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Uruguayan paratroopers jump from Air Force C-17

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Roy Santana
  • 4th Combat Camera Squadron
More than 140 of Uruguay's solders, airmen and marines participated in a first for Uruguayan military members Nov. 4 when they jumped out of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III near here.

The jump, part of Operation Southern Partner, was designed to demonstrate Airmen to airman relationships can exist beyond borders as well the interoperability of equipment.

The C-17, assigned to the 535th Airlift Squadron, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, made two trips from Carrasco International Airport here to accommodate the jumpers who landed gently in a local cattle ranch designated as the drop zone.

Operation Southern Partner, at the end of its two-week endeavor, is an all-new, in-depth subject matter exchange emphasizing partnership, cooperation and sharing of information with partner nation military members in Latin America. More than 70 U.S. Airman, one Soldier and one Canadian officer, are scattered in four locations throughout South America.

"We couldn't have picked a better day to jump," said Master Sergeant David Hernandez, the drop zone coordinator from the 563rd Operational Support Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. "The winds are calm and visibility is excellent!"

Using a device called an Anemometer for measuring wind direction and velocity in knots at the drop zone, Sergeant Hernandez relays that information, via FM radio handset, to the pilot for aircraft heading, and the onboard Jump Master for release of the jumpers.

Static-line jumpers require a large area to be designated as a drop zone as steering capabilities of their parachutes are extremely limited and are at the mercy of the winds. One Uruguayan Army soldier, Jorge Ramirez from the 14th battalion, made it look easy by landing one meter from the large orange canvas mark, a letter A, laid out on the field acting as a bulls-eye.

Uruguayan commando soldier Fabio Souza went above and beyond the call of duty after landing safely and packing up his gear in his A-bag. He gathered some dried shrubs and began to make a fire.

"I am making a signal to indicate the direction of the wind for my buddies that will be jumping in the next few passes, the Uruguayan commando said. He also placed a chunk of dried cattle droppings into the flames that he said would maintain the fire.

"The jump was very successful," Sergeant Hernandez said. "When you consider five-percent of the guys that jump at (Fort) Benning suffer major ankle injuries or worse -- but no one (here) got banged up too bad."

Operation Southern Partner concludes Nov. 7. Throughout the two-week engagement, Airmen and about 700 partner nations' airmen, soldiers, marines and sailors interacted with and exchanged work practices in more than 25 Air Force specialties.