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.

Welcome To Sunny California

Good Day Sacramento’s very own Amy Carabba

 

 

Home Sweet Home

Today could have not been a better day for members of the United States Army Parachute Team, Tandem Section to kick off the Sonoma, CA Tandem Camp. The Sacramento Recruiting Battalion brought out nine Centers of Influence that were nominated to conduct a tandem parachute jump with the Army’s elite Department of Defense Parachute Demonstration Team. The group consisted of excited candidates coming from various crafts and backgrounds. The majority of the group said they jumped at the opportunity to do a tandem with the Golden Knights when it was offered to them, though some said that they never dreamed of jumping out of a perfectly good air plane ever.

Thomas Grossman said never in his wildest dreams could he imagine jumping out of a plane and others said it was a wish on their bucket list. Holly Winslow and Rogelio Mangois were thrilled and couldn’t wait their turn.

Holly Winslow Ready To Fly

 

The beautiful Amy Carabba, a local news celebrity broadcast live for over an hour prior to her jump and nervously did interviews with her tandem master, SFC Noah Watts. Soon after landing she gracefully fell face first on the ground thanking God and of course her “new best friend (BFF),” SFC Noah Watts for allowing her to return safely to the ground from her two and a half mile ride.  Keetha Mills, who came from California Community College paced back and forth, jumped up and down and frantically kept pulling her hair back as SFC Joe Jones explained to her that they would be the third pair to exit the plane.  Rogelio Manaois from San Francisco State University patiently stood wearing a mask of composure awaiting SFC Watts signal to head out to the plane.   

Theme from "Rocky" played by Abraham

Kristin Peterson, Caterer of the University of San Francisco was assigned to the second lift of the day and excitedly awaited the landing of her friend Holly Winslow, who jumped on the load before her.    The Clinical Director from Hanna Boys Center, Mr. Timothy Norton patiently waited with his lovely wife Barbara and daughter and mingled around talking with the Knights and numerous young men that came out from Hanna Boys Center to watch the jumps. Timothy and Barbara are a Gold Star Family that lost their beloved son who was a Air Force Pilot in a helicopter crash in Korea.

 And last but not least to make a jump was the boys “hero” of the day, Reverend John Crews, Executive Director of Hanna Boys Center Sonoma, CA to name a few. As Father Crews headed out to the plane a crowd of young men escorted him to the plane, cheering, taking photos and Abraham played the theme to “Rocky” as Father charged forward to his “leap of faith!”

Father John Crews Happily Landing

 

Always there for a helping hand!

SSG Rachel Medley, Tandem Team Coordinator took all of the boys on the teams C-31A Friendship Fokker for a tour and explained in detail all the specifics to complete the team mission. Later in the day the team visited the Hanna Boys Center and enjoyed breaking bread and mentoring with some hopeful future “Golden Knights.”

 A quote from my favorite person former President George H.W. Bush, fits this day well. The Army’s Ambassadors were “Planting seeds to trees, which they may never sit under.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Tandem with North Carolinas Teacher of the Year

     On Wednesday, July 18, 2012 The Golden Knights Tandem Team Leader, SFC “world famous” Joe Jones stood in front of a room full of anxious, soon-to-be tandem skydivers at the Golden Knights training drop zone in Laurinburg, NC.  Darcy Grimes, the North Carolina Teacher of the Year 2012-2013 from Bethel Elementary, sat among the crowd as she listened to Team Leader, Joe Jones, inform the small crowd of the basic safety essentials needed for their immediate future. Next, the crowd sat on the edge of their seats as they watched the morale-boosting video montage of The Golden Knights in action. The video, set to an adrenaline-pumping Disturbed track, includes jumps with celebrities such as: Bill Murray, Vince Vaughn, and Geraldo Rivera. After viewing the exhilarating video, the audience is asked to sign their life away. Gasps fill the room as they receive their last instructions: “Your feet will be right on the edge of the door.” Filled with excitement and anticipation, the crowd stands up and begins to make their way to the hanger.

     Darcy Grimes, along with others, began to suit up and meet the Tandem Team member that she would soon be trusting with her life. The crowd made their way out of the hanger into the scorching hot, but beautiful weather so that they could witness the Golden Knights in action. After patiently awaiting her turn for the thrilling experience, it was finally time. Right before boarding the plane, Darcy looked at the camera and said: “ Thank you so much for this opportunity—I’m so excited!” The plane then began to ascend, offering the anxious jumpers a new perspective of the ground they were just standing on. As reality began to set in, Joe Jones looks to the camera and says: “I’m about ready to throw a teacher out of a plane!” Shortly after, Darcy Grimes put her feet on the edge of the plane, and dove right into open air, and an experienced that would stick with her for a lifetime. As Darcy landed safely to the ground, she flexed her muscles and shouted: “I am Army strong!”

 

 

 

 

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