Midtown: Sports

For parachutists, accuracy on 18th hole even more crucial

As a member of the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights, Sgt. First Class Dustin Peregrin estimates he has made thousands of parachute jumps.

But never, he said, one quite like the jump he made Sunday.

Peregrin and Staff Sgt. Shelby Bixler made a demonstration jump to the 18th hole at TPC Wakefield Plantation at the conclusion of the Rex Hospital Open. It’s a part of Military Appreciation Day at the Nationwide Tour event.

“This will be my first one on a golf course,” Peregrin said earlier this week. “With the trees on 18 and the slight slope, it’s going to be a little tricky. But we’ll be ready.”

Peregrin and Bixler are based at Fort Bragg and both have made two tours of Iraq. Peregrin, a reconnaissance specialist, has been with the Golden Knights Parachute Team for two years and jumping for 10 years. Bixler, a recruiting liaison, has been with the team for six months.

Bixler said there are two Golden Knights teams and each typically spends 275 days a year on the road. It’s good, she said, to be making a jump closer to home.

“When we’re able to do local shows such as the Rex Open that’s what we strive for,” Bixler said. “Doing it for the local community is No. 1.”

While Peregrin said the degree of difficulty for Sunday’s jump was a bit high, it likely didn’t top a jump he once made outside Houston.

“The winds were above the limit but we didn’t know that,” he said. “I basically flew the parachute backwards from opening point all the way to the ground. The landing point was a 50-foot-diameter circle surrounded by Harleys, and around the Harleys a sea of people. It was either in the circle or in the ocean.”

Peregrin landed in the circle, just as he and Bixler planned to land on the 18th hole.

“They’re all tough jumps because you never know what’s going to happen,” Bixler said. “You always have to have a clear head and be willing to react at a moment’s notice.

“It’s an honor to serve and be the ambassadors of our brothers and sisters overseas.”