As the Gold Demonstration Team wrapped up week one at the Golden Knights Annual Certification Cycle in Homestead, Florida, we are proud of all that we have accomplished. Though we had to endure tough weather conditions, which included high winds and lots of fog, we managed to accumulate over 180 jumps for our entire Team.
This year we also have welcomed three new Teammates who we were excited to start training, and they have already integrated seamlessly into the fold. Using the undesirable weather conditions to our advantage, we forged ahead on our narration training, and held classes that introduced the new Teammates to various skills and tasks that will be imperative to know throughout both winter training and the 2015 Demonstration season.
Looking ahead, we are moving into week two focusing on more stack out maneuvers, and integrating flags into our canopy training. We are also excited to perform our first demonstration of 2015 at the 66th Annual PRCA Homestead Championship Rodeo on Saturday, January 24th. For those in the area this weekend, we would love to have you come check us out!
SSG Koch talks with passenger
Gold Team Leader SFC Thomas Melton leads FY-15 ACC
On December 16th, 2014, in a modest ceremony at Battalion Headquarters, Chief Warrant Officer Five Jeffrey Sopp was appointed as the first Warrant Officer in Golden Knight history to command the Team’s Aviation Detachment. Hailing from Pennsylvania and serving in the Air Force before joining the Army in 1990, Mr. Sopp could not have possibly envisioned all those years ago, that he would one day lead our team of highly skilled Aviators and Ground Crew in its mission to support the World-Class United States Army Parachute Team.
Perhaps our readers may doubt the Unit’s decision to place a Warrant Officer in charge, but those skeptics have obviously not met Jeffrey Sopp. Always the consummate quiet professional, he has already begun skillfully guiding Team Six through eleven solid weeks of intense and demanding training at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida in preparation for our most action-packed show season to date. Upon returning to Pope Army Airfield in March, both C31A Friendship Fokkers and all three deHavilland Twin Otter 400s will traverse the United States coast to coast in support of the Army’s recruiting mission.
Our Aviators and Ground Crew will journey together with our Jumpers as we build to achieve Golden Knight 2025 at the forefront of the sport of skydiving. Few could lead this charge other than Mr. Sopp. Join us in congratulating Mr. Sopp on this supreme career achievement and be ready to see Team Six thrive in the coming months as our parachuting experts continue to bring home their gold medals.
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.