A total of 25 soldiers based at Clay National Guard Center in Marietta jumped out of a 29-foot-long C-23 Sherpa, which is a fixed-wing aircraft. They also practiced dropping 10 “door bundles,” which are 48-pound packages filled with different types of durable items such as food, said Capt. John Shull, one of the guard’s officers.
The soldiers ranged from experienced to novice, or “cherry,” jumpers. To mark the newer jumpers to make sure they were easily visible after landing, each “cherry” jumper has their helmet and ankles wrapped with red tape.
The bundles contained a small parachute so the military can drop the items and give support to ground troops, soldiers and civilians who need it. These items are easily kicked out of a plane when dropping, Shull said.
These operations are used to maintain Guard-required proficiency in parachuting, he said.
“We try to set [up] a jump every month,” Shull said.
The monthly event gives each of the soldiers an opportunity to jump at least eight to nine times a year, which is a necessity for their job, he said.
“We have to stay current,” Shull said.
To stay certified each soldier must have at least one jump every three months.
Before jumping each soldier put on their equipment, which included their main and backup parachutes. Soldiers assisted each other with putting on equipment, and officers checked the troops to make sure everything was secure before jumping.
This was the second exercise the guard has performed at the Paulding Jet Center — the airport’s fixed-base operator.
“December was our first airborne mission [in Paulding],” Shull said.
Shull said the facilities and the staff have welcomed the troops during both missions. Warrant Officer candidate Jose Caoili is the center’s guard contact.
“Paulding County airport provides the closest facility [to Clay National Guard Center] that meets our requirements to perform parachute operations,” Caoili said in an email.
Jet Center Operations Manager Joe Sarber said the center is hoping to have different groups from the Army use the airport twice a month, other than March.
While there the military will bring business by buying fuel, he said.
However, it is also an honor for the Paulding airport because the military chose it for its operations, he added.
“We are helping our troops. That is the biggest part,” Sarber said.