By Ms. Cheryle Rivas (USAAC)June 17, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 85th birthday tandem jumping with the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights. The event took place in Kennebunkport, Maine at St. Ann's Episcopal Church, the same location where the former president's parents were married.
Family and friends gathered to observe the jump, looking skyward as the former president and his tandem master SFC Michael Elliott, made their descent toward the target area. All five of his children were present, including the 43rd President, George W. Bush. Also in attendance were 150 members of C-Change, an organization comprised of key cancer leaders, in which the Bush's are chairs. Friends from the town of Kennebunkport and Bush supporters gathered nearby on boats, clinging cowbells in support of his 85th birthday jump.
"It was a great exhilarating feeling, I don't feel a day over 84," noted the President. "It sends a message around the globe you don't have to sit around in a corner just 'cause you're an old guy drooling. Get out and do something, get out and enjoy life," he added.
Golden Knight Team Commander, LTC Tony Dill commented on what an honor it was to be part of such a special event for the 41st president. "We have been training for this event for some time, and to see our team members work together to make this event happen, it shows the strength of not only our Soldiers, but our Nation as well."
SFC Elliott admitted to being a little nervous, mostly because of Bush's age and the presence of the entire family. "What we do is inherently dangerous, so there's always some risk, but we pride ourselves on safety and make sure everything goes as planned. And today it went without a hitch," he said. Elliott is a native of Spring Lake, North Carolina and has been with the Golden Knights for eight years.
Jumping with the President for the first time was morning show host Robin Meade of HLN, the cable network formerly known as Headline News. She and her tandem master, SFC Kurt Isenbarger, landed moments before the President. Isenbarger, a Columbus, Ohio native, has been with the team for 13 years.
The Golden Knights celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, serving as Army ambassadors representing more than one million Soldiers. The weekend also marked the 234th birthday for the U.S. Army.
For more information about the U.S. Army Parachute Team, visit www.armygoldenknights.com
For media information or to schedule interviews contact Donna Dixon or Cheryle Rivas at 910.396.7423.