Members of the US Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights Gold Demonstration Team made a surprise jump Wednesday, June 27th for an extremely special group of campers. Camp counselors, teachers, volunteers and hundreds of exuberant children attending the annual summer camp at Victory Junction gathered in a circle around the center of the camp.
Will Wright played moving popular songs as the kids and counselors energetically danced joyfully to each melody. Momentarily you would hear different groups of kids shout out a favorite song request to be played next. One young man repeatedly shouted “Where is the bird, bird, where is the bird?” When the song they wished for came up next, the whole crowd went berserk with shouting, laughter, clapping and a great dance of joy.
Richard Petty founder of Victory Junction who just celebrated his 75th birthday, wandered around speaking to people in the crowd and into a few buildings that are so festively decorated with a huge running giant, racecars, and a Wells Fargo Coach. Petty dressed all in black and wearing a black cowboy hat with a big feather on the front, stopped for a second to sit in a humongous neon yellow, blue, green and red chair for a photo op for one of the visiting guest and sat there waving and smiling.
SFC Tom Bovee and CSM Royce Mains set up the drop zone and prepared to catch the American Flag that SSG Kevin Presgraves was going to jump. Golden Knights Pilots, Mr. Ken Breeden and CW4 Jeffrey Sopp flew the teams F27 Friendship Fokker above the drop zone and released bright black and gold crepe paper streamers so the ground safety officer could judge the wind drift. The spotter which is in the door of the plane then gives the pilots adjustment to the left or right so jumpers can depart at the proper location to make a dead center landing for the demonstration.
SSG Presgraves was then given a “hot target” and bails out of the right door of the airplane at 14,000 feet above the earth. Brilliant red smoke is trailing on and he is freefalling 120mph for about fifty-five seconds before opening his parachute. Right after his canopy opens he splits his slider and deploys his American flag just as the National Anthem begins to play.
All of the audience stood at attention and patriotically placed their hands upon their heart. As the 1st jumper landed the kids were jumping up and down screaming and hollering Golden Knights! Golden Knights! SSG Presgraves took off his gear put on his maroon beret and proceeded to narrate the show for the other six jumpers. SGT Brian Karst swooped down flying the POW flag as cheers got louder and louder. Then SGT Tom Melton, SGT Tom Pryjda, SFC Dustin Peregrin, SSG Dan Cook and SGT Trey Martin flew over the racecar building aweing the kids as each landed right in front of them.
Every Camp building has a color to signify their house and the jumpers flew a blue, yellow and green flag to represent each campers home colors and several jumpers wore cameras on their heads to document the event for Mary Ann Razzuk a member of the Weber Shandwich’s Team for Army Strong Stories.
Following the demonstration, each jumper took his parachute out into the center of campers and was immediately rushed by groups of kids. The kids asked numerous questions and helped pack a parachute with their very own Golden Knight. All the campers gathered with the Team and had a photo taken to document the great day of sharing.
In the sweltering 95 degree heat, It was such a breath of fresh air to enjoy the glee, enthusiasm, happiness and blessings brought about by the Golden Knights jumping in to honor the Victor Junction staff, campers, and Richard Petty for giving back so much to these wonderful children.