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U.S. Army Parachute Team conquers skies of Elizabethtown, Ky.

By Sgt. Bob Yarbrough | U.S. Marketing and Engagement Brigade | June 28, 2018

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. — Members of the United States Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights, held a tandem parachute camp June 15-16 at Addington Field in support of a Total Army Involvement in Recruiting. Tandem parachuting takes much of the risk out of parachuting by pairing, and physically attaching, an inexperienced jumper to a highly skilled Army Golden Knight, literally connecting America's people with America's Army.

The camp was sponsored by the U.S. Army Cadet Command, (USACC), which oversees all Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs in both public and private colleges. The jumpers included administrators from colleges throughout the nation who came to Fort Knox to learn about their Cadets’ advanced camps, or Cadet Summer Training.

“The main purpose of the Tandem Orientation Program is to connect America's People with America’s Army,” said Sgt. 1st Class Laura Davis, the U.S. Army Parachute Team’s tandem coordinator. “It is a way for community influencers to experience just a small bit of the U.S. Army’s capabilities.”

Tandem camps are a great way to involve community leaders, including educators, on Army opportunities while giving them an Army experience. This can help them in influencing students’ futures and careers. The nomination process includes a fairly in-depth justification process to ensure the tandem nominee is an upstanding member of their community that deserves such a reward for their hard work. 

Many nominees are active in charities and give their time and money to help their communities. By engaging these community influencers, the Army can help emphasize service to the country as a rewarding, challenging, and fulfilling career choice for college students and graduates.

One nominee, Dr. Marty Loy, is the Dean of the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point College of Professional Studies. He is also a Hall of Fame wrestling coach for the school and NCAA, and an accomplished author. Along with his wife, they founded Camp HOPE, a program for grieving teens and families. Even with all of his accomplishments, Dr. Loy still had some hang-ups about leaving an airplane while it was in flight.

“Our ROTC cadets and some of our cadre were encouraging me to jump, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it,” said Loy. In the end, the pressure worked. “I did it, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done. I just jumped out of an airplane from two and a half miles up, but I was with the best parachute unit in the world. It was just a fantastic experience.”

While Dr. Loy was thrilled by the jump, he says it’s most likely going to be a once in a lifetime experience. “I was so exhilarated that I think once is probably good enough for me, but it was great. What an experience for a civilian to have. I feel accomplished.”

The camp extended into the 16th and included another set of college administrators, 30 in total, all nominated by the soldiers and civilians of USACC. 

No other service has the scale and scope, the versatility and adaptability, to do all that the U.S. Army does. No unit drives more, jumps more, or shoots more than the U.S. Army Marketing and Engagement Brigade. USAMEB includes the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, whose Soldiers compete internationally in competitions including the Olympics, and the Mission Support Battalion, which produces exhibits that travel nationwide to share the Army experience. 

These Soldiers jump at more than 100 events per year, shoot more than 1 million rounds, and log more than 700,000 miles each year helping “Connect America’s People with America’s Army.”