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Lexington Medical Center site of patriotic parachute display honoring health care workers

West Columbia, S.C. – At 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, the United States Army Black Daggers - Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team – jumped from an airplane 1000s of feet above the main campus of Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia. These highly trained specialists then precisely maneuvered their bodies to control their trajectory for several minutes at speeds of approximately 120 mph before making a precise landing at a spot designated on LMC’s campus. The event was a part of the Army’s Salute to Healthcare Workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Black Daggers are an all-volunteer unit from throughout the Army’s special operations community with diverse backgrounds and military specialties. The team performs parachuting demonstrations around the country as part of community outreach and recruiting efforts. They have jumped onto hospital campuses this year to thank medical professionals for their efforts taking care of COVID-19 patients.

According to the Black Daggers’ website found at this LINK: US ARMY BLACK DAGGERS, the Black Daggers use the military variant of the ram-air parachute, which allows a free-fall parachutist the ability to jump with more than 100 pounds of additional equipment attached. In addition to the extra weight, the jumper must also withstand high winds, frigid temperatures and low oxygen levels, all of which require the jumper to be highly skilled. The precision of their landing Tuesday certainly demonstrated those skills.

Tuesday, the morning started with clouds covering the sky early but that broke up as the sun rose higher by mid-day. By the 1:00 p.m. appointed jump time, streams of doctors, nurses,volunteers, maintenance, administrative, and other necessary staffers that could get away for a moment had made their way outside the building to an area where they had a clear view of the sky. Some were lucky enough to have a bird’s eye view from the windows of the tall towers surrounding the landing zone. Everyone peered skyward, many with hands cupped across their brows as protection from the glaring sun as the team began coming into view.

Small American flags which had been made available to the crowd gathered on the grounds prior to the jump, began to wave as the crowd grew more excited. As the first jumper neared the target, the flags stopped waving for a moment as hundreds of cellphone cameras were pointed skyward to catch the men effortlessly steering their shoots to the landing zone. As jumpers came in, a much larger version of the SC State Flag and the Stars and Bars of Old Glory were clearly in view from their spots strapped to the parachute lines of several of the jumpers on approach. These waved behind in splendor for all to see.

The well-trained parachutists made it appear effortlessly as each approached the large LMS logo that had been installed in a cleared parking area as their target. All jumpers were within a few yards of nailing that symbol dead center. A crew member was quick to catch and gather their chutes and the flags less they dropped to the hot asphalt and be damaged or desecrated.

After the jump, children, parents, and even the well-trained health care professionals couldn’t help but be a little star struck and beamed with huge smiles as the jumpers graciously posed with groups for photographs. After all they’ve seen and done since the beginning of the pandemic, after having their personal lives often overridden by the needs of their professional lives, this was a nice break, a diversion if you will, given by heroes to heroes, the health care workers of our area.

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