Wounded warriors to skydive Sunday

Published 10:06 pm Monday, August 8, 2011

More than 50 wounded warriors will be fulfilling a lifelong dream in Suffolk this weekend.

The men and women, who will include patients from Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s amputee unit, will be jumping from planes at Skydive Suffolk on Sunday during a special event created to honor them.

“This is on so many people’s lists of things they hope to do in their life,” said Matthew Thompson of TroopSwap.com, which is organizing the event. “We’re just providing the opportunity for them to do it for free.”

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The warriors will get training in tandem jumping before their jump experience. There also will be barbecue for sale by the Suffolk Ruritan Club and Suffolk Elks Lodge, entertainment, an opening ceremony with a moment of silence and an American flag jump, and more. All the ground-level festivities are open to the public.

“We’re highly encouraging the public to attend,” Thompson said. “So many people hear about people getting wounded in combat and they see it on the TV. This event is just as much for the local community as it is for the wounded warriors and their families.”

The skydivers will include wounded service members from every conflict from the Korean War forward.

“We want to honor and recognize them for their services and sacrifice,” Thompson said.

The goal of the event is to raise $10,000 for charities that support wounded service members and veterans. Businesses and individuals have been asked to provide jumper or event sponsorship.

One of the charities being supported is Wounded Wear, which provides free clothing and clothing modifications to service members who have suffered life-altering injuries.

“It’s going to be a really fun, special event,” Thompson said. “We’re hoping that the community will come out and support these men and women.”

The Suffolk Ruritan Club and Suffolk Elks Lodge will be serving barbecue meals at the event.

“We’re going to donate all the food,” said E.C. Harris, of the Ruritan club. “We’re going to do all the cooking and serving. All the money we make, every penny will go to the wounded warrior program.”

Harris said he is excited for the event and hopes it will become an annual happening.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Suffolk Executive Airport, 1200 Gene Bolton Drive. The event is set to last until about 4 p.m.