Buckeye Local High School Principal Coy Sudvary has been keeping some pretty high flying company recently: members of the U.S. Army's Golden Knights elite parachute team.
Sudvary recently enjoyed a rarely offered opportunity to join these airborne soldiers on a tandem parachute jump.
The trip itself centered on the resources of Fort Knox and the nearby Brooks Air Field.
Buckeye Local High School Principal Coy Sudvary skydives with U.S. Army Airborne Ranger and member of The Golden Knights Parachute Tandem Team, Staff Sgt. Arron Figel. Sudvary was one of a handful of civilians from across the country selected for the jump opportunity.
Sudvary, right, with his jump partner, Army Airborne Ranger Staff Sgt. Arron Figel of The Golden Knights wait for their turn inside the jump plane.
Sudvary gives the “thumbs up” as he sails towards the ground while strapped to his partner. This was the first time Sudvary had been in a plane of any kind.
Sudvary’s tandem jump partner Staff Sgt. Arron Figel conducts a pre-jump safety review meeting with everyone. One of the aspects of the experience Sudvary noted was evident from beginning to end was the genuine degree of mutual respect each of the individuals he came into contact with had for the others involved in the project, even though many were complete strangers to each other.
While in Fort Knox, Buckeye Local High School principal Coy Sudvary was able to find the commemorative marker dedicated several years ago to the U.S. Army's 756th Tank Battalion. It was the battalion in which his late grandfather served during WWII.
The opportunity to make the jump was shared with him as a message of appreciation from a recruiting officer who was ending his term of service in this area and had been looking for a way to let the school's leadership know how much it means to him to be welcomed into the school community on his various visits.
It's fair to say no one associated with Buckeye Local High School these days will soon forget the unusual gift of appreciation, or the impact it had on Sudvary, a man who graduated from the local high school himself, and who has always had a deep sense of personal respect for all it can mean to someone to serve in their country's military, as did his late grandfather.
Sudvary was one of a handful of civilians from across the country selected for the jump opportunity because the military sees their respective role in a community as being a key part of something they describe as a "center of influence."
Not only would it be an experience of a lifetime for the local high school principal, but it was also going to provide him what would be his first trip of any kind in an airplane.
"Once they found out I had never flown before, they really played it up," recalled Sudvary with a huge smile. "I guess that was why I was the last one put on the plane and the first one who got to jump."
But there was nothing taken lightly when it came to making sure all participants would enjoy a positive and safe jumping experience.
The Golden Knights team member Sudvary would be jumping with later in the morning was the man asked to conduct the informational session that morning - U.S. Army Airborne Ranger and member of The Golden Knights Parachute Tandem Team, Staff Sgt. Arron Figel, a man with more than 3,500 jumps logged himself.
The experience is not one where a civilian is going to be comfortably snapping photos on the way down to earth while traveling toward terra firma at a speed - initially - of 190 mph.
"Pretty quickly, they deploy one of the chutes to begin slowing you down," he offered. "Your adrenaline is pumping like crazy. It was so much fun!"
To capture the experience for each of the guests jumping that day, a member of the Golden Knights worked as videographer as they traveled toward the ground.
"He jumped after we did, but he got in front of us and was turned around with the camera toward us as we all were falling," offered Sudvary, clearly impressed with the clear attention to every detail the Golden Knights and the Army officials put into the entire experience for the civilians.
"Our videographer was Golden Knights demo team member U.S. Army Airborne Infantryman Staff Sgt. Reese Pendleton. He has at least 2,500 jumps logged," he said.
The details were so well planned out that each of the civilians was presented a commemorative event package, including a completely personalized DVD, documenting the entire experience.
Sudvary plans to share it with Buckeye Local High School students at some point during the start of the year.
But it was at a dinner held for the guests that Sudvary really got his eyes opened concerning who the men and women of today's military are, and what type of students might well find a positive and rewarding career in military service.
He underscores message that today's soldiers represent "the best of the best." They are developed from among those who come to the opportunity of military service with a strong high school career behind them and are well prepared for career testing, such as the Army's entrance exam, which assists in selection of a career pathway, explained Sudvary. "The way it was put to us was that in recent years, the whole face of the Army has changed. They are looking for students coming out of high school who might not have thought of the military as a possible career, or a way to access financial resources to help pay for college. The opportunities available are incredible, challenging and rewarding."
One of the aspects of the experience Sudvary noted was evident from beginning to end was the genuine degree of mutual respect each of the individuals he came into contact with had for the others involved in the project, even though many were complete strangers to each other.
"The level of respect for each other and what they are doing was impressive," noted the local high school principal, reflecting on the fact that recent graduating classes have included students who have already made successful careers for themselves within the military service - particularly the U.s. Army.
Loccisano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org