ZARAGOZA, Spain -- American paratroopers were recognized for their unique skills to rapidly deploy and jump into a foreign country during a large-scale NATO exercise earlier this month.
About 500 paratroopers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division received prestigious wing pins from Spanish Army officers to commemorate their jump into Spain during NATO's Trident Juncture exercise, which took place Oct. 3 to Nov. 6. The ceremony capped off the NATO exercise that included 36,000 soldiers in land, maritime and air elements from nearly 30 countries.
Spanish Gen. Luis Cebrian and other Spanish officers presented American paratroopers with pins during the ceremony at a camp in Zaragoza, Spain.
The paratroopers marched up to the Spanish officers, one row at a time, to receive the wing pins. The paratroopers saluted the officers as they received their pins.
"We have the pleasure of the U.S. Army behind us and supporting us," he said. "For me, it's an honor to give wings."
Cebrian trained at Fort Bragg in 1990 and has worked with Americans several times, he said. Although their parachute equipment is slightly different, he said jumping commands and procedures are similar.
The week before the 2nd Brigade Combat Team arrived in Spain, the soldiers trained with about 20 Spanish paratroopers at Fort Bragg. As part of their NATO jump, seven C-17 Globemaster aircraft carried 528 paratroopers, including 23 Spanish paratroopers, from Fort Bragg to Zaragoza, where they jumped into the country.
Pfc. Alexus Fain, an automated logistical specialist for the brigade, said she was proud to receive the Spanish jump wings.
Fain, who recently completed airborne training, said joining the 82nd Airborne Division has helped her realize the unique skill she possesses as a paratrooper. Not everyone can jump out of planes, she said, and even fewer paratroopers are called upon to use their skills to jump into foreign countries.
"It's a big deal for me," she said. "I will always get to say that I jumped into Spain."
The jump also reinforced the smooth interoperability the American paratroopers have with foreign countries, Fain said. She trained with the Spanish soldiers at Fort Bragg before the jump and knows they can work together if called upon in the future.
"I'm confident," she said. "Spain is a good ally."
Pfc. Connor Altick, an infantryman, said jumping into another country was thrilling, and he was honored to meet the Spanish general.
"I think it's awesome," Altick said. "They have our backs, and we have theirs."