15th SB leads the way in Fort Hood airborne ops

Story by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley
15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas — Lately, a person looking at the sky may have noticed something unusual to Fort Hood floating through the air – parachutes.

The 15th Sustainment Brigade “Wagonmasters,” 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) organized and conducted the largest airborne jump to occur on Fort Hood in 10 years as well as three Low Cost Low Altitude supply drops here July 15 – 17.

These missions were part of the new airborne capabilities to the Great Place, proudly made possible by the Wagonmasters.

On July 17, the 15th conducted a jump mission in which 86 Soldiers of the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, B Troop, made their initial jump as the first airborne unit on Fort Hood in 10 years.

“[504th is] going to be a great asset to Fort Hood in every aspect,” Warrant Officer Werner Menchu, 15th’s Airdrop System Technician said.

“[They’re] going to open up the eyes of the Fort Hood communities.  [Airborne operations are] not just something that the Special Forces or Delta Force does.

On July 16, the Wagonmasters dropped needed supplies to 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, in the field using the new LCLA system as part of a series of training missions to maintain proficiency in the system.

“This was great training for the pilot, for the unit receiving the supplies, and for the 15th, as the coordinating unit,” said Sgt. Enrique Alvarado Jr., a transportation movement noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 15th SB.

The Wagonmasters completed 25 LCLA drops, certified nearly 200 Soldiers and Airmen on the LCLA system, certified nearly 100 Soldiers on helicopter sling load operations, and facilitated the airborne jumps of more than 100 servicemembers from various units in multiple training missions since restarting airborne operations on Fort Hood in February.

And they’ve only just begun.

“15th Sustainment Brigade and Fort Hood units will probably have more air delivery missions stateside for training than the 18th Airborne Corps,” Menchu predicted.

According to Menchu, the current aerial re-supply efforts of the Wagonmasters and the standing up of the 504th makes the future of airborne operations on Fort Hood look bright. 

“It’s a big step up.  Fort Hood has seen the transformation of what the army is going to,” Menchu said. 

Due to the training areas currently available and the new airdrop systems coming into use, units wanting fast, easy, precise aerial re-supply need only give a call to the 15th.

“All they have to do is request [LCLA] and we’ll do all of the planning and coordination for them, so that they can continue their training and we re-supply them,” Menchu explained.

In the near future, those needing aerial re-supply from the Wagonmasters’ may have another option available – the Jump Precision Air Delivery system.

The LCLA system currently in use by the 15th is accurate enough to place bundles on an area the size of an intersection with an Army aircraft flying at 120 mph only 150 feet off the ground.  The JPAD will be just as accurate, but will fly at 30,000 feet, Menchu said.

“They don’t have to worry about RPG fire or any kind of fire. It works like a HALO (High Altitude-Low Opening) jumper.”

The system, which is guided by GPS, will include a remote control allowing Soldiers on the ground to change a bundle’s course while falling if necessary, he stated.

In addition to bringing new aerial re-supply capabilities to Fort Hood, the 15th plans on conducting monthly LCLA proficiency missions and continuing to train servicemembers on LCLA and sling load operations. The next combined LCLA and sling load operation certification class is scheduled for October 6-10.

Soldiers from B Troop, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade
Soldiers from B Troop, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade float to the earth here July 17 during one of the airborne operations conducted by 15th Sustainment Brigade. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)


1st Lt. Richelle Gibson, 15th Sustainment Brigade's Transportation Officer in Charge reaches for a static line on the ramp of a C-23 "Sherpa" as an LCLA bundle's chute deploys in the background here July 16. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)

 

C-23 'Sherpa'
A C-23 "Sherpa" airdrops supplies during a low cost, low altitude exercise conducted by the 15th SB at Hood Drop Zone here July 16. The Wagonmasters conducted the aerial re-supply training mission in conjunction with D Troop, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joel F. Gibson, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs)

1st Lt Richelle Gibson
1st Lt. Richelle Gibson (left), 15th Sustainment Brigade's Transportation Officer in Charge and John Mahon, senior airdrop equipment specialist for Natick Research Development and Engineering Command watch an LCLA bundle float to the ground from the ramp of an Army C-23 "Sherpa" here July 16. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)

Sgt Enrique Alvarado Jr
Sgt. Enrique Alvarado Jr., a transportation movement noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), removes parachutes from bundled supplies during a low cost, low altitude exercise conducted by the 15th SB at Hood Drop Zone here July 16. The Wagonmasters conducted the aerial re-supply training mission in conjunction with D Troop, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Johnson, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs)