Imagery of Regent people and campus

Staff Skydive With Golden Knights

By Sarah H. Dolan | May 12, 2010

Shannon Kendrick with tandem jump instructor in mid-air.

View the jump online

In order to uncover greater opportunities, we must sometimes take greater risks.

For Shannon Kendrick, those words from Kate McVeigh Ministries encouraged her to embark on 45 seconds of "sheer terror"—a free fall tandem skydive with the Golden Knights, known as the most successful and elite U.S. Department of Defense sports team.

Kendrick and Kristina Jowers, both admissions recruiters at Regent University, were invited by Director of Military Affairs David Boisselle to participate in the skydiving venture. The purpose of the jump was to promote Regent's Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, a cross-enrollment affiliate with the ROTC unit headquartered at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

"I did all the research one could possibly do on the Golden Knights to prepare for our jump," Kendrick said. "I learned that George Bush Sr. jumped twice with them, and the latest was for his 85th birthday. I thought ... 'The former president wouldn't trust just anybody with his life. I think I'll be okay.'"

In 1957, Fort Bragg soldiers from the Army's Special Forces trained in what was then called "free fall" parachuting, which allowed covert forces to land behind enemy lines. "They eventually won the nickname, Golden Knights, because of their spirit of excellence that went beyond the call of duty," said Jowers. "Their excellence comes from an inner drive to be the best they can be."

"As I boarded the aircraft, my eyes were immediately directed to the massive painting with the words 'Golden Knights' overlaid in gold," Jowers continued. "In that second, I thought, 'What am I doing jumping with knights?' Then, I realized what I represented on this jump ... Regent University. I was free falling on behalf of our university mission as we are also covert forces going in behind enemy lines where God will raise us up to bring Him glory in the earth ... The free fall was not comfortable for me, but I began to see the beauty of stepping off of the edge."

For approximately 50 years the Golden Knights have been wowing audiences all over the country, performing aerial demonstrations at air shows and special events in support of Army recruiting goals. Boisselle tasked Kendrick and Jowers to show Regent's appreciation for their service members by distributing service coins and "Honor, Courage, Commitment" cards.

Kendrick, whose tandem jump instructor was able to proudly wave a Regent flag in mid-air, enjoyed the drop while listening to a music compilation of Christian rock artists. "I'd been listening to songs about being extreme for God all week," she exclaimed. "This opportunity was a chance to show that Regent is a military-friendly university willing to go the distance for those who believe they have a leadership purpose to fulfill."

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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