter hovered inches above the ground before rising just above the trees. The Special Forces Operation Detachment Alpha team aboard the aircraft had a mission: to pursue and capture a high-value target in a moving vehicle.

    Moments later, shots rang out across the field. The Black Hawk disabled two fleeing vehicles from the air. Swiftly, the flight crew extended a bar out the open doors, hung a rope from it and troops began sliding down to secure the target.

    Fewer than 15 minutes passed before the troops loaded their target in the aircraft and took off. The spectators rose from their seats and roared with applause.

    This demonstration, part of the annual American Heroes Celebration, took place at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, April 17. Service members, families and civilians in attendance had the opportunity to see Special Forces operations in action, as well as a High-Altitude, Low-Open jump by the Texas Army National Guard Sport Parachute Demonstration Team.

    “It was awesome,” said Sam Temborius, 9, “the way the helicopter caught them.”

    Once the Black Hawk returned the Special Forces troops to their drop point, the four-man parachute team, composed of members from three different Army National Guard units, boarded the craft for the HALO jump onto the parade field.

    “We’re going to climb to an altitude of 4,000 feet and then we’re going to jump out,” said 1st Lt. Timothy Hanrahan, a jumpmaster for the team and platoon leader with the 294th Quartermaster Company. “What I want the civilian population to get out of this … I want them to see what our capabilities are, and that we’re not just out here walking around in uniform. We’re actually performing in situations that are important to the mission for the State.”

    The team, made up of U.S. Parachute Association certified jumpers, dangled their feet out the open doors as the Black Hawk rose higher over Camp Mabry. When it reached the designated altitude, the jumpers took the plunge one at a time, releasing their patriotic, red, white and blue parachutes to descend onto the parade field filled with spectators.

    “I thought it was pretty cool, seeing them all the way up in the sky, little dots,” said Danielle Conese, a soldier’s neighbor and first-time attendee. “And all of a sudden, the parachutes open and then there’s actually men.”

    Making sure these missions ran smoothly and accurately posed a challenge for the two specialized teams. The 11-man Alpha team from Company C, 1/19th Special Forces Group in San Antonio, Texas, encountered an unexpected complication with their fast rope drop.

    “Sometimes you may never get a straight road,” said Master Sgt. Ricardo De La Cruz, a team sergeant. “That’s exactly what happened today. The crowd was a little bit too close for where they were supposed to be. We ended up adjusting to the situation. My guys were all situationally aware, and it turned out really good.”

    Of course, completing a mission requires more than just on-the-spot adjustments. It takes planning and preparations ahead of time for an event like this to come off without a hitch.

    “It takes everybody from the mechanics all the way up to the aircraft fuelers, to our operations people that track what we’re doing, to the air crews and then the participants in the back,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 William Hatley, the pilot for the mission from Company C, 1/108th Aviation Battalion, based in Austin. “It takes a good amount of people to pull this off.”

    The extra time needed to prepare for this event and the number of people involved support the volunteerism and patriotism that are vital to the military service, particularly for the Special Forces troops.

    “Special Forces guys are three times volunteers,” De La Cruz said. “First, we volunteer for the Army. Then we volunteer for airborne school. Then we volunteer for Special Forces.”

    The HALO jump and fast rope demonstration allowed spectators a glimpse into the world of airborne and air assault soldiers.

    “For the crowd and family, it swells them up with pride,” said De La Cruz. “This patriotic stuff, it’s what we live for.”



    Date Taken: 04.17.2011
    Date Posted: 04.18.2011 16:09
    Story ID: 68936
    Location: AUSTIN, TX, US 

    Web Views: 1,734
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