Fort Bragg’s servicemembers are always moving. On almost any given day, Soldiers are jumping out of planes, deploying, or training. They are expected to react quickly, efficiently and effectively. The 82nd Sustainment Brigade keeps units moving every day by providing support through riggers, quartermasters, postal workers and more.
“Nothing moves on Fort Bragg without the 82nd Sustainment Brigade,” is a mantra heard often by Col. Christopher Sharpsten, 82nd Sustainment Bde. commander and Massena, N.Y., native.
Parachute riggers are responsible for having enough parachutes packed and ready for issue to all airborne units on Fort Bragg. They run 24-hour operations at least three days each week. Each rigger packs about 25 parachutes a day, and during busy weeks, a shop of 16 Soldiers pack about 400 parachutes a day.
“If we lose a day, we lose 150 parachutes,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Saack, pack facility platoon leader for 647th Quartermaster Company, and Lake Stevens, Wash., native. “That can stop airborne operations for any unit on Fort Bragg.”
A new rigger can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to pack one parachute. As riggers gain experience, they get faster.
“My fastest time was five minutes,” said Spc. Timothy Rarick, a parachute rigger with 647th QM Company, and Yelm, Wash., native. “Once you know what you’re doing, you can pack faster and still maintain quality.”
Paratroopers’ lives depend on parachutes being packed correctly. Inspectors watch riggers as they pack each parachute and observe four tables at a time. At any time, a rigger has to be able to jump with their parachute to prove he or she is confident and competent in his or her packing skills.
“We don’t make mistakes — we can’t,” said Saack. “Paratroopers can’t jump without my Soldiers. Every chute has to be perfect.”
While riggers keep airborne missions going, 403rd Inland Cargo Transportation Company, 330th Transportation Battalion keeps mission moving on the ground. The 403rd ICTC runs the arrival departure airfield control group. The A/DACG is the main hub to process cargo and passengers in and out of Fort Bragg. In one week, the A/DACG can move more than 3,000 paratroopers and 270,000 pounds of cargo. A/DACG Soldiers check cargo for height, weight, hazardous material safety and other multiple checks to determine air-worthiness.
“Everything comes in and out through us,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Tilghman, 1st platoon sergeant for 403rd ICTC and Waldorf, Md., native. “We move jumpers every day as well as tricon containers, bundles, rolling stock and vehicles.”
The 403rd ICTC also provides material handling support by moving containers and supplies across Fort Bragg. They support re-deploying units by taking equipment directly from the A/DACG to the unit’s storage areas.
Another Sustainment Bde. element that provides installation support is the official mail distribution center. The OMDC coordinates with units on post to distribute official mail. This resource allows any unit on post to set up accounts and the mail is paid for electronically, saving time. The OMDC has moved more than $300,000 in official mail within the past year.
“We make sure that we quickly and effectively expedite official mail for the Soldiers on Fort Bragg,” said 2nd Lt. Brandon Smith, official mail officer in charge and Raleigh, N.C., native. “It’s a very important job.”
The 18th Human Resource Company Soldiers also support postal operations by providing real-world training for deploying Soldiers at the 82nd Sustainment Bde. postal training facility. The postal training facility provides an integrated retail terminal classroom, mock post office, postal platoon deployment training and certification to provide a regional, joint, multi-component postal training facility.
The 18th HRC Soldiers also run a post office at the same location as the postal training facility. A little known fact is that they function like a civilian post office. They are open to anyone on post, military or civilian and usually have small lines. They operate Mondays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, training days and federal holidays.
“They do a great job,” said Sgt. Brodrick Slayton, the custodian of postal effects for 18th HRC and Prattville, Ala., native. “We hold training every week; clerks have to handle packages and ensure registered mail is processed correctly.”
The 82nd Sustainment Bde Soldiers also support ammunition distribution. 8th Ordnance Company, 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion provides 10 Soldiers every day to the ammunition supply point, helping military contractors with ammo issue, turn-in, receipt, surveillance and residue yard operations.
“It helps units get in and out of the ASP a lot quicker,” said Warrant Officer 1 Benjamin Morse, ASP storage officer for 8th Ord. Co., and Lake Wales, Fla., native. “They are providing a lot of help because the contractors have limited personnel.”
ASP Soldiers check serviceability and condition of returned rounds from ranges during surveillance operations. Then they take empty containers or rounds that are re-usable or recyclable to the residue yard to be sent back to Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office or another recycling site.
The 82nd Sus. Bde. Soldiers also support XVIII Airborne Corps Soldiers by providing liaisons for incoming Soldiers at the Fayetteville, Regional Airport.
Four Soldiers provide newcomers a source to contact their units for an easier transition.
“We had quite a few Soldiers who did hometown recruiting, came to Fort Bragg and were not assigned to a specific brigade,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Chavis, special purpose equipment repairer supervisor for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 82nd Special Troops Battalion.
Chavis and his Soldiers helped sponsor the incoming Soldiers by contacting 19th Replacement Company, 18th Soldier Support Group. The 19th RC serves as Fort Bragg’s reception/integration center and processes incoming Soldiers.
The 82nd Sus. Bde. also provides firefighters for fire stations across post. These Soldiers support operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with an average 24-hour workday. Firefighters provide support for off-post communities from Spring Lake, N.C. and Harnett County. They field about 10,000 calls a year for the post and are divided into structure stations, crash stations and HAZMAT stations.
According to Sgt. Kristina Gray, lead firefighter for 8th Ord. Company, 189th CSSB, and Greybull, Wyo., native, there are only about 230 firefighters in the Army. They train as first responders, firefighters and hazardous material experts for structure, crash and HAZMAT stations. They practice their fire fighting skills by training in a propane-lit, three-story building and in a C-130 Hercules aircraft.
These few supporting units make up only a small part of the 82nd Sustainment Brigade. They continue to support tenant units most days, nights, weekends and even holidays. They work behind the scenes to ensure equipment and paratroopers arrive safely at their destination and the brigade continues to generate capabilities to meet the needs of Fort Bragg as the post’s providers.