By Ann Patton
Academy Spirit staff
Four Academy Class of 2009 graduates traveled to Lucencec, Slovakia, for the 34th World Military Parachuting Champion-ships Aug. 14-23.
The events were sponsored by the Conseil International du Sport Militaire.
Teams are chosen from active duty members of the U.S. military. The Army’s Golden Knights Formation team traditionally represents the U.S. men’s team but chose to concentrate this year on preparing for the U.S. national championships instead. They did, however, vie for team slots against the Academy parachutists.
Second Lts. Brooks Crane, Jim Miltenburg, Cory Hickerson and Addison Schenk all previously served as members of the Academy’s “Wings of Blue” parachute team. With the exception of Crane, who is headed to graduate school, all are slotted for pilot training following the competition, which fielded 34 men’s teams and eight women’s teams involving 150 men and 45 women from 34 countries.
Dan Cook of the Golden Knights rounded out the U.S. men’s team numbers.
The U.S. women’s team included Angela Nichols, Khalida Hendricks, Danielle Woosley, Laura Dickmeyer, and Jennifer Scheben, all members of the Golden Knights.
Army Lt. Col. Anthony Dill, Golden Knights commander, served as mission chief and Academy parachuting coach Bill Wenger, 98th Flying Training Squadron, filled the position of team leader. Academy equipment specialist Marty Jones with the 98th FTS stepped up to the plate as cameraman for the U.S. team.
Teams competed in three categories: four-way formation, accuracy and style. Competition was fierce for the men’s team, which averaged just three years in the sport, against other teams who averaged 20-plus years. They placed 24th overall.
The women’s team placed sixth in team accuracy and captured a bronze medal behind France and Belarus overall. Nichols placed tenth in the individual style competitions.
“These are by far the youngest and most inexperienced teams the U.S. has fielded in many years, and only one member had any international experience,” Coach Wenger said. “They did an outstanding job in stepping up to the challenge.”
He said the team worked and competed hard. Preparation and training began early this year, with training wrapping up a week before departure to Slovakia.
Coach Wenger pointed out that previously only two or three teams had been competitive in the four-way. This year, out of the 26 teams, 15 were competitive, including the U.S. team, which placed eighth.
CISM’s military world games promote friendship through sport. The first of the Military World Games took place in 1995 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II and the ratification of the United Nations organization charter.
Coach Wenger expressed his pride in both teams’ performance.
“As team leader and coach, it was a real privilege to be part of this team. It is always gratifying to see how our different services work together,” he said. “The new lieutenants represented the U.S., the Air Force and the Academy in an outstanding manner.”