The Black Daggers, the official United States Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team, have selected two paratroopers to join the group, following a five-day tryout.
The Black Daggers execute live aerial demonstrations to aid U.S. Army Special Operations Command community relations and recruitment. The team includes volunteers from the Army Special Operations population. Using a Ram Air parachute, which supports over 100 lbs of military equipment, members are exposed to high winds, freezing temperatures and low oxygen at high altitudes. Sgt. First Class Christopher Malone from Centerville, VA and Staff Sgt. Christopher Hardy from Shreveport, LA, will become the first Civil Affairs members to enlist in the Black Daggers. “I feel this is a huge accomplishment in my career,” said Hardy.
“Being selected as one of the first soldiers from the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade to be skydivers for such an elite team as the Black Daggers,” said Hardy.
The 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne), based in Fort Bragg, NC, is a brigade of the United States Army, which was established in 2006 following the Quadrennial Defense Review. The brigade represents a sizable population of the four percent of active civil affairs soldiers. The brigade evolved from a military government group active after World War II as part of the U.S. Army effort to expand civil affairs units.
The group was resurrected before the Korean War where it served for three campaigns before being disbanded.
The group was reorganized at Camp Gordon, GA into a civil affairs unit in 1955 and formally named the 95th Civil Affairs Group in 1959. Between 1974 and 2006, the group was inactive. Malone and Hardy, both veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, believe their hard work and determination resulted in their invitation to join the esteemed skydiving team. Malone said, “I’ve always strived to excel and succeed in everything I do.”
“This was an amazing opportunity to work with some of the finest soldiers, and I literally jumped at the opening.”
The new paratroopers will participate in training as well as team demonstrations. “We are training to meet the United States Parachute Association and Black Dagger team requirements so we can be fully integrated into the team. We need to perform 200 jumps as fast and safely as possible while supporting the team with the many shows they’re already scheduled to attend,” said Malone. The Black Daggers were responsible for jumping with the American flag during the National Anthem at 2017 Ocean City Air Show held in Ocean City, MD, on June 17 and 18.
“I will strive to represent our community professionally and hope this provides greater awareness of the Civil Affairs organization within special operation forces,” said Malone.
“I have always wanted to be a part of the team that is at the tip of the spear and the best at what they do,” said Hardy. The Black Daggers will participate in the Chambers Field Centennial Air Show on July 15 to celebrate the centennial of the Naval Station of Norfolk, VA.