April 24, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Jumpmasters from different units within the 82nd Airborne Division competed in the Jumpmaster of the Year competition with the hopes of earning the bragging rights as the best in the division.
Five Paratroopers competed in the four-day event, held April 16-19, at the Advanced Airborne School here at Fort Bragg.
Sgt. 1st Class Mason Riepe 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division; Sgt. Cory Ballentine, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division; Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pisano, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division; Sgt. 1st Class John Bailey, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division; Staff Sgt. Gregory Black 18th Fires Brigade (Airborne) were the candidates who competed in this years competition.
"The best part of the competition was the competency level of the soldiers who were competing," said Sgt. 1st Class John Bailey, battalion fires control sergeant, 2nd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment. "Competing against high caliber soldiers only increases your experience and makes you better."
Day one began with the candidates taking a physical fitness test and an exam on the names of different parts of the parachute and special equipment. The 100-question nomenclature exam tested the jumpmasters knowledge and attention to detail of the smallest air item.
Staff Sgt. Gregory Black, howitzer section chief, 1st Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment said, "The competition has made me more proficient because I was able to rig and put my hands on items that I usually don't get to handle being in 18th Fires."
The jumpmasters took a 100-question written exam demonstrating jumpmaster knowledge as well as a rigging test, showing their expertise in rigging special items on the second day. At four different stations the candidates rigged items such as a M240B machine gun and M249 squad automatic weapon to be jumped by airborne Soldiers.
"I learned to rig all the specialized equipment, which I didn't know how to do before," said Sgt. Cory Ballentine, fire support specialist, 2 Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment. "I think the competition has definitely made me a better jumpmaster."
Jumpmaster personnel inspection, commonly known as JMPI, required each of the jumpmasters to inspect three Paratroopers within five-minutes finding all major and minor deficiencies.
Ballentine said that he conducted JMPI on his Soldiers and printed out and memorized images of all the special items in order to prepare for the competition.
On the final day of the competition the candidates were tasked with a practical work in the aircraft exam. During PWAC the candidates were tasked with giving all the proper commands and door inspections while in the air.
"PWAC is where you make your money when it comes to being a Jumpmaster," said Black. "There is nothing like exiting Paratroopers from an aircraft."
"It was a great opportunity to represent the Loyalty Battalion and the Panther Brigade against some of the best in our division," said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pisano, platoon sergeant, 1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment. "I recommend all leaders in the 82nd become a jumpmaster… it's what we do."
Black went on to say, "It is an honor to be recognized as a competitor in the competition and if you win, you are part of a select few of such a prestigious title. There is nothing better than being labeled the Jumpmaster of the Year in the greatest airborne division."
Bailey, who has been a jumpmaster for 10 years, said the most difficult part of the competition was to not know your scores or what you did wrong throughout the competition.
The winner of this year Jumpmaster of the Year competition will be announced during All American Week being held May 20-23.