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Airmen expand land force training opportunities in The Baltic
U.S. Air Force Maj. Jeff Bliss, a Grand Rapids, Michigan native and Capt. Brett Polage, a Mount Vernon, Indiana native, 37th Airlift Squadron pilots, take off in a C-130J Super Hercules over an Estonian runway filled with American and Estonian paratroopers, May 19, 2014. Pilots and loadmasters from the 37th AS alongside an 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief spent four days across three Baltic countries assisting in personnel drops of allied partners and American service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan)
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Airmen expand training opportunities over The Baltic region

Posted 5/21/2014   Updated 5/21/2014 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

5/21/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Over a four-day span, May 17 through 21, a five-man team from Ramstein assisted in air drops of more than 350 personnel into Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

The team, comprised of two pilots and two loadmasters from the 37th Airlift Squadron and one flying crew chief from the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron helped enable the personnel drops of the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) as part of a continued demonstration of America's partnership to NATO and ensuring security in the Baltic region.

Lithuanian and Estonian paratroopers had the opportunity to share jumpmaster duties as counterparts while Latvian service members incorporated the airborne American service members into training opportunities.

"The quality of Army instruction leads to a homogenous level of jumpmaster operations with our foreign allied counterparts," said Maj. Jeff Bliss, 37th AS pilot. "This provides a broader high level of interoperability."

With over 350 jumpers, safe and efficient protocols play an important role in completing the mission.

"We use the advance technology of the C-130J Super Hercules to deliver these paratroopers with the highest degree of accuracy and safety possible," said Senior Airman Austin Koester, 37th AS loadmaster.

Coordination and co-operation from all participating countries proved to help in the success of such a vast mission.

"A lot of stars aligned to be able to drop close to 400 paratroopers spanning four days in three different countries while coordinating with international airports and the civilian sector on multiple occasions," said Capt. Brett Polage, 37th AS pilot. "Our crew was exceedingly pleased with displaying aerial domination and being the first to drop on Amari West, Estonia and Memel, Lithuania."

The mission relied on Airmen from all aspects to ensure mission success.

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