Go take a flying leap!
Later this month that is exactly what Buckeye Local High School principal Coy Sudvary plans to do when he takes the U.S. Army up on a rare invitation to participate in a tandem parachute jump with a member of the Army's world renowned precision competition parachute team, The Golden Knights.
The local high school principal could not be more elated about the prospect of joining in the tandem jump. He is the first to admit this is hardly the kind of thing friends and family would expect to find him doing. Sudvary describes himself as a guy who generally keeps his feet planted squarely on the ground.
Members of the U.S. Army world renowned precision competition parachute team, The Golden Knights, take a leap from their plane. Buckeye Local High School Principal Coy Sudvary has been invited to participate in a tandem parachute jump with a member of this prestigious team.
But, not this time.
The invitation from the U.S. Army was too tempting to pass up, so he didn't.
He will soon be on his way to Fort Knox, Ky., where he and a small group of select civilians will have an unforgettable experience: getting a brief bit of basic "jump school" training before jumping out of an airplane strapped to one of the best military precision parachutists in the world.
Sudvary has never been overly fond of heights, has never been in a plane for any reason, and seldom has a chance to travel any real distance from the Ohio Valley.
His wife, Jessica, thought it was a great idea after she found out he was going to be parachuting with the best the U.S. Army has to offer when it comes to the skills of precision parachuting.
Their daughters, Arabel, age 8, and Leila, age 2, obviously have their own levels of understanding about the unique experience their father is about to jump into, literally. But he plans to make sure he shares the story with them when they are a little older, noting the Army regularly documents these special events via video and photographs.
The man with that answer was connected to the school for more than three years as a local recruiting agent, U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Jason McFadden.
McFadden explained that on his many visits to the school, he was always made to feel that both he and the opportunities of military service his presence represented inside the school were genuinely welcomed.
The recruiter was complimentary of the way in which Sudvary relates to students and staff alike on an everyday basis. Sudvary's strong connection to the students and the surrounding communities made it possible for him to serve as a unique guide or sounding board of sorts with regard to individual students and the many scenarios which can come into play when high school students begin thinking about what career choices they will soon make.
"He has a good demeanor with students and the faculty," offered McFadden.
The man who nominated the local principal for the jump says it had as much to do with the overall genuine sense of welcome he was met with every time he visited the school, as with anything else.
When McFadden learned he was to be transferred to duty in the Pittsburgh area just after the school year ended, he began looking for a very unique way to let the faculty and students of Buckeye Local High School know just how much he has enjoyed working with and around them.
As news of the rare civilian-focused tandem jump event with the Army's Golden Knights surfaced, McFadden saw the perfect opportunity emerge.
One of McFadden's final duties in connection with the local high school was to formally announce to the students that their principal was, in fact, going to get to jump with the members of the U.S. Army's elite parachute team the Golden Knights not long after the school year was to end.
It was an announcement made at one of the school's honors assemblies during the final days of the school year, but there was no lack of enthusiasm for the announcement by McFadden about the decision.
The students erupted when McFadden announced Sudvary would soon be off to Fort Knox for the event, as he was one of just a handful of civilians nationwide who had been selected for the honor.
The energy generated by the news was even greater when the students learned the plane ride taking him to the jump level would constitute his first ever plane ride, and that he is not a fan of high places, Sudvary reflected with a broad grin.
During the time he spent at Buckeye Local, McFadden had become aware Sudvary had previously been a history teacher and that his personal area of interest was World War II. The interest in that era was founded in his love for his grandfather, Mike Sudvary Jr., who had served as a tank driver with the 756th Tank Battalion's A Company until injured. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his service and sacrifice.
In recent years, Sudvary had often accompanied his grandfather to military reunions at various military bases around the country. Unfortunately, his grandfather had not been up to traveling at the time when the battalion and its flag were retired and began service in the Patton Museum at Fort Knox.
"My grandfather died in December. I know this will be a busy time, with a very full schedule for all of us. But I am really hoping I will be able to get to the Patton Museum at Fort Knox even for a few minutes. It would mean a lot to me to see the tanks for myself. To be able to connect with something that was such an important part of his life, even though he never really said too much about things that involved him back then," he reflected.
"Being nominated and then selected to have the honor of participating in this experience is pretty amazing on its own. But being able to go to Fort Knox - the place where tanks from my grandfather's battalion and its battle flag are housed so the public can see them and appreciate their history; it pretty much completes the travels we enjoyed together because of the time he spent in the Army," Sudvary said.
"I feel very humbled to have been chosen for this opportunity," shared Sudvary. "I'm really looking forward to this experience personally, but am very proud to know it came about as a result of how our students and faculty work together on an everyday basis."
Loccisano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org