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Face of Defense: Paratrooper makes his first jump in more than 30 Years

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It is uncertain what the record is for the time between Army parachute jumps, but Lt. Col. John Hall may hold it at 30 years and six months.

When Hall parachuted from a military aircraft last month, it was the first time he had done so in over thirty years. Hall, a 53-year-old school teacher at Kearsley High School in Flint, Michigan, is serving a one-year tour of duty in Vicenza, Italy, as the public affairs officer for the storied 173rd Airborne Brigade, the contingency response force for U.S. Army Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

“I first worked with the 173rd Airborne when I was put on active duty with the Michigan National Guard in 2014 and sent to the Baltic Countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve and in support of Latvia, our State Partnership Nation,” Hall said.

Army Lt. Col. John Hall, a paratrooper and public affairs officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade, poses for a photo in Vicenza, Italy, Jan. 31 2018. Hall is a Michigan National Guard soldier currently on active-duty orders with the 173rd. (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander C Henninger)

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“The 173rd Airborne Public Affairs leaders and I developed a close working relationship, so last summer when they needed an experienced public affairs officer to lead their team, I was selected and put on orders,” he said.

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The 173rd Brigade commander sent word to Hall that he would be expected to jump from aircraft as a part of his duties.

“I was really excited and completely terrified at the same time. I graduated from ‘Jump School’ when I was 19 years old and last jumped when I was 22, so I knew what to do,” Hall said with a laugh.

The 173rd put Hall through a one-day airborne refresher course, he said. This training included parachute landing, actions in the aircraft and emergency procedures, followed by multiple jumps from a 34-foot tower in which his technique was assessed.

The next day, Hall reported to Aviano Air Base in northern Italy, donned his parachute with a couple of hundred other soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, climbed aboard an Air Force C-17 aircraft and, when 1,200 feet over the Juliet Drop Zone, exited the door and tested his training.

Perfect landing

“The jet blast spun me in the air so when my ‘chute deployed it was pretty twisted and did not have a full canopy,” Hall said. “I was surprised that I automatically reached up, pulled the ‘risers’ apart and worked the parachute fully open. Good training takes over and we automatically do the right thing. I then checked my position in the sky and prepared to land. It was all over in less than a minute. I took up a good parachute landing fall position and the landing was perfect.”

Hall has served in the Army since graduating from LakeVille High School in the Flint area where he was an All-State wrestler, president of the school’s student council and where he began dating his eventual wife, Laura.

“I enlisted as a combat medic when I was 19 years old and served in the 82nd Airborne Division in the mid-1980s, where we conducted frequent parachute operations as a part of our combat training,” Hall said. “After leaving the 82nd, I didn’t think I would ever jump from a military aircraft ever again.”

Since leaving active duty with the 82nd, Hall has served in the Army Reserve, the Florida and Michigan National Guard, and has been called back to active duty — to include combat duty in Iraq — on multiple occasions, but he has not been assigned to a unit with an airborne mission until now.

He was initially commissioned as a cavalry officer following officer candidate school and served as a Scout Platoon Leader in E Troop, 153rd Cavalry Regiment in Ocala, Florida. His later assignments include company commander in the 1-125 Infantry in Flint, Michigan, as well as executive officer and commander of the 126th Press Camp Headquarters at Fort Custer, Michigan. It was in the 126th PCH that Hall served a combat tour in Baghdad.

Service in Iraq

Oddly enough, while serving as a press officer for Multinational Forces Iraq, Hall was serving in a combat zone at the same time as his daughter, Savannah, who had recently been commissioned as an officer through the University of Michigan ROTC program.

“My daughter, Savannah, grew up around the Army and has seen me in uniform since I was in the 82nd Airborne,” Hall said. “She decided when she went to college that she wanted to enroll in ROTC, serve in the army and be a paratrooper. It was indeed a proud moment when I pinned her ‘Jump Wings’ on her at Fort Benning, Georgia. And now my youngest daughter, Samantha, is shipping off to Army basic training later this spring. It remains to be seen if she, too, will become a paratrooper.”

Hall has been working in Vicenza, Italy, on the senior staff of the 173rd Airborne Brigade since August 2017. In this short time, he has supported airborne combat training in Latvia, Germany, Slovenia, a historic mission to Serbia, mountaineering training with the Italian Alpini Brigade, and next week will travel to Toulouse, France, to support 173rd Airborne combined engineering operations with French paratroopers.

#SkySoldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade conduct an #Airborne insertion onto Juliet Drop Zone in northern Italy. It was less than a minute from exiting the C-130 until the Paratroopers were on the ground and ready for combat. (Army photo by Lt. Col. John Hall)

High operational tempo

“The operational tempo here at the 173rd Airborne is intense. We continually have combat training going on with our NATO allies throughout Europe,” Hall said. “Our command philosophy is that we are always ‘preparing our soldiers for the unforgiving crucible of ground combat.’”

A significant part of this, in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, is conducting airborne operations, so Hall will complete several more jumps from military aircraft in the coming months.

As far as teaching is concerned, Hall intends to return to the classroom teaching English, history and theater for the fall 2018 semester. It is certain that the dynamic training and real-world experiences contribute to his classes and his students’ enthusiasm.

Until then, Hall is an Army paratrooper and he said he’s proud of the soldiers he works with.

Hall added, “It is truly an honor to be able to serve with the ‘Sky Soldiers’ of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. To be able to begin my military career with the 82nd Airborne Division and end it with the 173rd Airborne Brigade is remarkable. I am humbled every day by the discipline, determination and dedication of these young Americans forward stationed and always prepared to defend their country.”

 

 

 

 

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Big League National Security

Tommy Tuberville Says “We Can’t Worry About China Right Now”

Even though they allowed the disease to spread.

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Former football coach and Alabama US Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville said that “we can’t worry about China right now” in a radio appearance with Talk 99.5’s “Matt and Aunie Show on Thursday.

When asked by hosts about the implications of the global coronavirus epidemic on the United States’ relationship with China, Tuberville said, “Well, we can’t worry about China right now. We’ve gotta worry about Alabama and this country.

Tuberville is currently running to represent Alabama in the United States Senate, although he’s been registered as a Florida voter in the past.

His comments on China policy will leave many Americans concerned with the nation’s role in the coronavirus epidemic unsatisfied. Certainly, containing the epidemic in this country is the priority, but a wide range of conservatives and China hawks have already begun to discuss the need to fundamentally reevaluate the United States’ relationship with China. The damage already inflicted upon American society and the global economy does present a pressing case that such a question is in fact urgent.

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Tuberville is running for Senator, not Governor. He could be forgiven if he was running for an office not entrusted with high-level foreign policy responsibilities, but Senators in the coming months and years will be entrusted with developing China policy that recognizes the authoritarian communist nation’s role in allowing and covering up the global coronavirus epidemic.

Contrasting in stark fashion, Tuberville’s opponent for the Republican nomination for US Senate in Alabama, Jeff Sessions, has called for a congressional select committee to investigate China’s role in covering up the dangers posed to the world by the coronavirus, the virus’ origin in Wuhan, and potentially lying about the casualties incurred as a result of the disease in China.

If Alabama voters want a Republican Senator who is going to be tough on China, it doesn’t look like Tommy Tuberville is up to task.

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