Actress lands in Suffolk

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Joanna Cassidy has little in common with the conniving control freak Margaret Chenowith she portrays on the HBO original series Six Feet Under. But she certainly enjoys playing the lady psychiatrist who may not be all there herself.

&uot;I really liked last season,&uot; Cassidy says with a laugh. &uot;(The next season) is going to be a big secret, and a lot of things are going to happen with Margaret. People like the madness that she comes up with.&uot; The show’s fourth season is scheduled to begin in February or March.

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On Sunday morning, however, Cassidy did something that seems unthinkable for her television alter ego; she parachuted with the U.S. Army parachute team, the Golden Knights.

&uot;I may become an avid jumped after this!&uot; Cassidy joked. &uot;I think I might have had too many martinis when I agreed to do it! But I’m an adventurer, and I like to be part of a team. The guys over in Iraq are doing a very tough thing, and I hope they know that everyone, including celebrities, is behind them.&uot;

Now in their 43rd year of entertaining both young and old with their amazing aerial skills, the &uot;Golden Knights&uot; continue are considered the world’s best parachute team. Stationed at the Fort Bragg, North Carolina, (the &uot;Home of the Airborne&uot;) the 90 soldiers that make up the team have been trained in one of the 200 military occupational specialties the Army offers. The team’s mission includes performing live aerial demonstrations for the public and in promotion of the Army’s public relations and recruitment efforts, competing in national and international parachuting competitions testing and evaluating new parachuting equipment and techniques for improved operation and safety.

&uot;Things like (the jumping event) spread goodwill for the Army across the country,&uot; explained Kevin Byrnes, one of only 10 four-star generals in the U.S. Army. &uot;It’s done for promotional purposes, and it also helped people see the Army in a different light, a different dimension.&uot;

Physical fitness is perhaps the most important aspect of becoming a Golden Knights jumper, Byrnes continued. &uot;If you’re thousands of feet in the air, and you jump out of a plane wearing about 70 pounds of equipment, not to mention getting shot at, you have to be physically fit.&uot;

That certainly wasn’t a problem for Cassidy’s tandem instructor, sergeant first class Greg Windmiller. A native of Mississippi, Windmiller has made over 3,600 jumps, including the one that he and Cassidy performed on Sunday.

&uot;I had an AMAZING time,&uot; Cassidy said after their smooth landing. &uot;(The instructors) could not be more professional. I felt so secure, and I feel so alive now! Margaret would have a great time doing that!&uot;