By Jerry Merideth,
U.S. Army Accessions Support Brigade
May 02, 2016
From 13,000 feet above Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, the U.S. Army's Parachute Team, the Golden Knights, sharpen their skills and teamwork.
The team conducts their specialized annual training at Homestead from January to March, according to USAPT Commander, Lt. Col. Matthew J. Weinrich.
"We conduct an annual certification cycle each year at Homestead Air Reserve Base to prepare the demonstration, tandem, and competition teams for the upcoming show and competition seasons," he said.
The parachutists are evaluated on maneuvers, tasks, and safety requirements. Training for the demonstration teams begins with basic individual jump skills, culminating with a full demonstration show rehearsal.
They also conduct joint training with other military parachute demonstration teams, including the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs and the U.S. Military Academy"s West Point Parachute Team.
The Golden Knights tandem program allows key centers of influence, including academic and civic leaders and news representatives to experience one aspect of Army life.
Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Melton, tandem program manager, said seeing Soldiers jump out of airplanes inspired him to join the Army.
"I walked in to a recruiting office in 1996 and saw a picture of a Soldier jumping out of an airplane," he said. "I told them that was what I wanted to do. People tell me all the time that I have a great job. I tell them that they could do it too."
The team travels more than 250 days a year giving demonstrations before more than 100 million people.
"This is no small task," Weinrich said. "They may often be the only Soldier that many Americans ever meet."