By Mr. Jerry Merideth (U.S. Army Accessions Support Brigade)April 13, 2018
Soldiers from the U.S. Army Parachute Team -- the "Golden Knights" -- and U.S. Army Recruiting Command's Miami Recruiting Battalion, highlighted the Army's rich cultural diversity during an appearance on the "Don Francisco Te Invita" program.
The NBC-Telemundo program broadcasts to millions of viewers around the world, keeping generations of viewers entertained during decades of television shows.
Recorded in Spanish, the April 1 broadcast built upon an earlier Golden Knights tandem skydive with co-host Jessica Carrillo at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida.
The Golden Knights conduct their annual certification cycle at Homestead to prepare for airshows and tandem camps across the country that support the Army's accessions mission for officer and enlisted Soldiers.
During the show, Carrillo donned a Golden Knights jumpsuit to commemorate her skydive. On camera, Francisco talked to Golden Knights Commander Lt. Col. Carlos Ramos and team member Sgt. 1st Class John Lopez, both from Puerto Rico, about what it's like to be Soldiers on the Army's premiere demonstration team. As guests in the studio audience, about 20 Soldiers from the Golden Knights and the Miami Recruiting Battalion were recognized during the show.
Lopez conducted the tandem jump, tethered to Carrillo under a single parachute. An infantryman before joining the Golden Knights, Lopez said the Telemundo network TV show was the perfect venue to reach Hispanic Americans and talk about the Army.
"I would have never guessed I would have the opportunity to represent the Army on Telemundo, so it's a very unique experience," he said. "This is a great opportunity to represent the Army on a TV channel so well-known where I'm from; to be able to talk about the Army, and how well it has treated me and cared for my family."
Hispanics comprised 14 percent of the Army in 2016, up from 3 percent in 1985, according to Army statistics. A total of 27 Hispanics have received the nation's highest award, the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Ramos said he was excited about the appearance, particularly about the chance to talk about the Army.
"This was a show we grew up with," Ramos said. "When I shook his hand I said 'It's an honor.' He said 'No, it's my honor.' He is an icon across cultures and continents. It was an honor and humbling to be on stage. We were the first U.S. service members to appear on the show.
"Don Francisco finished the show with an emotional salute to the troops," Ramos said. "He talked about how the Hispanic community supports all our armed forces."
Members of the Golden Knights presented Carrillo with a ceremonial wooden baton after the show. Appearing on camera immediately after her tandem skydive, Carrillo spoke to the Telemundo audience.
"Sometimes you have to put challenges in front of you," Carrillo said. "Overcoming challenges helps you become stronger in life."
After landing, Carrillo said the tandem was spectacular. "It was the greatest experience so far in my life."
Overcoming challenges is something that's familiar to Soldiers, Ramos said.
"Soldiers leverage their education, skills and training to overcome challenges," and create opportunities, he said.
"The Army is very versatile and provides Soldiers with endless opportunities to do great things for their nation," Ramos said. "The Army speaks across cultures. The Army provides opportunities for everyone."
The Golden Knights are part of the Army Marketing and Engagement Brigade at Fort Knox. The brigade is comprised of the Mission Support Battalion, also at Fort Knox, and the Army Marksmanship Unit based at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The brigade is always seeking new ways to support the Army accessions missions, share Soldier stories, and "connect America's people with America's Army," according to Brigade Commander Col. Oscar Pintado.
"We must motivate an ever decreasing pool of qualified and propensed prospects, and those that influence them, to value Army service and seek out more information about the Army," said Pintado. "We must define who we are, what we do, why we do it, the unique opportunities we offer and the long-term benefits of being a Soldier."