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Pope parachute team finishes third at Leapfest

  • Published
  • By Marvin Krause
  • 43rd Airlift Group Public Affairs
Four Airmen from the 18th Air Support Operations Group finished third place last month during the Rhode Island National Guard's annual Leapfest competition held at West Kingston, Rhode Island.

This year's event held Aug. 2-4, consisted of 57 teams from the U.S. and international militaries that included participants from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

Competing from Pope were Master Sgt. Troy Misiak, Tech. Sgt. Christopher Allen, Staff Sgt. Cassandra Napolitano-Ramero, combat weathermen assigned to the 18th Weather Squadron, and Master Sgt. Warren Williams, a Tactical Air Control Party Airman, assigned to the 18th Air Support Operations Group.

"This was a great opportunity to strengthen the camaraderie between airborne brothers from allied nations in a competitive environment and being able to finish in the top three in such an experienced group of paratroopers really instills a sense of pride," said Master Sgt. Troy Misiak, team captain from the 18th Weather Squadron. "Most people always think Army when you speak of airborne forces but for an Air Force team to finish this high in an international competition speaks to the competence and skill of my team members. I couldn't be more proud of their accomplishment," he said.

This year's competition additionally commemorated the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, when allied forces invaded German-occupied France during World War II. Organizers held a wreath-laying ceremony to honor all allied paratroopers and honored a distinguished guest during the event, World War II paratrooper and 82nd Airborne Division veteran Robert "Ozzie" Osborne.

Since 1982, Leapfest is the largest and longest-standing, international static line parachute-training event, where paratroopers from around the world compete in both individual and team timed events. The competition highlights accuracy in airborne operations with jumpers exiting from CH-47 Chinook helicopters at 1,500 feet using MC-6 static line, steerable, parabolic parachutes, trying to land as close as possible to a designated target within a landing zone. Upon landing and completing a parachute-landing fall, judges time participants until they reach a designated area.

This is both an individual and team event. Each jumper must complete two jumps to be qualified for an individual award, and each team must complete eight jumps in total to be qualified for the team award.

"I was grateful that I would be able to represent my unit and compete against the other U.S. and international teams," said Master Sgt. Warren Williams, a JTAC assigned to the 18th Air Support Operations Group. "This is the first time I competed at Leapfest and winning third place was a nice surprise," He said.