173rd Airborne BCT Soldiers jump into Ukraine with paratroopers from 5 nations
July 28, 2011
YAVORIV, Ukraine (July 28, 2011) -- More than 200 paratroopers completed the first multi-national airborne operation of Exercise Rapid Trident 11 at the International Peacekeeping and Security center here, July 26.
The U.S. Paratroopers of Battle Co., 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, U.S. Army Europe were joined by soldiers from Ukraine, the U.K., Moldova, Poland and Canada.
For many of the Battle Co. Soldiers, it was the first time jumping alongside partner nations as well as their first time having a foreign -- in this case Polish -- jumpmaster.
“This is my first time working with this many partner nations and this is my first time being a jumpmaster alongside a partner nation,” said Maj. Jarrett Hunter, operations officer for 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt.
Though the paratroopers speak different languages, the actions remain the same.
“There are some minor differences in the way we do things, but they coordinated well with our jumpmasters and if there was any slip in the translation of anything, then our jumpmasters would repeat it,” said Spc. Harry Spore, also of Battle Co. “Actually it’s probably one of the best exits I’ve ever had.”
“We started out with rehearsals and a lot of them go through the same commands so it worked out really well,” Hunter said.
“They use the same hand and arm signals, they did a great job I thought, so it felt real good,” said 1st Lt. Colby Park, a platoon leader for Battle Co.
Pfc. Dominick Kuczynski, of Battle Co. helped bridge the language gap, translating for the Polish Soldiers.
“It was a good icebreaker for me to go up to the Polish group and introduce myself and start speaking Polish to them,” he said. “I am Polish as you can tell by my last name, so it was a pretty awesome experience talking to them and socializing with them before the jump.”
It became apparent early, however, that no matter one’s country or language, there’s an automatic sense of kinship that gets built between airborne paratroopers and it was on display from the initial brief to the drop zone.
“It was my first time jumping from a big aircraft but it was great. I liked it,” 1st Lt. Sehii Shulilvov, of Ukraine’s 95th Airborne Brigade said.
“I think having airborne in common provides a different camaraderie,” Park said. “You have something in common that you can relate to and talk about whether that be your parachutes compared to our parachutes, how you land compared to how we land, it definitely has a lot of talking points.”
“It’s a great time, it’s motivating for our Soldiers, and for the partner nation Soldiers,” Hunter said. “It takes a unique person to throw themselves out of a perfectly good aircraft and that right there will bring different nations’ paratroopers together.”
At the end of the day, all Soldiers and countries involved were able to train together and learn more about each other.
“There’s some minor differences in the way we do things but we’re all out here to jump together and get to know each other,” Spore said. “For them show us how they train and for us to show them how we train.”
“I think it’s great because in both theaters this unit (173rd ABCT) has been deployed in we’ve had to work with different partner nations,” Hunter said. “This gives the youngest Paratrooper on the ground a chance to understand how our partner nations work and get to understand the level of professionalism that they have, and the partner nations get to understand the level of professionalism we have.”
“It’s an excellent experience,” Kuczynski said. “I was curious to see how our allies actually work together and how they jump and the different techniques they use.”