JBER soldiers trade wings with Aussies

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 19:00
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson soldiers receive the Australian parachutist badge during a wing exchange ceremony on Pershing Field on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson July 15. The ceremony was done to congratulate JBER and Australian soldiers for their work in performing Airborne jump skills cooperatively.

Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, and the Australian Army participated in a parachute badge exchange ceremony on Pershing Field on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson July 15. The ceremony was done to show JBER Soldiers performed and met the Australian airborne qualifications.

“A partnership with our Pacific allies is an important part to our mission set,” said Army Col. Matthew MacFarlane, 4-25th IBCT commander. “These cultural exchange opportunities have broadened our perspective and are mutually beneficial to all service members from all different countries.”

Approximately 440 JBER Soldiers were in attendance to receive their Australian parachutist badge. Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron (Airborne) 40th Cavalry Regiment, was among those receiving a badge. Barbera expressed his feelings on being able to participate in the ceremony and his history with jumping in the Army.

“It was a fantastic experience where we learned the Australian Army’s system capabilities and in exchange they learned ours,” Barbera said. “This is my first time jumping with the Australian Army. Even though we’re both established and structured armies, we have very different practices of how we jump and deploy our soldiers into the field of operation.”

Barbera has jumped with other foreign militaries including German and Canadian soldiers.

The jump was July 9 at the Malemute drop zone. Barbera was the primary jumpmaster for a portion of the operation.

The jump exercise included heavy equipment drops and personnel jumps.

“Even though we, as armies, have a high emphasis on safety, both of us complemented one another’s weak points,” Barbera said. “So working together and learning from each other has been a phenomenal experience. The purpose of this ceremony is to come together as a joint coalition involving both the U.S. and Australian Armies and exchange each our wings, which we consider a symbol of what we do as a military force.”

Army Capt. Chase Spears, 4-25th IBCT public affairs officer, provided insight into the purpose of the ceremony.

“Both U.S. and Australian Army members are preparing to deploy to Operation Talisman Sabre in Australia,” Spears said. “The operation is a bi-annual exercise JBER service members conduct with the Australian Army.”

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