Airman lands few more years

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The airframe begins to tremble around him. Looking for comfort the paratrooper walks towards a red fabric bench and quickly sits down.

As the passenger succumbs to the flight, he looks at a folded U.S. flag tucked under his fastened parachute, waiting for the jump he would never forget.

Before stepping off the C-130J Super Hercules, Master Sgt. James Burke re-enlisted in the Air Force while over Powidz Air Base, Poland, April 8, 2015.

"Taking the Oath of Enlistment this way was definitely a highlight in my career," said Burke, 435th Contingency Response Group airfield manager. "The paratroop door was open, the U.S. flag was held up and everything went smoothly. It was an amazing experience."

While he said he was happy to accomplish the once in a life time opportunity, it was not the reason he was flying above Poland. Burke jumped from the cargo plane as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, where he is working alongside his Polish counterparts.

"This is their [Poland's] airfield and by training together we build upon an already great partnership and teach each other skills that can be used for future operations," Burke said.

Approximately 135 active duty and reserve military members arrived to Powidz, April 7, to take part in the 10 day operation. Training included formation flying with the 37th Airlift Squadron, nighttime low level training, unimproved landing zone training, dropping Polish air force paratroopers and much more.

Though he has a full schedule, Burke states he was happy to make what could possibly be his  last jump count.

"Parachuting for the 435th CRG is a special duty so I can only do it for so long," the paratrooper said. "Whether I will be able to jump again or not, I can say I have enjoyed all 44  jumps and  will miss it."

Soon to complete 18 years in the Air Force, Burke said he looks to the future excited for what the next four will hold for him. Though, he will always remember his time as a paratrooper and the oath he took before taking that last step.