By Spc. Cody Thompson, 40th Public Affairs DetachmentJanuary 26, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- The Black Daggers conduct choreographed jumps out of helicopters, airplanes, into stadiums, fairs and events across the country from heights of up to 13,000 feet, but this is the first time in their history a female chaplain assistant has joined their team.
"I was approached by my first sergeant before P.T. [physical training] one morning and he asked me if I wanted to go sky diving," Sgt. Kelly Becker, a chaplain assistant and United States Army Special Operations Command's Black Daggers team member said.
He then proceeded to ask if she would be interested in sky diving as a job, and Becker excitedly said yes, the Vestal, New York native explained.
The Black Daggers are a cumulative group of paratroopers from a diverse selection of jobs in USASOC.
"The Black Daggers try to represent all of the units and jobs within USASOC," Staff Sgt. Kevin Haddon, the Assistant Team Leader and demonstrator for the Black Daggers said. Sgt. Becker's experience as a chaplain assistant brings a unique perspective to the team as a female soldier and as a chaplain assistant. This is especially important when speaking to the general public and to other soldiers within the Army."
Before Becker could join the Black Daggers, she had to go through a process that had never been completed by a chaplain assistant.
"They had to talk to the command chaplain who I worked for, and then the NCOIC [non-commissioned officer in charge], to see if I could be released to do it because it had never been done before," Becker said.
Becker's command team wanted to ensure that she would actually jump out of an airplane before they signed her release form.
"I did my tandem jump on Saint Patrick's Day and then I joined the team in July," Becker explained. "My favorite part about jumping is trying to land on the target."
The Black Daggers are hired to perform demonstrations at events in an attempt to recruit people into the Army, Becker said.
"I feel honored to be on the team with such elite soldiers and be to be the first chaplain assistant to do it," Becker said. "I joined the military after college because I wanted to do a job where I could travel and help people all around the world. I've been really fortunate since I joined the military. My old NCOIC in Germany set me up for success."
Becker's success has in large part been due to people taking a notice of her hard work.
"Sgt. Becker's attitude and willingness to learn made her stand out," Master Sgt. Gregory Starling, the Senior Chaplain Assistant with the Headquarters Headquarters Company, United States Special Operations Command. "She's like a quiet professional. When she worked in my office, she was always on time, and always thinking outside the box. I think she brings moral support and spiritual counseling to team as a chaplain assistant. If soldiers have any problems, she can make recommendations to the chaplains whether it is for support or counseling."
Becker's military career has taken her across multiple countries, and made history by the being the first female chaplain assistant who became a member of the Black Dagger's team. Becker, said that she is proud to continue serving her country, and has no thoughts of leaving because so far, she is having too much fun.