Local veteran recounts duties as parachute rigger in the 82nd Airborne DivisionPublished: November 11, 2015
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Local veteran Diana Wilks shared details of her role in the 82nd Airborne Division during a Veterans Day event at The Military Heritage Collection, a museum in Nevada, Texas. Diana is a Combat Veteran with 22 plus years active airborne/rigger status.
92R Parachute Rigger
82nd Airborne Division
Fort Bragg, N.C.
U.S. Army Retired
Diana first went to Ft. Benning, GA. for 3 weeks of Airborne Training as W-846 (very last class of "Woman's Air Corp"). After earning her Jump Wings, Diana went on to Fort Lee, VA, for 3 months of Parachute Rigger School "Red Hat." In addition to receiving training on inspection, maintenance, and rigging of both personnel and heavy drop equipment, Diana was required to pack and jump her own parachute. Of this experience she stated, “This was for me a major ‘wow’ factor of questions and doubts -- did I do everything right, (gulp).”
As a rigger, it is requirement to be able to maintain airborne status at all times. Unlike other Airborne personnel, they will jump only if they have a jump slot in an airborne unit. They might jump for a couple years and go to another assignment, post/unit and not jump for years. That will never be the case of a Rigger (Red Hat). “We always maintain our jump status no matter where in the world we go!”
Equipment consists of approximately 140 lbs., including a 65 lb. ruck sack, individual equipment, weapon w/case, protective mask and 42 lbs. of parachute. Generally all jumps are full combat load, and during total darkness, land or water, and at an average of 1250 ft. to as low as 800 ft.
Diana’s last position before retirement was Acting First Sergeant of the largest Rigger Company in the world, consisting of 325 soldiers with 11 (MOS) Military Occupational Specialties.
The Rigger's motto:
" I WILL BE SURE ALWAYS "
“THE WORLD IS MY DROP ZONE, GOOD TO THE LAST DROP”
From Veterans Day 2012. Video of Diana’s presentation at The Military Heritage Collection in Nevada, Texas: