Parachute Riggers Work to Save Lives

Story Number: NNS090405-07Release Date: 4/5/2009 6:18:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Brian Gaines, Combined Task Force 151 Public Affairs

GULF OF ADEN (NNS) -- Aviation aircrew survival technicians (PR) aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4) supply, maintain and repair the various systems on an aircraft that will keep pilots and air crewmen alive during flight operations or in the event of an emergency.

These "parachute riggers", as they are commonly known, are responsible for equipment ranging from floatation devices, flight suits, helmets, ejection and oxygen systems and of course, parachutes.

Training begins in PR "A" school in Pensacola, Fla. There, Sailors learn the fundamentals of repair and maintenance procedures for vital equipment during the eight-week course.

"A lot of people think we only repair parachutes or sew on patches," said Aviation Aircrew Survival Technician 2nd Class Matthew Gonzales, workcenter supervisor for the paraloft. "However, that is not the case. We are responsible for every piece of survival equipment that is on an aircraft."

To ensure the equipment is in optimal condition, a series of rigorous quality assurance checks and inspections are performed regularly. These can range from a torque check on a floatation device to inspecting repairs of a flight suit, to the complete overall of a GGU-7/A oxygen system every 500 flight hours. According to Gonzales, all equipment is inspected by a collateral duty inspector before being installed in an aircraft.

"We hope that nobody has to use our equipment," said Aviation Aircrew Survival Technician Airman Eddie Wilson, "but, if the time comes where they do have to use it, it will work."

According to Wilson, PRs are aware of the crucial role they serve and have adopted the motto, "We will never let you down."

Boxer is deployed as part of Boxer Amphibious Readiness Group/13th Marine Expeditionary Unit supporting maritime security operations (MSO) in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet Area of Operations.

MSO help develop security in the maritime environment and compliment the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. These operations seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment to transport personnel and weapons or serve as a venue for attack.

For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit

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