Flying Jennies haul Leap Frogs to Phillies home opener
By Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo, 403rd Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 15, 2016
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
An 815th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules aircrew spent April 8-18 assisting the U.S. Navy Parachute Team with some high-profile events to include airdropping the team over Citizens Bank Park for the Philadelphia Phillies home opener April 11.
While it was a 4-3 Phillies loss to San Diego, it was a win for the 815th AS aircrew who honed their tactical airdrop skills while assisting recruiting efforts.
“This was great for the morale of the squadron, and jumps like this are in our mission set, so it was an opportunity for us to train,” said Lt. Col. Stuart Rubio, 815th AS commander. “It was a win-win for everyone.”
The 815th AS transports supplies, equipment and personnel in and around a theater of operation. The unit flies 10 C-130J aircraft, which can operate from dirt strips and are the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.
The U.S. Navy Parachute Team, known as the Leap Frogs, is a 15-person active-duty team comprised of U.S. Navy Seals, Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen commandos.
The parachute team supports Navy recruiting efforts and promotes Naval Special Warfare, according to the International Council of Airshows website. A typical Leap Frogs performance consists of the team leaping out of an aircraft at an altitude of 12,500 feet, but this event was planned for 4,500 feet.
"It takes trust between the aircrew and the parachute team," said Maj. Mark Suckow, 815th AS pilot and chief of standardization and evaluation. "There is a lot of coordination involved with the use of airspace and ensuring the jumpers land at their designated target. You have to take advantage of missions like this. This training is invaluable, and it allows pilots like 1st Lt. William Garey, who was part of the crew, the ability to learn and operate in a restricted and high-paced airspace."
The Phillies game was the first stop of the 10-day trip. The crew also transported the Leap Frogs to drops in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area to include Central High School and Clayton Bradley Academy and the University of Tennessee’s Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium and Smokey Mountain Airshow.
Rubio was proud of his squadron’s role in the atypical mission, especially after reading feedback from Phillies fan Florence DeAngelis. She wrote that Opening Day is her third favorite holiday each year and the Phillies organization should be very happy with what they gave to their fans April 11. The National Anthem and C-130J fly over with red smoke provided by the Leap Frogs was thrilling for her.
“There were very few dry eyes in my section,” she added.
“After all of the uncertainty with our squadron in the last few years, this was a great opportunity to assist with recruiting, accomplish some quality training, and let everyone know that the 815th Airlift Squadron is on its way back to achieving its full capability,” said Rubio.