Irvine

Irvine landingWEBOn Monday July 7, 2014, a former British Sailor tandem-jumped with SFC Jon Ewald and the Army Parachute Team, “Golden Knights,” as part of his and his teams visit to Fort Bragg, N.C. This former sailor is the boisterous Robert Irvine of the Food Networks Restaurant: Impossible.

“Wild, Golden Knights-Irvine, Wild”-exclaimed Irvine.

Serving veterans and veteran organizations is a personal mission for Irvine, who joined the British Royal Navy when he was 15. A native of England, Robert joined the British Royal Navy at the age of 15, and his skills in the kitchen soon came to the attention of his superiors. As part of his service for the Royal Navy, Robert was selected to work aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, where the royal family and its entourages regularly dined.

During his time training U.S. Navy chefs as part of a guest chef program, Robert worked in the White House kitchens and his creations were served to high-ranking government officials. During his career, he has also had the opportunity to serve 6,000 servicemen and women on a U.S. aircraft carrier and plan the menu for a celebrity-studded after-party at the Academy Awards.

As a part of his most recent Restaurant: Impossible mission, fixing up the old Green Beret Club that has been around since the early 1940’s at Ft. Bragg, N.C. Mr. Irvine received the amazing honor of being allowed to jump with the world-renowned, Golden Knights. Once suited up and ready to jump out of a plane at 12,000 feet, Mr. Irvine had these words to say to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces:

“Let me tell you all, the men and women of our Armed Forces. I got to tell you ‘Thank You’ cause you’re allowing me to have the freedom and God bless you all. I’m going to tell you this, as long as there is breath in my lungs, I will not let America forget each and any one of you. God bless you all.”

A few days later on July 10, 2014 Irvine’s spouse Gail Kim, a 4-time Total Nonstop Action Impact Wrestling Women’s Champion and former World Wrestling Entertainment Women’s Champion, put on a flight suit and harness, climbed into the one of the teams Viking Twin Otter’s and had this to say, “It feels like we’re already really high.”

After reaching an altitude of 13,000 feet, Tandem Team Leader SFC Joe Jones and Gail jumped from their aircraft, free-falled and glided into a standup landing. Gail then expressed herself with “I did it, I did it, I did it…the only way I’d ever do it (skydive) cause it’s the safest way (with the Golden Knights). I don’t even know how to describe it, you just have to do it!”

By Jerry Morrison

 

 

Black Team Over Hill

 

wedgeThe Majestic elegance of flying over the gleaming Wasatch Mountains at Hill, AFB is passing by as the team C31 Friendship is bound to its next destination, of Fort Bragg, NC the Golden Knights home.

I am quite sure, that within the troupe of 450,000 screaming air show enthusiast that stood out on the show line on that beautiful, hot, Saturday afternoon not one, never ever even gave it a thought about how this all happens. The enormous flock patiently stood there with umbrellas, hats, visors, sunglasses and hands over their eyes gazing into the pristine blue skies as the Golden Knight narrator, who had just jumped in the American Colors began the show with Good afternoon ladies and gentleman, or as SSG Shelby Bixler shouted,” Good Afternoon Utah!!!.” And the roar from the crowd soared clear over the mountain.

No one considers all of the extensive planning, preparation, coordination and extreme effort that goes into just one parachuting event.

Operations begin their task at the International Council of Airshows (ICAS) booking with Sponsors for Air shows and events all over the United States. The work continues with Department of the Army, Office of Chief of Public Affairs, Advertising Marketing and Research approval, waivers and finalizes advance man and team schedules till the day of departure.

Budget is the primary factor, continually adjusting everything from fuel cost, fees, payments, Defense Travel schedules to hundreds of never ending adjustments in orders and vouchers weekly.

The Supply section constantly are exchanging and ordering team uniforms, cameras, rigs, and any and everything imaginable to reinforce the team’s mission requirements and assure everything runs smooth as clock work.

Media Relations preempt the show season six months prior to enhance the Army branding in all media products through specific Army guidelines ensuring everything directly engages the target audiences for the up and coming show season. This year the Media Relations cell designed a exquisite 12 page booklet portraying the past fifty-five year remarkable team history, which included a centerfold with the photographs of the entire team, which by all means is aweing the public on show lines across the US. All team productions have to have a spectacular edge to remind the audience of the abundant opportunities available in a career with today’s all volunteer Army.

MR has fully engaged all social media aspects, designed and printed hundreds of thousands of brochures, calendars, coloring books, DVD’s, photographs, media kits and press packages that are distributed to media, schools, colleges, air show fans, Centers of Influence, VA centers and the general American public. These items generate leads, goodwill and millions of dollars of free publicity through impressions and add value generated across the country.

Aviation Sections, Kay and Associates employees, led by Mike Dieck are the team’s awesome maintenance support Team. Some of whom are former Golden Knights do a superior job assuring that the entire fleet of the US Army Parachute Team, Golden Knight aircraft are in superb running condition.

The Pilots and crew chiefs are the most highly trained in the Army and have to attend specialized, intensive training to man the Team’s two C-31 Fokker’s, which are the only aircraft of this type in the entire Army Inventory. They also meticulously maintain three brand new Viking twin Otters, which were recently added to the fleet.

This year is a bit unique due to the 1st time ever,  lost show season for the Knights’, T-Birds and Blue Angels due to sequestration. And it is absolutely an incredible feeling to be back on the road again

SFC Teigh Statler and SFC Corey Hood choreographically pulled ground control assuring, ground box, target, winds, timing, music, narration and broadcast was relayed to the Pilots overhead. SFC Statler calls, “Hot Target and the show begins.”

The Golden Knight chariot circles high above the earth as excited media sit on the edge of their seats to capture that perfect shot. X-96 Radio Host, World Air Show Reporter, Standard Examiner Reporter, News Writer and photographer, Sign Post Reporter and videographer, Fox News, Salt Lake Magazine Photographer, 75 ABW Public Affairs and numerous other media outlets experienced the first hand birds eye view of a life with the Knights.

SSG Bixler exited the plane pulling a lanyard and the red smoke begins to billow behind her. She pulls down a line and releases the American Flag. Meanwhile on the ground 9,000 feet below her, the crowds are pointing in to the sky screaming and hollering as she spindles down. On a ladder about 10 feet high there is an individual who is signing to the crowd as the tension grows.

Dear friends and fellow pilot acts, Rob Holland, Bill Stein and Matt Chapman pull the smoke lines of their planes and begin to rhythmically fall inline and encircle round and round SSG Bixler as her descending red smoke canopy continually spirals towards the ground.

SFC Hood has waved a go ahead to play the National Anthem at the exact second SSG Bixler deployed the American Flag. Team ground, the Thunderbirds, who were posted at their planes behind us and over 400,500 people rose with great pride for our great Nation to their feet with hands on their hearts.

PFC Jason Wenger and SGT Travis Downing conducted the baton pass maneuver, which spins round producing a barber pole or candy caine image of red in the sky.

SFC Derrick Coleman followed jumping a much smaller, extremely fast canopy to introduce the cut-away, showing the audience the precision and safety of the pilots, who have to cut loose the canopy they are flying due to a malfunction, detouring an extremely treacherous situation. Coleman then returned to free fall again and deployed a second parachute and glided down to show center.

SGT David Echeverry and SSG Ken Severin conducted the diamond track maneuver, which looks like a big X in the sky to show the dynamic skill, control and versatility of our canopy pilots in the sky.

High over head, team leader SFC Presgraves, led the diamond formation, which was the greatest capture of the day. Looking up you saw this spectaclar wedge formation followed by streaks of brilliant red smoke trailing in the sea of blue over the beautiful green mountaintops.  The team members all elegantly landed one by one onto the steamy, hot runway and were individually introduced to the crowd, followed by a Golden Knight traditional baton presentation. Mr. Kevin Ireland, an very influential local man in the community that gave it all to support this event and was selected by the Air show to be the weekend recipient.

SFC Presgraves and members of the Black Team presented the baton that was flown in free fall over the great Wasatch today and thanked him for his great service and dedication to the Military and the community.

The team concluded the show with the famous wave off, while SSG Bixler closed with the famous words of 1SG Spider Wrenn, “May all your Days be prosperous and your Knights Golden.”

Although the performance was over more work was just to begin. Team members headed over to the Army Recruiting booth, to sign autographs, talk and high five with the kids and meet the American Public of Ogden, Utah.

Preparation for the return trip had just begun. The chutes to be packed, the remaining smoke, ground equipment, supply gear were specifically loaded onto the plane and tied down and the plane refueled for the stint home.

First thing in the morning, the sleek black caravan of vehicles were systematically located all in a row in front of the hotel to load up the seventeen matching roller bags, totes, computers and equipment to depart for the airbase where our gleaming black and gold battle taxi stood guard.

Piloting our Troopship to Hill and back to Ft. Bragg is Major Steven Coston, CW3 David Burns along with our Crew Chief SGT Jason Desando. Dailey they thoroughly and skillfully checked all wings, tires, engines and proceeded with all preflight safety measures, sealed the doors, cranked the engines and took to the alluring sky blue sky.

While traversing across the country team mates do a variety of things from playing cards in the back of the plane, munching on snacks, gaming, reading and always sometime during the flight grabbing a nap in a hammock, on an air mattress on the floor, bunked on a cargo seat, or bundled in a blanket with a pillow in a chair.

On our eight hour return trip home, I mostly wrote on this, edited photos and chose to emphasize on this breath taking photos that mesmerized the crowds, when they flew high overhead with a of a precise billowing, red smoke filled, Diamond Formation led by team leader SFC Presgraves and his wingmen directly over the Wasatch mountains that was dynamically shot by SSG Reese Pendleton.

The ride home seemed quite long, but really today seems like just a blink of the eye. It has been a long year, since I could take to the sky. And I am so grateful to be back on the road again with the awesome Golden Knight family I have come to rely.

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Exclusive View of Tandem COI at Ft. Knox Tandem Camp

 

Robert Moore, Director of Adult Education and Principal of the Bloomington Graduation School for Monroe County Schools at Broadview Learning Center with SFC Jared Zell

Robert Moore, Director of Adult Education and Principal of the Bloomington Graduation School for Monroe County Schools at Broadview Learning Center with his tandem instructor, SFC Jared Zell

Numerous individuals frequently ask the question about the Tandem Orientation Program which the Team began over sixteen years ago, as an unified approach and tool to boost, engage and generate target audiences and an attempt to reach out and connect with the American Public.  How and Why certain Centers Of Infuences (COI’s)are selected or invited to conduct tandem parachute jumps with members of the US Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights Tandem Team?

The Recruiting Brigades work very closely with hundreds of principals, coaches, counselors and influencers at high schools and colleges that are enormous positive contributors to the lives of our future generations. Statistics have proven that partnering with the select right individuals who particpated in these tandem camps and the Army Strong Experience have lead to actionable insights to the recruiting mission.

I would like to elevate this measurable information by sharing a story of a gentleman that was one of our passengers that actually put his life in the hands of our wonderful Soldiers for the experience of his life.

Moore Takes a Flying Leap

 Monroe County school administrator learns a lesson to share on post-secondary career training

 “It was the most calm, peaceful, serene experience I can remember having, “said Robert Moore, Monroe County Schools’ Director of Adult Education and Principal of the Bloomington Graduation School. He was not speaking of an evening on the beach watching the sun set into the ocean during his 2014 summer vacation. Rather, he was describing a skydive he made from 15,000 feet.

Moore, along with 24 other educators from six states, was selected to attend a two-day tour of Fort Knox on June 11 and 12 to learn about the post-secondary career training options in the US Army that are available to young adults. The tour included a tandem jump with the US Army Golden Knights Parachute Team. He was invited by the Bloomington Recruiting Center to participate in the visit hosted by the Army’s 3rd Recruiting Brigade, which is headquartered at Fort Knox.

“I amazed at the wide range of careers a person can train for,” Moore recalled. “I met soldiers who were mechanics, musicians, paralegals, linguists, marksmen, performers, a chaplain’s assistant, and on and on. Basically, if you have an interest and there is a job available, you can train for it in the Army.”

On the morning Day 1, Moore and the other educators witnessed ROTC cadets from several universities around the country engage in various qualification tests in the swimming pool and the obstacle course. In the afternoon, the educators were taken to the French Shooting Club, an outdoor range on base, where two members of the US Army Marksmanship Team demonstrated some trick skeet shooting they do for competition. “Then they let us try it. The instructor gave me some great directions on the shotgun, and I hit my first skeet target dead on,” he recounted. After the demonstration, the group traveled to an indoor facility, where a simulated pistol range is used by various law enforcement agencies and military personnel for practice and qualification on stationary targets. “I hit it 8 out of 10 times,” Moore boasted.

Later that day, the educators met with the 3rd Brigade’s Education Services Specialist and a panel of soldiers for a Q&A session. “They all stressed the importance of education and training in whatever field they are pursuing,” Moore said. “Pretty much, a soldier must pursue a civilian college education in order to advance in his or her career. Many of the soldiers we met held bachelors and masters degrees. And the fact that the Army pays for this education makes it possible for them to do so.”

Day 2 was jump day with the Golden Knights. That morning, after a strongly-advised light breakfast, the educator group gathered at the brigade headquarters for a bus ride to Fort Knox’s airfield. There, an instructor from the Golden Knights briefed the visitors on how they would be dressed in the regulation equipment, how the exit and landing will occur, and the risks associated with the skydive. “Then they took us up in the plane three at a time, each with an instructor and a videographer. It turned out to be a long wait for me, because I was the second-to-last group to go,” Moore reported. So, skipping the lunch provided, Moore waited patiently.

“Around 2:30, a member of the Golden Knights Tandem Team came to the room where we were waiting and called my name,” Moore said. He led Moore to another room and helped him don the gold and black jumpsuit, a harness, and helmet and goggles. He also introduced another member of the team who would serve as the tandem’s videographer.

The three climbed into the plane with two other tandems and videographers and began the ascent to 15,000 feet. As the plane drew near to the desired altitude, the instructor hooked his harness to Moore’s and tightened the straps. “And I mean it was TIGHT! He was on my back, I was on his front, and we were pressed together like we were one body,” recounted Moore.   Still in their seats, they practiced several times how they would eventually exit the aircraft. “I’ll tell you, from then on I never felt safer. Sitting there strapped to the front of that Golden Knight made me feel very secure, like I could do anything.”

Then the time came. Moore and his Golden Knight instructor tied tightly to his back duck walked to the door of the plane. With the videographer already hanging outside the door, the tandem leaped forward and began a 120 mile-per-hour free-fall toward Earth.

“It actually felt like I was flying, not falling. It was amazing. I felt like Superman,” Moore remembered.   “There was no roller-coaster feeling at all like I thought there might be. Just a strong wind in my face, and all I heard was a loud roar.” The videographer—with camera mounted to his helmet—passed below, above, and to the side of the tandem in flight. “How he did that, I don’t know. He was all over the place.”

After the 45-second free-fall, when the tandem had descended to 5,000 feet, Moore felt a strong tug upward and the videographer vanished. He looked up and saw the strings of the parachute, which had just deployed. “And suddenly the loud roar of the wind gave way to a great silence. It was the quietest quiet I ever heard. We were just floating there at the end of the parachute. My instructor asked, ‘so how are you doing, sir?’ I responded, ‘Well, I didn’t eat any lunch, and I’m kind of hungry. Did you bring anything to eat?’ We just talked to each other in a normal tone of voice. We didn’t have to shout to be heard.”

The tandem continued their descent. “I asked the Golden Knight how fast we were now going now. He said we were going about 25 miles per hour forward speed and about 20 miles per hour downward. So the parachute really slowed us down. But again, it felt like we were just floating, not falling. The earth was very slowly rising to me; I was not falling to it. All the while, the sight was spectacular: a complete, unobstructed, panoramic view of sky, sun, clouds, horizon, and earth all in one glance.” The instructor pointed out the top of the Federal Gold Depository building and the field where they would eventually land.

Then Moore learned what performance parachuting was all about. The instructor said, “OK, now I’ll show you what this thing can do.” The tandem did a spin and dive maneuver to the right and another to the left. “Now that was definitely a roller-coaster feeling. That’s for sure!” Then they returned to their peaceful, downward descent.

As the objects on Earth grew larger and larger, it was time to prepare for the landing on Brooks Field. As instructed, Moore pulled his knees up and pointed his legs straight outward. The tandem approached the field, and the instructor’s feet made a gentle touchdown on the turf. The 7-minute flight was over. After unhooking from one another, instructor and student rose from the ground for more pictures and an interview by the videographer who awaited them.

“It was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Moore said of the two-day visit. “If I learned anything, it was that the Army really stresses education, training, and safety above all. They really take care of their people. Their standards for training and safety are so high; they really do minimize danger far more than we do in the civilian world. And the education benefits—you just can’t beat them. Soldiers told us, ‘I didn’t pay a dime for my college degree.’ If parents and students are really serious about exploring all options for funding a college education, they do themselves a favor by at least exploring that with a military recruiter in addition the college recruiters. I mean, with so many college students graduating with such enormous debt from loans and no job prospects in the fields they were trained for, you ought to get ALL the options out on the table and pick the best one.”

Moore added, “They showed us that young adults don’t even have to make military service their whole career. Even for a short time commitment, they can get a college education, learn some marketable career skills employers want, get some valuable work experience for the civilian job market, and give back to their country.”

freefall

Robert Moore (bottom), Director of Adult Education and Principal of the Bloomington Graduation School for Monroe County Schools at Broadview Learning Center, soars through the skies above Fort Knox with Sergeant First Class Jared Zell (top), a member of the US Army Golden Knights Parachute Team and a native Hoosier.     (Photo by SGT Jon Lopez, US Army Golden Knights.)

 

 

 

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