FORT CARSON, Colo. - He joined the Army in 2012 with a specific goal in mind and after following it for years the Army provided him with the opportunity of turning his hobby into a career.
"Back in 2010 I started skydiving as a civilian," said Spc. Ethan Tamez, signals intelligence analyst, Delta Company, 299th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. "One of my goals when I joined the military was to become part of the United States Army Parachute Team - the Golden Knights."
The Golden Knights are one of the three Department of Defense-sanctioned aerial demonstration teams, along with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. They perform at more than 100 events per year.
After a deployment to Afghanistan Tamez finally began his journey towards becoming a Golden Knight at Fort Carson.
"We like to say that whenever you joke with Spc. Tamez about something to do with adversity he will overcome it no matter what," said Warrant Officer Chaepill Hilyard, brigade signals intelligence analyst technician, Delta Company, 299th BEB, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "The sky is the limit. All he has to do is set his mind to a task and he'll accomplish it."
The United States Army Parachute Team requires potential candidates to successfully undergo 100 civilian skydives before attending their course.
Tamez performed 56 of his 100 jumps while on leave for eight days in July 2014. He said it was eight long days of jumping and packing his shoot in under 6 and a half minutes.
In August 2015, Tamez submitted his packet to the United States Army Parachute Team and was selected for their assessment and selection program.
"It was a two-month process of being evaluated not only as an individual person but also as a Soldier," said Tamez, a native of Urbana, Illinois. "A lot of it had to do with; are you a good team member, do you work well with other people, can you lead and can you follow."
Tamez and 14 other candidates trained under the guidance of six experienced cadre in a day-by-day struggle to prove that they deserved a spot on the team.
"We started with a lot of physical exercise and then we began classes to learn and understand freefall parachuting," said Tamez. "It was one week of learning how to fly a parachute and then moving onto simple maneuvers that the United States Army Parachute Team prides themselves on."
By the sixth week of the assessment and selection program the candidates were cut down to seven members based on their performance and teamwork.
"Everyone in the platoon was extremely supportive in what he wanted to do," said Sgt. David Dettmer, section leader, Delta Company, 299th BEB, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "We were all with him in spirit while he was pushing through the rigorous process of selection."
By the seventh week Tamez achieved his goal and earned a spot on United States Army Parachute Team.
"It's a challenge that I found intriguing and the Golden Knights allow for vast opportunities not only to meet new people and travel the world but also to express how the Army has affected my life and what the Army has done for me," said Tamez. "Pick what you're passionate about, follow it and there's many people in the Army that are willing to help you reach that goal."