By Staff Sgt. Thaddius S. Dawkins IIJanuary 9, 2014
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- The Unites States Army Special Operations Command Flight Company (UFC) spent the month of December preparing for and supporting the United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC) Special Operations Forces (SOF) week.
SOF week follows the annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop, which according to USACAPOC PAO "is the world's largest combined airborne operation." During the week, SOF and foreign jumpmasters work together putting Paratroopers out the door of UFC aircraft. Every year, the Paratroopers donate thousands of toys for the opportunity to earn foreign jump wings. Those toys are then distributed to underprivileged children in the area.
"Our company's mission during the week is to provide flexible and reliable aviation support for static-line, free-fall, and public affairs missions," said Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Curtis P. Adams, the UFC commander. "We did this by providing CASA 212 and UH-60 aircraft and crews from main day until the completion of SOF week."
Along with providing a majority of the aircraft during SOF week, the UFC was responsible for other important duties as well.
"My acting first sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Brice A. Jackson, was a primary jumpmaster for the week," Adams explained. "The Flight Company hanger at Simmons Army Airfield was utilized for static and familiarization training, and we conducted the joint aircrew brief there. The previous commander of the Flight Company, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Tom Travis was the Airborne Commander."
The UFC has supported Operation Toy Drop and SOF week since their beginning. The successfulness of their mission support over the years has been due to a focus on safety and the ability to be flexible.
"This tremendous event is very important and serves a great cause, but in the end, it is training and safety that has to be at the forefront of everything you do," Adams said. "I asked the crews to always be thinking about their individual safety, their crew's safety and of their precious cargo, the jumpers. Flexibility was key this year as bad weather rolled in just in time for main day and lasted through Tuesday."
Following the yearly event, participating units conduct a joint after-action-review (AAR) in hopes of making next year's event even better. Adams said he is looking forward to the AAR and any recommendations for next year.
Jackson already has some ideas to make to make the next toy drop and SOF Week an even bigger success
"Next year, I'm hoping there will be more drop boxes spread throughout the community so we can collect even more toys," he said. "Also, I'd like to see more media and radio coverage so we can really get the word out."
As for Adams, one thing he is looking forward to for the next event is the use of the UFC's newly authorized C27J aircraft, which will be able to carry at least twice as many Paratroopers.