Special tactics unit holds precision jumpmaster course
By Master Sgt. Philip Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 07, 2012
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, KY. -- Special tactics pararescuemen from across the Air Force came to Louisville recently to attend a Precision Jumpmaster Course taught by members of the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron.
The course, offered June 2-23, provided pararescuemen with the skills needed to rescue anyone by parachuting into any site, on land or water, said Master Sgt. Joe Youdell, the Kentucky Air Guard's lead instructor. Other instructors included Senior Master Sgt. Karl Grugel, pararescue superintendent; and Master Sgt. Billy Hardin.
The course covered jumpmaster techniques and procedures, inspections, and static-line and military freefall jumpmastering. Students began with four days of ground training here in Louisville to familiarize them with rigging and inspections. They then traveled to Camp Atterbury, Ind., where they conducted two weeks of static-line and military freefall jumps from a C-130 aircraft. The Airmen completed their training by conducting a week's worth of jumps into water in Selfridge, Mich.
Kentucky's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron was selected to teach the course because of the experience of its members and their access to local airlift, Youdell said. The squadron is co-located at the Kentucky Air Guard Base with the 123rd Airlift Wing, which flies the C-130 Hercules aircraft and can easily accommodate the kinds of sorties needed to conduct a jumpmaster course.
This means students were able to complete the training, which is necessary for the award of a Craftsman skill level, in just a few weeks, rather than the months or even years it sometimes takes.
"I can't say enough about how much we appreciate the aircrew and the 123rd Airlift Wing for picking up the tasking and supporting us for this training," Youdell said. "We were able to put together a very complex course, but it has been a combined effort to be able to pull this off."
Rescue jumpmastering differs from regular jumpmastering in that participants aren't dropping into a predesignated location, Youdell said. Instead, the Airmen have to fly around and look for downed aircraft or survivors on the ground, deploy wind indicators, and then determine in real time the best location to parachute into.
Senior Airman Christopher Bailey of Moody Air Force Base, Ga., one of 11 active-duty or Air Guard pararescuemen who came to Kentucky for the course, called it "a great school."
"We were able to get some very thorough training here that we couldn't do back home because of a very busy deployment schedule. It will result in us being better team leaders, being able to prepare a group of guys to insert via parachute and accomplish the mission successfully."
"I think it's unique," he added, "that the National Guard has set aside time to train the active duty. It's something we don't have the manpower to do."