Sons of the Flag announces participants, official times for Legacy Skydive
Sons of the Flag announces participants, official times for Legacy Skydive
DALLAS (Nov. 14, 2012) – The Sons of the Flag Burn Foundation has officially announced its roster of dignitaries participating in Saturday’s historic Legacy Skydive. A United States veteran from each war, dating from World War II through present-day Afghanistan, as well as a former member of the FDNY, will tandem skydive from a WWII era plane with a member of the world-famous Army Golden Knights.
Representing World War II is 88-year-old Peter Bielskis, who served in the Eighth Air Force, 384th Bomb Group. Bielskis, who flew 27 missions as a ball turret gunner, has traveled from Detroit, Mich., to skydive for the first time.
Retired Army Maj. Richard “Dick” S. Agnew of Plano, Texas, will jump on behalf of Korean War veterans. For extraordinary heroism in duty, Agnew received the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest decoration for valor.
A veteran of the Vietnam War, Dallas resident Tony Bandiera was a member of the U.S. Army. Bandiera is currently the owner of Sigel’s Elite.
Tom Buning, who is a Senior Associate Athletics Director at SMU, served three overseas tours with the Army, including in Desert Storm. A highly decorated combat veteran, Buning has been awarded the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star.
Commander Mark Waddell, representing the War in Afghanistan, retired from the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams after 25 years of extensive military special operations experience. He was decorated for heroism, combat valor, merit and achievement.
Ryan “Birdman” Parrott (Iraq War) served eight years as a U.S. Navy SEAL, completing multiple combat tours to Iraq and several other deployments around the world. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Sons of the Flag.
The inspiration behind the Sons of the Flag Burn Foundation, Ret. Capt. Sam Brown, is a USMA ‘06 graduate and former U.S. Army Ranger. He spent five years in the Army, earning numerous honors, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
John Walters is a retired New York City firefighter, spending 14 years with the FDNY. Walters lost his entire squad in 9/11, spent 28 days in the FDNY burn center in 2002, and lost his leg in July of 2006 while working in Manhattan.
The planes will depart from Addison Airport at 11:30 a.m., and the participating veterans will be available to talk with interested media and public beginning at 9 a.m. at the airport’s Cavanaugh Flight Museum. The drop zone will be the Akroville Airport in Decatur, Texas, with landings sometime after noon.
Accompanying the skydive team will be a ceremonial coin that Parrott and Brown will deliver to officials for the coin toss at the Dallas Cowboys Veterans’ Day Appreciation Game against the Cleveland Browns the next day (Nov. 18). The group will also fly with an American flag. Cowboys’ cheerleaders will be on hand for the touchdowns in Decatur on Saturday.
The Sons of the Flag Legacy Skydive event is the official launch of the 501(c)3 organization Sons of the Flag Burn Foundation, which was created to advance and accelerate the development and research of cutting edge technologies for burn survivors. For more information, visit www.SonsoftheFlag.org or Facebook.com/SonsoftheFlag.
[dt_parallax_title]About the Skydivers[/dt_parallax_title]
Richard “Dick” Agnew (Korean War)
Retired Army Maj. Richard “Dick” S. Agnew is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest decoration for valor. Agnew, who lives in Plano, Texas, received his Distinguished Service Cross in July of 1953 for his extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy in the vicinity of Mundung-ni, Korea. Agnew, now retired from the military and civilian employment, is the Commander of the Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the Legion of Valor, a veteran’s organization for recipients of the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross and Air Force Cross.
Tony Bandiera (Vietnam War)
Tony Bandiera served in Vietnam for the U.S. Army. He currently is the owner of Sigel’s Elite in Dallas. More information on Bandiera to come.
Peter Bielskis (World War II)
Peter Bielskis served in the Eighth Air Force (8 AF), 384th Bomb Group in World War II. The Eighth Air Force was the largest of the deployed combat Army Air Forces in numbers of personnel, aircraft and equipment. Stationed in England, Bielskis flew a remarkable 27 missions as a ball turret gunner. He served overseas beginning in January of 1945 through the end of the war. Bielskis, who lives in Detroit, Mich., will be skydiving for the first time at the age of 88.
Sam Brown (Afghanistan War)
The inspiration behind the Sons of the Flag Burn Foundation, Ret. Capt. Sam Brown was commissioned in the Army in March of 2006 after graduating from West Point. In September of 2008, Brown was struck by an improvised explosive device (IEC) in Kandahar, Afghanistan and suffered third degree burns to 30 percent of his body and lost his left index finger in the accident. Brown spent five years in the Army and has been awarded the following: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Accommodation Medal with “Valor” Device, Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon, Air Assault Badge, Airborne Badge and Ranger Tab.
Tom Buning (Desert Storm/Gulf War)
During a 24-year Army career in the Corps of Engineers, Tom Buning served three overseas tours and is a decorated combat veteran. He has been awarded the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and three Meritorious Service Medals, as well as the Bronze Order of the deFleury Medal from the U.S. Army Engineer Association. He currently serves as Senior Associate Athletics Director for Facilities, Operations & Capital Projects at SMU. Buning is a 1981 West Point graduate and earned master’s degrees from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and the SMU Cox School of Business in 2011.
Ryan “Birdman” Parrott (Iraq War)
Ryan “Birdman” Parrott served eight years as a U.S. Navy SEAL, completing multiple combat
tours to Iraq and several other deployments around the world. In 2005, Parrott was riding
atop a Humvee manning the gun turret in enemy territory when his vehicle was hit by an
improvised explosive device (IED). Though thrown from the Humvee and burned himself
in the flash fire, Parrott rendered live-saving aid and medicine to his fellow team members. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Sons of the Flag Burn Foundation.
Mark Waddell (Afghanistan War)
Commander Mark D. Waddell retired as a Mustang Officer in the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams after 25 years of extensive military special operations experience. He was decorated for heroism, combat valor, merit and
achievement. Waddell led and directed special operations in the Global War on Terrorism during the most demanding period in Naval Special Warfare’s history. He planned and provided operational and logistical oversight for classified missions in politically sensitive regions – working in or with
96 nations on six continents to complete arduous classified assignments while managing multi-million dollar personnel and training budgets. Waddell is a retired 100% service-disabled combat veteran.
John Walters (FDNY)
John Walters is a retired New York City Firefighter and Ex-Chief of the Port Washington Volunteer Fire Department on Long Island. John spent 14 years with the FDNY, beginning in 1996 with Engine 237 in Brooklyn. He worked and trained to become one of the first firefighters asked to be a
member of Squad 288 in Queens and ended his career in Rescue 1 in Manhattan. John has seen tragedy: he lost his entire squad in 9/11, worked Ground Zero for six months, spent 28 days in the FDNY burn center after being burned, and lost his leg in July of 2006 while working in Manhattan which forced him to retire.
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