Soldier combines 'AIRBORNE!' recruiting to tell the Army story
July 27, 2011
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HARRISBURG, Pa. (Army News Service, July 14, 2011) -- "You are going to be learning how to properly wear a parachute harness and land without injuring yourself," Army Recruiter Staff Sgt. Joseph Tremblay said to his airborne class.
Tremblay was an Infantryman in the Army for 10 years. Now, the jumpmaster presides over a roughly two-hour long airborne class he designed for the pubic, sharing his experiences as a Soldier with rapid-fire command and enthusiasm.
"He has found a way to relate to teenagers and young adults, and their parents by doing something he loves," said Staff Sgt. James Slough, the Harrisburg Opportunity Center commander. "Teaching these airborne classes helps him to gain exposure for the Army in the community."
The sergeant continued the class.
"Check body position: toe to toe, heel to heel, knees off to the rear, elbows in tight -- 45-degree angle -- hands on the side of your reserve -- pretend you have one -- chin on your chest, eyes open," drilled Tremblay to 114 future Soldiers in April and 15 Civil Air Patrol cadets in June.
Tremblay, who earned the senior parachutist badge and completed 42 jumps, is almost half-way through his tour as a recruiter at the Harrisburg Opportunity Center. His previous assignment landed him in Fort Benning, Ga., at the U.S. Army Airborne School "widely known as Jump School" to instruct for almost two years. The class he teaches now condensed the information taught at the airborne school's first week, or ground week.
Tremblay has conducted two training sessions so far in the Harrisburg community and said "this will give youths a basic knowledge of airborne operations."
With this goal in mind, Tremblay decides what students can use their imagination to practice and what they need to experience. For example, there is no mock door of a C-130 or C-17 aircraft for students to "jump" out of, but they do have parachute harnesses from local Army units.
Tremblay also borrowed a full parachute ensemble for one student to don and demonstrate to the class.
Civil Air Patrol Cadet Master Sgt. Joseph Dempsey, 17, was chosen to put on the full gear during the airborne training held June 29 at the 193rd Special Operations Wing, Pennsylvania Air National Guard Base here.
"It was by far one of the best things I have done in CAP so far," said Dempsey, who has been involved with the all-volunteer organization for about five years.
Working together in teams of two, Tremblay's students helped each other with the parachute harnesses. As he gave instructions on how to put those on, Tremblay and fellow recruiters, who are also airborne Soldiers, would double-check to ensure students were properly adjusting the straps on their harnesses.
"I was blown away by the training," said Capt. Ryan Greenawalt, the commander of the Harrisburg Recruiting Company, who witnessed the session Tremblay gave to the CAP cadets.
"You can tell he loves being an airborne Soldier, and the cadets were glued to every word," Greenwalt said.
Students kept these harnesses on throughout the basic airborne class that touched on the five points of performance: proper exit, check body position, and count; check canopy and gain canopy control; keep a sharp lookout during your entire descent; prepare to land; and land.
"AIRBORNE! What are you looking for?" Tremblay asked when teaching the second point of performance.
"Holes, rips, tears, blown sections, gores and broken section lines," the classes answered in unison, after repeating it probably about 20 times in the past five minutes.
Tremblay joined the Army when he was 19 years old, and said he only ever saw himself as an infantryman.
"I just like being in a combat job," said Tremblay, who has been deployed to Iraq twice. "Both times, [my infantry units] established a patrol base in the local communities so I was able to live with them, learn their culture and eat their food."
When asked why he volunteers to teach these airborne classes in the community, Tremblay said, "to give people a little bit of exposure to the Army and that we have all kinds of different options and programs."
Then, he smiled and added, "I can talk airborne all day long."