Free-falling: Four people with ETSU ties skydive with U.S. Army Golden Knights

Angela Haire

Angela Haire

Four folks with ties to East Tennessee State University recently shared an epic experience – skydiving.

Those brave enough to free-fall 13,500 feet at 120 miles per hour were Angela Haire, executive aide for ETSU’s Department of Military Science; Dr. Martha Pointer, senior associate dean for graduate studies, College of Business and Technology; James Eddie Reed Jr., an ETSU and ROTC alum and supporter; and Dr. Melessia Webb, associate dean for undergraduate programs, College of Nursing.

The group traveled to Elizabethtown, Kentucky, in June to attend the tandem parachute camp held by members of the United States Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights. The camp was sponsored by the U.S. Army Cadet Command, which oversees all ROTC programs in both public and private colleges. The jumpers included administrators from colleges throughout the nation who came to Fort Knox to learn about Cadet Summer Training.

Martha Pointer

Martha Pointer

They arrived on a Friday for training exercises before the jump Saturday morning. Jumpers learned the three basics – “arch, relax, have fun” – and paired off with a skydiving partner from the Golden Knights. Each tandem team was accompanied by another Golden Knight who captured video and picture proof for the skydivers to share with family and friends.

Dr. Melessia Webb was among the first to fly.

“I really don’t think one can understand what it is like unless experiencing it firsthand,” she said. “Everyone who has seen my video says I looked so relaxed and excited. Excited I was – relaxed I was not.”

Webb said many have asked her if skydiving was on her “bucket list.” She admits that while she doesn’t have a bucket list per se, she knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially to jump with the Golden Knights.

James Eddie Reed, Jr.

James Eddie Reed, Jr.

Dr. Martha Pointer took the plunge with no hesitation, even though she was required to get permission from her doctor to participate because of her age.

“My doctor said, ‘Are you kidding? Go!’”

“Who wouldn’t want to jump with the Golden Knights?” she said. “They’re famous. Of course, I didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into.”

Angela Haire was hesitant to embark on the skydiving adventure, but by the time she and Luke landed safely on the ground, the camera captured pure joy and laughter.

“I’m trying to teach my son that if we brace ourselves and do what we are scared of, then we are conquerors and no longer afraid,” she said. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to face him if I had declined the opportunity.”

Melessia Webb

Melessia Webb

James Eddie Reed Jr. said he would do it again if given the opportunity. He jumped in honor of his father, who is the namesake of ROTC’s Eddie Reed Ranger Team.

“As a proud son of a veteran and an avid military supporter, this was the perfect ticket,” he added. “The Army Golden Knights do an incredible job making you comfortable and prepared for the jump. Despite that, I was calm up to the exit out the door of the plane. It was pure exhilaration and once the chute pulls, it’s pure relaxation.”

To view a video featuring all four skydivers and the new shapes their faces took while plummeting toward Earth, visit



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