FORT BRAGG, N.C. –
The U.S. Army Parachute Team will host skydiving training as a part of their Green Platoon Initiative to recruit Fort Bragg Soldiers that aspire to join the team, but lack skydiving experience.
Participating Soldiers will conduct more than 300 free-fall parachute jumps, receive public speaking coaching, develop stress management skills and receive U.S. Parachuting Association licenses.
“The basic purpose of the Green Platoon program is to strengthen the United States Army’s parachute team by ensuring that we get the right people for the team,” said Staff Sgt. Blake Gaynor, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the USAPT Preparation Program.
The USAPT, also known as the Golden Knights, conducts worldwide parachute demonstrations, competitions and tandems to connect the Army with the American public. They also enhance the Army’s recruiting efforts, while simultaneously providing technical expertise in support of military free-fall programs. The team operates on an elite level, conducting at least 10 tandem camps and performing at more than 40 shows a year throughout the United States.
Currently, the Golden Knights hold an assessment and selection program once a year, but according to Gaynor, only half of the candidates make it through the program.
“We get about four to eight candidates a year that make it… and it’s a constant struggle to maintain competency and people while Soldiers complete their enlistment obligation or retire out of the organization,” said Gaynor.
The preparation platoon will prepare interested Soldiers not only in skydiving, but also in being a good ambassador for the Army. The training they receive during the program will give them a better chance of making it through the Golden Knights’ assessment and selection process.
“As cadre, I’ve seen a lot of candidates come through and not make it because of their lack of skydiving experience or their inability to conduct public speaking,” said Gaynor. “Sometimes they have the skydiving experience, but lack maturity or stress management skills. We travel all over the world and perform at very high profile events in small teams, so each individual has to remain very proficient in all of their tasks.”
Interested Fort Bragg Soldiers can submit their packets until Feb. 18 to firstname.lastname@example.org.