CPT Jordan S. Chroman
Quartermaster Professional Bulletin - Spring 1997
Two C-130s circle the sparkling Mediterranean Sea in lazy arcs, the Italian sky is
cloudless, all seems calm and peaceful in this sleepy part of Sicily...suddenly the
aircraft ramps open and a small object plummets toward the deep water. It is a rubber
assault boat which is quickly slowed by low velocity parachutes. Now the sky fills with
paratroopers, their olive parachutes open over the blue sea as small Navy boats start
tracking the descending troopers.
The place--Sicily, Italy--the mission--a joint aerial delivery, para-drop and waterborne
exercise between the 5th Quartermaster Detachment (Airdrop Supply) from Kaiserslautern,
Germany, the 37th Air Lift Wing from Ramstein, Germany, and the Navys Detachment 6,
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobil Unit 8 (EODMU 8), stationed at Sigenella Naval Air
Station, Italy. This was the first time that personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force
assembled at Sigenella to conduct a truly joint waterborne rigging mission.
5th Quartermaster Detachment
Riggers and soldiers from the 5th Quartermaster Detachment deployed from Ramstein Air
Force Base aboard aircraft from the 37th Air Lift Squadron, United States Air Forces in
Europe. Once in Italy, about half the soldiers on board conducted an "airborne
assault" onto one of the local land drop zones just outside of Sigenella. Navy
Jumpmasters from EODMU 8 operated the drop zone. The remaining soldiers air-landed with
assorted air items, parachutes, and a lot of "hooah." They were met by sailors
from EODMU 8 who assisted with the off-loading of parachutes and equipment. The joint
para-drop operations had begun.
Riggers and sailors rigged the assault boats and door bundles, and inspected parachutes.
Then they conducted joint briefings in waterborne, air drop, and water jump operations
followed by an extensive train-up period and mission brief.
Early the next morning Army and Navy paratroopers issued parachutes, conducted the final
briefings, and completed last-minute preparations for the operation. Army and Navy
Jumpmasters along with Air Force Loadmasters inspected the aircraft, and the Jumpmasters
completed the Jumpmaster Personnel Inspections. The paratroopers then boarded the aircraft
and prepared to make the water jump while other soldiers and sailors began the trek to set
up the water drop zone and work as the drop zone safety party.
After a two-hour flight, the aircraft circled the drop zone, a deep-water section of the
Mediterranean Sea about three miles offshore. The assault boat and door bundles were
dropped first, quickly followed by several sticks of paratroopers. The drop zone safety
party in rubber boats and Boston Whalers (small hard-sided boats) ensured jumper safety
and close control of the water drop zone.
After their descent, the paratroopers landed in the water, derigged the assault boat,
secured the door bundles, and were picked up by the drop zone safety party in the small
boats. While on the water, all the personnel, boats and equipment linked up and completed
the airborne and waterborne portions of the mission.
Once the mission was complete, the soldiers and sailors returned to shore, hung parachutes
to dry, recovered and cleaned all equipment, and conducted an in-depth after action review
of the operation. All personnel then returned to Sigenella Naval Air Station for the
evening. The mission ended with additional joint training sessions between Army and Navy
The three-day operation was very successful. It was an excellent training opportunity,
with a truly joint twist, that was beneficial to all. All missions were accomplished and
the participating soldiers, sailors and airmen were very happy with the exchange. Some
important lessons were learned as a result of this operation:
Regardless of the amount of prior planning between services, there will always be
some discrepancies on "doing business."
Personnel para-drop procedures differ between the Army and the Navy. Jumpmasters
must discuss and rehearse all aspects of airborne operations before the Jumpmaster
Briefings in order to instill confidence in paratroopers from all services.
Field manuals and technical manuals differ from service to service (even when they
apply to the same topic). Leaders must ensure that more time is built into timelines to
allow for discussions of tactical and/or technical differences.
This exercise was yet another example of military personnel from various services working
well with each other, with pride or "hooah," and with the spirit of teamwork
enabling them to accomplish any mission assigned. Exercises such as this are of great
value to our Quartermaster leaders and soldiers. They build trust and confidence in our
sister services and allow soldiers to see beyond the Army - into the joint arena.
CPT Jordan S. Chroman is a Distinguished Military
Graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. His military education includes the
Quartermaster Basic and Advanced Courses, Airborne School, Jumpmaster School, the Aerial
Delivery and Materiel Officer Course, the Joint Airdrop Inspectors Course, Pathfinder
School and Combined Arms and Service Staff School. He has served in various leadership
positions in the 3d Battalion, 12th Special Forces Group (Airborne), E Company; 407th
Supply and Transport Battalion, 82d Airborne Division; and as the Commander of the 5th
Quartermaster Detachment (Airborne Support), Germany. At the time this article was
published he was a student in the Logistics Executive Development Course/Florida Institute
of Technology, Fort Lee, Virginia