By Army 1st Lt. Chantel Baul, 372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Every year, the U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition tests soldiers’ physical endurance, mental agility and tactical proficiency in a host of essential skills. Rappelling is one of those skills.
This year’s competition here began June 10 and ends today. Competitors first received instruction from the skilled cadre at the Deglopper Air Assault School.
The competitors ascended the 34-foot tower to complete a traditional, walled rappel and an open-air rappel. After a few hours with the instructors the soldiers were trained and ready for the next mission: rappelling from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter hovering 60 feet above ground.
Named for Army Pfc. Charles Deglopper, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient, the air assault school’s training expertise involves all things rappelling, including fast-roping and infiltration and exfiltration operations.
“We support Fort Bragg in pretty much all rotary-wing operations,” explained Army Capt. Daniel Oberrender, the commander of the air assault school. Part of the 18th Airborne Corps, the Deglopper Air Assault School trains installation and nonlocal units for upcoming missions that require special skills. For example, the school trained soldiers from several units for humanitarian missions throughout the nation and Puerto Rico during last year’s hurricane season.
“We have a lot of units that go on a deployment that may not have been participating in rotary operations or sling-load operations. So, they’ll give us a call and we’ll send instructors out to their training site,” Oberrender said.
Highly Trained Instructors
The air assault school has 22 highly trained instructors, the captain said.
“We average about 90 days to get an instructor qualified,” Oberrender said.
He credits his team of top-notch noncommissioned officer instructors for the school’s success. “The talent is in those instructors. We let them flourish; let them train the soldiers,” Oberrender said. “They’re amazing at what they do. I’m so blessed to have an opportunity to be here with them.”
The school recently hosted a special community engagement event in advance of the NASCAR Coca Cola 600 race in Charlotte, North Carolina. Fox and Friends news personality Heather Childers and top driver Austin Dillon visited the school for some training on the tower. And the school instructors teamed up with soldiers from Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division to kick off the Coca Cola 600 on May 27 with an exciting fast rope/rappelling demonstration.
The air assault school welcomes civilian organizations, especially those with military affiliations, to take on the rappelling tower. The instructors are happy to provide training to the public as a team-building exercise.
“We like to reach out to the community. Come out here and hang out with us a little while. We’ll make sure that you’re safe and have a good time,” Oberrender said.