Beachgoers caught off guard during military parachute training

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Boondocksaint375

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Beachgoers caught off guard during military parachute training
By Sean Flynn/Daily News staff
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Special Forces commandos parachuted into Easton's Bay on Tuesday and then hit Atlantic Beach in inflatable boats.

Nobody batted an eye. The volleyball game went on uninterrupted, and the eyes of the guys on the beach were trained on bikini-clad women and not on the Zodiacs that battled the waves to land.

However, the smiles on the faces of the Rhode Island Army National Guard soldiers and Navy sailors, and lack of weapons, showed this was a training exercise.

"It's awesome; it's a great jump," said National Guard Master Sgt. Dave Brooks, 46, of Nashua, N.H., after he was fished from the water following a jump from a helicopter 2,500 feet up.

"It's a little hazy, but the water's gorgeous," said National Guard Sgt. Kevin Smith, 29, of Newport. "This is the day to be in the water."

Most of the jumpers, such as Brooks and Smith, were with Company A, 2nd Battalion, of the 19th Special Forces Group that is based at the Middletown Armory near the airport.

They sounded like they were having a good time, but this was a serious exercise.

National Guard Lt. Col. Allen Corcoran said almost every participant in the training mission has been deployed in war zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia or Kosovo.

"This was a great training mission," he said as the equipment and Zodiacs were being loaded after the exercise. "Unfortunately, we didn't get to complete it."

Thirty parachutists were scheduled to jump, but only 24 did. Corcoran said the mission had to be interrupted because the haze over the bay built up as temperatures soared. By the early afternoon, the jumpmaster in the helicopter couldn't locate the drop zone.

Some of the earlier jumpers couldn't see the red buoy either, but the pilots of the Zodiacs rode in circles around the buoy at about 10 knots to set up a target.

"I was just looking at the boats," Corcoran said after his jump.

He said the training would be rescheduled for the six who didn't make it. "I'm sure they're gnashing their teeth back at the unit," he said.

A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter from Quonset Air Base shuttled between Middletown airport and the bay, with three jumpers on each flight. The parachutists attempted to come as close as possible to a red buoy out in the bay, about 500 yards off Ochre Point.

Soldiers and sailors on three Zodiac boats and a rigid-hulled inflatable boat pulled most of the jumpers into their boats by the parachute, but three members of the Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment - or EOD - had to swim ashore with equipment, after disengaging from their parachutes.

"They swam in because that's what they have to do," Corcoran said. "They specialize in underwater demolition and underwater operations. A means of insertion is for them to parachute into the ocean and then conduct their mission."

The EOD is responsible for recovery, rendering safe and destruction of ordnance, both foreign and domestic, which present a possible hazard to military operations, installations or personnel.

Members of the 19th Special Forces Company A are trained for clandestine action against enemy forces and governments, action that can include assisting indigenous resistance forces. They also are sent on special reconnaissance missions.

Brooks, who has served on the border of Kuwait and Iraq, said Monday's jump from 2,500 feet was higher than the unit members would see if they were deployed.

"In a combat jump, the lower the better," he said. "You don't want to spend all that time in the air."

He said these regular practice jumps are necessary though.

"You need to remain proficient at it," he said.

Personnel from other units, such as Sgt. James Cartier, 29, of Waterbury, Conn., also jumped. He's a parachute rigger with the 56th Troop Command of the National Guard, at the Fogarty Armory in East Greenwich.

"We pack the parachutes and want to test how they operate," he said. "After they've been in saltwater like this, we'll wash them in freshwater three times before they are used again."

Cartier said he's jumped 64 times, but only twice into the water. He likes the water jumps best. "There's no impact," he said.

Corcoran said among the six personnel who did not jump were two women with the U.S. Army Natick Research and Development Center in Natick, Mass. At the Natick laboratories, he said they study airdrop systems, as well as food, clothing, shelters and other support items for the military.
 

Roycroft201

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Re: the personal info released in the article.....whatever happened to PERSEC in SF ? Not required with NG units ?
 

MADMIKE175

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Too bad the Black Hawk did pick them up right off the beach....I bet the civvie's would have noticed that! LOL

Nothing like a little brown out whilst wearing some spf! That would have been funny.
 

RustyShackleford

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Re: the personal info released in the article.....whatever happened to PERSEC in SF ? Not required with NG units ?

It's up the the PAO, the unit and the person. Not everyone feels the need to run around with a black box over their eyes and going by "Sgt. Kevin."
 

RackMaster

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It's up the the PAO, the unit and the person. Not everyone feels the need to run around with a black box over their eyes and going by "Sgt. Kevin."

My personal opinion, but that's retarded. But I'm one to believe that going to "extremes" of PERSEC should pertain to all those in the military, not just those in SF or high profile roles. We are all targets.
 

RustyShackleford

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going to "extremes" of PERSEC should pertain to all those in the military, not just those in SF or high profile roles. We are all targets.

The same could be said for LEOs and other public safety positions as well. In the end, if your unit doesn't care, it is up to the individual.
 

Typhoon

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Too bad the Black Hawk did pick them up right off the beach....I bet the civvie's would have noticed that! LOL...Nothing like a little brown out whilst wearing some spf! That would have been funny.
Yes it would. I used to fish with a guide in that part of Rhody and know it well: It is a beautiful area, and also one that has a pretty small military presence. So beach goers would be seriously surprised to see guys in camouflage...I would have been cracking up to have seen the exercise and the reaction of the beach goers...
 
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