FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Aca,!A"If you want to be a leader in the 82nd Airborne, you have got to be a Jumpmaster,Aca,!A? said Sgt. 1st Class Teigh Statler, platoon sergeant with Battery A, 1st Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
Themes such as leadership, proficiency, and competency were commonplace at the 82nd Airborne Division jumpmaster of the year competition held April 18-21 at the Advanced Airborne School (AAS).
Aca,!A"The event will test these jumpmasters on their retention and proficiency of the jumpmaster skill-set, without any assistance from the cadre,Aca,!A? said 1st Sgt. Christopher Buffaloe, the noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of AAS.
Jumpmaster candidates came from six brigades in the division.
Aca,!A"These six jumpmasters were chosen by their respective brigades either by experience, competition or reputation as the best to represent their units at this competition,Aca,!A? said Buffaloe.
Sgt. 1st Class Statler represented 18th Fires Brigade. His Paratroopers know him as Aca,!A"SmokeAca,!A? as itAca,!a,,cs the customary title bestowed on the platoon sergeant in the artillery community.
Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm proud to be involved in this competition. It letAca,!a,,cs me know that IAca,!a,,cve competed against the best the 82nd Airborne Division has to offer, and I held my own,Aca,!A? said Statler of the contest.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Randall, a military policeman with Company A, represented Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. Randall is originally from Fayetteville, N.C.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin Collins, originally from Greenwood, In., an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment represented the 1st Brigade Combat Team. Aca,!A"Even as a young Pvt. Collins, I could see that the jumpmasters always knew what was going on, they were in-charge and in control. ThatAca,!a,,cs what I wanted to be,Aca,!A? said Collins of why he became a jumpmaster.
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Hercik, originally from Wadsworth, Ohio, is a weapons squad leader for Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment and the representative from 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Sgt. 1st Class Geriah McAvin, a platoon sergeant for Troop B, 5th Squadron, 73rd Airborne Cavalry Regiment, won the 3rd Brigade Combat Team jumpmaster competition. Of competing in the jumpmaster of the year competition, McAvin said, Aca,!A"this is about being the best, this is what being in the 82nd Airborne is all about.Aca,!A? McAvin has been in the 82nd Airborne Division since 2004.
Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wakefield, originally from Silsbee, Tx., is the scout platoon sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and represented the 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Aca,!A"If youAca,!a,,cre going to be a leader in the 82nd, you have to be able to lead from the front, and thatAca,!a,,cs what a jumpmaster does,Aca,!A? said Wakefield.
The six jumpmasters competed in what could be called the core competency elements of being a jumpmaster in the 82nd Airborne Division.
Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cll be about what these guys have done on their own to increase and maintain their jumpmaster skills since having gone through their initial training,Aca,!A? said 1st Sgt. Buffaloe. The test is set up like the jumpmaster qualification exams, however, Aca,!A"itAca,!a,,cs more than just a re-test, and these guys will be challenged.Aca,!A?
Jumpmasters began the competition with a nomenclature examination. Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm sure everyone aced this part, you just have to know your equipment,Aca,!A? said Wakefield.
A performance-while-in-aircraft (PWAC) exam followed the nomenclature exam and was the consensus favorite among the jumpmasters. Aca,!A"This is the culmination of being a jumpmaster, being able to hang out of the aircraft and feel the wind beat against your neck is the best,Aca,!A? said Randall.
The Army physical fitness test was the third event, and as expected, all jumpmasters performed well above the standard.
The rigging examination proved to be one of the most difficult. There are four stations at which each jumpmaster has 15 minutes to properly rig a particular item for an airborne operation.
Items to be rigged included the A-21 cargo bag, the AT-4 jump pack, the M7 large base plate, M170 bi-pod and M225 cannon, M240B machine gun and M249 squad automatic weapon.
Aca,!A"The rig-ex was the most difficult exam, due to the fact that we donAca,!a,,ct see those items on a day-to-day basis in our airborne operations,Aca,!A? said Smoke Statler.
The jumpmasters were sweating before and throughout the event.
Aca,!A"The last time I touched some of these items of equipment was back at jumpmaster school. I donAca,!a,,ct deal with them regularly,Aca,!A? said Randall.
The JMPI, or jumpmaster personnel inspection, followed the rigging exercise. Each jumpmaster had five minutes to properly inspect three jumpers. Each jumper had both major and minor deficiencies that the jumpmaster was to properly identify.
Making the allotted time appeared to be a challenge, however finding the deficiencies was not. Jumpmasters erred on the side of caution and were sure to inspect each jumper carefully and to the standard.
The final day of the competition consisted of a pre-jump examination and a written exam. The pre-jump exam was an oral exam, where the jumpmasters were challenged to recall instructions, timelines, and airborne jump commands. The written exam consisted of multiple choice, true and false, and essay questions.
1st Sgt. Buffaloe said to the jumpmaster of the year candidates during his out-brief following the final event, Aca,!A"you are the best of each of your respective brigades. Whoever comes out on top of this competition will have earned it. Congratulations to you all, you are excellent examples of jumpmasters. Go back to your units, make corrections, be NCOAca,!a,,cs, be jumpmasters, and continue to lead from the front.Aca,!A?
The contest has concluded and the 82nd Airborne Division jumpmaster of the year has been determined. Announcement of the competition winner will be during All-American week.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16