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Army ( Airborne!! )
I was an Army officer from Fort Lewis assigned to the
62nd MAW at McChord
from 1987 to 1988. My job was Ground Liaison Officer
(GLO) - basically to
coordinate and translate Armyese to Air Forcese and
It was one of the best assignments in my 20+ career of Active and Reserves. At McChord, I was on both Flight and Jump Status, and got to both fly and jump out of both the C-141s and C-130s. With that, international flights, and along with membership to the O'Club, things just don't get any better! At that time, the Air Force didn't recruit any female Officers unless they were beautiful. I was in heaven.
It's an Airborne Tradition that if you go to another country and make a jump with them, then you are awarded their wings. In 1987, a Forward Planning Element of the Royal Horse Artillery (Airborne) [which also happened to be Prince Phillip's Own Regiment] was visiting Ft. Lewis to plan for the U.S. Training of a 42-Man element of the RHA (A) during January and February, 1988.
I asked their senior officer if either the 1st Special Forces or the 2nd Ranger Battalion had offered to sponsor them (which obviously meant that they would provide the traditional U.S. jump). When I received a negative reply, I immediately ask Col Chuck Niggemeyer, Deputy Wing Commander for Ops, if it would be possible for the Wing to sponsor the RHA (A). We both ran it by the Wing Commander Col Tenoso, who of course approved it. We then got the Public Affairs officer for the base paper, a reporter from the Tacoma paper, and a reporter from the local TV News to cover the event. This was a big deal for the RHA (A) because all that the RAF had for aircraft was C-130s, and none of their troops had ever made a "Jet Jump."
As we came over the DZ, we got the full media
coverage, and of course since
I was the Airborne Commander, I led the way out
first, and Major Mike Pope of
the RHA (A) went second. The base photographer
captured the moment perfectly
with my parachute at full extension (as you can see
by the smile on my face),
and following me is Mike Pope just exiting the jump
door. Two of the Brits had
done some advance planning, and as they walked
towards the Assembly Area on the
DZ they were holding between them a large British
Flag - which was featured on
the front page of the Tacoma paper the next morning!
At the Assembly Area, COL
Niggemeyer took great pride in presenting each of
the Brits in formation their
silver American Jump Wings!
Once again, the 141 came through. Even though I was saddened by the retirement of the aircraft, each time that I remember it, the 141 brings a smile to my face!
PS: Any comments about my behavior as the GLO, or as some misguided individual once referred to me "the Wing Morale Officer", are obviously not true and are to be taken out of context. I only behaved as any Green Beret would, who was expected to provide Mission Accomplishment, which I always did, regardless of regulations!