D-Day Remembrance

 

SFC Josh Coleman Baton Presentation

SFC Josh Coleman Baton Presentation

In June of 1942 over 24,000 allied troops gathered at grassy fields in England to perform a task that has become a common sight at FT Bragg, NC. The men gathered their equipment, donned their parachutes, and took off into the night sky. Hours later, more than 160,000 troops stormed the Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches that spanned 50 miles of Normandy coastline.

June 6th, 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of the prolific invasion that launched American Forces into Occupied France. At Bedford, VA over 6,000 veterans, family members and supporters gathered at the National D-Day Memorial to commemorate the historic event. Laid out over a sprawling amphitheater, the memorial showcased a reenactment of the landing cast in stone and iron, complete with a beachhead made with sand from Normandy.

On Friday, members of the Golden Knights 8-Way competition section were honored to perform an airdrop over the monument in front of the courageous men who filled it’s seats. At exactly 11:30 AM SFC Kurt Isenbarger gave the ‘standby’  signal and seven paratroopers exited our UV-18 Twin Otter to pay homage to the men and women who paved the road to Berlin. Shortly after the jump, SFC Sean Sweeney and SFC Josh Coleman presented two mahogany batons, which were flown in with the jumpers to 1LT John Kessler; the guest of honor at Friday’s memorial.

The legacy of men like 1LT Kessler and the countless veterans that made the ultimate sacrifice on the shores of Normandy are the reason why all Soldiers hold themselves to such impeccable standards. The actions of allied troops across both European and Pacific Theaters established a measure of toughness, devotion to duty, and honor that stands as a model for the men and women of today’s Armed Forces that will surely carry into the future.

SFC Drew Star

 

FLCPA Meet

  

The US Parachute Team for Canopy Piloting photo by SFC Jared Zell

The US Parachute Team for Canopy Piloting photo by SFC Jared Zell

What a week!  The Golden Knights canopy piloting team spent the last 12 days in Zephyrhills, FL competing in the final Florida Canopy Piloting Association (FLCPA) meet of the season and the USPA National Championships of Canopy Piloting. 

   The final FLCPA meet of the year was also the largest.  Just days before Nationals, Canopy Pilots from across the globe came out to fine tune their flying skills.  Over 60 competitors took to the skies making the competition a very tight race for the top spots.  A strong tail wind was the story of the day helping the competitors go faster and further than most have gone before.  By the end of the FLCPA meet SFC Greg Windmiller, SFC Joe Abeln and SFC Jared Zell all finished in the top 10 of the final five meet league standings. 

   Two days after the FLCPA wrapped up, USPA Nationals of Canopy Piloting began. Nearly 80 Competitors showed up to Skydive City for the competition.  Three rounds of each Speed, Distance and Zone Accuracy are the events for nationals.  This year was also a selection year for making the 8 person US Team for the up coming World Championships later this year also at Skydive City.  The jumpers completed five rounds of competition by the end of the first day, all three rounds of speed and two rounds of distance. The second day finished out the last four rounds.  A stiff head wind picked up for the afternoon making the final round of Zone Accuracy very challenging. 

    

SFC Joe Abeln salutes the camera on exit. Photo by Randy Swallows

SFC Joe Abeln salutes the camera on exit. Photo by Randy Swallows

When the scores were posted the Golden Knights had a lot to celebrate.  SFC Joe Abeln took a Bronze medal in Zone Accuracy and an 8th place overall finish making the US Team as an alternate.  SFC Greg Windmiller despite a shoulder injury finished a Bronze medal overall and making the US Team in 3rd place.

SFC Joe  Abeln

SFC Joe Abeln going for distance photo by Jim Harris

SFC Joe Abeln going for distance photo by Jim Harris

SFC Joe Abeln wins the Bronze Medal in Zone Accuracy photo by Jared Zell

SFC Joe Abeln wins the Bronze Medal in Zone Accuracy photo by Jared Zell

Knights Swoop 4th Meet

The US Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights Canopy Piloting Team competed at Skydive the Farm in Rockmart, Georgia Saturday April 26th. This was the fourth Meet sponsored by the Florida Canopy Piloting Association.

 SFC Greg Windmiller a pioneer of swooping for the US Army Parachute Team competed against twenty-three contenders to bring home a silver medal for speed, the gold medal for distance and the overall gold medal for the competition. In round one he traveled a distance of 115.69 meters scoring 89.218 points and ran with a perfect round two score of 130.93 meter run with a perfect 100 point score resulting in the overall 189.218 points.

 Not only did Windmiller literally swoop the competition for the meet, he set a new George State, US National and World record in speed with one of his two course run times of 2.364 seconds.

 Windmiller is definitely not a stranger to this sport or his competitors. He competed in South Africa in the 2008 Canopy Piloting World Championships, setting a new World record in canopy piloting speed as well as placed 3rd overall in the world, winning a bronze medal. At the 2010 US National Championships in Rosharon TX, he claimed the US National Championship in speed and brought home silver and bronze medals and once again breaking the State and US National record for canopy piloting speed. In January 2011 he challenged 104 of the world’s best canopy pilots from 41 countries in Dubai UAE, Winning two Gold medals at the Dubai International Parachuting Championships and Gulf Cup.

 Windmiller recently returned from Kolomna Russia, competing in the 2013 Canopy Piloting World Cup, where he broke his own World Record in speed. This last record in Georgia marks Windmiller’s 5th world record in speed.

 I asked SFC Windmiller what did it feel like to be a five time World Champion of Canopy Piloting and he said, “I just appreciate the opportunity every day of my life to be privileged enough to represent the greatest Army in the world, doing what I love.”

 SFC Joe Abeln also competed in the Meet # 4 taking twelfth place with a score of 129.289 for the two rounds.

 An individual is allotted 100 points per round. Distance runs from a beginning point set by poles which the pilot goes through to an end point set of poles in a recorded amount of distance and time.

 Stay tuned for the next Canopy Piloting competition, which will be Meet #5 the (Nationals) held at Skydive City Z-Hills, Zephyrhills, Florida May 17th-18th.

 

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