By Sgt. Christina DionJuly 29, 2014
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (July 29, 2014) -- As the C-130 flew overhead, streams of parachutes attached to static lines drop from the aircraft side doors as paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, jumped to earth. One by one, they landed randomly across the field.
Walking from one paratrooper to the next at the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command Bunker Drop Zone in Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Spc. Estar Hegel, a medic with the 6250th Army Hospital, and Port Orchard, Washington native, asked Soldiers if they were OK after their jump.
Known as BDZ, this training area is one of the only drop zones in Europe where both personnel and heavy equipment can drop for airborne operations. For medics on foot, there is a lot of space to cover.
Without stopping, Hegel moved from one paratrooper to the next, observing movements for signs of injuries and asking for verbal acknowledgement.
Although you'd never know from the serious look on her face, she was thrilled to be there.
"I never thought I'd get to do something like this," she said as she walked the vast open space. "It's definitely an impressive experience."
Each year, most U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers get the opportunity to train outside of their home stations at locations such as Fort Hunter-Liggett, California, or Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, as part of their annual deployment training. Others are chosen to participate in training opportunities that take them even further from home.
A program known as the Overseas Deployment Training, along with Operation Atlantic Resolve, brought many Reservists to Europe to train for three-weeks or more with active-duty units, running a variety of training missions.
One unit out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, the 6250th Army Hospital, brought five Soldiers with varying medical military occupational specialties to the Grafenwoehr Army Health Clinic, for their three-week training assignment.
Along with working in the clinic, the medical Soldiers spent the day with active-duty medics on a drop zone, July 23.
Not only did the medical team learn how to patrol a drop zone, they were given instructions how to prepare a field litter ambulance back at the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade motor pool. Active-duty medic Sgt. Tyler Sheeks gave the Reservists an orientation of the field litter ambulance, safety procedures as well as how to use the radio in case someone had to be medically evacuated off the drop zone.
Both National Guard and Reserve Soldiers perform Overseas Deployment Training here, and hone their medical skills, while building relationships with their active-duty counterparts.
"It was nice having them with us," said Sheeks.
The Soldiers are here to train, however they add value bringing their citizen-Soldier skills to the offices they support. Performing missions that support training as well as assisting Soldiers is an added value to the ODT program.