Golden Knights to perform at Athletic Complex

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The Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce is hosting the United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team on Sunday, Aug. 23, at 2 p.m. sharp! The free event is set to take place at Stephen D. Shannon Memorial Athletic Complex located west of the Marina Road in north Guttenberg. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce is hosting the United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team on Sunday, Aug. 23, at 2 p.m. sharp! The event is set to take place at Stephen D. Shannon Memorial Athletic Complex located west of the Marina Road in north Guttenberg. There is no admission fee for the performance, and everyone is welcome. Those in attendance are asked to wear a face mask and practice social distancing. 

"This is the military. The air show will start at 2 p.m. sharp!" said Mandy Ludovissy, Chamber Director. "I strongly recommend anyone attending the program arrive 15 minutes prior to the start of the air show, so you don't miss the first skydiver."

At approximately 1:30 p.m. support personnel for the Golden Knights Black Demonstration Team will arrive at the athletic complex. The ground team will evaluate weather conditions, execute wind checks and mark an area for the skydivers to land. 

Once the area is determined, the Golden Knights plane will fly over and drop streamers. At 2 p.m. the first skydiver will jump to the National Anthem, followed by a 60-minute air demonstration. Following the air show, pending Covid-19 restrictions, youth audience members may have an opportunity to assist the Golden Knights pack up their parachutes, and team members may be on hand to sign autographs and offer photo opportunities. 

In 1959, nineteen airborne soldiers from various military units were gathered together under the leadership of Brigadier General Joseph Stilwell Jr., and formed the Strategic Army Command Parachute Team (STRAC). His intent was to create a team of soldiers who would compete in the relatively new sport of skydiving, which at that time was dominated by the Soviet Union.  The U.S. Army team, representing the United States on the international competition circuit, gave their first demonstration performance in Danville, Va. Two years later, the Department of Defense announced that the STRAC team would become the United States Army Parachute Team.

In the early 1960s the team earned the nickname "Golden Knights." "Golden" represented the many gold medals the team had won, and "Knights" alluded to the team's ambition to conquer the sky. 

Since that time, the Golden Knights have performed more than 16,000 shows in all 50 states and 48 countries, reaching an average 60,000 people per show. The skydiving team has earned the U.S. Army 2,148 gold, 1,117 silver, and 693 bronze medals, and has broken 348 world records in national and international competition. 

"The Golden Knights are one of only three Department of Defense-sanctioned aerial demonstration teams, along with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds," said a spokesperson for the group. "The team is composed of approximately 95 men and women, which includes four parachute units, an aviation unit and a headquarters. The demonstration teams, which use five dedicated aircraft, perform at more than 100 events per year. The tandem section is known for taking soldiers, celebrities and heads of state on jumps, and the competition section focuses on winning national and international skydiving events." 

The Creed

Under a canopy of black and gold I fly the colors of the Army. I volunteered to become an ambassador of my service and I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, high standards, and esprit de corps of the United States Army Parachute Team. The memories, achievements and legacy of all my predecessors are my responsibility; I will not fail them.

Safety is my way of life. Nothing is worth its compromise. No jump is so important, no flight is so essential, and no activity that pressing. All shall look to me for the standard.

Always will I keep myself mentally alert, substance free, physically fit, and morally straight. I represent the image of the U. S. Army. I cannot lose the confidence entrusted in me as a Golden Knight and I will not tolerate those who do.

Professionalism is my trademark regardless of the time or place. My pursuit of excellence in training and performance is with diligence, dedication and attention to detail. My own goals are second to those of the Team and the expectation of me to pass on my skills to all who desire.

The goal I pursue is simple, yet bears a responsibility I must discharge without reservation: when I have gained the respect, admiration, and gratitude of the American public and my teammates, then I have fulfilled my mission as a Golden Knight.

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