Fort Bragg, NC—The U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights’ jumped into the Team Headquarters facility on 3-3327 Butner Road on Tuesday, 26 June 2012, at 10:30 am for the Change of Command Ceremony. LTC Joe Martin relinquished command of the United States Army Parachute Team, “Golden Knights” to LTC Jose Enrique Melendez. LTC Melendez is the twenty-fourth Commander of the parachute team during its fifty-third year of existence.
(Ret) SFC Darrin Grim gave a warm blessing opening the day’s event, followed by SSG Daniel Cook who did a phenomenal narration for the ceremony.
The 82nd Army Band played the National Anthem under a brilliant blue sky as SGT John Lopez jumped in the American Flag and landed in the lot in front of the cheering crowd. Five additional jumpers came in flying the Army Star, Team Colors and POW Flag demonstrating their exceptional skills of maneuvering a parachute, which is displayed at air shows in front of hundreds of thousands of people across the country weekly.
Members of the United States Army Parachute Team stood in a formation of a Black and Gold sea, behind CSM Royce Manis as the American Flag, Army Flag and POW Flag majestically flew high over head in front of the Team Headquarters.
Team CSM Manis passed the team colors to LTC Martin who passed the colors to Colonel Mark Rado, Commander of the United States Army Accessions Support Brigade who passed the colors to LTC Jose Melendez and back to CSM Manis.
LTC Martin gave a heartfelt speech thanking all of his previous commanders and SGM’s for mentoring him over the years. He credited them for where he is today in the Army. He mentioned the loss of one of our fellow alumni Dan Williams who passed this week and Icon Spider Wrenn, who was not here for one reason. He is in intensive care in the hospital.
LTC Martin’s wife Alison, daughter Kathleen and mother Carol, were presented red roses on behalf of the team and his son Trevor was presented a team coin.
LTC Melendez thanked all of the family, team and alumni for attending the event and said that he was proud and honored to be taking command of such an Elite unit and promised to give his full support to the team in the upcoming years. Melendez said,” All policies will stay in effect,” he saluted and joined his family for the closing.
LTC Melendez’s wife Rosimar and daughter Lyanne were both presented yellow roses welcoming them to the team.
The 82nd Army Band played the traditional Army Strong, Ballad of the Green Beret (which brought about a few teary eyes) and Army Song, melodies for an audience of about 200.Numerous General Officers, Officials, families, Alumni and friends attended the historical ceremony.
Former Commander and Alumni’s MAJ. Jim Correll, LTC Bruce Wicks, LTC Kirk Knight, Gold Team Leader SFC Ben Curn, SFC, Ken Kassens, OPS O MAJ Sean McKenna and CPT Jeff Cambre, SFC Michael Elliott, SFC Will Fleming, George and Lucy Torrealba and Alumni Honorary GK Regina Hudson were a few of the former team mates who returned for the ceremony, which made a welcome reunion.
LTC Martin his wife Alison, daughter Kathleen and son Trevor along side of his parents Jim and Carol Martin (who have been great team supporters) greeted well wishers in the team museum.
LTC Jose Melendez, wife Rosimar and daughter Lyanne Marie hosted an exquisite luncheon and greeted both of their parents father and mother Enrique and Felicita Melendez, who traveled from Florida, and father and mother-in-law Angel and Carmen Rosario and son Angel from Puerto Rico and hundreds of guest in the Spider Wrenn Dayroom to begin the new era with celebration.
It couldn’t have been a better day, beautiful skies, light winds, dead center landings, a cheerful crowd and family reunion. The only thing missing is my mentor and Golden Knight, who 1st claimed the 50 year traditional saying at an air show decades ago, “ May your days be prosperous and your “Knights” Golden”, our own beloved Bobby “Spider” Wrenn. Get well soon, you’re in all our prayers.