Gold Team Takes on the Gray Skies of Washington State

Gray skies and low clouds are the most common views in the North West State of Washington and that did not change for the Gold Demonstration Team during the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Expo.  Despite the low celling the Gold Team still managed to complete two of the three scheduled jumps over the two day event.  Over 200,000 spectators got to witness the team perform a modified low show each day bringing smiles to everyone watching. 

The first jump was canceled due to almost no visibility above just a few hundred feet but the next jump on Saturday gave the Gold Team a chance to show off their skills.  The time line called for 30 minutes of show time with only 2500 feet of altitude so The Gold Team Leader SFC J.D. Berentis split the show up into three different passes of Swooping, Target Accuracy and CRW.  The crowd was amazed as the smaller parachutes flown by 1SG Bryan Schnell, SSG Reese Pendleton and SGT Jeshua Stahler swept across the ground right in front them. Then the larger parachutes slowly floated down showing the control and accuracy the Jumpers have.  The last pass brought the excitement of Canopy Relative Work as a Bi-Plane traveled over the people while carrying the Washington State flag.

Sunday the Team was honored to be joined by Medal Of Honor Recipient SFC Leroy Petry who saved several of his fellow Soldiers in Afghanistan when his unit came under attack during a daytime mission.  SFC Petry attempted to throw back a grenade that landed near his men when it detonated severing his right hand but saving everyone around.  SFC Petry continued to stay in the fight after being wounded and his actions led to several soldiers making it out safely.  SFC Joe Jones was scheduled to give SFC Petry a Tandem ride during the show but due to the low clouds the ride was cancelled but he was still thrilled to have gotten to ride up with the Gold Team during the performance. 

The low clouds also caused to change in plans for the Team as well.  As the jump time approached rain started to fall over the target area forcing the Team to make a mass exit without a narrator pass and combining all of the previous maneuvers from yesterday into a one pass show.  The Gold Team came through as always showing the people of Washington why the Golden Knight are the best at what they do.  Also during the jump SFC J.D. Berentis and SSG Tom Pryjda put together a Bi-Plane and flew SFC Petry’s Medal of Honor Flag and a Baton which would later be presented to him.     

The Team had extra time available while still in Washington so the Recruiting Battalion arranged for most of the Future Soldiers to get together and meet with the Knights at a local recruiting office.  Each member told their Army story and what led them to becoming a Golden Knight as well as the other opportunities that have become available to them.

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?

Gold Team visits the Chicago White Sox

Members of the United States Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, Gold Demonstration Team made a home run with fans Thursday at the Chicago White Sox, US Cellular Field with a surprise jump before the first pitch. 

SSG Tom Melton advanced the show to assure everything was in order to have a flawless demo weekend. SSG Melton accompanied by Mr. Speros Batistaos, CEO of SSCA presented a baton flown and passed in midair by the Golden Knights to the Manager of the Chicago White Sox Head Coach Robin Ventura.

 Later in the day SSG Melton and team mates presented the White Sox and Ms. Nichole Manning a historical lithograph of a 5 stack formation over Homestead, AFB which was taken this year at winter training.

 SGT George Perez just returned from school and pulled ground along with CSM Royce Manis and SSG Shelby Bixler who just returned from school and pulled upper winds on the top of the stadium.

 SSG Kevin Presgraves flew the Prisoner Of War (POW) flag right into center field before thousands of cheering fans. He took the microphone and headed over to the front of the stadium and narrated as the rest of the seven jumpers landed in centerfield with a dynamic demonstration.

 One jumper trailed the famous White Sox logo flag and another jumped in the black and white Vote for Peavey flag as everyone shouted and clapped. It was a beautiful day with a magnificent performance by SFC JD Berentis and members of the Gold Team.

 Though it was a steamy hot 100-degree day, fans didn’t seem to mind at all. The thrill and excitement of the fans resonated throughout the stand. Following the team demonstration, the jumpers gathered their parachutes and gear and many fans hollered out to the team, Thank you for your service, job well done.




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