LAURINBURG, N.C. (Sept. 28, 2010) -- For most people, donning a yellow jumpsuit, strapping themselves to another person and jumping out of a plane 14,000 feet up is not a normal day.

For a group of nine civilians visiting Laurinburg, N.C., the location of the Army's Golden Knights hangar, this was exactly what they did and they were strapped to a member of the U.S. Army's parachute team, the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights tandem team, which currently consists of seven Soldiers, provides approved civilians the chance to parachute jump and display the skills and qualifications of these specialized Army Soldiers. Each Golden Knight is an active-duty Soldier who has over 100 freefall jumps, is Airborne qualified and has been "Knighted" to the selective team.

As a community relations outreach event, 4th Brigade U.S. Army Cadet Command, U.S. Army 1st Recruiting Brigade and the North Carolina National Guard invited a group of Army advocates to a tandem camp at the Golden Knights hangar. The advocates came from different areas, including South Carolina, New Jersey and North Carolina.

4th Brigade Cadet Command's1st Lt. (P) Chris Hamilton, who coordinated the logistics of the event, said working with Army counterparts was refreshing.

"By each command committing resources to make this a great experience, we were able to look beyond the short term goals of our units and conduct a mission that represented the Army as a whole," Hamilton said.

Col. Ronald Elrod, commander of 4th Brigade, spoke to the group and thanked them for coming to the event. In his welcome, Elrod spoke on the importance of community relations to the Army.

From the Army side, Hamilton said the tandem camp offered him a unique opportunity.

"I got to work with some of the 'movers and shakers' in the mid-Atlantic Region," said Hamilton. "They were very enthusiastic about getting an Army experience."

After a meet-and-greet, the Golden Knights tandem team leader Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott led the instruction, demonstrated the equipment, the proper way to exit the airplane and the safest way to land. Elliott also said a Golden Knight videographer would be jumping at the same time to document their entire experience.

The key to a successful jump'

"Trust us," Elliott said. "We will not let you go."

The group went out to get their jumpsuits and their Golden Knight tandem partner fitted them with harnesses for the jump. From there, the only place to go was up - approximately three miles in the air.

Jim Presbrey, director of Academics in Motion, located in New York City, said he was blown away by the event and the Golden Knights, and it was unlike anything he had ever done.

"You can't explain it because there is nothing to compare it to and it is such a unique thing," said Presbrey.

Once the jumpers hit the ground, a few of the words to describe the jump were "amazing," "incredible" and even a few "woohoos!"

"It was unlike anything I've ever done," Jody Kelly of Progress Energy North Carolina said.

The Golden Knights tandem camp was the first event that involved parts of U.S. Army Cadet Command, U.S. Army Recruiting Command and National Guard working together on a community relations event.

"I thought it was a well-done, first-class experience," Presbrey said.

The takeaway from the event' If you're going to jump out of an airplane, you might as well jump with the pros, the Golden Knights.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16