airborne rigger - Special Forces Gear - Airborne
Riggers have played an important role in the American military since the advent of the use of the parachute for aerial insertion of troops, supplies, and equipment into combat zones. In addition to the maroon beret worn by paratroopers in airborne units, riggers are authorized the wear of a distinctive red baseball cap as their military headgear when on rigger duties.
U.S. Army. When the Army formed its first paratrooper unit in 1940, a parachute test platoon, the paratroopers themselves prepared and took care of their own parachutes. The test platoon had only 3 men, two enlisted soldiers and one warrant officer, from the Army Air Corps serving as the precursors of the Army's parachute riggers.
When the Army created five Airborne divisions for World War II, the Army stopped training each paratrooper how to pack his own chute and started support organizations for parachute packing and rigging. The first riggers received their training at Fort Benning, GA.
After 1950, the Army assigned the Quartermaster Corps with the mission of aerial delivery, including parachute rigging. A parachute rigger course was established at the U.S. Army Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, VA in 1951, and has continued since then.
Airborne Orientation Course. For students completing basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., preparation for Airborne and rigger training begins before even departing for Fort Lee with attendance at the post's Airborne Orientation Course. According to an Army News Service story, "while most of the course involves physical training, soldiers are also familiarized with such Airborne operations as parachute landing falls, rigging equipment and actions in the aircraft." The AOC has raised the success rate for soldiers subsequently attending Airborne training from 60 percent to 89 percent.
From AOC, rigger recruits go to Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA. If a rigger recruit does not pass Airborne School, that soldier is reclassified.
The Army MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) designation for parachute riggers (prior to fiscal year 2003: 43E2P) is graded in 5 skill levels, from 92R1P to 92R5P. Recruits are designated 92R0P
After Airborne School, the 92R0P recruits head to Fort Lee to attend the 13 week Parachute Rigger Course. The course provides training on inspecting, packing, rigging, recovering, storing, and maintaining air item equipment. It is divided into three phases. Air Drop Phase - Includes instruction in cargo parachute packing, rigging supplies and equipment for airdrop, types and limitations of aircraft. Students become proficient in the use of the various technical manuals for rigging airdrop loads. At the conclusion of the instruction, the students participate in an airdrop exercise. They pack the cargo parachutes, rig the loads to be dropped and place the loads in the aircraft. After the airdrop, the students recover the loads and equipment. Aerial Equipment Repair Phase - Trains fundamentals and procedures of inspection, classification, and repair of maintenance of personnel, cargo, extraction parachutes and airdrop equipment to include the service of High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) Automatic Ripcord Release (ARR). Parachute Pack Phase - Is designed to equip students with the working knowledge of inspection and packing procedures relative to personnel, light cargo and extraction parachutes. The student receives concentrated instruction on the troop back parachute. The student is required to jump the parachute he/she packed during the examination. Throughout the course, the student is constantly reminded of the fact that all parachutes must be packed with meticulous care to insure proper functioning. Any malfunction could result in death or in equipment loss.
All U.S. Army parachute riggers are required to be Airborne qualified, and by tradition are required to be prepared to jump any parachute packed by any U.S. Army parachute rigger, without checking the log book for the name of the rigger who last prepared it. The official motto of the U.S. Army parachute rigger is: "I will be sure always."