Army team leaps into base ceremony
By Mr. Joel Guenther
| | March 1, 2007
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- “Honey, I’m sorry I won’t be able to help you today. I have to go jump out of an airplane at 12,500 feet. I hope you understand. I love you.” Beeeep.
Most spouses are not likely to get a message like this one, that is unless your loved one is a member of the elite Command Exhibition Parachute Team, Silver Wings, out of Fort Benning, Ga. Then you may receive the message with a disturbing regularity.
The Silver Wings dropped in on Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany as part of a retirement ceremony for Chief Petty Officer Frances Hite, Friday. The Silver Wings is part of the Army community throughout Fort Benning. Though the term “Army team” has some exceptions – the team sports a Marine member, Staff Sgt. Noah Watts.
The mission of the team is to perform live aerial demonstrations, especially in support of military and civilian celebrations as part of the installation’s public relations and recruiting missions. They may take part in as many as 150 to 200 events a year.
The Silver Wings can trace is origins to 1958 with the formation of the Fort Benning Sport Parachute Club. It was officially sanctioned in 1965. Going through several name changes, in 1970 the official name became the Command Exhibition Parachute Team, nicknamed the Silver Wings.
Army Master Sgt. Dale Warner leads the team and he happens to be the spouse of the retiring Hite. The other team members who jumped were Watts, Army Staff Sgt. John Young and Army Spcs. Rich Benitez and David Cranney.
Young led off the jump from 12,500 feet solo in order to test conditions. The other four then jumped (from a perfectly good airplane), free-falling for 2,000 feet, then popped smoke and conducted several aerial acrobatic maneuvers.
The average member of the unit has between 150 to 200 jumps and many of them are jump instructors at the Fort Benning airborne training program. However, the parachutists come from several of the units at Fort Benning, not just the jump school.
According to Army Spc. Byron Beplay, their unit can be booked for almost any special occasion, like the Daytona 500 they performed at last week. You merely have to contact the unit at 706- 545-1939 and make the request.
Perhaps they would be available for your next birthday.