Niagara loadmasters drop it like it's hot in Germany
By Staff Sgt. Matthew Burke, 914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 09, 2015
NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. --
The green lights come on inside the C-130 Hercules and jumpers from the 173 Airborne Brigade line the cargo space.
"It's really chaotic," said Staff Sgt. Pat Englishby, loadmaster, 328th Airlift Squadron. "We're dropping a lot of troops, in a short amount of time, in not-ideal conditions. You gotta be on your game."
More than 50 personnel from the 914th Airlift Wing traveled to Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany, from Aug. 17-Sept. 1, 2015 to participate in Swift Response 2015, a multinational training exercise involving 11 NATO nations. This training provided participants with the opportunity to integrate assets from multiple allied nations high-readiness forces to train as a cohesive and interoperable team.
Throughout their time in Germany, loadmasters assigned to the 328 AS from Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station conducted training on many scenarios that demonstrate the unit's versatility. Aircraft dropped personnel, supplies and heavy equipment.
"We dropped a 32-foot heavy platform, which was exciting," said Senior Airman Elizabeth Canfield, loadmaster, 328 AS. "Often times we use training platforms, roughly eight feet long, so when you have something the size of the cargo compartment, leaving the aircraft--it's pretty intense."
Exercises such as Swift Response are extremely beneficial to improving the interoperability of our allies and partners by providing vital opportunities to train as we fight. In real-world contingencies all DOD services work together in a joint environment to accomplish the mission. Loadmasters and jumpmasters work in tandem to ensure Soldiers reach the drop zone on time and on-target.
"We're working quickly, but we're very focused," said Englishby. "It's important that everything, and everyone, exits the aircraft safely."
Swift response 2015 was the largest airborne operation since the end of World War II. Over the course of the four-week exercise thousands of personnel were transported across several countries as U.S. Air Force C-130s facilitated airdrops and air landings of paratroopers and equipment in support of a forcible entry exercise.
"I want to say we have the best job in the Air Force, but I don't want to sound arrogant," said Canfield, laughing. "We get to see all of the gear that goes out the back of the plane--we get to make it happen. It's pretty cool to be a part of something so historic."