100 jumps make for an exciting AF career

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Voss
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
As a reporter, I just know some interviews are going to make a great story. I knew I was in for one of those great stories as I pulled into a parking space at the 435th Contingency Response Group building to interview the commander. 

What gave me that clue? Parked in the commander's spot in front of the building was a new, bright orange Dodge Challenger. Being a self-professed car guy, I knew right away this was not just any commander.

On this occasion, I was interviewing Col. Timothy Brown because he accomplished a feat that many Airmen only dream about. During a recent exercise in Bulgaria, the Air Force Academy graduate landed his 100th parachute jump.

"I never thought I'd get here," he said. "I felt 100 was out of reach. In the overall scheme of things, it isn't that many. I mean in the Army there are loads of Soldiers who have 100 jumps, but you will not find that many Air Force pilots who have done it."

As the colonel reflected on an accomplishment that has taken more than 10 years, he recalled some of the more memorable jumps, from a rocky water landing on the beaches of Normandy, France, to jumping out of a hot-air balloon over Belgium.

"I always wanted to jump for the challenge," said the Fort Benning, Ga., trained jumper. "Honestly, after my fifth jump I wasn't sure I would ever jump again, but by the time I landed on my sixth jump, I was hooked."

The path to 100 began at a young age.

"I made the decision to join the Air Force in high school," he said. "Before that time, I looked at joining the Navy. I always knew I wanted to fly and that was about it."

Upon graduating from the academy, then-Lieutenant Brown started flying MH-53s, long-range special operations helicopters, while thoughts of one day jumping out of airplanes with servicemembers from countries like France, Romania, Scotland and even Serbia never crossed his mind.

"I never imagined I would be jumping with these other countries," he said. "When I tell my family, I don't think they understand what it's all about, but they also don't have an interest in jumping out of planes. But, your training just takes over and you do what you are trained to do."

Over time, Colonel Brown has found that jumping out of perfectly good airplanes is not the only thing to like about being airborne qualified.

"It's amazing to me the relationships that are built through the jump community," explained the CRG commander. "In the jump community we are just that; a community. Over time, the faces change, but the relationships between countries that jump together last."

As the colonel prepares to leave Ramstein this summer, he hopes that relationships the CRG has built will be his legacy as the CRG commander.

"I have had one fantastic career. I got to do exactly what I wanted the whole way and it has been capped by commanding here for two years now. This is the best unit I have been a part of," he said. "We have a tight knit group here; our mission requires it. We are a small team with a large mission. Not only do we drop in and open airbases, but we build lasting relationships."