Alaska’s top NCO celebrates end of career with final jump with son
By ARMANDO R. LIMON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 24, 2014
U.S. Army Alaska’s top enlisted leader parachuted for the last time as a soldier Thursday to cap a 31-year military career in style.
Command Sgt. Maj. Bernie Knight, who has more than 100 jumps under his belt, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1981 and served four years as a scout sniper before joining the Army in 1987.
He made his final leap from an Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter over the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s Geronimo Jump Zone, alongside his son - Sgt. Charles Knight during a 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) “Prop Blast” ceremony.
Knight said he couldn’t think of anyone else he’d rather jump with than his son.
“I jumped with my son while he was attending Jump School at Fort Benning,” Knight said. “It’s good to show my son like I do with all our soldiers.”
The younger Knight said it was great jumping with his dad.
“I’m very proud of my father’s accomplishments and it’s an honor to able to participate in his final airborne operation,” he said.
The elder Knight had no regrets from his 31 years of service.
“I have had a great tour with the U.S. military and if I had to do it again I would gladly raise my hand,” he said.
The Prop Blast that the Knights participated in was the first held by the brigade since 2011, according to 4th IBCT spokesman Maj. Adam Hallmark.
The ‘Blastees’ as the jumpers are called, studied airborne history and procedures before the jump and formed 10-man teams for a six-mile snowshoe march incorporating leadership tasks and soldier skills afterwards, he said.
Prop Blasts are special events that U.S. airborne troops have been doing since 1940, Hallmark said.
“The Prop Blast has served as a team-building event for all new officers entering into the airborne community for the first time and it remains the airborne community’s oldest tradition,” he said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Bernie Knight, the senior enlisted advisor for United States Army Alaska recovers his SF-10 parachute, after jumping onto Geronimo Drop Zone on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska from a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter, Mar. 20, 2014. For Knight, this was his last jump as he prepares to retire after 27 years of active Army service.
JEFFREY SMITH/U.S. ARMY