Gold Team Has Rhythm

Once a year Wisconsin puts on a show that brings people from all over that state to one place to celebrate our Nation’s Independence. Rhythm & Booms is Madison, Wisconsin’s official Independence Day celebration and the largest single-day event in Wisconsin. The show offers many events to include a 5K run/walk and music stages to entertain everyone before the world-class fireworks performance.  The Gold Team had the honor to open the festivities with a mid-day mass formation jump giving the public a preview of what was to come later on that night.  Then after the sun went down the Gold Team took to the skies once again to put on an awe inspiring show of the people.  Jumpers lit up the sky with their pyro forming a single mass formation that could be seen from miles around.  Immediately following the jumpers the largest fireworks display in the state went off drawing the attention of the crowd and the jumpers for over 45 minutes.  Over 200,000 people were said to be in attendance for the event which is a record for the Rhythm & Booms.

Shortly after the Gold Team departed Wisconsin they traveled a short distance to Dubuque, Iowa for their 27th annual Independence Day Celebration.  Dubuque, Iowa is located in the Tri-State area of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin so the festival draws a huge crowd from all three states.  The Gold Team performed four times in three different locations over the two days they were there.  Dubuque is a well known demonstration location for the Golden Knights because of the obscure and tight landing areas.  Each of the events the team is given the bare minimum crowd clearance with a landing area surrounded by obstacles leaving the team only one option which is to land on target.  The first demonstration was at the Kennedy Mall parking lot on Monday which was basically a preview of the team held in the early afternoon to advertise the festival being held the next day.  The landing area was a 100 foot circle surrounded by new cars form the local dealership and plenty of spectators looking forward to watching the jumpers land in front of them.  As always the Gold Team delivered a perfect performance and built the confidence of the jumpers for the next jumps to come.

The final two jumps were going to be held at Mcdonald Park which is on the coast of the Mississippi bordering Iowa and Wisconsin.  The Air Show was said to of drawn over 225,000 who all were surrounding the target area hoping to catch a glimpse of the jumpers as they landed.  The    Team performed twice during the celebration one in the afternoon and another during the night to close out the show just before the fireworks.  Both performances were a great success especially the night jump because immediately after the jump the team was instantly surrounded by the massive crowd with everyone saying the performance was the greatest thing they had ever seen.  The view was impressive from the jumpers
point of view with the ground being lit up by flashes from peoples cameras.

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.





Gold Team Helps Celebrate 100 years of Army Maintenance

The Army arrived at Tobyhanna located in Pennsylvania in 1912 and a small Artillery Commander was given the assignment to find an appropriate east coast location for an artillery training camp.  During that time, the Army’s only artillery training camp east of the Mississippi River was in Wisconsin enev though most of the Army units were in the north east. After inspecting several sites a location near the rail station in Tobyhanna was deemed suitable.  The land was leased in August from Dr. George Rhoads, a prominent local resident, and directed the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery to train there. The unit remained in the Poconos until October.  That initial camp proved so successful that the Army decided to return the next summer, and to also set up a camp of instruction for militia batteries and a school for militia officers.  In the summer of 1913,the 3rd Field Artillery marched to Tobyhanna from Fort Myer, leaving Virginia on June 2 and arriving at Tobyhanna on June 18. The 3rd Field Artillery arrived three days ahead of the first of several militia units, and assisted those units in their training.  This was just the beginning for the camp as later it became a POW camp as well as a storage facility for the majority of the military’s obsolete equipment.  After the end of World War II the Army realized the camp’s potential for supply and maintenance which had led to its current function of the Military’s largest electronic maintenance facility.

Due to Tobyhanna’s exceptional history it was only fitting that the Gold Demonstration Team put on a performance celebrating the depot’s birthday.  The team did three jumps over the weekend with the first one on Friday and the next two on Saturday.  The initial jump on Friday was for the Media and was not open to the public.  On Saturday the gates were open allowing thousands to gain limited access to the compound to look at the displays and get a chance to see the Golden Knights put on a world class show. After the morning mass show the clouds started to roll in leaving limited visibility of the target area but the team still had a job to do.  The team circled at a lower altitude where it was easier to find some holes in the clouds and still managed to complete a couple passes and give the public a great show.  After each performance the team was greeted by the command team of the Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM) Major General Robert Ferrell and Command Sergeant Major Kennis Dent.  The Commander and Sergeant Major thanked the team for the wonderful job they did as well as presented the Gold team with a plaque showing their appreciation.

The link below is from the local news station and features SFC Dustin Peregrin describing what the Golden Knight are about and what kind of performance the team was going to put on.  It also gives a brief history of the camp and what it has turned into.


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