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Night jumps sharpen LRS warrior skills

Sgt. Adam Keith Sgt. Jason M. Schultz, left, assists Spc. Tanner A. Lewis (right) with his parachute prior to a planned night jump Dec. 5 on JBLM.

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Hoping that the wet Washington weather would cooperate with their training, Soldiers of Charlie Company, 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment prepared to conduct the unit's first night-time airborne operation in more than a year Dec. 5 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The unit planned to jump from a CH-47 Chinook in detachment- sized elements with all of the equipment they would need to conduct follow-on missions for three nights, with one of the unit's three detachments jumping each night.

According Sgt. Jason M. Schultz, an assistant team leader with Charlie Company, this training is well-suited to the mission as a long range surveillance unit because of the unique role they play in a deployed environment.

"We almost always jump as a company but jumping as a detachment is more realistic toward the mission," Schultz said. "While deployed we would typically be inserted into an area as a team or a detachment so I think the training value is better jumping as a detachment.

"It's taking it from just jumping to putting a tactical aspect behind it," he said. "As a LRS unit our job is to go behind enemy lines and remain undetected.

"We are not supposed to be seen; if we get seen, we lose," Schultz said.

Schultz's platoon leader, 1st Lt. Kyle B. Lapastora, also emphasized the importance of remaining unseen for the LRS unit and how the value of doing night jumps adds to that capability.

"The purpose of this training is to expand our airborne capabilities in order to do night time insertions," Lapastora said. "LRS units rely a lot on stealth; being able to do night insertions greatly help with that.

"We want take it from just jumping at night to being able to conduct operations after a jump and that's why for these night jumps we are jumping with all of our equipment," he said. "We are going to start with just movement at night and down the road we will be doing actual training missions after our jumps."

Schultz said even though the training value of a night jump is important for the LRS unit, the jumps create unique challenges.

"It's harder to see other jumpers, it's harder to see your parachute and it's harder to determine which way the wind is blowing," Schultz said. "Less visibility makes everything more complicated."

The soggy Washington weather is also something the unit has to contend with.

"We try to do jumps at least once a month but a lot of times the weather isn't very cooperative with us," Shultz said. "Sometimes our jumps get scratched."

Unfortunately for C Co., this was one of the instances when Mother Nature did not cooperate, and the night jumps were postponed.

Not to be deterred, according to Lapastora, the unit is pushing forward and has already scheduled another set of night jumps for January.

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