ADAZI MILITARY BASE, Latvia -- "Rigger!"
For most U.S. military personnel shouting this word means very little, but for those that are airborne qualified, it is a request assistance; assistance that evokes a level of assurance and safety that makes jumping from an aircraft at over 1,000 feet less nerve racking.
For the 'Sky Soldiers' of the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade participating Operation Atlantic Resolve, this level of assurance and safety can be credited to the parachute riggers of the Arial Delivery Platoon, Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 173rd Brigade Support Battalion out of Aviano, Italy.
"Our job is to pack, inspect and prepare the equipment so airborne Soldiers can perform missions and their duties," said Spc. Joseph Chrysler, a parachute rigger with the 173rd BSB. "Every time we put a chute out for use, someone is essentially putting their life in our hands. So we take our jobs very seriously."
Signified by a red baseball caps adorned with gold rank and 'airborne wings,' the riggers of 173rd BSB have the distinct job of ensuring the equipment being used during airborne operations in OAR is to standard; operating efficiently and effectively, without fault.
The riggers from the 173rd BSB are currently deployed to Latvia in support of the Sky Soldiers who are conducing airborne operation in OAR, the ongoing, multinational partnership focused on joint training and security cooperation between the U.S. and other NATO allies.
"This is a big show for us," said Staff Sgt. Roderick Sharp, NCOIC for the riggers in Latvia. "Being here in Operation Atlantic Resolve is not only about supporting the participating units, but showing our allies and partners what we are capable of doing."
As subject-matter experts in the field of airborne equipment and operations, Sharp and his crew responsible for ensuring that the more than 500 T-11 Parachute Systems in Latvia are ready for use by the U.S. and allied forces located throughout Europe during OAR.
From being on-site during an airborne operation and helping Soldiers with adjustments to performing inspection and repacking operations back at their workspace on Adazi Military Base, Chrysler said his job is all about making sure the equipment is fully operational so Soldiers can better work together.
"In the garrison environment we don't get to see where the chutes that we pack go, we just know that it goes on someone's back here in the European theater," said the Cannon Falls, Minn., native, adding that the equipment can get readjusted during transport. "It's nice to be out here ensuring the equipment is to standard before they jump. For example, if the canopy is showing through the pack tray, we'll inspect it, fix it, and make sure it is good."
Sharp, the 13-year Army rigger who participated in OAR last year when 173rd Airborne Brigade was the first to deploy to Poland and the Baltic States following the situation in Ukraine back in 2014, knows the importance of his job and this operation.
"This is a team effort, as we are woking more closely with the brigade element and our allies," said Sharp, a Pompano Beach, Fla., native and jumpmaster. "From the camaraderie to the relationships established between all of the forces participating, it is a great benefit to do these partner operations with allied forces."
For up-to-date photos and information on the 173rd Airborne Brigade, visit the Operation Atlantic Resolve website.