Parabats: no more fun jumps

2010-09-04 00:00

A TRADITION going back decades among the country’s paratroopers is in danger of extinction because of stricter training requirements.

Part-time and full-time paratroopers usually get together once a year to promote both team spirit and training before carrying out mass water jumps.

This year’s jumps will take place in October outside Bloemfontein, where 44 Parachute Batallion is based.

In the past two weeks, former soldiers in particular, who are still on the regiment’s part-time roll, began voicing strong objections because they now have to undergo retraining for at least two weeks beforehand.

In the past they usually did a refresher course for a day or two before being allowed to jump.

According to one former commander of a parachute unit, the water jumps are in fact an emergency drill that any paratrooper has to learn to do.

As part of teambuilding, and to maintain good relations among the soldiers, this drill had become almost a fun part of a long weekend’s activities over the years.

“It forms only a small component of the soldiers’ training — in any case, most of the part-time guys already have hundreds of jumps under the belt and the water jump is not a particularly complicated part of their skills!” he said.

It is suspected that the defence force fears repetition of an incident in November when two paratroopers in training fell to their death after neglecting to open their emergency chutes.

 

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