More than 800 airborne Soldiers received their German jump wings after parachuting from the C-160, a German Aircraft, at Sicily Drop Zone, Fort Bragg May 10.
The Soldiers participated in the Federal Eagle Exercise, which is a combined airborne operation with the German Armed Forces. The exercise gives the Soldiers the opportunity to not only train with foreign Soldiers, but also gives them the ability to jump from a German aircraft with a German aircrew and jumpmaster. The German aircrew hosted both a high altitude low opening jump as well as a static line jump from 1,200 feet.
For Spc. Ray Balangue, 18th Fires Brigade, a native of Baguio, Philippines, this was his first opportunity to earn foreign jump wings.
“I love the fact that we were able to jump from 1,200 feet which is higher than the usual 800 feet,” said Balangue. “It gives you a chance to just glide for a bit which is cool.”
Balangue, who has been airborne for six years and has jumped more than 30 times, said he felt as if the training provided a new experience.
“In our unit we hardly get to do Hollywood jumps,” Balangue said. “With this being a daytime Hollywood jump, it feels like my very first jump again except the landing was a lot softer.”
A Hollywood jump is a jump without combat equipment, Balangue explained.
Though the exercise gave American and German Soldiers the opportunity to experience something different, the main focus of the exercise was to train for combat.
“The German soldiers and the American Soldiers work together in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Boecker, German army liaison officer assigned to XVIII Airborne Corps.
“This is another opportunity for both of our armed forces to get even more familiar with each other.”
Typically, FEE is done twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, but this is the first year the exercise will be conducted only once for a period of two weeks.
“The American Soldiers have the opportunity to see the rules and regulations of how we do things and we have the opportunity to train U.S. Soldiers which can be an essential key to victory when we fight together,” Boecker said. “We must train in peacetime to be ready for when we fight together in Afghanistan.”
The Soldiers said they enjoyed the training and were honored to work with the German armed forces.
“Working and training with the German aircrew on a German aircraft was awesome,” Balangue said. “It’s truly an honor to receive German jump wings.”