FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Foreign languages echoed through a hangar on Pope Airfield as jumpmasters from seven partner-nations and the U.S. Army rehearsed airborne procedures on a C-130 Hercules aircraft on Dec. 1, 2015 here.
While lead jumpmasters gave commands in a medley of languages, the troops responded in unison. The colorful assortment of partner nation and U.S. troops executed the commands, hand signals and simulated motions of airborne operations procedure as if the language barrier that separated nations did not exist.
This training was in preparation for the 18th Annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop, hosted by the U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne). While Operation Toy Drop's primary mission is to collect toys and distribute them to children in need during the holiday season, it also provides paratroopers an opportunity to earn partner nation jump-wings by conducting airborne operations with partner nation jumpmasters.
Operation Toy Drop is scheduled for Dec. 4 and 5, 2015. Partner nation jumpmasters spend the week before this main event familiarizing themselves with U.S. aircraft. Despite traditional language barriers, the jumpmasters were able to communicate through a different form of correspondence -- airborne operation procedures.
"Jump drills for static-line parachuting is pretty much the same. It is universal," said Canadian Warrant Officer Mike Dwyer, a jumpmaster from Trenton, Ontario. "You'll just hear different variations of each command."
Not only do these Jumpmasters share this universal language, they also share a common goal.
"Safety is the most important thing," said Dutch Sgt. Maj. Sebastiaan Kievith, a jumpmaster from Holland.
This familiarization training is important because it gives parachutists the confidence that they can jump safely, Kievith said.
The jumpmasters are scheduled to spend the rest of the week rehearsing safety procedures and continuing to get to know their partner nations better before Operation Toy Drop.
Dwyer said he is most looking forward to mingling with the partner nation members.
"It's great to cross train," Dywer said. "It makes for excellent interoperability."
The camaraderie of the jumpmasters and the focus on safety has been some of the contributing factors to Operation Toy Drop's success since 1998. This success has provided over 100,000 toys to children since the program's inception.
"We love what we do," said Dwyer. "It just makes us stronger as a whole."