FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The U.S. Army’s most elite parachute team known as the Golden Knights has a new class of skydivers.
The five servicemembers parachuted onto the parade field at Fort Liberty on Monday for their graduation ceremony. The graduates were Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Heath, Sgt. 1st Class Jonah Makuna Seui, Staff Sgt. Tyler J. Becker, Staff Sgt. Austin L. Morton and Staff Sgt. Justin J. Drake.
“The biggest thing that was going through my mind was don’t mess it up,” Sergeant First Class Michael Heath, Golden Knights Graduate said.
He was one of the five guys descending to the field as part of their final exercise.
“I want to be a Golden Knight, I was on a different army parachute team and also doing parachute demonstrations and promoting the army. I wanted to do it on a much larger scale for a much more elite team,” SFC Heath said.
The intense 8 weeks of training for this elite U.S. Army parachute team starts at Fort Liberty.
“Through this program, we are accessing a lot of different things. Their commitment to be there for one. This is much more than just a skydiving club. They are here to be representatives of their nation and of the Army to the American people. Those are all the things we are accessing. Their physical fitness, their parachuting ability, their ability to be coached by their cadre and their instructors, their communication, and many other tasks as well,” Lieutenant Colonel Andy Moffit, Commander of the Golden Knights said.
Each class has to complete between 150 to 200 jumps before graduation. This latest group started with 12 applicants and ended with five making the final jump. An elbow injury during training caused the only woman in the group to not complete the process. She will be back in the selection process next fall after making a full recovery.
“We look forward to having women back on the team,” LTC Moffit said.
While the team is known for its aerial excellence, the members also serve as ambassadors for those who serve our country.