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Hottest Place in US Features the Golden Knights

The Great City Overview

Sweltering triple digit temperatures did not prevent over 600,000 fans from coming out to see The US Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights at Gary’s South Shore Air Show this weekend.

Sparkling Golden Knights

Multi-talented members of the Gold Demonstration Team gave an all star performance this weekend opening the show on the shore of the beach literally with a glimmering bomburst of sparkling pyro lighting up the pitch black skies of Gary.

"NightLine" up

The weekend’s tripleheader began with the normal FAA Briefing with the Pilots, CSM Royce Manis and Team leader, SFC JD Berentis.



SGT Trey Martin and SSG Brian Karst headed down to the Beach to do interviews for the Post Tribune with Jerry Davich and a WLPR, 89.1-FM remote broadcast live from the 13th Air Show over Marquette Park.

Meanwhile, SSG Tom Melton and SFC Dustin Peregrin attended an event hosted for a Make-a-Wish group held at the Gary Jet Center where they spent time with the children, signed autographs and distributed photos and stickers.

Aviation Hard at Work

Aviation crew chief SGT Austin Bowman, and the team pilots Mr Allen Aber and CW4 Jason Davis followed their traditional mission checking procedures and preparing the team F-27 Friendship Fokker for a safe flight.

Saturday and Sunday the team began the presentation dropping wind drift indicators followed by the playing of the National Anthem as narrator for the day, SGT Brian Karst jumped in the American Flag.

SSG Tom Pryjda



Team Leader SFC JD Berentis

Seven other members of the Gold Team jumped in, with three of the parachutist flying the Illinois, Indiana and Army Strong Flag on to the sandy beach in front of thousands of exhilarated cheering fans.

As soon as everyone touched down they gathered their gear and hustled to a van for the 40 mile ride back to the Jet Center to load up and launch again for the 2:30pm time on target.

Planes Orbiting Around Jumper


They prepped for the second demo, briefed the media, which was accompanying them and did a quick dirt dive (ground reenactment of the maneuver planed for the mass jump) and up to 9000 feet for the last performance of the day.



Representing Soldiers Everywhere

Following the last demo the entire team headed over to the Army Recruiting booth to sign autographs and greet the American public.

What aView of the City

It is not all stars and glitter as one may think for these dedicated, professional Soldiers who claim an office in the sky to do their jobs on a daily basis. There is extensive underlying work done for months, weeks and days in the preparation of each and every performance.




Meetings, schedule changes, POC’s, biographies, FAA waivers, lodging, vehicles, television, radio interviews and media rides are just  a few of the detailed issues, which all have to be arranged and coordinated beforehand.


The Army’s “Golden Knights” are the only Department of Defense sanctioned aerial Parachute Demonstration Team. They traverse across the country as “Ambassadors of the Army” to help encourage and mentor aspiring youth to pursue the multiple opportunities available with the Army.


SFC Andrew Starr


How Many GK Autographs Can I Get?

Roy D. Martin

CPT Roy D. Martin

It is with heartfelt sorrow that we announce that Original US Army Parachute Team member Roy Dophele Martin, the USAPT’s very first Executive Officer (1960-62), and its second commanding officer (1962-65) lost his horrific battle with cancer on Monday, July 2, 2012 at the Veterans Administration Nursing Home in Collins, Ms.

 Roy was a giant of a man, not just in stature, but in the legend he leaves behind for his family, former team mates and current Knights,’ which he fought to blaze a trail for today. Roy’s License number is D-41,  he was a sky diving instructor and made 1,849 free fall parachute jumps,  his highest jump was 30,000 Feet, and he made over 200 static line jumps during his parachuting career.

Roy’s Military legacy speaks for itself as he participated in Towers Moon, an early test of the tactical use of free fall parachuting. He also was the Officer in Charge and Jumpmaster of the original HALO Test project and was a STRAC Team member and a former Company Commander of B Company 1/8th Cavalry (1965-66.)

These are a few of Roy’s accomplishment during his career with the team from his personal bio. “The team members selected the team name “Golden Knights.” Danny Byard and Dick Fortenberry came up with the name then the team voted for it. I signed off on the name. Team expanded to 5 Officers, 1 Warrant and 40 Enlisted with rank increases to: 3 E-7′s, 6 E-6′s & 20 E-5′s. The Team aircraft was approved of with aviation section. Led the First U.S. Army C.I.S.M Team. The Competition Team placed 2nd overall in Pau France. The Team earned a Superior I.G. inspection rating. Served as the Team leader: U.S. Team 1963, Adriatic Cup Meet placing 2nd overall.P.CA. Served as the Board of director 1962-65.Team was accident free from 1962-65. The Team was re-organized to: Two Demonstration, One Competition and One R&D team. I Departed Team to attend Advance Infantry Officers Course and Assignment to Vietnam.” 

George Torrealba said, “He was an outstanding Soldier, a combat leader that carried a rifle and bullets downrange as well as having a storybook parachuting career. While Commander, he probably sent more Team members to OCS and Flight School than any other Commander. His dedication to the Team and its members never ceased and he never stopped trying to see they received the accolades they earned.”

Casually talking to Roy you could see that he was a gentle soul working with Way Out Farms as a tree farmer, that he loved and had numerous animals, and that he had been a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for over twelve years. He owned many titles earning a BA degree at the University of Nebraska at Omaha; MS University of Southern MS., Elder Ellisville Presbyterian Church ,President Military Officers Association Pine Belt Chapter, President Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee, Past President Jumping Mustangs Association, Life Member: DAV, VFW, PH, MOA and active member of Ellisville Lions Club.

Roy always attended and thoroughly enjoyed the Team reunions and was sure to stop in at the headquarters facility any time he was in the Fort Bragg area to tell stories and reminisce about the “days of ole.”

Roy was married to the love of his life, Martha Jo Sellers Martin that was always at his side supporting him for over 59 years and had three children he cherished, Rickey, Randy and Michelle and a proud grandparent of five granddaughters: Connie, Kayla, Lauren, Kelsey and Madison.

Funeral services Roy Dophele Martin, 81 of Ellisville, MS will be held at 10:30 a.m., on Friday, July 6, 2012 at Ellisville Funeral Home in Ellisville, MS with Rev.Benjamin P. Glaser officiating. Burial will be in Gandy Cemetery.

Roy you will be greatly missed and we know that you greeted with open arms by many of your old team mates and by Dan Williams who just passed with cancer on 24 June, 2012.

 “Blue Skies, Roy We love you!”  


Victorious Victory Junction

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.





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