BLACKSTONE ARMY AIRFIELD – Mountains of paperwork and other desk-centric administrative tasks are an inherent part of Col. Greg Townsend’s job of overseeing the training and well-being of thousands of advanced individual training troops.
The 23rd Quartermaster Brigade commander makes it a point, however, to remove himself from the confines of his office as often as possible to observe and influence the many Soldier development activities happening throughout his organization.
He proved during a Nov. 29 visit to Fort Pickett – the Virginia National Guard installation that’s roughly a 50-minute drive west of Fort Lee – that he’s a “walk-the-walk” kind of leader who espouses the “Day One Ready” mantra of his training brigade.
Pickett is where QM School Rigger Course students and others perform airborne jumps to complete their training. Not only did the colonel further familiarize himself with the operations, he took to the skies as well, jumping with other senior leaders as a show of support and a personal statement of his leadership.
“It was fantastic,” he said minutes after floating to earth from the aircraft, “Not only did I log jump 100 and safely land, but I did it with some of the best teammates in all of Fort Lee, if not the Army.”
Townsend’s battle buddies for the jump was the 262nd QM Battalion leadership team: Lt. Col. Tony P. Marante, commander; Maj. Kimberly E. Page, executive officer; and Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel G. Miles, battalion CSM. It marked the first time in history the brigade commander and members of the battalion leadership have jumped together, according to Marante.
“It means a lot to me as the battalion commander to be a part of that history,” he said. “It was a phenomenal day for ADFSD, Charlie Company and the battalion.”
The QM School’s Aerial Delivery and Field Services Department is charged with training those needed to support the Army’s airborne mission. It maintains a close working relationship with the 262nd’s Charlie Co., which is responsible for the health and welfare of Rigger Course students, those who will go on to pack parachutes and equipment for airborne operations.
Although no enlisted rigger students were scheduled to jump that day, roughly 30 cadre members and Basic Officer Leader Course students were slotted to do so for the purpose fulfilling various training requirements. They endured a flight delay and chilly temperatures, but were otherwise accommodated with sunny skies. When the parachutists were finally permitted to execute their operation, they took several flights in a Chinook helicopter, descending from roughly 1,500 feet. The jumps were a success, said Page.
“It was the perfect day for it,” she said. “Anytime you jump out the back of a moving aircraft, it is pretty exhilarating.”
Miles, noting leadership jumps are difficult to coordinate, said there is much symbolism in the presence and participation of those in charge.
“To me, it is a milestone because when we talk about leadership being out front, this is leadership being out front, leading by example,” he said.
Townsend, who last jumped in August, said the day-to-day commitment of cadre and support staff sometimes gets lost amid the sheer numbers of students who undergo rigger training. He implied his presence was an acknowledgement of the facts.
“They do an outstanding job – every day, every week and every month,” he said. “It was great to get out here and witness the operations they execute as they train our AIT Soldiers and officers.”
Marante, Page and Miles are jump status designees and are required to regularly certify their skills. Townsend is not on jump status, but said he enjoys the camaraderie of airborne Soldiers.
“Anytime you’re out here in this beautiful country with these great leaders, it’s a great airborne day and a great Army day,” he said.
ADFSD graduates more than 600 Rigger Course students annually and offers several courses for senior leaders.
The 262nd QM Bn., located near the Cardinal Golf Club, processes roughly 5,500 Soldiers yearly in five different military occupational specialties to include paralegals and petroleum supply specialists.