MIHAIL KOGĂLNICEANU AIRBASE, Romania - Strengthening relationships with partner nations continues to be an ongoing mission within the military community all over the world. To emphasize the importance of this objective, nine nations came together to participate in the Jackal Stone 11 multi-national special operations forces exercise.
The exercise hosted by Special Operations Command Europe is designed to build SOF capacity and to promote cooperation and interoperability between the participating forces. This year’s exercise includes SOF personnel from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Norway, Romania, Ukraine and the U.S.
One of the many different events within Jackal Stone included a ‘fun jump’ where parachutists from each participating country had an opportunity to jump together into Romania.
“This is an opportunity to do a wing exchange,” said Air Force Maj. Ellen T. Canupp, communications officer, SOCEUR. “This is where some partner nations’ parachutists jumpmaster the jump for us, then we can get their foreign wings and we can do the same for them.”
Aside from receiving the partner nations’ jump wings, the fun jump also allowed the participating nations to learn about and use the American parachutes and aircraft.
“This is a new experience for me,” said Ukrainian Capt. Alexander Bondarenko. “I have never jumped out of a C-130 before, in my country we normally jump from helicopters; I’m excited.”
During the jump, the service members exited from the ramp, which is also known as a tail jump, of the MC-130P Combat Shadow.
“A ramp jump means less moving parts,” said Canupp, a Greeneville, Tenn., native.
With less moving parts, there are less chances of injury, she added.
Before jumping, the service members participated in Sustained Airborne Training, which helped to re-familiarize them with the different things they needed to do when on the aircraft, departing the aircraft and when hitting the ground.
During SAT, parachutists went over drills they learned in airborne school and emphasized what to do in the event of a malfunction or unexpected landing terrain.
The service members also went through Jumpmaster Pre-Inspection to ensure the parachute was properly set up and they knew and understood how their parachute would work. Although the title includes the word jumpmaster, it is everyone’s duty to ensure safety.
“We are a team, when we’re jumpmastering, when we do the parachute inspection,” said Canupp. “We all are out there inspecting together, inspecting our folks and ensuring their safety.”
Working together was exactly what Canupp did with her partner nations’ parachutists during this particular jump.
“I’m going to be the lead jumpmaster for my pass, but I will have a Ukrainian jumpmaster shadowing me,” Canupp said.
“In Ukraine, the jumpmaster does all the same things that the American jumpmaster does, but instead of “Follow me,” we stay behind and make sure that everyone is off the helicopter,” said Ukrainian Capt. Kozma Constin.
Constin shadowed Canupp when on the bird, which earned them and the parachutists in their pass, each other’s wings.
“[Canupp] knows what she’s doing. She’s up there taking charge; she got up with the Ukrainian jumpmaster, who did commands as well,” explained Lt. Col. Antonio Paz, a military information support officer within SOCEUR. “They did a fine job together. I had total confidence in what they were doing, while they looked over us as we got ready to exit the aircraft.”