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Skydive Chicago

Fifteen excited people ventured through the gloomy clouds in hope of experiencing the thrill of a lifetime. The room was full of chattering and laughter as team members talked to people throughout the room waiting for everyone to arrive.

SFC Joe Jones began the tandem training, showed the wavier and gave an in-depth explanation about the tandem equipment that would be used during their personal tandem jump. Each individual tandem team member was introduced and gave their own personal Army story.

Unfortunately the ceiling stayed low and rains moved in and the jumps had to be delayed until the next day.

Tuesday morning the land was covered with dense fog and finally the sun broke through to form a glorious day for Gold Star Family members, which celebrated and faced fears with relief filled tears, joy and laughter.

Craig Belt was here last year with his wife Barbara but couldn’t jump due to the weight limit. Craig was determined to jump and reached a goal of losing 75lbs just so he could jump this year.

Then the 3rd ROTC Brigade Black Hawk Centers of Influence began their journey to 13,500 feet. Fourteen very different people from different walks of life and ages joined into a unified team to share the Army Strong Experience.

Erin Levschel an English Teacher was a bundle of nerves and said, “I am totally petrified, and I can’t believe I am doing this, I must be crazy.” You could hear her screaming from the moment she left the plane. When she landed she jumped up and down shouting I did it, I did it!

 Wednesday morning was a majestic puffy cloud, blue-sky day

Juan Velasquez said, “I’m really scared, but want to do this for my brother.”

The whole Weiss family Andrew, AJ and mom Julianne attended the Gold Star workshop. AJ said, that “he looked up after exiting the plane and never in his life did he think he would see his mom and skydive  above her!”

Julianne a teeny petite, bright blue-eyed mom said, I am ready to touch the sky in an interview prior to her jump. She glided through the brilliant blue clouds and stood up with a soft tiptoe landing. All of a sudden she was springing up and down all over the field all the way to her Gold Star Family support team, and Andrew said, “she’s my little energizer bunny!”

Following the Gold Star Family jumps,  COI’s from Chicago ,Indianapolis, Great Lakes, Minneapolis and Milwaukee Recruiting Battalions were anxiously awaiting for their name to be called from the manifest.

Dr. Randall Allen, (SFC Retired), USA Olympic Archery Coach and Judge, Tech Prep. Coordinator for Bay College said that it was one of the most awesome experiences of his life. Following his jump he handed out a RAK (random act of kindness) card, and arrows as a memento from his Army Strong Experience.

Honorable Ben Hodgin, Mayor of Hartford City said his experience was fantastic. When Ben was given his tandem certificate he said, “This was not just Army Strong, This was Army Cool!”

Mark Warner Executive Dean for Education at the Mayo Clinic is no stranger to the Army Experience and said that he thoroughly enjoyed his jump and was grateful for the opportunity. His son is a pilot with the Air Forces’ Thunderbirds, His brother is a Jag Officer stationed at Fort Bragg, NC, the home of the Golden Knights.

 

 

 

GKF4 Prep for the 2012 World Parachuting Cup

The Golden Knights Female 4-Way Team heads overseas this week for the 2012 World Parachuting Cup in Prostejov, Czech Republic.  This is an annual competition between the various formation skydiving teams of several countries around the world.  The competition begins on Tuesday, 28 August and officially end Saturday, 1 September.  GKF4 will compete in the Women’s 4-way Formation Skydiving category.  This meet serves as one last opportunity for the Team to square off against two of the teams they will meet again at the World Parachuting Championships Mondial 2012 in Dubai, UAE.  As of now, the two other teams in the Women’s category are France’s Aerodyne Deep Blue Defenders and Norway’s Polarus.  GKF4 competed against both of these teams back in March at the Paraclete XP Outdoor Championship, better known as the Shamrock Showdown.

GKF4 has been training hard since that last match up, completing over 550 jumps and more than 20 hours of tunnel time.  Officially, this is GKF4′s second year as a 4-way team.  Once they arrive in the Czech Republic, they will have two days of practice jumps to become acclimated to the local area and dropzone before opening ceremonies commence.  Stay tuned to the GKF4 Facebook page, www.facebook.com/USArmyGKF4, for frequent updates from the team themselves.  The official competition results will be available on the World Parachuting Cup website, www.ec2012prostejov.com.  Blue Skies!

Golden Knight gives the Ultimate Sacrifice

 

 

 

 

It is with great regret that Lieutenant Colonel Jose Melendez and Members of the team bid farewell to a Golden Knight, Staff Sergeant SSG Eric S. Holman.  Holman 39, from Evans City, PA was killed August 15th  by an enemy improvised explosive device (IED) in Gnazni province Afghanistan. 

In 1996 Holman earned a Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice from Pennsylvania State University. In 1997 he learned to skydive and liked it so much that he worked honing his skills to become an air coach, static line instructor, tandem instructor and FAA senior parachute rigger and enjoyed the occasional base jump.

 SSG Eric S. Holman enlisted in the Army in October of 2003 as an aviation powertrain repairer. Holman was afforded the opportunity to attend the Golden Knight Assessment and Selection Program in September 2005. Upon completion of the rigorous six-week program he was ‘knighted’ and assigned to the Gold Demonstration Team.

 Holman served for over four seasons on the Knights as a demonstration parachutist for the Gold Demonstration Team where he logged more than 2800 free-fall parachute jumps, 1000 tandems and 21 military static line jumps.

In his free time, Holman enjoys spending time with his wife and son; working on and riding motorcycles; shooting and mountain biking.

Eric’s teammates are deeply saddened  by the news of his death and reminisce about all the great times shared with their brother.

SFC Tom Dunning said, “Eric taught me to ride a motorcycle.” Tom gave Eric so many accolades to include giving him the best gift he could have ever given him was the passion for getting out and riding a motorcycle.

Tom had a long chat with Eric about two weeks ago and Eric said, he couldn’t wait to get back to Fort Bragg, so they could go riding.

SFC Noah Watts said,   “If something had wheels and a engine that Eric could drive it and that he was the first person he ever saw drink a hot cup of coffee while riding his bike.” Noah also said,” Eric was a phenomenal teammate, that he would do anything for anyone and that he had even loaned him his enclosed trailer to move from Georgia even though he just met him, and oh yea, Eric looked great bald!”

 

 

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