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Guard helicopters, Air Force parachutists take to skies for Jamboree
Lt. Col. Scott Drinkard, a member of the Wings of Blue Air Force Parachute Demonstration Team, takes a look outside a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter after lifting off here July 25, 2010. The Wings of Blue traveled to Fort A.P. Hill, Va., from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., to jump into the 2010 National Boy Scout Jamboree. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Andrew Lee)
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Cadets support National Scout Jamboree

Posted 8/3/2010   Updated 8/3/2010 Email story   Print story


by Eddie Lee
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

8/3/2010 - FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- From opening ceremonies to merit badges to showing off the school mascot, Air Force Academy cadets played a significant part in the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., July 26 through Aug. 4.

The Wings of Blue Air Force Parachute Demonstration Team helped open the 100th anniversary celebration of the Boy Scouts of America by dropping in as part of the opening ceremonies July 26.

The Wings of Blue made several high- and low-altitude jumps over the jamboree campgrounds. They made several dozen jumps from heights between 4,500 feet and 9,000 feet. Some jumpers used elaborate smoke streamers or carried military service and prisoner of war flags. They made their jumps from UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters flown by the U.S. Army National Guard from West Virginia.

Cadet 1st Class Jesse Galt, a member of the Wings of Blue, said jumping from a helicopter into the jamboree had special significance for him.

"Three years ago, I was (an Eagle) Scout, and now I'm jumping into air shows all over the country and the world," Cadet Galt said.

A contingent of about 50 Academy cadets ran merit badge booths, ensured scouts knew about opportunities available through the Air Force Academy and helped teach them about the Air Force in the jamboree's Armed Forces Adventure Area.

Lt. Col. Barton Schuck, who works out of U.S. Northern Command's Information Support Division at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., served as the Armed Forces Adventure Area commander.

"The adventure area itself is not run by the Boy Scouts," he said. "It used to be run by the Army, but this year it expanded to encompass all the services. It's a great outreach and community relations program. It gives the Scouts a good idea of what all the armed forces are about."

Cadet 3rd Class Nathaniel Lebens, one of 12 Academy falconers, traveled to the jamboree with Havoc, a 14-year-old peregrine falcon. Cadet Lebens and a member of the Academy's public affairs staff set up a table with information products about the Academy and spoke to more than 20,000 scouts as they increased the scouts' knowledge, awareness and understanding of the Academy and its mission.

One highlight of the 10-day event was a visit by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates July 28. Secretary Gates, an Eagle Scout, told an estimated crowd of 45,000 people that scouting was a large part of his life and his family's life.

He told the crowd that earning the Eagle Scout badge was "the only thing I had done in my life that led me to think that I could make a difference ... It was the first thing I had done that told me I might be different because I had worked harder, was more determined, more goal-oriented, more persistent than most others."

In addition to the Academy's presence, more than 200 Airmen from across the country supported the Jamboree. They also manned merit badge booths and helped run a field hospital, supplied weather support and air traffic control for flyovers and safety oversight.

Experiences learned in scouting aid in the selection and appointment process for new cadets. According to statistics released by the Academy's Admissions Office, 29 percent of cadets at the Academy are involved in scouting.

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