Parachutes, lipstick: New jumpers carry on tradition

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
What do parachutes, lipstick and Battlefield Airmen have in common?

It's a tradition within the 820th Base Defense Group, in which veteran jumpers "decorate" the first timers. The "decorations" involve bright red lipstick used as face paint and often times a matching red helmet.

"The tradition is to decorate them with bright red for their first jump after graduating the U.S. Army Basic Airborne Course," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 823d Base Defense Squadron unit deployment manager. "This way we can identify the new jumpers and ensure they are following proper procedures. It's also a way to welcome them into the brotherhood.

"The tradition started with just a red helmet, and you would sign your name on it after the jump," he added. "But it has evolved since then."

One of the first time jumpers on March 21 was Senior Airman Ryan Godar, 823d BDS fireteam member, who graduated the U.S. Army Basic Airborne Course Feb. 17.

"The first time I jumped during the U.S. Army Basic Airborne Course, I forgot to count," said Godar, referring to the procedure of counting before the parachute opens. "Then your chute opens and it's a shock. After that, everything gets quiet and it's peaceful floating down to the landing.

"I have a feeling this is going to be a good jump," he added. "It is my first time jumping out of the ramp, but a lot of guys say it's the easiest. The drop zone is easy and we got a new parachute that should give us a softer landing."

However, jumping is not new for Johnson, who has made 32 jumps since graduating the U.S. Army Basic Airborne Course in 2009.

"For my first jump, I was all dressed up in a tan jumpsuit that was dyed completely red with a red helmet," said Johnson.

"This will be my last jump," he added. "It makes me sad. I have called Moody my home for the past few years. It is great to see the new guys passing on the tradition, and I'm excited for them."

Johnson looked on March 21, as the first timers received their decorations with smiles. One day these first time jumpers will be in Johnson's place, gearing up for their last jump and watching as new jumpers are welcomed into the brotherhood.