Fort Hood hosts first free fall exercise in years
February 8, 2013
FORT HOOD, Texas (Feb. 8, 2013) -- The only current Airborne unit on this sprawling Central Texas Army installation added a twist to their monthly static-line jump when six Soldiers also participated in a Military Free Fall here, Feb. 5.
Eighty-eight Soldiers from Company C, 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) (Long-Range Surveillance), participated in the static-line jump, a monthly exercise that helps the unit's Soldiers maintain their proficiencies.
"It's a good day to jump," 1st Sgt. Joe Caraballo, Co. C, 2-38 Cav, said. "This is how we keep our guys current. That's important because we have Soldiers whose experience ranges from straight out of Airborne School to very experienced."
While the long-range surveillance, or LRS, Soldiers with Co. C, are required to be Airborne-qualified, only one Soldier in the unit participated in the high-altitude, low-opening, or HALO, Military Free Fall.
Staff Sgt. Adam Davila, who is also III Corps Free Fall Team Leader, is hoping that the HALO jump will bring more of a focus on not only the LRS team's capabilities, but the need for a free fall team of Soldiers within the unit.
A team would consist of six, and once together, it could benefit from training exercises to maintain proficiencies by jumping with the static-line jumpers.
"I would like a team organic to the unit," Davila said. "We have packets ready to submit; we are just waiting for slots."
Slots to enter the Military Free Fall school at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., are highly competitive, and mainly reserved for special operations, but Davila is not alone in his efforts.
Jumpmaster Warrant Officer Brandon Barger said the free fall was part of "trying to start our baseline program so in the future our unit has the capabilities to insert anywhere."
That, after all, is the point behind a Military Free Fall insertion.
"It's the most preferred method of insertion for reconnaissance," Davila said, noting that HALO and high-altitude, high-opening jumps have been used in recent conflicts, but mostly by Special Forces.
"The idea is to jump at night at 25,000 feet," he said. "You have 45 minutes to an hour, floating over eight miles."
On this day, the free fall jumpers jumped at about 10,000 feet.
Squadron Commander Lt. Col. John Cogbill also participated in the free fall, which marked his 44th jump. The commander also noted the benefits of a free fall insertion and the training opportunity.
"It's a more stealthy insertion," Cogbill said. "As the corps commander's reconnaissance squadron, it's our obligation to the American people to be ready."