SICILY, Italy — Building strong bonds with other military services plays a vital role in the Army's mission in Europe, and the Army often takes advantage of joint training operations to build and strengthen those bonds.
A group of paratroopers from the 5th Quartermaster Company, 21st Special Troops Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment Command traveled to the Italian island of Sicily to cross train and conduct joint airborne operations with one of the Navy's explosive ordnance disposal teams, Mobile Unit 8, June 22-26.
The exercise, which was designed in part to assist both units in further understanding each other's airborne operations and training procedures, took place at Naval Air Station Sigonella where Mobile Unit 8 conducts airborne and high altitude jump training. Mobile Unit 8 is the Navy's European response force for explosive ordnance disposal with teams deployed all over the world.
The 5th QM Co. is a parachute rigger company stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany, that supports airborne operations across Europe and Africa.
"I love the fact that we can get several branches working together to see how the Army does things and how the Navy does things because we can always learn a lot from each other, and it is always good to get that cross-service training," said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class John Delong, a special operations rigger for Mobile Unit 8.
The joint training culminated with several successful jumps from the rear tailgate of an Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo plane from the 37th Airlift Squadron with maintenance support from the 86th Maintenance Squadron home stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
"I think it is intrical part of our job to see how other branches of the military work. We see how they handle their equipment, and they can see how we handle ours," said Army Staff Sgt. Shanard Letang, the 5th QM Co. non-commissioned officer in charge of the mission to Sigonella.
The island of Sicily was made famous by the large scale invasion of that took place there during World War II in July of 1943. Chief Warrant Officer David Fabunan, 5th QM Co. officer in charge during the mission there, said he was excited about jumping on the same soil that Allied Soldiers did during the Sicilian invasion of World War II.
"It was a good feeling. Historically, this was a good opportunity to come down here and jump on the same land that our troops did over sixty years ago," said Fabunan.
Fabunan and many of the soldiers from the 5th QM Co. said the trip to the island of Sicily was truly a positive experience that will leave a lasting impression for a long time to come with hopes of more opportunities to train with Mobile Unit 8 in the future.