Three soldiers of the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute demonstration team were injured during a jump in the early morning hours on Tuesday, February 12. According to the Miami Herald, the soldiers were conducting a nighttime jump around 4 a.m. near Homestead Air Reserve Base when the accident occurred. Local emergency response crews from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to the incident, and the soldiers were transported to a local trauma center via helicopter, according to CBS. The Army is withholding the names of those involved and their current medical condition until a next of kin notification has been made.
“The soldiers are all members of the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights, and were participating in a routine night training operation,” Army Recruiting Command public affairs wrote in a statement. “They are being treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, Florida. The incident is under investigation at this time.”
The Golden Knights are the Army’s parachute demonstration team, similar to the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds or the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels. The majority of the soldiers assigned to the Golden Knights belong to the Army Recruiting Command and are typically based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. According to the Miami Herald, the team works from Homestead ARB in South Florida during the winter months. The group often performs during airshows and before the beginning of sporting events, often parachuting from an aircraft onto the field.
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Formerly known as the Strategic Army Command Parachute Team (STRAC), the Golden Knights were formed in 1959 as a way for the U.S. Army to compete against the Soviet Union in the sport of skydiving, according to the Army. Almost 100 soldiers are assigned to the unit, which has three unique teams: the 26-member demonstration team; the tandem team, which is responsible for taking select VIPs on jumps; and the competition team, which competes in skydiving events around the globe. The Golden Knights also have their own aviation section, which operates the UV-18 De Havilland Twin Otter and the C-31A Friendship.
Tuesday’s incident is not the first time a member of the Golden Knights has been severely injured or killed during parachute operations. In 2015, Army SFC Corey Hood was killed in Chicago during a jump. According to USA Today, Hood collided with a member of the U.S. Navy’s parachute team during an acrobatic maneuver. The collision knocked Hood unconscious, leaving him unable to pull his ripcord and causing him to collide into a nearby high-rise building.