Chapter 1 - Section 2
- Table of Contents
- Chapter 1
- Overview of Rank
- About Our Shield
- Learn Our Creed
History of the Golden Knights - Chapter 1 / Section 2
- The Rise of Free Fall Parachute Clubs
- Supplemental Information
- About the Title
Interest in sport parachuting was growing throughout the airborne units. The seed which eventually grew into the United States Army Parachute Team was nourished by the efforts of multiple groups from various units, but for the parachutists from Fort Bragg, NC it began one evening in October 1958.
Several members of the Army's sport parachutist program gathered in a barracks on 52d Street in Ft. Campbell, KY after attending events in the first Military Sport Parachute Meet. Among the parachutists present at that first meeting were SFC Roy D. Martin, SGT Loy Brydon, SGT Dan Byard, SGT Bill Edge, SGT Jack Helms, SP4 Sam Edwards, SP4 Morris Patrick and a few others. The idea was presented to one of their commanding officers, MAJ Merrill Shepard, who endorsed it.
Independently, an 82nd Airborne staff member, Captain Paddley, approached Sergeant First Class (SFC) Harry Arter and asked if he would submit a letter to the Army Times that CPT Paddley had composed. The letter described Army Regulation 95-19, the regulation which authorized the forming of free fall parachuting clubs. It also pointed out that the Department of the Army (DA) had made little progress in creating a free fall club. CPT Paddley said he could not sign the letter, because "they" (meaning his superiors) could get to him, whereas Arter was leaving the Division shortly; therefore, Arter could expect little or no repercussions from signing the letter.
During his 30 days of SD, SFC Arter qualified for his Parachute Club of America C-88 parachuting license, an exceptional achievement for the time. Subsequently, Harry Arter became the first free fall instructor for the XVIII Abn Corps Sport Parachute club. [See Supplemental Information to learn more about licensing. See Supplemental Information in Section 1-3 to learn more about Harry Arter.]
COL William P. Grieves (sometimes incorrectly spelled Greives) issued the first command which implemented a free fall parachuting club. He was known as "Colonel Bill". Colonel Bill was the Executive Office (XO) of Corps Artillery. BG Harris was the Commander. Though not free-fallers, they backed the Parachute Clubs. Colonel Bill was our first big gun, and it is still believed that he never became a Brigadier General (BG) because of his connection to free fall parachuting.
Free fall parachute clubs developed concurrently at both Ft Bragg, NC and Ft Campbell, KY during 1958-1959. Free fall parachutes clubs were chartered as Non Appropriated Fund organizations, meaning they operated at no cost to the government. A parachute club had a constituion, by-laws, and elected officers who directed the club's operations. Members paid dues and training fees that were used to purchase equipment, pay entry fees for competitions, and to pay for professional services such as those for managers and riggers.
Each level of a parachute license has specific skill and performance requirements. Those include:
- Number of jumps
- Type of jumps,
- Location and timing of jumps (for instance night and/or water),
- Number of free falls,
- Duration of free falls,
- Accuracy of landing,
- Aerial style during free fall,
- Formation or Relative Work (RW) work in the air, and
- Passing a written test.
Licensing standards are determined by the US Parachute Association.
Click here to learn more about licensing for parachutists and free fallers.
A License = Basic
B License = Intermediate
C License = Advanced [Highest level awarded in the late 1950s]
D License = Master or Expert
Rare before the early 1960s, the D License became more prevalent as the sport expanded and the Army's skydivers perfected their skills.
"Like a Static Line"
Captain Paddley was a member of the Plans and Intelligence section
(or G-2 staff) of the 82nd Airborne Division.
His position made him subject to repercussions from his superiors.
Although he was not comfortable openly promoting sport parachuting,
his efforts to bring sport parachute clubs to the US Army
were like those of the static line that pulls the parachute from the jumper's backpack.
With his efforts and those of many jumpers and commanders, the "parachute" was fully opened.