Utah Guard's Special Forces win at Leapfest

Tuesday , August 12, 2014 - 7:29 AM

Contributed to the Standard-Examiner

DRAPER - Utah National Guard's 19th Special Forces Group took first place at Leapfest 2014 in West Kingston, Rhode Island, on Aug. 2-4.

Since 1982, Leapfest has been the largest, longest standing, international static line parachute training event and competition. With an emphasis on camaraderie, this year's competition brought 57 teams from all over the U.S., the UK, South Africa, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Australia.

Each team consists of 5 participants: 4 jumpers and 1 alternate (or stand-by). The jumpers exit from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at an altitude of 1500 feet (457 meters) using an MC-6 static line, steerable, parabolic parachute. One international admirer shared his love for the event on twitter: 

Jumpers must land as close as possible to a marked, designated area within the landing zone. Upon landing and completing a PLF (parachute landing fall), participants are timed by judges until they reach the designated area.

This is both an individual and team event and each jumper must complete 2 jumps to be qualified for the individual award. In addition, each team must complete 8 jumps in total to be qualified for the team award.

Leapfest showcases accuracy in Airborne operations as it builds a culture of excellence within the airborne community. It promotes the camaraderie and Espirit de Corps of the airborne soldier through international competition. The competition is attended by representatives from the Active Army, Army Reserve, Army National Guard, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and several international teams.

Competing from Utah's 19th Special Forces Group were soldiers who reside in the following cities:

1st Sgt. John McNichol - Layton

1st Sgt. Robert Trone - West Jordan

Sgt. Oscar Cuevas - Logan

Staff Sgt. Kenneth Mullan - Clearfield

Staff Sgt. Ryan Richardson - Lehi

"We made great friends with some of the Canadians and hope to set up a friendship jump with them in the future," said Mullan. "The jump is great, but the entire weekend makes Leapfest grand because of the interaction of the U.S. and international teams," Mullan added.

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