U S Army Parachute Team Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jose Enrique Melendez Relinquished Command to Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Weinrich

coc_9101 2Lieutenant Colonel Jose Enrique Melendez relinquished Command to Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Weinrich at the Golden Knights’ Team Hangar at Pope Army Airfield on Wednesday July 23, 2014.

The day began with extreme hustle and bustle around the area. The local radio and television were continually announcing the Change of Command for the US Army Parachute Team Golden Knights. The Soldiers were taking care of all the final details, reviewing the set up, podium, seating chart and the Aviation section had strategically placed the team aircraft in position for the ceremony. Media Relations was busy greeting and escorting media outlets, preparing camera’s, documenting guest as they were escorted to their assigned seats.

Colonel Cavanaugh, Accessions Support Brigade Commander thanked LTC Melendez for all of his dedication and service to the team and Soldiers. COL Cavanaugh presented him an award and then LTC Melendez administered this significant final promotion to Staff Sergeant David Flynn.

Gold Demonstration Teams’ SSG Sherri Jo Gallagher, Master of Ceremonies announced the entrance of the Official Party and former Golden Knight and event coordinator Darrin Grim did the Invocation, followed by the playing of the National Anthem, presentation of flowers to the wives and children followed by the Change of Command Ceremony.

The Battalion staunchly stood at attention as the backlit images of the radiant fleet of team aircraft glistened brightly overhead. Command Sergeant Major Thomas Holland called order to the statuesque troops as SSG Kenneth Severn marched in donning the Golden Knight Team Colors. The Official Party entered and all stood in a symmetrical square facing one another. CSM Holland passed the colors to LTC Melendez who passed them to his Commander COL Cavanaugh who in return passed them to the new team Commander LTC Weinrich, who returned them to CSM Holland.

COL Cavanaugh addressed Major General Chinn, family alumni and team command with gratitude and reflection on the day’s event.

LTC Melendez and said, “ It feels like it was yesterday that I was at this podium getting ready to embark in what now I attest to what would be the greatest two years of my military career. The man and woman standing in front of us are the ones who make this organization so successful. They are honored to represent the Soldiers past and present and those who’s have made the ultimate sacrifice to America and illustrate what it’s all about to be an American Soldier… I’ve just been lucky to be part of it.” He will be returning to the DC area with his wife Rosario and daughter Lyanne.

LTC Weinrich is coming to the team from the 75th Ranger Regiment as the Chief of Ranger Operations for the U. S. Army Special Operations Command joined by his wife Leigh and three children. LTC Weinrich thanked the honored guest, family, friends team members, alumni and many great NCO’s he had the honor to work with over his career, that have molded him into the Officer he is today. LTC Weinrich said, “I am honored to be part of this organization and will work every day to provide the Team the space needed to continue the success and innovation that LTC Melendez has fostered.”

The Golden Knight March that was written by the legionary Spider Wrenn was played and the ceremony closed with the Army Song. Team members filed through with farewell hugs, tears and laughter with the Melendez family and a crowded room of welcome greeters gathered in the Spider Wrenn day room in the headquarters building to share bread and fellowship with the newest Commander of the USAPT.

Yankees vs Cincinnati game swooped by Golden Knights for Military Appreciation Day

 

 

The Gold Demonstration Team Led By SFC Dustin Peregrin

The Gold Demonstration Team Led By SFC Dustin Peregrin

The Gold Demonstration Team had the amazing opportunity to participate in the New York Yankees Military Appreciation Day. The Yankees paid tribute to the Special Operation Warrior Foundation and United States Armed Forces. During the ceremony, four fallen Soldiers were honored and their children were brought onto the field and presented with scholarship checks for the Special Operation Warrior Foundation.

One of the four fallen Soldiers honored was a former Golden Knight, Gold Team member SFC Pedro Munoz, who was the first U.S. combat death in Afghanistan January 1, 2005. Munoz daughter, Dalia along with the other three Soldiers children were introduced to the individual team members by SFC Dustin Peregrin, Gold Team leader. Dalia was presented a baton by SSG David Echevery and SFC Tom Melton, SSG Mike Koch and SSG Brian Karst presented batons to the family members that had been actually flown in freefall to the stadium by the Soldiers for the presentation.

SSG David Echeverry presenting baton flown in free fall to fallen Gold Team Soldier, SFC Pedro Munoz daughter Dahlia

SSG David Echeverry presenting baton flown in free fall to fallen Gold Team Soldier, SFC Pedro Munoz daughter Dahlia

Starting the game off, Gold Team’s SFC Adrian Hill jumped in an enormous POW flag and narrated the rest of his team as they jumped from 4,500 feet. SSG Brandan Parra flew in the game ball for the ceremonial first pitch, thrown by retired Air Force Colonel John Carney and also flew in the SOCOM (Special Operations Command) flag. The team jumped several more flags to include the New York State flag,Puerto Rico flag, in honor of SFC Munoz, and SSG Sherri Gallagher jumped in a Derek Jeter #2 Yankees flag. The Jeter flag was flown in honor of his up and coming retirement, as this is his final season with the New York Yankees after 20 years, 14 All-Star appearances and 5 World Championships.

Once all the jumpers were safely on the ground, the National Anthem was played. Country music singer and U.S. Army Ranger, Keni Thomas sang the Anthem. Keni Thomas served as a member of Task Force Ranger as a part of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and also served in the Battle of Mogadishu.  The New York Yankees were brought good luck by the Knights’ and  now have their first all-time regular season series sweep of Cincinnati. They were victorious playing their final game of a three-game series vs. Cincinnati in the Yankees final Interleague games of the season.

The Golden Knights were honored to participate in Military Appreciation Day, as we recognize the sacrifice made by those before us. To those that have served, are currently serving, and to the families of these brave men and women, we proudly salute you.

SSG Gallagher,  Photos by SSG Reese Pendelton and Donna Dixon

 

Victory Junction

IMG_5855-WGold Demonstration Team was going to start the week off with a jump into one of the Golden Knight’s favorite places, Victory Junction. Victory Junction is a year round camp for children with serious illnesses. Their mission is to provide an enriching, fun-filled environment that serves to empower these amazing kids to be confident and independent at absolutely no cost to the children or their families. The camp has everything from racing and archery, to horse back riding and zip lining. They even have a pool that is temperature controlled to the exact degree for kids with different sensitivities. It is an absolute highlight for the Golden Knights to have the opportunity to jump in and interact with these amazing children and staff at Victory Junction every year.

Unfortunately, the weather did not comply, and Gold Team was not able to jump. The show will be postponed to a later date. Pulling ground duties, SFC JD Berentis (former Gold Team Leader), was fortunate enough to be at Victory Junction for the afternoon. He met with every single camper, answered questions, gave out goodies, and signed autographs. The kids had a great time.

IMG_5940-WGold Team looks forward to future jumps at this amazing facility and especially getting to meet with these fantastic children!

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