HOT In Homestead

   The United States Army Parachute Team began Winter Training at Homestead, ARB today in a sweltering 80-degree weather.

    The Black and Gold Demonstration Teams jumped right through the day with picturesque gray, blue and huge white puffy clouds and even a slight bit of rain.

    World Record Swoop Champion, Sergeant 1st Class Greg Windmiller gave a very intricate class to about twelve team members in canopy proficiency.

    The newest team members that graduated from the Assessment and Selection Program in October seemed a little tense but very eager to get started, while the senior members where just happy to get back to training.

    Each new guy is assigned an old guy to mentor and advise through out the show season, beginning with the intense two months of winter training.

    Today both demonstration teams completed eight jumps before the liquid sunshine came in to nourish our beautiful bright green-sodded drop zone.

Skydive Chicago

Fifteen excited people ventured through the gloomy clouds in hope of experiencing the thrill of a lifetime. The room was full of chattering and laughter as team members talked to people throughout the room waiting for everyone to arrive.

SFC Joe Jones began the tandem training, showed the wavier and gave an in-depth explanation about the tandem equipment that would be used during their personal tandem jump. Each individual tandem team member was introduced and gave their own personal Army story.

Unfortunately the ceiling stayed low and rains moved in and the jumps had to be delayed until the next day.

Tuesday morning the land was covered with dense fog and finally the sun broke through to form a glorious day for Gold Star Family members, which celebrated and faced fears with relief filled tears, joy and laughter.

Craig Belt was here last year with his wife Barbara but couldn’t jump due to the weight limit. Craig was determined to jump and reached a goal of losing 75lbs just so he could jump this year.

Then the 3rd ROTC Brigade Black Hawk Centers of Influence began their journey to 13,500 feet. Fourteen very different people from different walks of life and ages joined into a unified team to share the Army Strong Experience.

Erin Levschel an English Teacher was a bundle of nerves and said, “I am totally petrified, and I can’t believe I am doing this, I must be crazy.” You could hear her screaming from the moment she left the plane. When she landed she jumped up and down shouting I did it, I did it!

 Wednesday morning was a majestic puffy cloud, blue-sky day

Juan Velasquez said, “I’m really scared, but want to do this for my brother.”

The whole Weiss family Andrew, AJ and mom Julianne attended the Gold Star workshop. AJ said, that “he looked up after exiting the plane and never in his life did he think he would see his mom and skydive  above her!”

Julianne a teeny petite, bright blue-eyed mom said, I am ready to touch the sky in an interview prior to her jump. She glided through the brilliant blue clouds and stood up with a soft tiptoe landing. All of a sudden she was springing up and down all over the field all the way to her Gold Star Family support team, and Andrew said, “she’s my little energizer bunny!”

Following the Gold Star Family jumps,  COI’s from Chicago ,Indianapolis, Great Lakes, Minneapolis and Milwaukee Recruiting Battalions were anxiously awaiting for their name to be called from the manifest.

Dr. Randall Allen, (SFC Retired), USA Olympic Archery Coach and Judge, Tech Prep. Coordinator for Bay College said that it was one of the most awesome experiences of his life. Following his jump he handed out a RAK (random act of kindness) card, and arrows as a memento from his Army Strong Experience.

Honorable Ben Hodgin, Mayor of Hartford City said his experience was fantastic. When Ben was given his tandem certificate he said, “This was not just Army Strong, This was Army Cool!”

Mark Warner Executive Dean for Education at the Mayo Clinic is no stranger to the Army Experience and said that he thoroughly enjoyed his jump and was grateful for the opportunity. His son is a pilot with the Air Forces’ Thunderbirds, His brother is a Jag Officer stationed at Fort Bragg, NC, the home of the Golden Knights.

 

 

 

YOLO You Only Live Once!

 

What A Beautiful World!

YOLO! Is a really common phrase that members of the United States Army Parachute Tandem Team heard this past week from candidates, who participated in the Army Strong Experience?It wasn’t the fact that we were conducting the tandem parachute jumps at the local Sky Dive Sky Dance Drop Zone right there at the Yolo County Airport either.

Is it a bird? Yes the Hawk, Is it a Plane? Yes the        C-31 A Friendship Fokker

 These fortunate Centers of Influence who were selected by the local Recruiting Command come from various walks of life and continually give support to the Sacramento Recruiting Command.   

Amy Carabba Taking a Leap

 

The morning was bright, voices of joyful chirping birds were echoing through the air, with a spring like refreshing cool breeze blowing through your hair.  These tandem passengers came out to jump with the Golden Knights and were actually putting their very own life in the hands of one of the most highly trained and skilled Soldiers in the US.These Ambassadors of the Army, The Golden Knights, represent each and every Soldier around the world, which most Americans rely on daily.

 Most people are really surprised to discover that only 1% of Americans serve in the military to protect and defend our country and out of that, only 1% is military free fall qualified.

Matthew Duncan ,SSG Jon Ewald Out in the Wild Blue Yonder of YOLO

 

One of the Expert Military Free fall Soldiers that protect our country.    LTC Melendez

 This once in a life time opportunity, allows these select individuals to get to know a Soldier for a day and to experience all of the camaraderie, professionalism and skill that every individual Golden Knight displays and lives by, though they still are definitely an inseparable unified team.

Andy Landles (USF) Sliding in for a Safe Landing

  Each day the tandem orientation class was filled with Doctors, Coaches, Teachers, Deans, various council members, public servants, a Smoke Jumper Mr. Alan Worthington, and even a local Priest, Fr. Joe Crews, who runs Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma.

 I would say for the most part the majority of them came to the drop zone extremely nervous, reserved, quite and even some of them were very apprehensive about the endeavor they had previously signed up for.  

 Elayna Campbell a Corporate Recruiter with Human Resources with VSP had made a jump about seven years ago, but admitted she had kept her eyes shut for the last jump and didn’t see or remember anything but fear.  After we talked for awhile she was reassured that this was going to be the most awesome experience of her life and she promised to keep her eyes opened this time.

 

COL Rado, Elayna and Bill

 SFC Joe Jones was Elayna’s tandem master and SFC Joe Abeln was her videographer documenting the fantastic experience skydiving with the Golden Knights. You could hear her screaming and hollering all the way to the ground. She said it was absolutely the best thing she had done in her life.  She couldn’t wait to call her husband who was anxiously sitting by the phone to be assured she was safe.

Lorenzo Gamboa, Santa Clara University

 

 Tyler Stovall, UC Berkeley, History Teacher was so stocked about his jump that his Tandem Instructor, SFC Noah Watts, said “Today, Tyler made history himself.”

Interviews

 In just a few short hours they all followed the YOLO  “You Only Live Once” mantra and by the end of the day every single one of them were all extremely different people. Never again would they be the same.  Each and every one of them mustered the strength to place their lives in the hands of a very skilled Soldier.

 Following the final tandem all of the Knights’ team members presented each new jumper a tandem certificate, which counts as their first jump if they choose to pursue a skydiving career. They then proceeded to tell their own Army story to include the Commander of the Golden Knights, LTC Jose Melendez, who also told his Army story to include the story his mom told him about jumping off his bed as a small child after seeing Golden Knights perform in Puerto Rico more than three and a half decades ago. 

 They all left laughing and chattering with the person beside them, which now seemed to be their new (NBFF) best friend forever, which was just a mere strange face they never knew before.

                                                   The day was not finished for the tandem team. There were parachutes still being packed, tandem suits being folded, harnesses, helmets’, gloves and video equipment being carefully packed and put away. The Pilots CW5 Michael Knecht and CW4 Jeffrey Dillon inspected the plane as SGT Austin Bowman took care of fuel.

 The plane was precisely loaded with all of the pelican cases secured in the center of the plane for weight and balance, but the plane was much lighter for the trip back to Fort Bragg.

 Duty called elsewhere for other members of the tandem section. SFC Noah Watts who had advanced the deployment for the camp was summoned to Oregon to jump a Medal of Honor recipient, SFC Leroy Petry, who was suppose to be jumping with the Team in Seattle the week before, but was delayed and then canceled due to unseen inclement weather.

 SFC Joe Abeln, SGT Reese Pendleton and SSG Jared Zell departed Sonoma to continue on to a Canopy piloting swoop competition in San Diego, CA.

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