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Paratroopers walk on the airfield at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, after completing a jump on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.
Paratroopers walk on the airfield at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, after completing a jump on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Paratroopers walk on the airfield at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, after completing a jump on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.
Paratroopers walk on the airfield at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, after completing a jump on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A paratrooper descends onto a grassy area inside the airfield at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Thirty paratroopers from Air Force and Army units in Germany jumped at Ramstein following a short-notice request from the 435th Contingency Response Group to use the airfield after several jumps were canceled due to poor weather and coronavirus restrictions.
A paratrooper descends onto a grassy area inside the airfield at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Thirty paratroopers from Air Force and Army units in Germany jumped at Ramstein following a short-notice request from the 435th Contingency Response Group to use the airfield after several jumps were canceled due to poor weather and coronavirus restrictions. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Tech. Sgt. Dwight Stalter of the 435th Contingency Response Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, folds his parachute after landing at the base's airfield on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.
Tech. Sgt. Dwight Stalter of the 435th Contingency Response Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, folds his parachute after landing at the base's airfield on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, drops Army and Air Force paratroopers above a drop zone inside the base's airfield on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.
A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, drops Army and Air Force paratroopers above a drop zone inside the base's airfield on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Paratroopers descend over a drop zone on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, inside the airfield at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The Air Force made the jump happen on short notice, allowing the paratroopers with the 435th Contingency Response Group and other units in Germany to use the busy airfield to maintain their jump requirements.
Paratroopers descend over a drop zone on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, inside the airfield at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The Air Force made the jump happen on short notice, allowing the paratroopers with the 435th Contingency Response Group and other units in Germany to use the busy airfield to maintain their jump requirements. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Paratroopers sit with their gear inside a hangar at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, before a jump on Feb. 18, 2021. About 30 paratroopers from Army and Air Force units in Germany had the rare chance to jump at Ramstein's busy airfield to maintain their jump requirements.
Paratroopers sit with their gear inside a hangar at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, before a jump on Feb. 18, 2021. About 30 paratroopers from Army and Air Force units in Germany had the rare chance to jump at Ramstein's busy airfield to maintain their jump requirements. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Burke, an airfield manager and jump master with the 435th Contingency Response Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, ensures Senior Airman Cody Paynter's parachute equipment is secure and ready to go before a rare jump Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at Ramstein.
Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Burke, an airfield manager and jump master with the 435th Contingency Response Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, ensures Senior Airman Cody Paynter's parachute equipment is secure and ready to go before a rare jump Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at Ramstein. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)

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For the Air Force and Army paratroopers on the C-130J aircraft that took off from Ramstein on Thursday, the day was good enough for a jump — and that’s all they needed.

German weather, coronavirus restrictions and maintenance issues had forced the Ramstein-based 435th Contingency Response Group to scratch several jumps, including one earlier this month at a field near the city of Worms.

They were “getting close to being non-current,” said Master Sgt. Jim Burke, a jumpmaster and airfield manager with the unit.

“That’s not a good situation,” he said.

Paratroopers in the 435th have to acquire and maintain the skills needed to jump into an austere environment where there may be enemy activity, and then conduct airfield operations. They need to jump about every three months to stay current.

They knew it wouldn’t be possible to get an off-base drop zone approved on short notice, Burke said. So with their critical skills needing a refresher, the group’s jumpmaster team sought permission from Ramstein’s 37th Airlift Squadron and 86th Operations Support Squadron to use the base’s busy airfield.

Working with the squadrons, and with some cooperation from the German weather, they made the jump happen. Airborne service members from other units in Germany were invited to participate, Burke said.

The C-130 took off from Ramstein early Thursday, made a loop to the west and then headed back to base, making three low passes over the grassy drop zone where 30 paratroopers jumped out, 10 at a time.

It was Burke’s 72nd jump and one of his last in the Air Force. The 44-year-old has been parachuting from planes since 2012 and is retiring this summer.

For Senior Airman Cody Paynter, 25, it would be the first time he’d deploy his parachute since graduating from jump school last fall.

He nailed the jump. Everyone else landed safely, too, although one person sprained an ankle after landing on concrete.

“It feels good, yeah,” Paynter said after he’d landed. “Once they open up those doors, that’s when the blood starts flowing.”

svan.jennifer@stripes.com Twitter: @stripesktown

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