CAMP MACKALL, NC – “It is truly an honor to be among you today,” said German army 1st Lt. Marc Breitenfeld, as he prepared to pin German airborne wings on U.S. Special Operations Forces paratroopers waiting in formation.
Breitenfeld, a jumpmaster commander from the 31st German Airborne Brigade, was on Camp Mackall May 18 and 19 along with several of his jumpmasters to participate in an airborne operation in which hundreds of U.S. Army Special Operations Command and U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command Soldiers earned either their bronze, silver or gold German airborne wings.
They earned those wings buy jumping out of a German C-160 high-performance aircraft, all while taking commands in German by the German jumpmasters.
“It was a great day,” said Staff Sgt. Rick A. Scott, a network technician with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Scott, a St. Petersburg, Fla., native, said the German jumpmasters were professional and gave him a great feeling of confidence through the training they conducted.
“Although they were giving us the commands in German, they were also going through what they were saying and doing in English,” he said. “It was all just a humbling experience.”
To earn the respective wings, the paratroopers had to successfully complete one jump for bronze; have three jumps with the Germans and a total of 20 jumps under their belt for silver; and for gold, it would have to be a paratrooper’s fifth German jump out of 50 or more total jumps.
The operation ended as soldiers from each successful pass gathered in front of the German jumpmaster commander and accepted their respective airborne wings with a hand shank, salute and a hearty punch in the chest.
“We may be from different cultures and different sides of the world,” Scott said, “but we came together as one team with the goal in mind to jump successfully and safely.”