DEVENS, Mass. – Special Forces Soldiers performed a High Altitude Low Opening jump at Fort Devens Mass., Sept. 24, 2010.
The jump was the first time Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, Massachusetts Army National Guard conducted a HALO jump in Massachusetts. Normally they leave the state and travel to an active duty post for this type of training.
The 20th also conducted a static line airborne operation to get the most use of the aircraft needed to support the training.
Company B, 2/104th Aviation, Connecticut Army National Guard supported the group by providing a Boeing CH-47 Chinook Helicopter and aircrew.
Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Bloniasz, training Noncommissioned Officer, Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, was the first to jump out of the helicopter for the HALO jump. Bloniasz said, “It was a good jump. We wanted to go up to about 12,000 feet but ended up jumping at 9,000 because we were running out of allotted flight time.”
Bloniasz coordinated the training with Company B, 2/104th Aviation, Connecticut Army National Guard, Fort Devens Range Control as well as a jumpmaster and parachute rigger from the 20th SFG Headquarters out of Alabama.
The Soldiers who did the static and HALO jumps were already qualified to do them but must jump periodically to maintain jump status. “Even though it takes a lot of coordination we wanted to try jumping here at Devens, utilizing local resources rather than conducting out of state training for a week or more,” said Bloniasz.
The benefit for the Soldiers is that they get a lot of their training done during drill weekends opening up opportunities to do real-world missions for their two-week Annual Training periods. Bloniasz said, “Using my training for real-world missions like going to Senegal to train their Soldiers makes me feel like I’m doing more than sustainment training.”
The 20th is looking to fill a significant number of Special Forces slots this year and is scheduled to conduct a Special Forces Orientation Program in Springfield, Mass., from Oct. 15 to Oct. 17, 2010. The program is open to all active duty Army, Guard and Reserve Soldiers and is designed to give candidates a taste of what it’s like to be Special Forces. “It’s a long hard path but it’s a very rewarding one,” said Bloniasz.