U.S., French and Djiboutian military forces celebrate St. Michel’s day

DJIBOUTI- U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces attend a ceremony honoring St. Michel’s day, the patron saint of paratroopers, Sept. 29, 2016, at the French air base in Djibouti City, Djibouti. The airborne forces began the celebrations with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone, followed by a church mass and a ceremony where several U.S. airborne forces were awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault) Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Image DJIBOUTI- U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces attend a ceremony honoring St. Michel’s day, the patron saint of paratroopers, Sept. 29, 2016, at the French air base in Djibouti City, Djibouti. The airborne forces began the celebrations with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone, followed by a church mass and a ceremony where several U.S. airborne forces were awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)
A French airborne soldier lands safely on the ground during a high altitude low opening jump in celebration of St. Michel’s Day in Djibouti, Sept. 29, 2016. The celebration was in honor of St. Michel, the patron saint of paratroopers, and included a celebratory mass and American jumpers being awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Image A French airborne soldier lands safely on the ground during a high altitude low opening jump in celebration of St. Michel’s Day in Djibouti, Sept. 29, 2016. The celebration was in honor of St. Michel, the patron saint of paratroopers, and included a celebratory mass and American jumpers being awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
Military members from the U.S. Army, Djibouti Armed Forces, and French military kick off a St. Michel’s Day celebration by jumping out of a C-160 Transall in Djibouti, Sept. 29, 2016. The paratroopers commemorated the day with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton) Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Image Military members from the U.S. Army, Djibouti Armed Forces, and French military kick off a St. Michel’s Day celebration by jumping out of a C-160 Transall in Djibouti, Sept. 29, 2016. The paratroopers commemorated the day with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
Military members from the U.S. Army, Djibouti Armed Forces, and French military descend from a French C-160 Transall Sept. 29, 2016 in Djibouti. U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces celebrated with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone. St. Michel is the patron saint of paratroopers, and the day included a celebratory mass and American jumpers being awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.) Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Image Military members from the U.S. Army, Djibouti Armed Forces, and French military descend from a French C-160 Transall Sept. 29, 2016 in Djibouti. U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces celebrated with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone. St. Michel is the patron saint of paratroopers, and the day included a celebratory mass and American jumpers being awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.)
U.S. Army Soldiers exit the drop zone after a static-line jump from a French military C-160 Transall aircraft Sept. 29, 2016, in Djibouti. U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces celebrated with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone. St. Michel is the patron saint of paratroopers, and the day included a celebratory mass and American jumpers being awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.) Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Image U.S. Army Soldiers exit the drop zone after a static-line jump from a French military C-160 Transall aircraft Sept. 29, 2016, in Djibouti. U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces celebrated with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone. St. Michel is the patron saint of paratroopers, and the day included a celebratory mass and American jumpers being awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.)
DJIBOUTI- French airborne forces pin jump wings on U.S. Army Soldiers for completing static line and high altitude low opening (HALO) jumps commemorating St. Michel, the patron saint of paratroopers, Sept. 29, 2016, at the French air base in Djibouti City, Djibouti. U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces began the St. Michel celebration with a static line and HALO jump at a designated drop zone, followed by a church mass and a ceremony where several U.S. airborne forces were awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault) Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Image DJIBOUTI- French airborne forces pin jump wings on U.S. Army Soldiers for completing static line and high altitude low opening (HALO) jumps commemorating St. Michel, the patron saint of paratroopers, Sept. 29, 2016, at the French air base in Djibouti City, Djibouti. U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces began the St. Michel celebration with a static line and HALO jump at a designated drop zone, followed by a church mass and a ceremony where several U.S. airborne forces were awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)
Two French airborne soldiers clear the drop zone after a static line jump from a C-160 Transall in celebration of St. Michel’s Day Sept. 29, 2016, at Djibouti. U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces celebrated with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone. St. Michel is the patron saint of paratroopers, and the day included a celebratory mass and American jumpers being awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.) Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Image Two French airborne soldiers clear the drop zone after a static line jump from a C-160 Transall in celebration of St. Michel’s Day Sept. 29, 2016, at Djibouti. U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces celebrated with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone. St. Michel is the patron saint of paratroopers, and the day included a celebratory mass and American jumpers being awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.)
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Julio Acosta, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment commander, repacks his parachute after landing on the designated drop zone Sept. 29, 2016, in Djibouti. U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces celebrated with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone. St. Michel is the patron saint of paratroopers, and the day included a celebratory mass and American jumpers being awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.) Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Image U.S. Army Lt. Col. Julio Acosta, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment commander, repacks his parachute after landing on the designated drop zone Sept. 29, 2016, in Djibouti. U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces celebrated with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone. St. Michel is the patron saint of paratroopers, and the day included a celebratory mass and American jumpers being awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.)
DJIBOUTI- U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces attend a church mass honoring St. Michel’s day, the patron saint of paratroopers, Sept. 29, 2016, at the French air base in Djibouti City, Djibouti. The airborne forces began the celebrations with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone, followed by a church mass and a ceremony where several U.S. airborne forces were awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault) Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Image DJIBOUTI- U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces attend a church mass honoring St. Michel’s day, the patron saint of paratroopers, Sept. 29, 2016, at the French air base in Djibouti City, Djibouti. The airborne forces began the celebrations with a static line and high altitude low opening jump toward a designated drop zone, followed by a church mass and a ceremony where several U.S. airborne forces were awarded French jump wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

U.S., French and Djiboutian airborne forces came together to celebrate St. Michel, the patron saint of paratroopers, Sept. 29, 2016, at the local French air base in Djibouti City, Djibouti.

 

The airborne forces began the celebration with a static line and a high-altitude low opening (HALO), or free fall, jump at a nearby drop zone. Following the jump, participants attended a mass at the French air base to honor St. Michel and a ceremony where several American jumpers were awarded French jump wings.

 

“This is a recognized symbol of the airborne forces, which is determined to be an elite segment of the military society,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Kurt Sonntag, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa commanding general. “It’s celebrated around the world and it is a great opportunity to which esprit de corps is built amongst various nations. We do this through the annual jumps of various types of platforms amongst different types of airborne forces.”

 

The history of St. Michel began in 1944, where each paratrooper was given a medal with an engraving of the saint. During some battles, the paratroopers went into hiding and the medal became their symbol to rally together. It wasn’t until February 1945 that St. Michel officially became the patron saint of paratroopers.

 

“The French, Americans and Djiboutians are allies, we fight together and this is why it is important for us to commemorate St. Michel,” said Ambassador Christophe Guihou, French Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti. “It is a very important day for the French paratroopers, and we are very honored to have with us American and Djiboutian troops.”

 

Joint activities such as this provide an opportunity for the multinational forces to simply learn about one another, and also share best practices, said Capt. Charlie, a French jumpmaster.

 

“Regardless of the nation, we all travel through the same door and share very similar, if not the same objectives. This is primarily so for paratroopers in operations before, and [operating] now,” Charlie said. “Older paratroopers have an opportunity to revisit their past. Altogether, sitting very close together, on similar seats, carrying the same load on their backs [and] sharing the same concerns or fear, regardless of nationality, rank or status.”

 

The participating Americans had already earned their U.S. airborne jump wings, but for static line and HALO jumps at the beginning of the day, the U.S. Army Soldiers jumped with French parachutes in a French aircraft led by a French jumpmaster. During the ceremony, the U.S. paratroopers received engraved French jump wings for completing the jump.

 

“This was a unique opportunity to celebrate an occasion very symbolic for paratroopers, and to strengthen the bond that we as a community of paratroopers share,” said Charlie.

 

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Djibouti U.S. AFRICOM CJTF-HOA Army French U.S.

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