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News

    Golden Knights pilot memorialized

    FORT BRAGG -- An Army pilot so skilled he could fly eight types of aircraft was remembered today by fellow members of the Golden Knights parachute exhibition team. Chief Warrant Officer Lowell Timmons, 45, died last week when the UV-20 single-engine turboprop he was flying near Tucson, Ariz., collided with a civilian skydiving plane. No one else was killed.

    About 300 people attended the service today at the main chapel at Fort Bragg, home of the Golden Knights and the Army's 18th Airborne Corps.
    At the front of the gathering, Timmons' dog tags and flight helmet hung on the butt of a M-16 rifle mounted vertically. On the floor beside it the rifle was a pair of empty jump boots. The display was backed by crossed United States and Golden Knights flags.
    The demonstration team's commanding officer, Lt. Col. David Liwang, said while some Americans find it difficult to learn to drive a stick-shift automobile, Timmons was proficient flying everything from helicopters to cargo planes. His 6,000 hours of flight experience was equivalent to flying nonstop for nearly nine months, Liwang said.
    "It's been my honor and my pleasure to serve with him," Maj. Trey Kelly, commander of the parachute team's pilots and crew members, said before stepping back from the podium and saluting.
    Chief Warrant Officer Ken Breeden, a fellow pilot, knew Timmons when they served together in Korea before joining the Golden Knights. Breeden said Timmons had a knack for instantly earning the respect of fellow fliers and parachute troops.
    Timmons was due for a promotion within a few months to become the aviator in charge of polishing the training of the team's instructor pilots, said Sgt. 1st Class Ken Kassens, a Golden Knights spokesman.
    The Army's Aviation Safety Center and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of last week's fatal crash.
    Four Golden Knights had made a practice jump shortly before the collision with a Cessna 182 carrying four civilian skydivers. The four civilians aboard the Cessna jumped afterward.
    Timmons, a 16-year veteran born in Fort Wayne, Ind., had served in Somalia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia, Germany and Korea. He is survived by his wife, Teresa, three daughters and three brothers.
    His funeral will be held Saturday at Richmond Hill, Ga., near Savannah.

    By admin, in News,

    Jury rules against family of skydiver killed in accident

    Moments after a jury cleared him of any wrongdoing in the death of a skydiver, Michael Hawkes stood on the front steps of the Foley Federal Building and pointed skyward at the Air Force Thunderbirds as they performed maneuvers.
    "Hey! They're celebrating our win," Hawkes yelled over to fellow defendant Joe Herbst. "That's pretty good."
    On Friday a Clark County civil jury ruled that Hawkes, the owner of Skydive Las Vegas, was not responsible for the May 1998 death of Vic Pappadato, an Emmy-award winning videographer and skydiver.
    They also found that Herbst, a former teacher who jumped that day with Pappadato, did not contribute to Pappadato's death. In fact, they awarded Herbst $1, saying Pappadato caused the midair collision that led to his death and seriously injured Herbst.
    The four-week trial was held in the Foley Federal Building to provide extra space.
    The parents and brother of Vic Pappadato had claimed that Hawkes had a history of violating safety rules and on the afternoon of May 10, 1998, allowed a group to dive even though some of them had been partying the previous evening.
    The family's attorney said those mistakes led to Pappadato's death.
    Hawkes and Herbst's attorneys told jurors that Pappadato deviated from a pre-arranged plan, and his mistakes led to his death.
    They also pointed out that Pappadato had signed a waiver releasing Skydive Las Vegas from any liability.
    "It's been a long four weeks since the trial began and a long four years since the accident," Hawkes said. "I'm just very happy the waiver stood out and was upheld. Everyone who jumps out of airplanes knows it is potentially dangerous.
    "There's been a lot of pain and suffering on both sides. I'm very sorry for the Pappadatos' loss, but this lawsuit should never have happened."
    In a written statement, Vince Pappadato, Vic's brother wrote: "We accept the jury's verdict, although we do not necessarily agree with the outcome. Sometimes the truth cannot always be proven.
    "This is just another bump in the road for us, and Vic Pappadato will never be forgotten for the champion he was in the sport that he loved so much, for the son and brother that he is, and for the man he became that everyone loved and misses dearly."
    Vince Pappadato said his family also wished for peace for the Herbst family.
    Herbst, who suffered internal injuries and broken bones in the accident, said he regretted having to file his counter-claim against Pappadato's estate. He said he went ahead with the lawsuit to clear his name.
    "I have no animosity toward the Pappadato family, that's why I only asked for a dollar," Herbst said.
    Herbst, who has made 1,000 dives since the accident, said the accident happened as the result of a few bad decisions made over a nine-second period.
    "Who hasn't made bad decisions?" Herbst said. "I had forgiven Vic before I hit the ground."
    ~ LAS VEGAS SUN

    By admin, in News,

    GoWear comes to the UK

    Preston, UK – Sep 15, 2010 – Beginning in September, GoWear skydiving t-shirts from the USA will be available in the UK through Go-Wear (Europe) Ltd, a new company formed by UK skydiver Adrian Bond. “This will be good news for skydivers in the UK and Europe,” says Kris Ruff, the American skydiver and designer who started GoWear back in 2000. “There’s always been a lot of interest in our products in Europe, but the high cost of shipping overseas has made it difficult for our customers to get them. Now, t-shirts like our classic Jumps from Perfectly Good Airplanes t-shirt can be ordered from a UK-based website instead of having to come all the way from the U.S.”
    A Good Partnership
    Kris is excited to be working with Adrian, who will be the sole distributor of GoWear’s products in Europe. “Adrian brings great business expertise to this new partnership and has lots of great ideas for new products to add to the GoWear brand.”
    Go-Wear (Europe) will start with 12 of the most popular GoWear t-shirts and widen the range in the coming months. In addition to t-shirts, other products, including personalized products that will be completely new to the market, are in the works.
    All the Details
    GoWear skydiving t-shirts and other products will be available in Europe at www.Go-Wear.co.uk during August. Unisex tees will sell for £17.99 and the luxury women’s fitted tees will be £21.99. In addition, some DZ shops will be carrying the range. Go-Wear (Europe) Ltd is also looking for agents in Europe. If you’re interested, contact Adrian Bond at theboss@go-wear.co.uk or t: 0843 289 1655 or m: 07786 980 984.
    Author:
    Adrian Bond has been a skydiver for 7 years and jumps camera for a four way FS team, he is also on the BPA council and has been for 6 years. As well as launching Go Wear is also a management consultant.

    By admin, in News,

    Other skydivers blamed in death of videographer

    The family of a famous skydiving videographer blames a Las Vegas company and another skydiver for his death, the family's attorney said in opening statements Thursday in the jury trial of a lawsuit. In the suit against Michael Hawkes, his company -- Skydive Las Vegas -- and local teacher and skydiver Joseph Herbst, the parents and brother of Vic Pappadato claim that Hawkes has a long history of violating safety rules and on the afternoon of May 10, 1998, allowed a group to dive even though some of them had been partying the previous evening.
    The family's attorney said those mistakes led to Pappadato's death.
    The plaintiffs' attorney, Frank Sabaitis, told jurors that Vic Pappadato, 33, agreed to videotape the dive for a friend, who was celebrating a birthday. Pappadato had more than 5,000 jumps to his credit.
    The group was supposed to jump from the plane, form a circle and then move away from each other as Pappadato taped the event, Sabaitis said. At least one of the members lacked the skills necessary to move into the circle and struck Pappadato, the attorney said.
    Pappadato continued the taping, but when it came time for him to deploy his parachute at 4,000 feet he could not.
    When Pappadato was forced to deploy his chute seconds later to avoid hitting a skydiver below him who was opening his own chute, the lines of Pappadato's chute became entangled, Sabaitis said.
    Before he could straighten the lines or deploy his alternate parachute Pappadato was struck by Herbst, Sabaitis said. He then fell to his death.
    Sabaitis said that although two of the divers later said they either smelled alcohol or had attended a party the night before, the others joined ranks and blamed Pappadato for the tragedy.
    Pappadato's video of the jump will show the other jumpers were at fault, Sabaitis said.
    "He was a compulsive safety nerd," Sabaitis said. "He was obsessive, and yet the defense is that Vic Pappadato made all of the mistakes that day."

    Greg Miles, who represents Hawkes, said many of the Pappadatos' witnesses are disgruntled former employees of Hawkes', and that his client had no reason to suspect anyone was intoxicated that day, he said.
    Herbst's attorney, Imanuel Arin, said the evidence will clearly show Pappadato deviated from the plan during the jump. Herbst was below Pappadato when Pappadato struck him, and the "low man always has the right of way."
    Jurors this week also are scheduled to hear a countersuit filed by Herbst against Pappadato.
    ~ LAS VEGAS SUN

    By admin, in News,

    The Great Book of BASE - Review

    Base jumping is something that I’ve not had a desire to do, so it was understandable that when I was presented with the opportunity to read and review "The Great Book of Base" that I did so with some level of skepticism. You see, I've always had preconceived ideas about BASE jumpers, their discipline, and the personality types involved - ironic when you consider the very notion, a pet peeve of mine, general skydivers have regarding canopy piloting/swooping. "The Great Book of BASE" helped turn that thinking on its head.
    The Author, along with oftentimes anecdotal experiences with other BASE jumpers, paints a vivid yet methodical view of the world of BASE jumping. The book itself begins with a rather heavy handed push warning readers of the dangers of BASE jumping. Something, that while necessary, wears a little bit on the reader at times. It was the only part of the book I found a little difficult to get through - not because the warnings were invalid, or not to be heeded, but rather it felt like the Author was attempting to offset any potential future litigation.
    There is something about this book that should be clearly stated: This book will NOT teach you how to BASE jump, nor is it the intention of the Author for it to do so. What the book does do, and in my opinion does very well, is give the reader a solid sense of a path to follow in the BASE world. It's a guide and a reference book, something you read multiple times in your BASE career and refresh the things you need to. For newer (and perhaps even some seasoned jumpers) the book discusses the myriad of things a BASE jumper should consider from etiquette (site burning, etc), mentorship (something the Author is a avid believer in), various types of BASE jumps and locations, detailed explanations on various weather phenomena that can affect the outcome of the BASE jump, and even the types of skydives a future, or current, BASE jumper should spend time working on to give them the greatest chance of having a positive BASE experience. Also noteworthy is how the Author takes some time to dispel myths, largely prevalent in the regular skydiving community, about altitude BASE jumps. All the subjects mentioned above are discussed in depth, but not so much so that they become a chore to read. Quite the opposite in fact, and the Author does a spectacular job of keeping the reader engaged in the topic being discussed - not always an easy task when discussing technical topics.
    The book is well edited and written. The only real complaint I had about the layout, and it's a minor quibble, is that the Author refers to DBS (Deep Brake Setting) at one point, but doesn’t actually explain the acronym until a later chapter. As a non-BASE jumper, this term had me scratching my head until it was later explained.
    So what does this mean for you, the reader? Well while I still have the opinion that BASE jumping is not for me I have a newfound respect for participants in the sport. Additionally I can say that if I ever were to reconsider my BASE jumping career, I would certainly have this book on my bookshelf and use it for guidance on the next steps to take. I definitely will be recommending to some of the local BASE jumpers I know.
    Safe BASE jumps.
    Overall: Highly recommended

    By admin, in News,

    Mystery surrounds skydiver's last jump

    Almost exactly 20 years ago, Charles Bruce was crouched in the belly of a Hercules C-130 flying low over the south Atlantic, contemplating one of the most treacherous parachute jumps of his life. It was not merely that he was planning to leap into the surging southern ocean; even in perfect conditions the jump, which required pulling the ripcord at a mere 200 metres, was "a real bottle job".
    There was no guarantee the chutes would open before he and the rest of his British Special Air Service (SAS) squadron, of which he had been a member for one week, hit the water. The slipstream, he knew, was often so volatile on exit that people could flip over and lose their balance, and the low altitude would give them no time to recover.
    Despite being "the new boy", Bruce was by far the most experienced skydiver, having made several thousand jumps compared with the hundred or so of his colleagues, so his opinion was sought on the viability of the jump. "I don't believe in practising something you can only f--- up once," he said to grim nods. They decided to go for it.
    Last Tuesday, Bruce, known as Nish to his SAS colleagues and everyone else, made his last jump. He and his girlfriend had been in Spain taking part in a skydiving display, and were returning to Northamptonshire after a brief refuelling stop in France. Judith Haig, Nish's partner and an experienced skydiver, was flying their jointly owned plane. Nish was in the passenger seat.
    Exactly what happened next is unclear; even Haig may never be able to account accurately for her passenger's actions. But somewhere over Oxfordshire the plane got into difficulty, and Haig asked for permission to make an emergency landing, due to severe icing on the wings of the plane.
    Sixteen kilometres from the base she radioed again. Nish had apparently slid his seat right back and undone his seatbelt. Haig reached over to grab him, a source in the investigation said, but he pushed open the door of the aircraft without warning and tipped himself out headfirst, his weight pulling him beyond her desperate, screaming grasp.
    What leads a man like Nish Bruce, handsome, successful, well respected and well loved, to step into a winter sky and drop himself into oblivion?
    Bruce's elderly mother told reporters that she did not believe he had been depressed, but friends are not so sure, and if it does indeed prove that Nish took his own life, those who knew him cannot claim to be entirely surprised. Charles "Nish" Bruce was no stranger to demons.
    A former soldier in the SAS and member of the Red Devils parachute display team, he had seen sights, he later said, that "most people would not believe". "In the Falklands I saw dead men so deformed that their own mothers wouldn't recognise them - boys of 18 who had tried to slit their own throats because they had been so badly burned." In 1994 he had a complete breakdown, attempting to kill his then girlfriend.
    Bruce was born in 1956 into a comfortable, middle-class family. His father and grandfather were both military men, and growing up he was instilled with awe for military endeavour. He joined the Parachute Regiment at 17, and a year later, in Northern Ireland, saw his first dead body. A year after that he married, his son Jason following in 1978.
    In 1981 he joined the SAS, but while he made it through the gruelling training course that supposedly proved he could withstand extreme trauma, he found the process dehumanising. Seven years later he was discharged for "not being a team player".
    In 1994 the bubbling anxieties finally, violently, surfaced. After the breakdown, he would separate his life into "the time before I went mad" and everything else. In 1998 he wrote Freefall, a startling book about his military service and his breakdown, told with excoriating honesty.
    It is clear that his experiences in the special forces were never going to lead to an easy life after discharge. "We shouldn't be surprised by what happens when men experience what these men have experienced," says Bruce's friend and literary agent, Mark Lucas. "They are trained to survive in a landscape in which the dividing line between life and death is extremely thin."
    Bruce's 1998 autobiography now looks like vivid evidence of what some had already begun to call the curse of the SAS. In several of the pictures, Bruce is accompanied by a close friend, Frank Collins, another former special forces soldier. Now both men are dead; just as the book was being published Collins had gassed himself in his car, a well-thumbed copy of War and Peace at his feet.
    It is easy to conclude that Bruce, who was deeply affected by Collins's death, was a victim of the same post-career anticlimax. Certainly he was a thrill-seeker, climbing Everest after his discharge and becoming a professional skydiver. At the time of his breakdown he was training with the Russian space agency for an attempt to break the world altitude freefall record, leaping from 32 kilometres up on the very edge of space.
    Lucas believes the extremes to which he pushed his mind and body during the training may have contributed to his collapse, but says in Bruce's case it is too simplistic to conclude the SAS was inevitably to blame.
    Perhaps, the much-loved ancient pull of the sky to Bruce's troubled head became, at his end, just too much to resist.
    "Nothing else comes close to those first few seconds after leaving the plane," he wrote in his biography, "because once you take that last step there is no going back. A racing driver or a skier or a climber can pull over and stop, have a rest, but with parachuting, once you cross that threshold, you have to see it through."
    - Esther Addley in London for The Guardian

    By admin, in News,

    Mandatory Raven Dash-M Service Bulletin Issued

    A Mandatory Service Bulletin, SB-1221, has been issued and posted on the Precision Aerodynamics website. SB-1221 affects original configuration Raven Dash-M reserve canopies and P-124 Emergency parachute canopies that were produced before April 12, 1999.
    SB-1221 does not affect any canopies in the original Raven series, Super Raven series, Micro Raven series, or Raven Dash-M canopies produced after April 12, 1999.
    SB-1221 requires installation of one additional bartack at each of the 'A line' and 'B line' attachment points, for a total of 16 additional bartacks on the line attachment loops.
    The Raven Dash-M and P-124 series of reserve parachutes were tested within a range of 300-360 lbs at 180 knots and developed opening forces in the range of 2168 to 3660 lbs as measured in accordance with Aerospace Standard 8015A, the drop test standard for parachutes certified under FAA TSO C-23d.
    Since the introduction of the Dash-M Series in 1996, we have seen hundreds of documented saves throughout a wide variety of emergency situations. Reserve parachutes are generally designed, rigged, and packed to open more quickly than main parachutes, but until recently we had never seen canopy damage when used within the Maximum Operating Limitations of Weight and Speed.
    Within the past 30 days, we have witnessed 2 separate occasions wherein the integrity of the line attachment system of 2 different Dash-M canopies has been compromised during normal use by persons who are documented as having been within the Maximum Operating Limitations of Weight and Speed. In both cases, the jumpers reported exceptionally hard opening shocks resulting in canopy damage and hard landings.
    Damage to the referenced canopies was consistent with canopies having been tested to destruction when dropped beyond the limits of Maximum Operating Limitations of both Weight and Speed, while at the same time tumbling or otherwise presenting a non-symmetrical loading scenario to the deployment sequence.
    Exceptionally hard opening shocks generated by the subject canopies have prompted this Service Bulletin. Forces generated during opening shock resulted in a cataclysmic compromise of the line attachment system, with collateral damage extending upward generating torn canopy fabric and downward generating broken lines. The initial point of failure appeared to be similar in both cases, beginning in the region of the off-center A line attachment point. Subsequently, transient loading migrated outward and rearward affecting the integrity of some of the adjacent line attachment loops.

    The failure mode was in the destruction of the .75 x T-III MIL T-5038 line attachment loop tape, manifested by pulling the attachment loop tape away from the canopy but leaving the associated stitching intact (image 2).
    Compliance with this Service Bulletin enhances the line attachment structure of the original Dash-M and P-124 configuration and subsequent test data indicate that it increases the line attachment integrity by more than 100%.
    For compliance details, please download a copy of SB-1221 from the Precision Aerodynamics website at http://www.aerodynamics.com
    Precision Aerodynamics
    Download SB-1221 from Dropzone.com

    By admin, in News,

    Swoop Style Masters at the Scalaria Air Challenge 10th Anniversary

    Falling from 1,500 meters at
    speeds in excess of 130 kilometers per hour, this years “Swoop Style”
    competitors will yet again risk their lives to take home the prestigious title. This
    relatively new sport, only made possible through recent advancements in
    parachute technology, has become one of the most highly anticipated events at
    the Scalaria Air Challenge each year because of the extreme skill and bravery
    needed to participate. Competition is fierce as participants jump from a
    helicopter 1,500 meters above the ‘seepromenade’ and soar down through
    obstacle courses at dangerously high speeds in hopes of landing on a small
    platform on the water. Speed, line and accuracy are the ingredients for success.



    “Swoop Style Masters” will take place for the third time this July at the 10th
    anniversary edition of the Scalaria Air Challenge in St. Wolfgang im
    Salzkammergut, Austria. Top athletes from around the glove including Bill
    Sharman, Patrick Kaye, Julien Guilho and the Red Bull Skydive Team (with over
    10,000 jumps will descend upon the
    Air Challenge in order to make history for their sport. However, Swoop Style
    Masters is not the only event at the Scalaria Air Challenge that will shock and
    awe. Constantly pushing the limits of what is possible, it is an event that
    originally began as a small gathering of seaplanes on the beautiful Lake
    Wolfgang and has turned into an internationally recognized spectacle in the air,
    on the water and at the resort. This year, the event will celebrate 10 Years of
    outstanding performances, celebrity appearances, and inspiring exhibitions, with
    over 30 flying guests including:

    Dornier DO-24 – the only seaplane of its type
    Lockheed Super Constellation
    Red Bull’s Flying Bulls – the whole family
    Baltic Bees – 6 jet formation
    Red Bull Air Race World Champion Hannes Arch & Pete McLeod
    Felix Baumgartner | Red Bull Stratos Jump Hero
    Blacky Schwarz – Red Bull Cobra Pilot & Helicopter World Champion
    About scalaria – the event resort: Nestled in the Alps, scalaria event resort is
    an ideal destination for meetings, presentations, conventions, ceremonies and
    banquets. The resort leaves nothing to the imagination, offering 4 unique event
    facilities, 20 meeting rooms, 400 beds in impeccably styled rooms and 360-
    degree views of the Salzkammergut and Lake Wolfgang. The elegant blend of
    traditional and contemporary styles are an attraction to international brands,
    such as Red Bull, Nike and Aston Martin. For more information, please go to
    www.scalaria.com.

    By admin, in News,

    Skydiver, 46, dies after crash landing

    New Zealand - A 46-year-old skydiver died yesterday afternoon after crashing while completing a manoeuvre close to landing at an airfield near Hastings. The name of the man was not available, but he was understood to be one of a small visiting group.
    The crash happened towards the eastern end of the Bridge Pa Aerodrome runway, 10km west of Hastings.
    St John Ambulance operations manager Barry Howell said two crews went to the airfield just before midday and treated the man briefly, but he died soon afterwards.
    Hastings police Acting Senior Sergeant Greg Brown said early investigations indicated the man's parachute had opened properly and was operating normally.
    But the skydiver accelerated close to the ground and made a heavy landing, possibly as the result of an error.
    Police took statements from witnesses and were trying to contact the man's next of kin.

    By admin, in News,

    Operation Toy Drop: Airborne Tradition Set to Explode in 13th Year

    Thousands of toys and paratroopers, hundreds of volunteers, and more than a dozen aircraft come together December 10th and 11th at Fort Bragg in order to give back to the surrounding community.
    WHEN: Friday, December 10, 2010 for Toy Collection and Lottery [ 9:00am – 10:30am ]
    Saturday, December 11, 2010 for the Airborne Operation [ 7:00am – 3:00pm ]
    WHERE: Green Ramp, Pope Air Force Base (Friday)
    Sicily Drop Zone, Fort Bragg (Saturday)
    What makes this year’s Toy Drop different?
    The addition of the 437th Air Wing out of Charleston Air Force Base and their unofficial challenge to “out-toy” Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base by collecting more toys for underprivileged families throughout the region. This year’s operation will also include double the amount of jump masters from allied militaries – greatly expanding the number of foreign jump wings awarded to U.S. paratroopers who participate.
    Operation Toy Drop’s goal is to collect more than 6,000 new toys for children and families throughout the region who may not otherwise receive gifts this holiday season. America’s paratroopers don’t hold back – donations last year included numerous high-end game consoles, countless bicycles, and more otherwise unattainable toys for children of underprivileged families.
    Media opportunities include: hundreds of Paratroopers lined up to donate toys for their chance to join the jump; the jump itself; paratroopers delivering toys, and more. Live interviews via satellite uplink will be available Friday during toy collection and airborne refresher training and Saturday morning from the drop zone during the jump.
    Dozens of parachute silhouettes raining down against the North Carolina sky are nothing out of the ordinary around Fort Bragg, but each December since 1998, Airborne operations have taken on a different meaning to America's men and women in uniform with the Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop. An annual opportunity for Fort Bragg's military community to help families in need over the holidays, Operation Toy Drop combines the efforts of Army, Air Force and civilian service organizations in a truly unique event.
    Operation Toy Drop is a week-long, philanthropic project where Fort Bragg's paratroopers (or visiting paratroopers from across the nation) individually contribute new, unwrapped toys to be distributed to local children's homes and social service agencies. Despite the project's name, these toys are not "dropped" anywhere except into the arms of deserving children throughout Cumberland County and North Carolina. The drop is actually a daytime, non-tactical airborne operation supervised by foreign military jumpmasters – a rare treat for participating Soldiers who relish the opportunity to earn a foreign nation's "jump wings".
    Masterminded by then-Staff Sgt. Randy Oler in 1998, Operation Toy Drop started as a relatively small-time success backed by some big-time coordination. Oler's dream of incorporating Airborne operations, foreign military jumpmasters and local charities was a tall order, but Oler was never one to shy away from a challenge. He approached his commanding general within the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command with the idea and was given the green light to spearhead the project.
    That December, after eight months of planning, USACAPOC(A)'s first annual Operation Toy Drop had been completed on a wing, a prayer, and Oler's handshakes across several organizations. It was small, and very few toys had actually been raised - but it was a start, and from that point on Oler had a foundation to build on.
    Over the following years, Operation Toy Drop expanded to include aircraft support from Pope Air Force Base's 43rd Airlift Wing, and welcomed the participation of Soldiers from Fort Bragg's XVIII Airborne Corps and 82nd Airborne Division. These Soldiers’ enthusiasm to participate in the budding holiday tradition greatly outweighed the number of jump slots available. With limited space on the planes, the project's organizers arranged to draw names of participating Soldiers at random to fill the slots. The name drawing has become one of the main spectacles of Operation Toy Drop, where hundreds of Soldiers crowd together for the chance to hear their ticket number called, no matter how long the wait.
    Each iteration of Operation Toy Drop has brought in more toys for children in need. Even as USACAPOC(A) Soldiers mobilized with the rest of the military community in support of the Global War on Terrorism, those who remained stateside continued the tradition. In 2001, each child who lost a family member in the Sept. 11 attacks received a toy raised in the following December's Operation Toy Drop.
    As the war broke out, Oler remained at the helm of the operation. By April of 2004, he'd been promoted to Sgt. 1st Class and was finishing up an assignment at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. Even as the USACAPOC(A) commanding general was fighting Oler's relocation orders, which would take him away from Fort Bragg, Oler was starting to get the ball rolling for Operation Toy Drop, 2004, which was less than eight months away.
    Oler had warned his colleagues that he might not be around for what would have been his seventh year running Operation Toy Drop. Sadly, he was right, but not due to any relocation orders. On April 20th, 2004, Sgt. 1st Class Randall R. Oler suffered a heart attack while performing jumpmaster duties aboard a C-130 aircraft. At 43 years old, Oler was pronounced dead at Womack Army Medical Center. The Tennessee native had joined the Army in 1979 as an Infantryman, spending time in Ranger and Special Forces battalions throughout his career, and had deployed in support of Operations Desert Storm, Provide Comfort and Joint Endeavor. In 1995, he joined USACAPOC(A) to become a Civil Affairs specialist.
    Oler's humanitarian spirit built Operation Toy Drop from the ground up, and it's only appropriate that the following December, his dream-turned-reality was dubbed the Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop by those who had worked so closely with him over the years. The void left by Oler's death was a difficult one to fill – Oler had run the operation from memory for six years. With no written notes to work from, key players scrambled to make the connections that Oler had worked from his head over the previous years.
    To this date, Operation Toy Drop has collected and distributed over 35,000 toys – from bikes, to dolls, to video game systems – for local families and children in need. In 2007, Operation Toy Drop's 10-year anniversary, over 3,000 participants brought in approximately $55,000 worth of toys.
    USACAPOC(A), a subordinate of the Army Reserve Command, has had control over Operation Toy Drop since Oler, a USACAPOC(A) Soldier, initiated the event in 1998. Oler's passion for helping those in need is echoed again and again among USACAPOC(A)'s nearly 10,000 Army Reservists, whose civilian experiences play important roles in their units' missions overseas. By conducting civil-military projects and humanitarian assistance efforts, USACAPOC(A) Soldiers are making non-lethal contributions to global peace and stability across the world. Located at Fort Bragg, USACAPOC(A) is headquarters to the 69 Army Reserve Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations units across the nation.
    Civil Affairs and PSYOP Soldiers account for only five percent of the U.S. Army Reserve force, but comprise 20 percent of Army Reserve deployments.

    By admin, in News,

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