The news that three of the U. S. Army’s Golden Knights were seriously injured in a parachute accident over Homestead Air Reserve Base hit members of our Aventura community hard. For the past five years, members of the Aventura Marketing Council/Chamber of Commerce and Aventura Police Department have had the opportunity to fly tandem with a member of the Golden Knights, the official U.S. Army Parachute Team, thanks to Peter Caspari, Dept of Defense, Employee Support of the Guard and Reserve. 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.
Since 1962, the Golden Knights have conducted over 16,000 shows in 50 states and 48 countries and have won over 2,100 gold medals during national and international competitions. Although based out of Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the team spends its winters in Miami at the Homestead Air Reserve Base.
On February 12th, three Golden Knights were conducting night operations, and something went wrong during the free fall. The soldiers were taken by air rescue to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Two of them were in critical condition and the third soldier was in serious condition. Families of the injured soldiers rushed to the hospital and stayed there for almost a week. When Aventura Police Chief Bryan Pegues heard about the accident, he set the wheels in motion to provide three meals a day for the long days and nights the families were at the hospital waiting for word about their loved ones. Rita Noa, Executive Assistant to Chief Pegues, began reaching out to restaurants in our area, asking them to sponsor meals for the families so teams of Aventura Police officers could deliver them day and night. Without hesitation, all of these establishments sponsored meals for the families:
Area 57 Colombian Restaurant; Bagel Cove Restaurant & Deli; Barrio Latino; Bonefish Grill; Bourbon Steak; Brio at Village of Gulfstream Park; Cuban Guys; El Tropico Cuban Cuisine; Publix Supermarkets; Sicilian Oven and Tony Roma’s.
“The APD had the great honor this month to partner with the heroes of the sky: The US Army Golden Knights. It was humbling to witness the bravery of this team. They offered us the opportunity to learn about their jobs and jump with them from Homestead Air Force base. On the morning of the jump, we arrived to discover that three Knights had just been critically injured during maneuvers. APD Executive Assistant Rita Noa immediately went into action and rallied community support for the families of the soldiers. We were able to donate many meals and comfort items to the families who were at the hospital praying for their injured service member. We wish them a speedy and full recovery.” said Chief Pegues.
One of the soldiers has already been released from the hospital, and the other two remain hospitalized, one still in a coma and the other in serious condition. Perhaps knowing the first paragraph of the Creed of the U. S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team gives us an insight into their commitment to duty:
“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.”