Special Forces troops get their feet wet with parachute training

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs 

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Master Sgt. Loren Long with the Kentucky National Guard’s 20th Special Forces Group prepares other Soldiers of the unit for a deliberate water airborne jump over Green River Lake near Campbellsville, Ky., July 13, 2013. The jump is an annual requirement for the unit in addition to three other jumps over land. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Jump sequence

A Soldier with the 20th Special Forces Group performs a deliberate water airborne jump from a UH-60 Blackhawk over Green River Lake near Campbellsville, Ky., July 13, 2013. (Photo sequence by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Visitors to Kentucky’s Green River Lake near Campbellsville, Ky., were treated to an unique air show July 13, thanks to Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard’s 20th Special Forces Group.  As boaters on the lake and families on the shores enjoyed the beautiful weather of a Saturday afternoon, members of the special operations unit conducted air drop training in the skies above.

As an annual requirement the unit participates in four parachute jumps, with one as a deliberate water airborne jump.  Nearly 60 Soldiers took their turn climbing into a UH-60 Blackhawk for the short ride over the lake to a designated landing zone where they conducted a static line jump to recovery boats below.

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“The purpose of this training is for us to remain proficient in airborne operations as a means of infiltration in any global environment,” said Chief Warrant Officer Doc Holiday, operations officer for the 20th Group.

Hours of training and rehearsals lead up to the roughly 30 seconds it takes each Soldier to fall 500 feet to the water.

For Sgt. Matthew Benson, it was his first jump with the unit. He qualified Airborne out of the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry in 2010, and finally got his chance to go special forces and put the training into action.

“I had called this unit for more than two years looking for a slot to come here,” he said. “Since going to Airborne school, I’ve always wanted to be in a unit that actually participates in airborne ops.”

Benson re-enlisted to join the unit and plans to stay as long as they will keep him.

The 20th Group is attached to the 20th Special Forces Command in Alabama, but works primarily with the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Kentucky. Holiday said this doesn’t limit them from operating around the state in various capacities and their job is to be ready for the next mission regardless of what it is or certainly where.

“We do what we do and we try to enhance whatever unit we work for at the time,” he said.

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Sgt. Raymond Lunger is embraced by his personal flotation device following a successful parachute drop into Green River Lake, July 13, 2013. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Brandy Mort)

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