NEW LONDON, N.C. – North Carolina Army National Guard Soldiers from three units conducted airborne operations at the Stanley County Regional Airport June 18.
The 403rd Quartermaster Rigger Support Team and B Company, 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, were supported by a Black Hawk helicopter team from the 449th Theater Aviation Brigade to help the units perform static-line, airborne operations.
During a static-line jump, the Soldier’s parachute is attached to the aircraft by a length of webbing material that pulls their parachute open as they jump out of the helicopter.
The 403rd is a small team of Soldiers, including parachute riggers and jumpmasters. They are required to stay current on training to support other units in the N.C. Guard.
“As long as we are proficient, we’re able to pack and provide chutes for the airborne community,” said Sgt. Richard Barath, the training noncommissioned officer for the rigger support team. “It also allows us to maintain proficiencies in rigging supplies for possible humanitarian efforts.”
The 403rd Rigger Support Team was formed less than three years ago.
Having a rigger support team in-state means less outsourcing for the N.C. Guard, specifically in regards to their High-Altitude, Low-Opening (HALO) parachutes used in freestyle jumps.
“Being able to do this in-house provides a closer network for units who need to maintain their airborne status and proficiency,” said Spc. Jeremy Lamber, a parachute rigger with the 403rd. “Previously, HALO chutes were coming from out of state, and now they’re going to be able to be provided in-state.”
Before joining the National Guard, Barath saw how riggers can support operations outside the scope of airborne jumps.
“I was part of a huge humanitarian effort while on active duty in Haiti after the earthquake,” Barath said. “I saw how rigging supplies that could be air-dropped to people in places inaccessible by land or sea was a huge help to that community in their time of need.”
As North Carolina prepares for hurricane season, Barath said he hopes they can do the same thing to help North Carolinians should it be needed.