by 1st Lt. Chantel Baul
372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
August 4, 2018
Every year, the U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition tests physical endurance, mental agility and tactical proficiency in a host of essential Soldier skills. Rappelling operations is one of them. On June 12, 2018 ... competitors made their way to the rappel tower for a period of instruction from the skilled cadre at the Deglopper Air Assault School. The competitors ascended the 34-foot tower to complete a traditional, walled rappel and an open-air rappel. After a few hours with the Deglopper Air Assault School instructors, the Soldiers were trained and ready for the next mission: rappelling from a UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft hovering 60 feet above ground.
Named for Pfc. Charles Deglopper, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient who made the ultimate sacrifice while laying suppressive fire to protect his platoon, the Deglopper Air Assault School is the post’s expert training body for all things rappelling, fast-roping, and infiltration and exfiltration operations.
“We support Fort Bragg in pretty much all rotary wing operations,” explained Cpt. Daniel Oberrender, school Commander. Part of the XVIII Airborne Corps, the Deglopper Air Assault School trains installation and non-local units for upcoming missions that require special skills. For instance, the school trained Soldiers of varying units for humanitarian missions throughout the nation and Puerto Rico during last year’s harrowing hurricane season.
“(It) made me feel warm and fuzzy inside that we’re doing . . . disaster relief. It was a real-world application, and we love making sure that units are prepared and ready to go,” Oberrender remarked. Preserving skill sets and ensuring readiness are a important parts of the school’s mission.
“We have a lot of units that go on a deployment that may not have been participating in rotary operations (or) sling load operations. . . So they’ll give us a call and we’ll send instructors out to their training site,” said Oberrender.
The Deglopper Air Assault School has 22 instructors who have met strict requirements for qualification. To become a ‘Black Hat’ instructor, candidates must be Air Assault-qualified noncommissioned officers assigned to Fort Bragg. They must score a minimum of 70 points in each Army Physical Fitness Test event. Furthermore, they must achieve perfect or near perfect scores during evaluations in a variety of essential tasks including sling load inspections and aircraft hand and arm signals. Candidates then have to demonstrate their capacity for instruction and assist a qualified instructor with a course before they can receive the distinguished cap marked with the iconic winged helicopter insignia. “We average about 90 days to get an instructor qualified,” Oberrender said.
He credits his team of top-notch NCOs for the school’s training successes. “The talent isn’t in me. I’m about as meaningful as the guidon. The talent is in those instructors. . . We let them flourish, let them train the Soldiers,” he began, “They’re looking over the tower day in and day out, and they’re amazing at what they do. I’m so blessed to have an opportunity to be here with them.”
Soldiers aren’t the only ones who can train with the elite instructors. Deglopper recently hosted a special community engagement event in advance of the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Fox and Friends personality Heather Childers and top NASCAR driver Austin Dillon visited the Deglopper Air Assault School for some fun training on the tower. And the school instructors teamed up with Soldiers from the famous 82nd Airborne Division to kick off the Coca Cola 600 on May 27th with an exciting fast rope/rappelling demo into the stadium.
Deglopper welcomes civilian organizations, especially those with military affiliations, to take on the tower. The instructors are happy to provide rappelling training to the public as a team-building exercise. “We like to reach out to the community. . . Come out here and hang out with us a little while, we’ll make sure that (you’re) safe and have a good time,” Oberrender said. To learn more about upcoming Air Assault courses or to find a point of contact for event scheduling, visit bragg.army.mil and search for Deglopper Air Assault School.