JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —
The USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier houses exhibits, artifacts, interactive features and the names of many heroes from the Army, Air Force and Navy. The museum pays tribute to all Medal of Honor recipients. One of the recipients is Sgt. 1st Class Felix Conde-Falcon, a Paratrooper once assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division during the Vietnam War.
Jumpmasters and leaders from 1-505 PIR traveled to Charleston, S.C., for a two-part training event with the objective of honoring their legacy through historical education, and attending a leadership development engagement with crewmembers assigned to the 437th Air Lift Wing at Joint-Base Charleston, Feb. 2-3.
Paratroopers spent the afternoon exploring the USS Yorktown, reviewing displays, taking pictures and interacting with museum staff members.
“It is important for our leaders to obtain a better perspective of historical leaders and their real-life actions,” said 2nd Lt. Yohan Silva, a platoon leader assigned to 1-505. “Educating ourselves about where we have been and what we should strive for in the future.”
The afternoon came to an end as the sun sparkled over the water of the Cooper River along the banks of Patriots Point.
The battalion presented a framed plaque recognizing their own, Conde-Falcon, to the museum staff as a token of gratitude for the organization to have and display in order to honor the battalion`s heritage in years to come.
“This visit allowed us to celebrate our history,” said Lt. Col. Marcus Wright, commander of 1-505 PIR. “With Conde-Falcon being the only Medal of Honor recipient from the 82nd during the Vietnam War, we want to be able to educate the Paratroopers, celebrate Conde-Falcon’s legacy in the battalion and give the Paratroopers more pride in the organization.”
The next day, Paratroopers arrived at Joint-Base Charleston to begin an all-day training session with the Air Force in order to discuss planning considerations for a more effective joint forcible entry airborne operation in the future.
Capt. Jeff Harnley, a weapons officer assigned to the 16th Airlift Squadron, says this is a great opportunity to have a discussion on both sides at the tactical level from the Army subject matter experts. We can then share our feedback and knowledge from pilots, loadmasters and crewmembers.
The classroom lectures between the two branches included air drops, Army and Air Force capabilities, equipment characteristics, and combat power; becoming more proficient and effective.
“It`s critical we understand each other and talk a common language to ensure success,” said Wright.
The Paratroopers hit the flight line and loaded two C-17 aircrafts with airmen assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing.
Capt. Keely Yankie, a pilot assigned to the 437th AW, said that the crew informed the Paratroopers of what typically happens on the Air Force side in preparation for airborne operations. The Air Force has different timelines than the Army does. The air crew talked about the common discrepancies that can adjust operation schedules. It may be weather, mechanical or communications. “We just want them to understand if there is a stall, there is always a good reason,” said Yankie.
The Paratroopers gave Capt. Yankie a taste of what it`s like to be a Paratrooper. She was rigged-up in a parachute harness with combat equipment, feeling the weight of what the Paratroopers sit in before they actually exit the aircraft.
At the end of the day the 1-505 and 437th were able to slow down the pace of their normal interaction and come to an understanding through both sides.
Harnley says one of the top priorities for the Chief of Staff for the Air Force is developing joint leaders and teams. During a real threat we are going to partner in joint and integrated operations. Activities like today are important toward building leaders for both branches of service.