I am an infantryman, airborne-qualified, and joined the Golden Knights because as a civilian, I had been an avid skydiver and skydiving instructor.
I got into the military later in life than most people. When the war in Iraq started, I wanted to get involved and do my part for my country so I joined the Army in 2003 at the age of 32. Because there was a waiting list, I had to wait almost eight months before I signed the paperwork to leave for basic training in Fort Benning, GA. I stayed on at Fort Benning at the request of my airborne instructor and helped outprocess soldiers.
Then I went to Alaska as an airborne infantryman. Airborne qualified means that a soldier learns how to jump out of airplanes and trains for airborne operations such as taking over an airfield. We conducted a lot of training exercises. I was a team leader on a 240 Bravo which is a machine gun that is fired from a three man position or an aircraft. I learned about infantry laws such as how to clear a room and how you watch your buddy’s back. There’s a lot of camaraderie in an infantry unit. They’re all your brothers. You’re trained to watch each other and keep each other safe. I also traveled to Australia and trained with British and Australians in the Talisman Saber operation.
When I got to Alaska, everyone from my basic training squadron had been deployed to Afghanistan. Since I had worked airborne for three months, I did not get to go with them. As I continued my career in the Army, I began to think about joining the Golden Knights because of my experience as a skydiver. I was accepted into the program and have been doing shows with the demonstration team that travels for most of the year.
The Golden Knights demonstration team does a mass show, forming one large geometrical formation of 12 people. The full show includes showing different maneuvers such as passing a baton to one another or performing 120 mile/hour spirals in the sky then breaking off. We also do a cutaway maneuver where one person wears three parachutes instead of two, intentionally making one malfunction to show what would happen if someone would have a malfunction. In addition, we do a diamond track maneuver where two people get in a rigid body position (like a ski jumper), go in opposite directions in the sky, then both turn around and come back at each other. They form a big diamond in the sky and it looks like they’re going to hit each other when they cross.
I’m thinking about going to Special Forces selection once I leave the team. I’m also working on getting my computer programming degree now. I look forward to staying in the Army and training others.