Known for outstanding feats involving jumping from planes and parachuting in colorful, and dangerous formations, the Army Golden Knights are recognized worldwide for their amazing talents and abilities.
If you have never witnessed an Army Golden Knight demonstration, I highly recommend it.
In today’s post, we are going to get a closeup look at the Army Golden Knights. These are 18 cool facts about this great unit.
1: The Start
In 1959, Brigadier General Joseph Stilwell Jr. Gathered 19 talented airborne soldiers and formed the Strategic Army Command Parachute Team (STRAC). The goal was to compete in the sport of skydiving and unseat the Soviet Union from there domination of the sport.
The STRAC Team – 1959 Front [l-r] Merrill Shepard, John Hollis, Jim Arender, Loy Brydon, Ron Brown, Ralph Palmer – Rear [l-r] BG Joe Stilwell, Bob Lanier (USAF), Harry Arter, Dick Fortenberry, Danny Byard, Ray Love (SF), Jim Pearson, Vernon Morgan (USAF), Kurt Hughes
2: First Demonstration
The first demonstration the STRAC team performed was in Danville, Virginia in November of 1959 in front of about 20,000 people.
In 1961 the Department of Defense made the STRAC team the official United States Army Parachute Team.
4: New Nickname
In 1962, the STRAC team was given a nickname that has stuck ever since. They had won so many gold medals that it just became common sense to have gold in the name, so Golden Knights they would be. Knight was significant of these airborne soldiers conquering the skies.
Since that first demonstration in Danville, Virginia, the Army Golden Knights have performed well over 16,000 shows all over the world.
6: Medals Won
The Army Golden Knights have won many medals. The approximate count is:
Gold Medals: 2,148
Silver Medals: 1,117
Bronze Medals: 693
7: World Records
The Army Golden Knights have set and broken a plethora of world records. At last count, we believe it is a total of 348. The most recent record was made by Army Golden Knight Staff Sergeant Ben Borger jumped with a wing-suit at 32,000 feet and flew 11 1/2 miles in 6 minutes and 35 seconds.
8: Army Golden Knight Creed
These men and women of the Army Golden Knights have a creed they abide by. It is:
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.
9: Requirements To Become An Army Golden Knight
Do you think you have what it takes to become an Army Golden Knight? There are basically 4 requirements you need to satisfy to join this elite organization. They are:
You must have a clean military and civilian criminal and discipline record.
You have performed at least 100 free-fall jumps, either military or civilian.
You must be airborne qualified or willing to attend United States Army Airborne School.
You must submit your application for approval within your chain of command.
The Army Golden Knights is all about teamwork. There are 5 different teams and you will find them listed in the next cool facts.
Headquarters is broke down into command, operations, administration and parachute maintenance and supply. The people involved with command are:
Commander: Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Weinrich
Command Sergeant Major: Thomas Holland
Executive Officer: Lieutenant Colonel Henry Groulx
The Army Golden Knights have the best aviation crew available. They operate the C-31A Troopship, UV-18 DeHaviland Twin Otter and there are maintenance and support personnel.
The Army Golden Knights have 2 demonstration teams that travel performing for audiences at air shows, sporting events and other activities. There is a Black Team and a Gold Team.
These are the ones who will fall with you if you would want to jump with an experienced parachutist. Some famous people have jumped with these tandem Golden Knights including:
President George H.W. Bush
The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders
These are the jumpers who win the medals. They have won 460 National Championships, 100 World Championships, 32 National Titles and 10 World Titles. They are broke down into 4 areas of expertise:
8 Way Free-fall Formation
Women’s 4 Way
You can find the Army Golden Knights on Facebook here. They have over 97,000 followers.
You can find the Army Golden Knights tweeting about their next demonstration here. There are over 6,000 Tweeters following the Golden Knights.
Watch the latest videos on the Army Golden Knights YouTube page here. Over 3,700 people already do.
18: Golden Knights Alumni
Celebrating those who were at one time Army Golden Knights is the Golden Knights Alumni Association. As they say: “It is Better to be a Has Been, than a Never Was”. You can learn more about this great organization just by visiting the link.
In August of 2015, one of the members of the Black Demonstration team, Master Sergeant Corey Hood died after a terrible accident in a Chicago show. Corey had served 5 tours in Iraq, and was an excellent parachutist, but on that day he met his destiny. It was a sad day for the Golden Knights and for Corey’s family. We at Part Time Commander offer our condolences and we honor Corey for all he did to serve the citizens of the United States.
To all members past and present of the Army Golden Knights, thank you for the great things you do. Just watching all of you perform those amazing feats tells us we have the best Army in the world.
Have you been a member or are a member now? Please tell us more. All comments and questions are welcome. Just post them below.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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1 thought on “Army Golden Knights: 18 Cool Facts”
We received a baton passed in free fall by members of your demonstration team at the 101st Airborne Association’s 48th annual reunion (August 1993). As part of our chapter’s tradition, we “pass the baton” from the outgoing to the incoming president. We are proud to host this year’s 77th annual reunion in Grand Rapids, MI (3-6 August), and are having our chapter’s 35th annual reunion in Brighton, MI (16-18 Sept). Is there any possibility of a demonstration by the Golden Knights between September 16th-18th?
Dr. Patrick Kavanaugh, President
Michigan Chapter, 101st Airborne Division Association