On Friday, the fifth of April, 2019, students from Brandon High School and McLane Middle School were treated to an aerial demonstration usually reserved for major sporting events and air shows. Sponsored by U.S. Army Recruiting Command, and coordinated by Brandon’s Army JROTC Battalion, the Army Golden Knights conducted a parachute jump into E.F. McLane Stadium to the amazement of over two thousand students. During multiple passes by the team’s distinctive aircraft, free-fall jumpers deployed smoke canisters and performed exacting maneuvers while under canopy. Along with the national colors and state flag, the Golden Knights unfurled the Brandon Eagle Battalion's school colors while descending onto the football field. Once safely on the ground, Golden Knight soldiers were introduced to the audience and recognized Cadet Lieutenant Colonel, Rayna Drigo, with a baton passed in the air during the jump. Cadet Drigo reports this summer to the United States Military Academy at West Point to join the class of 2023. Following the official performance, cadets joined the Golden Knights on the football field to assist in re-packing their parachutes for their next demonstration.
Founded in 1959, 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. Utilizing five dedicated aircraft, the demonstration teams perform at more than 100 events every year. Over the last 60 years the Golden Knights have conducted more than 16,000 shows in 50 states and 48 countries, reaching an average of 60,000 people per show. The team has earned the U.S. Army 2,148 gold, 1,117 silver, and 693 bronze medals in national and international competition with team members breaking 348 world records in skydiving.
Donald H. Gunn, Jr. MBA, M.His
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Senior Army Instructor, Brandon H.S.
BHS Class of 1986
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