October 28, 2011 will be a day remembered for many civilians, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines of the Fort Belvoir Virginia area. Today marked the grand opening of the 1.03 Billion dollar medical facility. This facility will be replacing the famed Walter-Reed Medical Center the earlier this year has begun their closing process. This is America’s newest, most extraordinary, most technically advanced facility, said Vice Adm. John M. Mateczun, commander of Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical. Gold Team was honored in being apart of the opening ceremony for the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital that will serve so many of our fellow service members.
Gold Team was given the opportunity to fly the original Red Cross flag that was flown over Walter-Reed for so many wonderful years. The trust and honor of delivering this flag was given to SFC Dustin Peregrin of Canby Oregon. After jumping from 2,500 feet in almost 20 degree weather the Gold Demonstration team delivered Red Cross flag on target and on time. We then concluded our jump with an opportunity to meet and greet with the staff of the hospital. Gold Team returns back to Fort Bragg for 1 week and then we are off to Texas.
Gold team landed in Missouri on Friday with a warm welcome even though the weather was a bit cold and windy. The team prepared for the attendance in the homecoming parade and jump into the stadium for the Southeast Missouri University football game. The night prior to all the festivities the team was welcomed into the home of Lana Arnzen (a longtime friend of the Golden Knights) where they were received with open arms and treated like family. With a great home cooked meal and some new friends Gold team was ready for the busy day to come.
It started off with the university’s homecoming parade where Gold Team would lead it out! Riding on a float and being pulled by the Cape Girardeau recruiting battalion, the spectator turnout for the event was overwhelmed with American patriots. Gold Team then moves to the airfield in preparation for the Redhawks game. With the sun shining, a clear blue sky, and light winds, we couldn’t have asked for better jump conditions. The team geared up in decorative SEMO jerseys to show their support and performed an amazing show for the rowdy crowd. Two high performance canopies wowed the crowd by leading the stack in followed by another jumper flying in the game ball, while closing the stack with a bi-plane onto the field and our camera man landing dead center on the 50 yard line. Once on the ground the amazing city of Cape Girardeau continues with wonderful support and make us feel right at home.
At the end of the day, Gold team prepared to travel back to fort Bragg. Knowing that one day they would be back to see their old friends again soon.
Smiles crept up the faces of the try-outs this last Thursday as the Golden Knights Twin-Otter aircraft made its climb up to 12,500 feet. The sky was clear and sunny and for the remaining try-outs, this was their first of many exciting baton-passes. It’s the third week of this years Golden Knight Assessment and Selection program and with the improving weather the try-outs are once again back in the skies over Laurinburg, NC. In order to make up for the lost time the cadre are working hard to get the try-outs as many jumps a day as they can. To maximize the training they keep a close watch on the jumpers from the moment he leaves the plane until the landing. At the end of the day a thorough debriefing is given using video recordings of all the jumps. The cadre go in-depth on everything that went right and wrong and the try-out must explain what was happening at that moment. Throughout the day there is no time to rest. Sometimes in as little as 15 minutes from landing the try-out is expected to have his parachute packed and be ready to get on the plane again. Next week the try-outs will put themselves to the test again with the demanding diamond track maneuver. As always we strive for perfection in the skies and soft landings on target.