SFC John D. Berentis (J.D.) received the prestigious honor of being selected as the 2014 Golden Knight of the Year by his peers, at the team Christmas party December 3, 2014.
SFC Berentis hails from Yuma, AZ and attended Central Arizona Community College. He is an Airborne Ranger serving on the Golden Knights as the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC). He has served as the Gold Team Leader and free fall Videographer, Demonstration Parachutist, and tandem master for the Gold Team.
J.D. enlisted into the Army in November 1990 and while serving at Hunter Army Airfield, Savanna, GA. with the 1st Ranger Battalion, he deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Irish Gold and also to Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy. His next assignments were in Yuma, AZ. and Fort Bragg, NC. SFC Berentis attended the Golden Knights Assessment and Selection Program in 2003 and was ‘Knighted’ onto the team upon completion of the program. He spent his first year on the team learning the ins and outs of life on the team and mastering his freefall videography and still photography skills. Since 1989, when J.D. executed his first freefall parachute jump, he has logged more than 4,500 freefall parachute jumps, 760 tandems, and 62 military static line jumps. In his free-time J.D. enjoys riding street bikes, motocross, and video editing.
The Gold Demonstration team traveled to West Chester, Pennsylvania over the weekend to perform for the West Chester Rotorfest. SSG Jon Clevenger and SSG Mike Koch supported the local recruiters by attending a high school football game. There they presented one of the high school students with a plaque for demonstrating all of the core Army values. They also assisted in the coin toss as well as awarding coins to each of the team captains, wishing them the best of luck in their game.
Unfortunately, due to bad weather, Saturday was a bust although the team did go to the airfield to meet with the volunteers of the Civil Air Patrol. The team answered questions about the many opportunities the Army can offer and described how the parachute system works and about the mission of the Golden Knights.
Sunday morning the skies opened up with beautiful weather and the team performed two demonstration jumps. The first being a mass formation narrated by SGT Daniel Osorio, and the second being a full show narrated by SSG Mike Koch. The Gold Demonstration team presented a baton, which was flown in freefall, to Mrs. Sherron Trio, one of the major organizers of the airshow. Sadly, this was the last airshow for Gold Team, but we are looking forward to the many sporting events we get to support in the near future.
Gold Demonstration Team had a busy weekend jumping into Washington DC and Delaware. The team had the privilege of jumping into Howard University in downtown DC, where the college was hosting a NCAA Football game. The Golden Knights got the game started with a 4,000 foot stack out, followed by a baton presentation to Wayne AI Frederick, the President of the School, as well as Coach Ted White, the football coach. The students were very excited about the jump and cheered for the team as they flew overhead. After the jump and line-up, the team met up with some of the students from the ROTC program to present them with a team lithograph. It was a joy to jump into such a motivated and exciting University.
Immediately following the jump into Howard University, the team loaded up and flew to Deleware for the NASCAR race at Dover International Speedway. The weather could not have been more beautiful for the jump. Since there were no winds, the team was able to perform a formation directly over the race track, causing the Bomb Burst to stretch to all angles of the stadium. Upon opening, the team brought their parachutes in for a nice show line spread, where each member of the team was assigned a different section of the stadium to land in front of. The NASCAR fans made Gold Team feel very welcome as they approached the race track for perfectly soft landings.
Everyone on the Gold Demonstration team felt honored to participate in two great events over the weekend. Until next time, Blue Skies!!
SSG Sherri Gallagher