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Jumping from a plane is all part of the job for soldiers from 173rd Brigade Combat Team (Airborne).

With the help of C-130J transport planes from the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, paratroopers took to the air to conduct airborne operations Thursday, less than 30 minutes northeast of Aviano Air Base, Italy. For some of the paratroopers transferring in from Schweinfurt and Bamberg in Germany, it was their first time jumping in Italy. For others, it was their first time jumping with the new T-11 parachutes.

“Most of the jumpers have less than two to three jumps using the T-11, with a few exceptions,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Keil, the departure airfield control officer. “A good number of them are jumping for the first time with them.”

Sgt. John Willman was one of more than 1,250 paratroopers — Italian and American — descending from the sky during a series of training jumps over three days on the Juliet Drop Zone near Vajont.

“A lot nicer – came down a lot softer,” Willman said after completing his first jump in Italy following his previous duty station in Bamberg with the 173rd’s Brigade Support Battalion.

Most of the 173rd is now consolidated in Vicenza, about a 90-minute drive away.

duhr.jason@stripes.com


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