The World War II Airborne Demonstration Team held a parachute jump school from April 18-22.
Jump school consists of classroom style instruction as well as hands on practice before the students jump from Boogie Baby, the team’s C-47 aircraft.
This jump school was a special class that consisted of only tier-two and tier-three students, which means that they aren’t beginners, according to the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team Public Affairs Officer Laura Goodwin. These students have either been on active jump status with their military branch, or have just come off active status.
Army Capt. Aly Caylor is a tier-three student who just spent four years in the 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.
“I was on active status for all four years,” Caylor said. “I just moved to Fort Sill and I’m going through the field artillery captain’s career course and then I’ll do a year in Korea before heading back to Fort Bragg.”
Student Staff Sgt. Curran Rosich said that he grew up in the 82nd Airborne Division. Rosich works as a recruiter in Bozeman, Mont.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do for years, especially growing up in the 82nd Airborne Division,” Rosich said. “You learn about those people, kind of like you borderline worship them. To be able to sit in that aircraft and look at their names before you jump is heavy. This is an amazing experience.”
The first thing the students do upon arrival at the hangar is set up their barracks which is inside the hangar.
Sgt. Maj. James Willeford recently retired from the Marine Corps where he served in the Marine Corps Special Operations Command. He said that the The World War II Airborne Demonstration Team is more like a cultural calling.
“If you look around here, everything here is World War II,” Willeford said. “Even today we had people playing all 40s music. It’s a throwback. For us to get here, get a barracks set up military style, that’s something we’ve all really wanted to do for some time. We’ve been through jump school in the military side, and the jump school here is just as rigorous. We all could have done this on active duty but we chose to do it here because of what this all means to us.”
Everyone who is involved with the team does so on a volunteer basis.
Cmdr. Stanley Bunner is a Navy reservist. He said that no one is ordered to duty there.
“There is no one here that is forced to be here,” Bunner said. “Everyone here is a volunteer. The colonel was telling us about it this morning. The cook is a volunteer. The mechanics are volunteers. Even the pilots — they don’t get paid for what they do. We’re here because we want to be.”
The students graduated April 21 in a ceremony that was held in the airborne hangar.
The World War II Airborne Demonstration Team is scheduled to hold a jump school in July, followed by Open Hangar Day, which is open to the public.
For more information visit www.wwiiadt.org.
Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.