The Tandem Team is all set up in our new home for the next two months, Homestead, FL. The Team escaped San Antonio, TX just as a major storm dropped rain, snow, and ice from Texas to the entire East Coast. When the Tandem Team arrived to the Sunshine State the weather lived up to its nickname. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the 80’s. Unfortunately, just as Team Six was getting ready to bring the rest of the Golden Knights to Florida, Fort Bragg became a frozen tundra. The aircraft were covered in sheets of ice and topped off with about 5 inches of snow. For two days Fort Bragg was shut down and some of our Team was stranded at home while we enjoyed the warmth of the south. The sun finally made its way to North Carolina and melted the ice away. Wednesday the Team finally made it to Homestead, and a very distinguished guest also stopped by for a visit. Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth Preston stopped by on his way back from Fort Bliss, TX.
SMA Preston visited with the Team and talked about the future of the Army so we can better understand where the Army is going. SMA Preston was also in town to jump out of an airplane with the Golden Knights and several Sergeants Major in the Golden Knights chain of responsibility.
With bad weather heading towards Homestead, the Tandem Team had everyone up bright and early. Once everyone geared and moved to the C-31 Fokker, Team Six quickly climbed to 13,500ft. Unfortunately high winds won the race and as soon as we reached 2 ½ miles above southern Florida we were back on the ground. The winds never gave up Thursday and no jump was made.
Friday morning was even earlier than Thursday. The Tandem Team and their passengers were geared up and waiting for the sun to crest the horizon. As soon as the sun light lit the sky the Team was once again circling high over head. Team Six gave us a green light and hot target signaling the air space was clear and that it was safe to jump. SSG Joe Jones maneuvered SMA Preston into the open door of the C-31. He wasn’t there for long as SSG Jones and SMA Preston quickly exited from the plane and began free falling at 120 mph. SMA Preston was all smiles during his early morning sunrise Tandem jump. Just seconds after he left the aircraft, CSM Henderith from Accessions Support Brigade, CSM Troxell from Accessions Command, our very own SGM Young, SGM Helsham from SMA Preston’s Staff and SGT Gallagher (the NCO of the Year for the US Army) were sharing the skies together.
Upon landing SMA Preston was asked if he would like to make another jump, with out hesitation he was right back in the air this time jumping from our Twin Otter.
SMA Preston jumped four times on Friday, each time with a different Tandem Instructor, showing his trust and confidence in the Golden Knights. It was a great honor for the Tandem Team to share the skies with SMA Preston. He has been the Sergeant Major of the Army for the past seven years and is retiring later this year, after 36 years of service.
The first week of our training cycle is complete, although weather didn’t always cooperate here in Florida or at Fort Bragg, it was a very successful week. We look forward to another week of training starting on Monday. Until then Blue Skies and safe Skydives!