FORT BENNING, Ga. — Jump Week is the ultimate test for students attending the U.S. Army Airborne School. They must complete five parachute jumps from 1,250 feet, two with a combat load and one at night. Some never make it out the door.
The biggest challenge for them in this course is “overcoming their fears,” said Capt. Calvin Gibson, commander of C Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Of the 540 students who started the course three weeks ago, fewer than 470 made it to Jump Week. “So many of the (failing students) are passing everything in the first week, doing well, and then get to the 34-foot tower and can’t muster the courage to jump out,” he said.
Gibson is referring to the practice towers at Eubanks Field where the students train during Ground Week and Tower Week. The course is designed in a “crawl, walk, run” style, where the students build upon increasingly higher jumps, starting with practice jumps from a small wall and building to their final practice jump off a 250-foot tower.
A few family and friends watched at Fryar Drop Zone Monday as the students who made it to Jump Week conducted their fourth Airborne jump from C-130 and C-17 aircraft.
The parents of Spc. Shawn Warrant traveled from their home in Minnesota to attend his graduation. Lori and Tom Warrant were at the drop zone Monday watching for him to jump.
“I think I’d be scared to death to do this,” Lori said. “But it suits him well. He’s an outdoors type who likes adventure.”
Lori said her son enlisted for Special Forces and heads to Fort Bragg, N.C., following Airborne training.
“It takes a special person to dedicate their life to this,” she said. “I think he’ll make a lot of good lifetime friends.”
The Airborne jump also marked a first for the battalion. The students jumped with the Talon tactical hydration pack instead of the typical Alice pack. The “combat light” system is designed to hold 48-72 hours worth of supplies and food instead of the standard Alice pack, which is bulkier and holds a week’s worth, said 1st Sgt. Calvin Araneta, of C Company.