25th CAB, Golden Knights celebrate Army birthday

| June 19, 2015 | 0 Comments
Staff Sgt. Sean Everette (in yellow), 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs officer, jumps from a 25th CAB CH-47 Chinook helicopter with his Golden Knights tandem instructor, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Acevedo. Everette spent five days with the Golden Knights, covering their mission to jump with NASA’s HI-SEAS on the Big Island. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Trey Martin, U.S. Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights)

Staff Sgt. Sean Everette (in bottom yellow), 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs officer, jumps from a 25th CAB CH-47 Chinook helicopter with his Golden Knights tandem instructor, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Acevedo. Everette spent five days with the Golden Knights, covering their mission to jump with NASA’s HI-SEAS on the Big Island. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Trey Martin, U.S. Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights)

Staff Sgt. Sean Everette
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs
25th Infantry Division

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The U.S. Army Parachute Team, the “Golden Knights,” is one of the premier parachute teams in the world.

They’ve won thousands of medals in various competitions since their inception in 1959, and they are important ambassadors for the U.S. Army and Department of Defense.

The Golden Knights recently visited Schofield Barracks, where they joined the 25th Infantry Division, the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade and the local community to celebrate the Army’s 240th birthday by taking Soldiers, community leaders, educators and media up to 13,000 feet in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and tandem skydiving with them, June 11-15.

Golden Knights Staff Sgt. John Lopez (right) takes photos and video of Golden Knight Staff Sgt. Richard Sloan and his tandem partner as they prepare to jump from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade CH-47 Chinook helicopter, June 14. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Everette, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

Golden Knights Staff Sgt. John Lopez (right) takes photos and video of Golden Knight Staff Sgt. Richard Sloan and his tandem partner as they prepare to jump from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade CH-47 Chinook helicopter, June 14. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Everette, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

Tandem skydiving – where a new or novice skydiver is attached to a more experienced parachutist at the shoulders and hips, by a fitted harness – and the two jump together – is something the Golden Knights do regularly, and it helps to build bridges with different communities and show civilians a little of what it is like to be a Soldier.

“They are basically getting an Army experience,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Acevedo, a Golden Knights tandem instructor. “They hear our stories.

“I was in a line unit as a cavalry scout and an early warning systems operator for nine years,” Acevedo explained, “so they get my stories and hear everything I did from Iraq to Korea. Then they hear what I’ve done as a Golden Knight.”

“One of the other things I see that they get from it is how, on a daily basis, Soldiers overcome obstacles and fears, but we do it together as a team,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Sloan, another Golden Knights tandem instructor. “In addition to that, when we’re up at altitude at 13,000 feet, no matter who you are, as soon as you step on that ledge and are about to exit that aircraft, everyone’s heart is pumping hard core. Now they’re getting an understanding in a 30-second block period of what it can be like in the day in the life of an American Soldier. They’re able to take that with them.”

Golden Knight Staff Sgt. Richard Sloan brings his civilian tandem partner in for a landing on Weyand Field, June 14. A 25th Combat Aviation Brigade CH-47 Chinook helicopter took Sloan and his partner to 13,000 feet above Oahu, where they jumped from and experienced freefall at speed in excess of 120 miles per hour before deploying a parachute. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Everette, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

Golden Knight Staff Sgt. Richard Sloan brings his civilian tandem partner in for a landing on Weyand Field, June 14. A 25th Combat Aviation Brigade CH-47 Chinook helicopter took Sloan and his partner to 13,000 feet above Oahu, where they jumped from and experienced freefall at speed in excess of 120 miles per hour before deploying a parachute. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Everette, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

If the reaction from those who jumped with the Golden Knights is any indication, the experiences of both Soldiers and civilians over the three days of jumping can only help and strengthen Army and civilian communities and the bond we share.

“It was fabulous!” said Will Espero, Hawaii state senator for Ewa Beach and the western shores of Pearl Harbor. “Being that high and looking at the whole island was wonderful. It’s good to be connected with the military and for civilians to see the work our military does. This is a great way to bond and understand some of the military way of life.”

“It was everything I expected,” said Andrew Pereira, a reporter for local TV station KITV. “The professionalism. The expertise. Sgt. 1st Class Joe Jones, my instructor, did a great job and made me feel at ease. These kind of events bring the civilian and military together, and are a great way to showcase what the Army does.”

“It was exhilarating and not as scary as I thought it would be,” said Fredd Murphy, principal of Mililani High School. “The guys are so well trained. Coming out today really gives me a better understanding of the Army and the reason why these men and women do these jobs. They’re here to protect our country, and they’re here to help us on a daily basis. These activities are really great for building those bridges and learning from one another.”

“It was great,” said Staff Sgt. Ricardo Orduna, platoon sergeant for Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Inf. Regiment, 2nd Stryker Bde. Combat Team, 25th ID. “Up there, it was so peaceful. Also, to be selected to do something like this because I’ve done my job well … the morale boost is awesome!”

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kristi Hickey, a CH-47 Chinook standardization instructor pilot for Co.B, 3-25th Avn. Regt., 25th CAB. “Most of the time I have to fly these missions. Once we took off, it hit me. ‘Oh my God, I’m about to jump out of my own helicopter!’ It was the most amazing thing I’ve done in my entire life!”

Gratitude for this opportunity doesn’t just flow from the combined civilian and military Hawaii community. It flows both ways.

“A huge thanks to the base and the 25th ID for bringing us out and supporting us,” Sloan said. “Thanks to the 25th CAB for sending us out with their Chinooks. There are so many people involved in the organizing of our planning that you never get to see or meet. It allows us to do our mission. We really appreciate all of the support.”

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Category: Community Relations, Leadership, News, Observances, Safety

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