“Hey Big Sarge, come on over here a second, help me with this.” The Hey Big Sarge part made you think that you were, like, in the mafia…….. His name was Calderon. SSG Frank Calderon. I think his middle initial is E, when manifest was called, he said, Frank E. or maybe he said Frankie. He had a way about him. He wasn’t short, but he wasn’t tall either. He moved like a New Yorker. A sophisticated swagger maybe? I was a young Sergeant and he was my squad leader.
He was the one that made me know that I wanted to be a Jumpmaster. I remember watching him, and many others, but Calderon in particular. He gave Prejump like such a professional, it made me know that I could do it. I would search him out to JMPI me, I watched him work so closely with others when he was on a Jumpmaster team. I wanted to be a Jumpmaster and he showed me the framework to get there.
He worked with me on Nomenclature, Prejump, JMPI. He gave me the confidence that I needed at the time to get it done. The JM course I went to was interrupted by Operation Just Cause. I will never forget being a Jumpmaster student idolizing my hero when the phone rang the night of that invasion. He called me as he left Green Ramp loading out the force being sent to Panama. He was telling me about it. I stepped outside and watch what must have been 20 C-141s fly right over my house on the way to war. It still brings chills.
I passed. First time go! Thanks Jumpmaster! I always wanted to be like you Big Sarge!