Over 30 Operation Spartan Shield Soldiers from the National Guard, Army Reserve and Regular Army representing the Total Force graduated from a five-day Rappel Master Course in a ceremony at Camp Buehring, April 21, 2017.
Task Force Spartan, 29th Infantry Division Deputy Commander, Brigadier General John M. Epperly was the graduation speaker.
"Never forget the special place you occupy in Air Assault operations," said Epperly, who wears the Air Assault badge. "This is a license to learn and a license to execute. You came together from multiple components and multiple units and did a great job," he added.
The graduating Operation Spartan Shield Soldiers included members of the 29th Infantry Division; 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division; the 420th Engineer Brigade, 169th Field Artillery Brigade.
As 1st Sgt. Sammy Walker of Hotel Company, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, one of the course's oldest graduates, explained, rappelling involves "moving down a rope at various rates from a fixed elevated position safely."
Rappel masters can go on to lead rappel training, teach skills, and ensure safety during exercises or real world operations.
Walker, a native of Harlen, Ky. responsible for over 100 Soldiers, found rappelling to be the easiest portion of the course and credits muscle memory for his success.
"You don't have to think, just do it," said Walker, paraphrasing a popular advertising slogan.
A 13-year veteran with the Maryland National Guard, 29ID Staff Sgt. Donald Neuer, related that the course curriculum focused on safety during hook up procedures to get rappellers either down a tower or out of an aircraft to conduct air assault operations.
Neuer considered the Rappel Master Personnel Inspection test and its real world application the most challenging portion of the course. For RMPI, students have 3-5 minutes to inspect three rappellers equipped at three different levels from bare minimum equipment to full combat loads, then identify and correct all deficiencies or safety violations.
The new rappel masters will contribute their skills to the Operation Spartan Shield mission to build partner capacity in the Middle East, promote regional self-reliance and increase security in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.