By Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 12, 2019
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jared, 57th Rescue Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician and drop zone control officer, right, communicates with aircrew via radio during over-water parachute training off the coast of Italy, July 9, 2019. The 57th RQS trains periodically to keep their Airmen technically proficient in their job and to provide day or night personnel recovery operations in and out of combat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)
A U.S. Air Force pararescueman assigned to the 57th Rescue Squadron parachutes into the ocean during over-water parachute training off the coast of Italy, July 9, 2019. The Airmen partnered with C-130J Hercules aircraft and crews from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in order to complete their quarterly parachute training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)
U.S. Air Force pararescuemen assigned to the 57th Rescue Squadron prepare a rigged alternate method zodiac (RAMZ) during over-water parachute training off the coast of Italy, July 9, 2019. The RAMZ is an inflatable, motorized boat that is airdropped alongside jumpers into the water. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)
U.S. Airmen assigned to the 57th Rescue Squadron jump from a C-130J Hercules assigned to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, during over-water parachute training off the coast of Italy, July 9, 2019. Airmen assigned to the 57th RQS participated in jump training over the course of the week, both on land and over water. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Tucker)
Two boats idled together in the Adriatic Sea just off the coast of Northern Italy, battered mercilessly by the waves as eight pairs of eyes searched the sky. The silence stretched for long moments, a hint of anticipation on the cool sea breeze before a radio crackled to life.
There would be three jumpers in five minutes, it said. The information was passed between the occupants of both boats as they caught first sight of the approaching aircraft.
Members of the 57th Rescue Squadron participated in over-water parachute training on July 9, with a dozen pararescuemen aboard a C-130J Hercules from the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as eight more awaited their descent from below.
First out of the aircraft was a rigged alternate method zodiac, or RAMZ, an inflatable, motorized boat that the jumpers used once they made it to the water. As they worked on setting up their vehicle, the members in the support boats began pulling in the discarded parachutes to be repaired if necessary and reused in the future.
The 57th RQS participates in jump training at least once a quarter, over both land and sea, to keep their skills and knowledge sharp in case they are ever needed in an emergency. The training not only benefits the pararescuemen, but requires harmonization with the squadron’s support agencies and even other bases – in the case of the C-130 and its crew.
“Just for us to do this training, it requires so much coordination from our support shops,” said Capt. Jordan, a combat rescue officer with the 57th RQS. “Just on the water we have boat drivers, people pulling in chutes and medical personnel. We are super grateful to have an amazing combat mission support section.”
Jumping to land is far different than jumping into the ocean, and carries far different challenges – not only for the jumpers themselves, but also for the support personnel down below.
“On land, all you really have to worry about is another aircraft coming into your airspace,” said Staff Sgt. Jared, aircrew flight equipment technician and drop zone control officer for the 57th RQS. “On water, you have to worry about boats, airplanes, and that you’re constantly moving. You have to go where the jumpers go, and then reset, come back to your position, and get ready for the next jumpers.”
Through successful support and coordination, the 57th RQS was able to carry out the required training needed in order to remain proficient in their job: providing day or night personnel recovery operations in any conditions, during peace or war.