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Joint training at 12,500 feet

by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson
3rd Wing Public Affairs

4/20/2010 - NORFOLK, Va. (AFNS) -- In less than 10 seconds, they were gone.

Traveling toward earth at speeds of approximately 150 mph, the operators open their parachutes and slowly drift to the ground.

Once safely on land, they repack, board a C-17 Globemaster III and do it again.

This scenario happened four more times over a drop zone in Norfolk, when 517th Airlift Squadron members from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, participated in a training jump with members of Navy SEAL Team 10 here.

"The biggest benefit of this training is the validation of our interoperability," said Capt. Adam Knox, the C-17 pilot and aircraft commander. "We need to be able to operate jointly and this is one of the ways we train to do just that."

The training consisted of jumps between 5,000 and 12,500 feet. The SEALs jumped in two groups, each from different altitudes, but all were attempting to land inside the same 50-meter area on the ground.

SEALs are required to use a combination of specialized training, equipment, and tactics in completion of special operations missions worldwide. Their training keeps them up to speed and ready to go at a moment's notice.

"Having just returned from a deployment, we need to get the guys back in the air before we start our continuation training," said a Navy SEAL and jumpmaster. "We also have some new guys, just graduated from basic underwater demolition/SEAL training and we need to get them up to speed as well."

Names of SEAL members are not disclosed for security reasons.

The C-17 aircrew landed at Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center, Va., to pick up the SEALs after each jump.

The 517th AS members were also able to train on some of their flying procedures such as assault landing zone operations and oxygen mask procedures.

"When you look at some of the operations that are going on around the world you realize that it is this type of training that makes a lot of those operations happen," Captain Knox said. "This is good training, especially for combat."

The last jump of the day was one Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class' 33rd jump since joining the Navy. Prior to becoming a SEAL, he was an Air Force visual imagery and intrusion detection systems staff sergeant.

This was the first time he had worked with Airmen since he separated in 2008.

"This is my first time jumping out of a C-17," said the petty officer, one of the newer SEALs. "When you're on the ramp you're a little nervous, but once you jump you feel a falling sensation and then it's like you are flying."

"Jumping out of a C-17 is great," the Master Chief said. "The ramp is open and big, and the plane can get to altitude very quickly."

After training in Virginia was completed, the C-17 aircrew brought 12 SEALs back to Alaska to work as joint terminal attack controllers during Red Flag at Eielson AFB.

When the C-17 aircrew landed back at Elmendorf AFB, the six-person crew logged more than 20 hours in the air and 11 personnel drops, one of which took place over Eielson AFB.

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