Once the jump began spectators of all ages kept their eyes to the sky.
The jump, scheduled for 4 p.m., had a late start due to the response of individuals participating in tandem parachute jumps. A total of 22 individuals participated, split between Friday and Saturday.
While there were numerous individuals who jumped, including the organizers wife, Lynn Stickle, their son Mike, and The Mail-Journal Publisher Ron Baumgartner, Mike Smith, a U.S. Navy veteran provided some insight as to the experience.
He admitted he hated the thought of jumping, but it was with the Navy SEALS and a means to support the organization. He admitted even after this one jump he will not jump again. No way, I have no desire to go with anybody but them. I trust our servicemen. They are more professional.
It was fantastic, nothing like I anticipated it would be, he stated with Baumgartner echoing the sentiment.
Smith noted he believed the one minute of free falling would be the longest minute in his life. However, that time between 13,000 feet and 5,000 feet was the opposite. It was a release of everything. There was a lot of wind, but it was a pure sensation of flying, an amazing sensation.
Master Chief Herschel B. Davis was the master of ceremonies for the jumps, providing those within earshot of the speaker system information about each of the four members and description of their demonstrations.
While the first jump saw hundreds on land and water watching the three story high, eight story long American flag come flying down from the blue skies, the latter two jumps, each 35 minutes or more between, saw spectators dwindle.
Anchors Away started out the descent as the flag unfurled and two jumpers performed the bi-plane skill. The flag continued its descent to God Bless America, with the American flag and jumpers landing on Venetian Island to the national anthem.
The second jump included special effects with streamers, formation of a bi-plane (parachutist stacked two-high), aerobatics with smoke canisters attached to the heels, and more. The final jump included the pyramid and parachuting upside down.
It was very moving watching the American flag unfold, said Sylvia Gargett with many others admitting seeing the large American flag coming down with the national anthem playing was an emotional moment.
Even the children close by were silent and watching intently. It was amazing how accurate they can be in hitting their mark, said Gargett.
Pam Smith felt the event was a great way to raise money for those who have risked or given their life to keep us safe. It was a great thing to see and be a part of.Her husband, Mike, went with their grandsons, Evan and Jeb to talk with Master Chief Davis. They loved it, Smith stated about his grandsons view of the experience. They went up to talk to Hershel and he gave them words of wisdom to prepare them to be warriors some point of their life.
Smith also had an opportunity to speak with the parachutist who was responsible for flying the flag to the ground. He said I dont steer it, it steers me, adding if the wind is above 10 miles per hour we cant do it.
At the end of the days events it was noted by the master chief one of the parachutist was jumping with a taped broken ankle and a taped sprained ankle, explaining why he was always landing on the ground instead of his feet.
Bud Stickle, coordinator of the event, spoke at the end recognizing those who assisted with the events including the skydiving group from Goshen Airport and encouraged individuals to make donations.
Many were also talking about next years event.
Individuals can continue to make donations through the Wawasee Navy SEAL Foundation Inc., website at www.wawaseenavysealfoundation.com.