SAN DIEGO, CA – The U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, kicked off the 34th annual Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego Dec. 28.
In their last jump of the season, the team performed for approximately 55,000 college-football fans, including more than 100 local Marines who paraded an American flag that spanned the football field.
“The Leap Frogs have been a tradition at the Holiday Bowl every year, so it’s one of the more exciting moments that we have at the beginning of the game,” said Chuck Wasker, president of the 2011 Holiday Bowl. “They’re always precision perfect and we’re delighted to have them. They are special to us.”
The game hosted the University of California Golden Bears and the University of Texas Longhorns. Texan fans screamed with excitement while watching two fellow Texans jump out of a C-2 Greyhound plane. The aircraft, piloted by Fleet Logistics Squadron 30, stationed at Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, Calif., escorted the team to the field.
The jumpers used colored smoke to help spectators track them as they soared across the sky, traveling at a rate of 120 miles per hour.
“It was exhilarating, exciting,” said Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Thomas Kinn, a native of Texas, about his jump. “A sunset jump at the stadium in front of my hometown team. I jumped last year and I jumped this year!”
Michelle Oestrick, a Longhorns fan who followed her team from Austin, Texas, said it was an honor to see the Leap Frogs jump.
“It was absolutely amazing,” said Oestrick. “I have an overwhelming sense of patriotism and there are just not enough words to say thank you [to all service members]. So it’s really amazing to see it — experience it — in person.”
The Leap Frogs are based in San Diego and perform aerial parachute demonstrations across America in support of Naval Special Warfare (NSW) and Navy Recruiting as a “Global Force For Good.” The team is composed of parachuting experts from Naval Special Warfare including Navy SEALs, special warfare combatant-craft crewmen, and an NSW parachute rigger, in addition to support personnel.