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    Falling with style: Para-Commandos show off their skills

    Falling with style: Para-Commandos show off their skills

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Knowles | Photo 2: Members of the U.S. SOCOM Para-Commandos show off their ‘Peanut Punch’...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Aaron Knowles 

    U.S. Special Operations Command Central

    The Para-Commandos had a small start in 1991 with only four people, but in 25 years, they have jumped their way up to a team of around 30 individuals; three of those being full time team members.

    “The Para commandos are the only Joint DOD team in the military,” said Lt. Col. Ken Ates, the Safety and Training Advisor and performer with the Para-Commandos. “We have members from the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Marine Corps that come from within the Special Operations Command.”

    The Para-Commandos are a direct reflection of their Command, showing how the Military Services work together using special skills completely in synch. Not only do they have all of the services involved, but Department of Defense employees as well.

    “People don’t realize that all of those different services that work in Special Operations are under one command and they all work together,” continued Ates. ”That is one thing that we try and demonstrate. All four services working together.”

    According to SOCOM, the team normally jumps from an altitude of 12,500 feet above the ground, freefalling approximately 2 miles and reaching speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour wearing smoke canisters on their feet to make them visible to the public below.

    During their freefall, the members of the team maneuver their bodies like an aircraft to form formations in the sky. When the jumpers approach an altitude of 4,000 feet, they break their formation and glide in different directions, opening their parachutes approximately 2,500 feet above the ground. Once open, the members steer their parachutes and land one behind the other with precision accuracy in the landing area.

    This precision accuracy is the trademark of their Special Operations training.

    Recently, Charles “Peanut” Tillman, a retired NFL player and current Fox Sports Analyst, was invited to jump with the Para-Commandos and witness the interoperability of all of the services and how they work together during jumps.

    “It reminds me of being in the locker room, like being around some of my team mates,” said Tillman. “Being recently retired, I don’t have that locker room, I don’t have my guys with me; my team mates. I think these guys are a close knit team. They’ve got great chemistry, and you’ve got to have that. I can tell their chemistry is very professional, but at the same time I can see that they just like to let loose and have fun. You can tell they have great relationships amongst each other.”

    “The only time I am jumping out of a plane is with Military personnel,” said Tillman, “I don’t want to do it with just anybody, I know these guys train hard, it’s their job, and they are professionals. I had a blast.”

    Tillman was invited to jump with the Para-Commandos as part of a special ‘Salute to Service’ series paying tribute to all that Veterans have done, hosted by Fox Sports News and USAA.

    Working together and performing intricate operations and emulating everyday Special Operations is the Para-Commandos ultimate mission, but another unique mission the team has is bringing what they do to the general public.

    “The mission of the Para-Commandos is to provide awareness to the general public about Special Operations Command,” said Ates. “People hear about SEAL’s and Green Beret’s, but they don’t really know what they do, so what we do is try to demonstrate one of our infiltration techniques to the general public, which happens to be parachuting.”

    Showing off their skills may seem like ‘entertaining the public’ but it has a real world application when in combat and demonstrating these skills is a great way to share what Special Operations Forces are trained and capable of doing.

    “You might have teenagers out there who are contemplating whether to join the military,” said Ates. “If we can show them just one of the skills that we have from Special Operations, it might be just enough to get them to say, ‘wow, I want to be able to do that as part of my job’. That may help with the recruiting of Special Operations or just the military in general.”

    The Para-commandos are busy all year round representing the Special Operations Community. Every time they perform, every time they prepare, practice, and execute their skills, they are volunteering their own time to do it. Most of the team members are not assigned solely to the team, they have other full-time jobs and end up giving up weekends and nights, practicing and participating in each event.

    The Para-Commandos perform on average 40-50 times a year. They travel as far northwest as Oregon, they travel as far northeast as Rhode Island, and they travel as far south as Key West. The team has even performed during a Super Bowl.

    Another very important mission that the Para-Commandos has is being the face of Special Operations Forces who are deployed.

    “It is important that we represent the over 67,000 Special Operations Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, of which on any given day 7-10,000 are deployed to over 70 countries around the world,” said Ates. “We get out there and we tell their story.”

    For more information on the U.S. SOCOM Para-Commando's, including their upcoming demonstration schedule, please visit

    This article originally identified Lt. Col. Ken Ates as a Maj. This version has been corrected; we regret the error.



    Date Taken: 11.11.2016
    Date Posted: 11.16.2016 10:14
    Story ID: 214745

    Web Views: 236
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