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SWCC Complete MCADS Drop Complete with 3rd SFG Wounded Warriors

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS091017-07
Release Date: 10/17/2009 10:45:00 AM

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger, Naval Special Warfare Group 4 Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) and parachute riggers from Special Boat Team (SBT) 20 completed another successful Maritime Craft Aerial Delivery System (MCADS) drop Oct. 14.

The MCADS drop was conducted off the Virginia Beach coast, as part of a training evolution, but this one was a little different: on top of the challenge of conducting joint training with 19 members of the 3rd Special Forces Group, two of the Special Forces Soldiers were wounded warriors with amputated limbs.

"We love working with our SF (Special Forces) brothers, and always look forward to sharing knowledge and lessons learned to improve our tactical proficiency," said SBT 20 Command Master Chief Eric Fuerstenberg. "It was awesome to jump today with the wounded warriors. The word warrior is truly an understatement with these men. Their mental and physical fortitude is an inspiration to all of us."

During this MCADS drop, two 11-meter rigid inflatable boats (RIB) deployed from the rear of an Air Force C-130 and a C-17 at 1,250 feet and 3,500 feet respectively, with four parachutes, 100-feet in diameter, rigged to each boat. Seventeen SWCCs free-fall or static line parachuted after each RIB, which they then piloted back to shore.

"Airborne operations aren't new, but having a boat coming out of the back was," said Army Maj. Kent Solheim, one of the wounded warriors.

Despite suffering severe gunshot wounds while in Iraq and having his leg amputated below the knee in March, the 15-year veteran is still deployable. He met Army Sgt. 1st Class Mike Fairfax while they were both recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Fairfax is in the same unit, had his leg amputated due to an IED in Afghanistan, and also requalified on static line during this training.

SBT 20 Air Operations trains four special boat team detachments a year on MCADS; each detachment is required to complete three MCADS drops before going on deployment. In order to earn the MCADS parachutist qualification, SWCCs must complete a military free-fall jump and a static-line parachute jump behind an 11-meter RIB from a C-130 or C-17. A third jump is required for additional training.

It takes two weeks of solid work by the parachute riggers of SBT 20 Air Operations for each drop to happen.

"The week prior involves rigging the platform and the boat itself. The week after the drop is almost entirely repacking of parachutes," said Air Operations Leading Chief Aircrew Survival Equipmentman Justin Hodge.

The parachute riggers of SBT 20 are the only riggers in the Navy who prepare parachutes to deploy a boat, and SBT 20 is one of the few units in the world with this maritime deployment capability.

For more news from Naval Special Warfare Group 4, visit

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