Paratroopers make jump onto airfield at WPAFB

Paratroopers over WPAFB (WDTN Photo/Ken Jarosik)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (WDTN) — Paratroopers filled the skies over Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Saturday for a training exercise, jumping onto the airfield.

It’s something that hasn’t happened at the base in nearly 30 years.

“This is a great partnership that we’re having with the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion,” said Colonel John Devillier, Commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at WPAFB.

“It helps us train. It helps us keep our credentials,” said Lieutenant Colonel Paul Sanders, Battalion Commander for the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion.

One by one troops moved out and filed onto the plane with gear on their backs.

“I mean, you’re jumping out of a plane with 100 pounds of equipment,” said Lt. Col. Sanders.

From more than 1,200 feet from above, parachutes deployed and they descended towards the drop zone.

Debi Fletcher watched with bated breath, waiting for her son to land

“He came home from school one day and said he was going to join the army. He was in his senior year,” said Fletcher.

William Downing has been in the service for 15 year. He’s done the jump more than a dozen times, but it was the first time his mom got to witness it.

“You get in there, you fall asleep, you take a little power nap, the door comes open, you wake up and get out the door,” described Downing.

The exercise was all part of a joint service training with the army, marines, air force, and total force working together.

“Obviously they’re already skilled at jumping out of parachutes, but as you know, if you don’t use training it atrophies over time, so this just gives them a great opportunity to ensure those skills don’t,” said Col. Devillier.

“It’s a lot of work. You know, you’ve got to coordinate with Wright-Patterson to get the drop zone. We got to coordinate for the hangars,” said Lt. Col. Sanders.

The paratroopers also trained Saturday for a nighttime jump. They said the biggest difference is they can’t see when they’re going to land because it’s so dark. At night, they drop their equipment about 15 feet below them so when they hear it hit, they know when they’re going to hit the ground.

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