“Green light, GO!”
The jumpmaster shouted these words to Fort Bragg’s newest crop of “paratroopers” — members of the Defense Orientation Conference Association — as they took the leap from the Advance Airborne School’s 34-foot jump tower.
DOCA is a nonprofit organization founded in 1952, explained Robb Teer Jr., a member of the organization since 1989.
“The idea was to invite civilians to the military so that they could become educated about the military and then when they’re at home, advocate for DoD (Department of Defense). That’s our mission,” he said.
Each year, DOCA visits several military installations, including those overseas. They go behind the scenes with service members and senior leadership to learn more about the daily life of those in uniform.
During their first visit to Fort Bragg since 2010, DOCA members visited a range, met with senior commanders, reviewed a static display, and yes, even jumped from an Airborne tower. Teer said the variety of units and capabilities at Fort Bragg is what makes it such a special place to visit.
John Caccamo, Vice President Region II, DOCA, agreed and said the overall experience was “wonderful” and made the extreme heat of the two-day visit worth it.
“Everyone from the privates up to the generals is enthusiastic in what they’re doing and we’re here to support them,” he said. “I get the sense that they appreciate that we’re here to help them and it really makes for what would ordinarily be an educational trip a lot of fun.”
The educational portion of the trip is important for its members so they can go back to their communities and explain how their tax dollars are utilized, according to Bill Capello.
“I don’t think people really realize that the budget includes maintenance of facilities such as this, which is a tremendous expense and a completely necessary one. I think that’s one of the challenges we have when we get back is to ensure we articulate that.”
Caccamo said his experience jumping out of the Airborne tower gave him a first-hand account that he can use to explain the necessity of military training to his community.
“It’s a very exhilarating rush and you see all of the planning and the skill and the training that goes into these folks, the Soldiers that are prepping you, and you put your faith and your trust in them that everything is going to be ok,” Caccamo said. “And at the end of it, you understand why they do what they do and how appreciative we are that they’re doing it.”