On March 4, 2017 a clear and calm Saturday afternoon in Walterboro, South Carolina, soldiers from Fort Stewart, Georgia took to the sky. Despite skydiving commonly being used for military exercises, the 2nd infantry brigade combat team wasn’t training for an upcoming deployment or to keep their skills sharp just in case.
Instead, the team was on a recreational skydiving trip organized by Specialist Keinan Moore designed to promote bonding between all members of the brigade for improved communication and overall work performance in the future. While not what one would expect, Moore was confident in his plan to bring the soldiers closer together with his out of the box, and off the ground, method of team building.
After the 100 mile journey to Skydive Walterboro at the Walterboro Airport, which is west of Charleston, South Carolina, the group learned they would be performing a static jump at over 3,000 feet after some brief ground training with experienced instructors. Slightly different than the typical free fall skydiving experience, in this set-up the jumper is attached to the plane via a static line that will deploy the chute for them. After automatically opening, the jumper can then guide his own parachute to the ground by watching directions from the crew below. In these scenarios, the free fall lasts only a few seconds after exiting the aircraft.
Of the experience, Specialist Moore, also the human resource point for the division, said, “We got to do something as exciting and exhilarating as jumping out of a plane. The camaraderie was really there. We were all excited because we didn’t know what to expect next.”
While the combat team is not the first to engage in an outdoor activity for team bonding, it is likely one of the more thrilling. Naturally, for many in the group it was their first skydiving opportunity, creating an even stronger connection between a lot of the members.
Staff Sergeant Javar Wiggins, a non-commissioned officer with human resources, agrees with his commanding officer’s idea to implement such activities. “I think it’s good to go out and have a lot of fun, to build esprit de corps within the workplace.” It was obvious the team was having fun. A great deal of the battalion took multiple jumps in order to get closer to certification.
Static line jumps are one path to the Accelerated Free Fall certification, which allows for solo jumps. Starting out, the student must complete two successful static line jumps, followed by three more in which they pretend to deploy the chute themselves to display full understanding before removing the line.
Subsequent jumps work themselves up in altitude, with the jumper free falling slightly longer each time before using the rip cord to deploy his own parachute. Following 25 of these jumps, the individual receives their license and is no longer considered a student.
Even though organized for the good of the team, Sergeant Moore benefited from the experience himself. He was quoted saying, “I didn’t really know these guys before we took this trip, we were just in the same battalion,” said Moore, “But, now we have continued to communicate even after the trip, it has really made communication in the workplace easier.”
Based on conversations with the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team following their dives, the activity was a huge success and all are excited for what may come next. So, it seems almost certain that more bonding adventures of all sorts are on the horizon to keep the communication flowing and connections deepening. Who knows, maybe they will form their own synchronized skydiving team in their spare time. Mission accomplished.