Canadian, U.S. paratroopers trade wings
April 13, 2011
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A group of 198 U.S. Army Alaska paratroopers stood at attention March 23, as a video of former Canadian paratroopers sharing war stories and airborne pride played above.
This was the start of a Canadian-American exchange-of-wings ceremony hosted by the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division here.
The ceremony marked a bilateral friendship jump the night before. The airborne operation qualified BTSB Soldiers to wear the Canadian Parachutist Badge, because it was overseen by Canadian jumpmasters.
Friendship jumps give paratroopers from different countries the opportunity to train together and are intended to reinforce the spirit of cooperation between nations by sharing experiences and tactics. They're also an opportunity for paratroopers to earn foreign jump wings.
Sgt. Joseph Hiller and Master Cpl. Marc Andre Asselin, both from the Canadian Forces Land Advanced Warfare Center, served as jumpmasters for the airborne event and presented the Canadian wings at the ceremony.
"Congratulations. Wear these wings with pride. You earned them. Stay airborne," Hiller told the recipients.
Hiller and Asselin were both presented with the United States Army Senior Parachutist Badge by the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion Commander Lt. Col Frank Smith and Command Sgt. Maj. Henry Montoya.
The friendship jump honored the Allied paratroopers who jumped into combat on D-Day during World War II, according to Smith. Such events help build bonds and strengthen the camaraderie of the airborne community, he said.
The jump gave many new paratroopers an opportunity to earn their foreign wings, according to Montoya, including some who had only been in the unit a week.
"Earning the foreign wings reaffirms their status of being elite," Montoya said. "It's good for them and good for the Army."
This was the fourth friendship jump for the brigade since its return from combat operations in Afghanistan in February 2010. The first was in November 2010 when Indian soldiers visited JBER for Exercise Yudh Abhyas, followed by a Canadian jump at JBER in February and a training jump into Thailand the same month.