Dominique and Jil Launay, Peter Plank (Chief of Veteran Affairs) and Roger Wolf (Jumpmaster) organized and incorporated the team in September 2006. Dominique, Plank and Wolfe brought a wealth of experience to the venture. Dominique was a paratrooper in the French Special Forces –13eme Dragons – and continued to jump after leaving the military. Peter was an LTC in the Oklahoma State Guard and had qualified to jump static line with a civilian group. Roger was an airborne air assault and a trained jumpmaster. Liberty Jump Team now has a solid professional membership of more than 70 members, including both jumpers and ground crew and is constantly growing.
The organizers’ vision was for a team of commemorative jumpers who would honor not only the brave men and women of World War II, but veterans of all conflicts, by performing jumps as they were done in World War II. They wanted a team that could professionally jump into the most difficult of drop zones with accuracy and safety. This team is made up primarily of active-duty, retired and reserve United States and foreign military members, both men and women. The team members are from the United States, France, Canada, England, Ireland, Holland, Germany, South Africa and Belgium.
Liberty Jump Team conducts an annual airborne school to teach new jumpers the skills and accuracy they need to jump and conduct a refresher course for active-duty or retired airborne military that have not jumped in several years. Our airborne instructors are all former military airborne members who have the qualifications and professionalism to safely instruct the attendees. The jumpers must complete a rigorous and physically demanding nine-day school and a minimum of five qualifying jumps. During the course, the Liberty Jump Team provides all parachute equipment. After successful completion of the course and moving forward with active jumps with the team, the individual is then responsible for providing and is responsible for their own equipment.
We also offer a Drop Zone Safety Officer (DZSO) course to qualify our drop zone crews, using the U.S. military drop zone safety course as our model. All of these training programs help make Liberty Jump Team an organization that holds safety as its priority.
The team utilizes vintage C-47 aircraft to perform its operations. Most of these were used overseas during World War II to carry U.S. paratroopers to the D-Day landings. Although most of the members dress in WWII uniforms, members have the option to wear their own service uniforms. They jump static line, using steerable, round-canopy military parachutes.
The team includes many well-qualified and professional personnel, including former USAF Pararescue Captain Dennie Darnell, an FAA master rigger and Static/HALO/HAHO-qualified jumpmaster; Maj. Martin Moorrees of the Dutch Airborne Brigade who is a jumpmaster; Vietnam Veteran Butch Garner; SFC Jim Micko, a qualified military and FAA senior rigger from the 421st QM as well as an Army-qualified jumpmaster; and LTC Jon Ring, former Commanding Officer of the 1st BN 507th PIR at Fort Benning, Ga.
The Liberty Jump Team has jumped into Normandy every year since 2006 and will again in 2015. They have jumped in Holland since 2008 and in Bastogne in 2007, 2009 and 2010. For the 65th D-Day commemoration in 2009, Liberty Jump Team, and members of the airborne school at Fort Benning, Ga., performed a night drop on Amfreville DZ 'T'. This jump was done on the 507th PIR designated DZ ‘T’ so for the current 1st BN 507th PIR members this was a night to remember. The team is also the lead-in annually for the combined forces military jump at La Fiere Causeway DZ ”Iron Mike 2.” The team also jumps in the United States at air shows and military reunions.
The Liberty Jump Team worked with the FAA and its national air show coordinator in 2009 to formulate guidelines for civilian static-line demonstration operations. The Liberty Jump Team has continued to work with the FAA to improve safety standards.
Just as important to the members of the Liberty Jump Team as the jumps they perform, are the interactions with both veterans and young people at various reunions and events. The Liberty Jump Team also sponsors WWII veterans to attend events in Europe, enabling them to visit the grounds where they fought and left a part of themselves. The veterans receive thanks from the older generations of the countries they liberated. To see the veterans meet and educate young people about their accomplishments and experiences in World War II is amazing. The veterans also often ride along in the C-47 when the team jumps; the smiles on their faces after one of these rides are not to be forgotten as they relive their own experiences.
Liberty Jump Team also sets up static displays of many World War II artifacts as well as artifacts from other U.S. wars. Our members enjoy sharing their knowledge about the artifacts with the general public.
The Liberty Jump Team is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation recognized by the IRS as an educational and research entity. The work of the team is supported by tax-deductible donations from the general public. The Liberty Jump Team can be contacted at [email protected] or at our website, http://www.libertyjumpteam.org. For logistics and public relations or for information on our jump school or events, please call Jil Launay at (817) 431-2286 or email her at [email protected]