Skip to comments.Florida educators jump with Golden Knights
Posted on 11/10/2005 4:28:10 PM PST by SandRat
ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. (Army News Service, Nov. 9, 2005) An initiative to promote understanding of the U.S. military matched up the Armys top parachutists with some of Floridas most influential citizens, during a tandem jump clinic in central Florida last week.
Twenty community leaders, educators, and media personalities attended the two-day event northeast of Tampa, where they were given the opportunity to tandem skydive with the U.S. Armys elite Golden Knights parachute team.
Following a morning training class and meeting with the Golden Knights, the civilians were taken up in the Golden Knights signature UV-21 Twin Otter, paired up with Army skydivers, and prepared for a tandem-jump from the plane at 13,500 feet. Each jump lasted about six minutes a minute of exhilarating freefall followed by five minutes of maneuvers under gold and black parachute canopies before the jumpers landed safely on the landing zone in Zephyrhills.
The purpose is really to raise awareness and educate our public by giving them an up-close-and-personal experience with the Army that they might not otherwise have had, said Maj. Leela Dawson, director of U.S. Army Public Affairs Southeast, said as she watched the skydivers land to applause.
It really boils down to an educational awareness opportunity for them, and it helps us because were able to communicate more about the Army to them, Dawson said. And they can go out and spread the word.
The Army holds five clinics like this across the country each year, Dawson said, in the hopes of educating the public.
High school to air video of jump
One attendee of the tandem jump clinic said he already had a plan to share his Army skydiving experience with the community. Vice Principal of Palm Harbor High School Seymour Brown said his Golden Knights jump would be broadcast during the schools morning announcements, written about in the school newspaper, and shared with the nearly 2,400 students at the school near Tampa.
Brown, who is one of five vice principals at the school, explained the story of his skydive could open up discussion with students at his school who are interested in learning more about the military as a career.
Our school is academically ranged within the top 1 percent of the nation, Brown said. We do have a lot of students who would like to venture into one of the military branches. They are fascinated by the fact they can use their math and science skills and the possibility they could fly for either the Army or the Air Force. There is that avenue and interest in my school.
Browns calm demeanor prior to his jump changed dramatically after the successful skydive. Laughing and slightly out of breath, he thanked his Golden Knights jump partner and posed for a few photos.
Theres nothing like coming out at 13,500 (feet), Brown said with a smile. I cant wait for the students to hear this on the morning announcements. This was great!
71-year-old admiral jumps
Another influential citizen chosen to skydive with the Golden Knights was 71-year-old LeRoy Collins from Tampa. Collins a retired Navy admiral and Chairman of the Tampa Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, or ESGR, committee was one of the oldest of the tandem jump clinic attendees.
Before his skydive Collins explained that he hoped the clinic would enable me to understand some portion of what the Armys airborne troops do. And of course, he added, the Golden Knights are just the best.
Following his landing, Collins smiled broadly and gave a thumbs up to the Golden Knights team: Id jump with you guys anytime!
Clinic assists recruiters
The tandem jump clinic will assist the recruiters in their mission, according to the Florida Army National Guards Capt. John Woodcock, who works in the states recruiting and retention force.
These educators, administrators, and school board members are getting this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and theyll go back and relate the positive impact that the U.S. Army and the Florida National Guard has, said Woodcock, who observed the clinic with two of his recruiters. This can help create a positive image in our schools especially the administrators.
I think this will really help increase the visibility of the Army and the Guard, he added.
(Editors note: Staff Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa serves with Florida National Guard Public Affairs.)