MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga., Oct. 17, 2017 —
A member of the 820th Base Defense Group here earned his senior-rated parachutist badge, joining the ranks of the Air Force's experienced jumpmasters Oct. 3, at the Lee Fulp drop zone in Tifton, Georgia.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joe Ostrum, 820th Combat Operations Squadron personal parachute program manager, completed the final requirement to obtain a senior rating by fulfilling jumpmaster duties during a static-line jump.
"Senior and master-rated jumpmasters bring an experience level that reduces risks," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. David Brown, 823rd Base Defense Squadron operations superintendent and senior–rated parachutist. "You want those guys on the aircraft overseeing things."
To earn the star that designates a senior-rated parachutist, airmen must conduct 30 jumps, including two during darkness, 15 with operational equipment, one night jump as the primary jumpmaster and seven total jumpmaster duties.
"You can't always tell a brand-new jumpmaster from any other jumper because the badge is the same," Brown said. "If you're a commander, you may sit back and say, 'Well, OK, I trust you. Let's see what you've got.' But if they're senior-rated, you may feel more comfortable because the person has more experience and gives a little more confidence that they have the expertise to give the best recommendation."
So not only does the senior-rating badge display experience at home station, but also in joint operations. Brown added that within the Army, credibility is worn on the uniform in the form of badges signifying qualifications.
"I went to Afghanistan and we were doing outside-the-wire missions," Ostrum said. "The Army owned the battle space, and they looked at us and said, 'Why's the Air Force going outside the wire?' So they started canceling our missions. So I made a brief for [their commander] about what schools are offered to the 820th [Base Defense Group] -- what schools we've graduated and use on a daily basis.
"I told him I had been through basic Airborne, and that I was a jumpmaster and a few other courses and right then, his attitude changed," he continued. "It's just one of those things that helps us conduct the mission in a joint environment and builds the credibility."
In addition to strengthening cohesiveness within the joint environment, the senior rating assists in putting newer jumpers at ease.
"Jumping out of an aircraft is inherently scary for many people, but it's a risk because people can be seriously hurt," Brown said. "So, we owe it to the taxpayers to minimize risk, and we do that with experience and rules. We scrutinize the program and have experienced personnel who [manage] the risky program."
Ostrum echoed the fact that while he may be the one wearing the badge, what it signifies is for everyone else, too.
"There are a lot of people who looked out for me," he said. "It's for my mentors, and it just kind of instills the confidence in all the jumpers and makes everybody else calmer."
While this accomplishment earned him the badge and credibility to join the ranks of more experienced jumpmasters, Ostrum said he still looks to work toward becoming a master-rated jumpmaster. To earn the master-rated parachutist badge, he will need to conduct 65 jumps, including four during darkness, 25 jumps with operational equipment, two night jumps as the primary jumpmaster and 15 total jumpmaster duties.