By CourtesyDecember 22, 2015
By Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathon Crane
RHINE ORDNANCE BARRACKS, Germany - The 5th Quartermaster Theater Aerial Delivery Company along with sister U.S. units, NATO allied and partner nations gave back to the Kaiserslautern Military Community this week by airdropping gifts to the local children.
Paratroopers from the United States, Germany, Netherlands, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Ireland, France and Great Britain took part in Operation Toy Drop 2015, and the 5th QM TADC's annual international parachuting event. The event is conducted at the 5th QM TADC's rigger facility on Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Ramstein Air Base and Alzey drop zone, located near the town of Alzey.
The event took place Dec. 7-10 and was the ninth time that Toy Drop has been conducted in Germany. The four-day international parachuting event culminated with the 6th annual Airborne Ball Dec. 10.
The U.S. Army hosted event was supported by C-130J aircraft from the 37th Air Wing, stationed at Ramstein Air Base. Paratroopers and jumpmasters from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps all took part. Jumpmasters from the U.S. Air Force's 435th Contingency Response Group worked hand in hand with the host unit to ensure that the event ran smoothly and most importantly, safely. This joint effort demonstrates the interoperability of the airborne community and the airborne allied nations collectively.
The event kicked off with dropping a cargo container with over 2,000 toys donated by the paratroopers. Santa Claus then jumped onto Alzey drop zone to distribute the gifts to children at the event. Santa was joined by members of 5th QM TADC, U.S. Air Force and five additional allied nations as he conducted a military free fall jump onto the drop zone. Once Santa landed, he visited with children from the Kaiserslautern Military Community and handed out gifts. Additional gifts that were collected during the event will be donated to Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers for distribution, along with a local orphanage to spread the holiday spirit to host nation children.
The 5th QM TADC jumped over 200 static line paratroopers and 40 military free fall jumpers. One of those jumpers was Hauptfeldwebel (Master Sergeant) Marcel Krenz of the Bundeswehr (German armed forces).
"Thanks for so much fun. This was a great opportunity for multinational operations, to get to know each other and to celebrate comradeship. I hope for other opportunities in the future," said Krenz.
Operation Toy Drop originally began at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It was brought to Germany back in 2006 after German Master Sgt. Matthias Gabbert participated in the Fort Bragg operation. Gabbert, along with German Master Sgt. Kai Becker, linked up with U.S. forces in Germany and began the annual tradition. These two master sergeants have built up a strong relationship with 5th QM TADC and work with the unit every year to ensure its mission success.
Capt. Mihkel Haug, a jumpmaster and parachute instructor of the Estonian National Defense League, has participated in four Toy Drop operations, both in Germany and at Fort Bragg.
While he enjoyed his time at Fort Bragg, Haug commented, "I prefer to participate in Toy Drop with 5th Quartermaster, and now I only do Toy Drops here."
His reasons included the cost effectiveness of being able to still participate in Toy Drops and interact with U.S. forces within Europe. He said that the experience with the smaller operation is much more personal. Overall, he and his Soldiers expressed great appreciation for Operation Toy Drop being conducted in Germany, and enjoy the quality friendship exchange of the smaller scaled operation.
Toy Drop 2015 showcased two of 5th QM TADC's capabilities, personnel parachute support and cargo aerial delivery. Aerial delivery is the core of the unit's mission while deployed in support of combat missions overseas and is practiced on a regular basis to maintain proficiency. Personnel parachute support makes up the bulk of the unit's mission during peacetime. The 5th QM TADC provides personnel parachute support to four airborne units in Germany and takes part in multinational events such as the reenactments of the "D-Day" invasion and Operation Market Garden.
The unit packs over 5,000 parachutes every year to support these missions and the airborne units to maintain their own parachuting proficiency. Each parachute is meticulously packed by parachute riggers and every parachute is inspected numerous times prior to being used by a paratrooper. The parachutes must be correctly packed every time as there is no second chance when saving a paratrooper's life.
The parachute riggers of the 5th QM TADC live by the rigger motto, "I will be sure, always."