ALZEY, Germany - U.S. Soldiers, Airmen and allied and partner nation forces came together to conduct the 5th Quartermaster Theater Aerial Delivery Company's annual Operation Toy Drop Dec. 4-8.
U.S., German, Dutch, and Estonian paratroopers delivered presents for Kaiserslautern area children, which marked the opening of International Jump Week.
"(Operation Toy Drop) is meant to be an interoperability exercise, where we bring in other NATO airborne forces," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathon Crane, airdrop systems technician for the 5th QM TADC, 16th Special Troops Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade. "That way we can be familiar with their tactics, techniques, and procedures, build esprit de corps, and build the brotherhood of the airborne units that are here in Europe."
The 5th QM TADC acted as the host of the event. The unit was responsible for rigging the parachutes, coordinating the events throughout the week, and maintaining the safety standard.
Three static line and two free-fall jumps were conducted throughout the week. The weather worked as a major obstacle for the event causing a few delays and cancellations, but overall the week was a success for the 5th QM TADC.
"The weather really messed with us, but (Operation Toy Drop) has been successful," Crane said. "That's due largely, in part, to the resiliency and flexibility of all of our jump masters and Soldiers. We reacted well to weather and time delays all week."
The success was much appreciated by the more than 20 families from the local area who received gifts delivered by Santa who was played by Spc. Jeffrey Hanley, senior parachute packer for the 5th QM TADC.
"I have never played Santa before," Hanley said. "I made the most of it and was told by a few parents that I made their child's day. That was the highlight of my week, although earning foreign jump wings by taking commands in a foreign language was a close second."
Hanley, who is expecting with his 7-months-pregnant wife, Lea, believed the chance to play Santa was a good opportunity and will later make a good story to tell.
The focus of the week was to not only provide gifts for the local children and feel the thrill of falling through the sky. The International Jump Week event was another way to ensure proficiency and continuing the bond with allied and partner nations to continue enhancing a Strong Europe.
"These are our allies and partners, people we may find ourselves on the same battlefield with, and now we have a better understanding of how they conduct operations as they do ours," said 1st Sgt. Robert Nicholson, first sergeant of the 5th QM TADC. "These seem like just good times and camaraderie, but there's another piece, which is the training aspect. At the end of the day, this is the projection of combat power."