The Flying Leathernecks Demonstration Skydiving Team
As a matter of need, the Flying Leathernecks were formed at Skydive Elsinore in Southern California in 2003. A USMC Gunnery Sergeant had died and one of his last wishes was that his ashes be spread from the air. The Elsinore staff looked to Colonel’s John Bates and Bob Wagner, both now long retired but frequent jumpers, of the Marine Corps for assistance. At the service, an onlooker asked “Who are these jumpers and what are they called?” A quick survey between them stated they were for the most part, all “Leathernecks”, so the name stuck and has persevered.
Today, only Colonel John Bates of the original Flying Leatherneck’s is known to be jumping. And Bates isn’t a young pup. At 76 years of age, he isn’t the oldest of todays Flying Leathernecks. SgtMaj Joe Taylor, US Army retired, leads him by a year, and will be jumping into the airshow this year. It is believed that the Sergeant Major and the Colonel are the oldest Vietnam Veterans still actively jumping demonstration skydives at events like this. The most experienced on todays team is Richard Dopplemeyer, a professional skydiver with more than 30,000 jumps under his belt.
This marks the forth Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base Hawaii Blue Angels show the Flying Leathernecks have performed.
And today’s jumpers are highlighted by (T K Hinshaw, Ian Chertany and Jake Killfole) jumping the largest of the American flags. They will exit the USAF C-17 from a height of 8,000 feet, and burning circles around them is Kirby Chambless of the Red Bull Air Force.
The Flying Leathernecks jump in remembrance of our fallen warriors.