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World Champions!

SFC Isenbarger holds the Ottley Sword high as GK8 Stands atop the podium. The Ottley Sword dates back to the 1970s, and is awarded to the best 8-Way Formation Skydiving Team in the World every 2 years.

Representing the USA, members of the Golden Knights 8-Way Formation Skydiving Team (GK8) have earned the right to be called “World Champions” by winning Gold at the 2012 World Parachuting Championships in Dubai, U.A.E.   In addition, GK8 set a new World Record for most points scored in competition- 229, beating the old record of 224 set in 1997.

Winning the Gold was no easy task, as the French National Team arrived in Dubai determined to defend their reigning World Championship.   France showed this determination in Round 1, beating GK8 by 1 point to start off the competition.   After a tie in Round 2, GK8 decided to turn up the intensity, and it paid off.  GK8 had a near perfect performance in Round 3, while France suffered from a minor mistake, resulting in 5 point swing in favor of the Knights.   GK8 entered Round 4 knowing very well that a 4 point lead was not enough to become conservative against the reigning World Champions.  With another high intensity jump, the Knights picked up 3 more points on the French.   The 7 point lead did not last long as France fired back in rounds 5 & 6, cutting the Knights lead back down to 4 points.  GK8 was determined to remain on the offensive, but also limit costly mistakes for the final four rounds.  The strategy proved successful, as the two top teams went on to tie in each of the remaining four rounds.  GK8 landed from Round 10 fairly confident that they had held onto their lead, and the competition pressure that had mounted over 8 days finally started to lift.  Members of the Golden Knights 8-Way Team broke out in celebration immediately after the judges confirmed their victory.  Four years of intense training and determination had paid off!

SFC Brian Krause receives a water shower in celebration.

“It’s been an honor to represent the U.S. Army and the United States of America on this World Stage.   I believe we demonstrated that, when properly trained, American Soldiers will prevail.” –SFC Mike LaRoche

This was the first World Meet for the Golden Knight Female 4-Way team. In preparation, this two-year team completed 800 training jumps and multiple hours of tunnel time.  This year kicked off with the Shamrock Showdown in Deland, FL. There, GKF4 finished with a 17.2 average. The competition at the World Meet was mostly familiar. Of the 14 female teams, GKF4 had faced 7 of them at one time or another. These teams were Canada, Brazil, Russia, Norway, UK, UAE and France. GKF4 led the competition for the first 7 rounds. In Round 8, France pulled ahead by one point. In the end, GKF4 won Silver with a 20.1 average.

The Competition Team will now enjoy some time off with family for the Holidays.  The Knights plan to train hard next year to defend their titles and continue the tradition of excellence that has been established.  Army Strong!

Reunited

Following the tragic events in September when SFC Howie Sanborn, one of our own, was hit by a distracted driver and left paralyzed, our Team’s dynamic had the potential to dwindle. However, illustrating the true character and quality of American Soldiers that are selected to represent today’s Army on the Golden Knights, plans were set in motion.

When SFC Sanborn began his recovery, his spark and character left lasting impressions with the Missouri University Health Care’s Trauma Team. From the surgeon and former Army Ranger who saved his life, Dr. Chris Nelson M.D., to the countless staff and nurses, he became a patient they would never forget.  Additionally, their staff also became permanent members of our Golden Knight family. While Sanborn was busy, forcing physical therapists to come up with new and more challenging tasks, MU Health Care and the Golden Knights began working to plan a public demonstration of mutual respect, gratitude and honor between the two organizations and to SFC Sanborn, as well.

University of Missouri, “Mizzou,” was scheduled to have their final home game against Syracuse on November 17th. What better way to show our appreciation for saving the life of Black Team’s Team Leader, than to do what we do best; We performed a nighttime pyrotechnic jump into Mizzou’s Stadium.

Not only did we perform for their entire community, but SFC Sanborn demonstrated his incredible determination and efforts towards always bettering himself and never letting a physical challenge hold him back. He proved wrong, the many doubts others may have had for him, and with the aid of braces and a walker, he waited on the 50 yard line for his Team to join him. He waited there on his feet- Standing, in front of thousands.

Saturday November 17th, was an emotional day for Black Team. For many, this was their first time seeing SFC Sanborn since before his accident. They’ve had to follow his progress via updates, photos and videos. However, on Saturday they got to see their Team Leader stand proudly once again. We thanked MU Health Care and the entire trauma team for their incredible part in making it happen. They joined Sanborn and his girlfriend, Faith, on the field and were publically recognized and thanked during the long awaited Black Team reunion.

As the final act of the Golden Knights’ appreciation to the care, selfless service, and open arms that were generously extended to SFC Sanborn, his girlfriend, Faith, and to the Team, Dr. Nelson was unanimously voted to be inducted into the Golden Knight family as an honorary Golden Knight. In front of all of his colleagues and peers he took a knee as LTC Enrique Melendez, the  Golden Knights’ Commander, shared the oath and “Knighted” Dr. Nelson with the Excalibur Sword.

Black Team Visits Columbia Children’s Hospital

We are always honored to connect the Amercian people to America’s Army. Today we were privideged to spend time with some amazing children and their familes at the Children’s Hospital in Columbia, MO.

Shortly after arriving in town we went to the stadium to survey for tomorrow evening’s jump into the University of Missouri vs. Syracuse football game. Immediately following the visit to the stadium the team was proud to be a part of a heartwarming visit to the Children’s Hospital.

It is always a pleasant surprise to be welcomed with a host of smiles. We visited several rooms of children ranging from two yearls old to late teens. Their diagnosis’ varied from broken bones, to several rounds of chemotherapy and fighting cancer. Many were excited to find out that they would be able to see tomorrow night’s pyrotechnic jump from the Children’s Hospital!

The visit, which included passing out stickers, pins, brochures, and also performing gear demonstrations, was very moving. A couple of the children were even celebrating their opportunity to go home shortly after we finished our visit! Congratulations to those going home this evening and our thoughts will stay with those still in the great care of the Children’s Hospital.

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