By Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Collins, 95th Civil Affairs BrigadeJune 23, 2017
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- After a five-day tryout that included an Army Physical Fitness Test, a Public Affairs interview, a tandem freefall jump, and time in the wind tunnel, two 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) paratroopers were selected to become part of the United States Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team, otherwise known as the Black Daggers.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Malone, Civil Military Operations Center noncommissioned officer in charge, Company C, 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), and Staff Sgt. Christopher Hardy, assistant operations sergeant, Company B, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), are the first members of the Civil Affairs community selected to be a part of the Black Daggers.
The Black Daggers represent the professionalism and dedication of special operations forces and perform aerial demonstrations in support of U.S. Army Special Operations Command community outreach and recruiting efforts.
"I feel this is a huge accomplishment in my career," said Hardy, "being selected as one of the first Soldiers from the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne), to be skydivers for such an elite team as the USASOC Black Daggers."
Malone, who has served for 15 years, agrees that being selected for the USASOC Black Daggers is an amazing opportunity and is grateful and excited to be a part of the team.
Malone and Hardy, both with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, credit hard work and determination as the driving forces that led them to join the celebrated skydiving team.
"I have always wanted to be a part of the team that is at the tip of the spear and the best at what they do," said Hardy.
"I've always strived to excel and succeed in everything I do," said Malone. "This was an amazing opportunity to work with some of the finest Soldiers and I literally jumped at the opening."
While working with the Black Daggers, both paratroopers will support the team during demonstrations while continuing to train to meet team standards.
"We are training to meet the United States Parachute Association and Black Dagger team requirements so we can be fully integrated into the team," explained Malone. "We need to perform 200 jumps as fast and as safely as possible, while supporting the team with the many shows they're already scheduled to attend."
While on tour with the Black Daggers, both soldiers have stated that they hope to represent the Civil Affairs community well.
"I will strive to represent our community professionally and hope this provides greater awareness of the Civil Affairs organization within special operation forces," said Malone.
Hardy agrees that being a member of the Black Daggers will allow him and Malone to let more of the public know what Civil Affairs Soldiers do.
"As members of the USASOC Black Daggers, we have an opportunity to provide accurate information about Civil Affairs and make many more people aware of our mission and capabilities," said Malone.