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Nebraska’s Army National Guard maintains parachute certification jumps

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 10:28 PM CDT
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YUTAN, Neb. (WOWT) - Quite a sight last week over a rural area just west of Omaha. Dozen of parachutes floating from the sky.

A C130 flying at just over 1,200 feet when airborne infantry jump and parachutes open. They slowly descend to the Husker drop zone.

That’s an alfalfa field south of Yutan. The 40th jump for Sgt. first-class Jose Torres.

“I’ve been in the Army nearly 20 years and it’s been the nicest jump I’ve had in 20 years. I land like I was landing on pillows,” said Torres.

Fifty-five members of the 2nd Battalion, 134th Infantry Regiment with the Nebraska National Guard must maintain jump certification every six months. Recruiting staff Sgt. Nicole Havlovic hopes a prospective recruit will get the drift.

“Being able to see the jump in person may actually kind of sway him our way into the Guard,” said Havlovic.

“See them jump out seems really exciting.”

It’s a rare time they can watch a loved one jump out of a plane parachute and land almost in front of them. An anxious time for the family of the guard members who is jumping.

“She’s that one right there.”

The family of Maddie Gack is confident her 13th parachute jump won’t be unlucky though mom isn’t taking chances.

”Pray that she lands safely,” said mom Melissa Vandemheen.

That request was answered from on high.

“Glad you’re on the ground again,” said Melissa.

There is the first chance Marshall and Debbie Larsen get to watch their daughter jump.

“We’re nervous and excited for her. Any time your kid does something dangerous its churns your stomach a little bit,” said Marshall.

Though it’s hard from a distance to know which jumper is Madison Larsen.

“I want to know which one she is and yes I am nervous,” said Debbie.

There’s high anxiety because they think that’s her and the chute is drifting close to a tree line. But Maddie maneuvered past harm’s way and walks from a successful landing.

”Oh that’s her, she’s waving.”

First, a hug from her sister then comes mom.

“Yes it was so cool, I’m glad you landed safe. Maddie, I was the first one to jump out,” said Debbie.

Dad takes Maddie airborne again.

“That was great,” said Marshall.

A nervous approach for parents but a safe landing bring laughing relief.

“Did you think you were going to land in those trees?” said Marshall.

“Yeah did it look like it?” said Maddie.

”It did,” said Marshall.

The certification jump gives airborne infantry members confidence should one day they land a real mission. While family members leave the drop zone soaring with pride.

“It’s awesome, that was amazing,” said Maddie and Debbie.

The Nebraska National Guard Airbourne troops jump about every three months depending on wind and weather conditions. The fiscal year just started and the recruiter says sign-up numbers are on track.

People can call 1-800-GO-GUARD or talk to an expert online.

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