TX, UNITED STATES
By Staff Sgt. Bethany Anderson
100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
LAKE CANYON, Texas – Thirty six Texas Guardsmen from the Special Operations Detachment-Africa, dropped from a helicopter hovering above Lake Canyon Saturday, June, 24th 2017, as zodiac boats circled, waiting to recover the paratroopers and their chutes.
Jumping from an aircraft into a lake 1500 feet below may seem extreme to some, but for the soldiers of SOD-A, it was just another day on the job – a job that requires extreme training and an extreme commitment.
Those elite soldiers, whom made the jump are part of Special Operations Command-Africa, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany and are trained to rapidly establish, execute, and support all functions of a Special Operations Task Force anywhere in the world. But when the high-temp unit isn’t deployed, they are training in Texas said Texas Army National Guard Col. Timothy Ochsner, the detachment’s commander.
“Parachute operations are a quarterly requirement for soldiers to maintain their airborne proficiency,” said Ochsner, who has been with the unit since its inception in 2012. “Planning this training event allows the unit to exercise logistical planning, execution, as well as command and control. It ensures that SOD-A is always ready to conduct any real-world mission it is called upon to execute.”
Sgt. 1st Class Tim Kennedy, SOD-A assistant operations noncommissioned officer was the first soldier to jump out of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during SOD-A’s parachute operations on Joint Base San Antonio Recreation Park Saturday morning. After the jump, Kennedy said a deep-rooted belief in selfless service and mission accomplishment is what fuels the Texas Army National Guard soldiers in SOD-A.
“This is the only thing that’s actually important – selfless service,” said Kennedy. “Finding an idea that’s more important than you, and being there for the man on your left and right is what this unit is all about.”
Many of the unit’s soldiers have more than 15 years of military service and some have as many as 30. With four deployments in eight months, and many more on the horizon, the soldiers of SOD-A make innumerable sacrifices to ensure that the people and the country they love are protected.
Texas Guardsmen in the Special Operations Detachment appreciate and value the importance of the unit’s mission to promote regional stability within Africa and combat terrorism globally, but say what really adds meaning to their profession is the common goal of protecting their families, their United States, and each other.
“Foreign internal defense missions are very relevant to our country. We’re training these armies in command and control,” said Texas Army National Guard Lt. Col. David Green, SOD-A Command Judge Advocate.
“Terrorism is a global threat and if Africa can’t fight that threat, it affects the U.S.”
The jump into Canyon Lake is just another example the detachments level of readiness, something Kennedy says takes a special kind of soldier.
“We do the mission that no one else could,” said Kennedy. “We have the ability to adapt with any culture and any race in any country and have mission success.”