VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and Danish ambassador Lars Lose parachuted to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Friday, along with wounded warriors.
The 2017 Virginia Beach Patriotic Festival, which coincides with USO Warrior Week, kicked off Friday with live music.
Jason Redman, founder of the Combat Wounded Coalition, said the Jumping With a Purpose program has helped more than 350 wounded warriors and their families parachute out of planes over the years. According to Redman, two of the veterans who jumped Friday — one American and one Danish — had lost limbs from IEDs.
“We have jumped blind wounded warriors, quadruple amputees, and it has been amazing. The healing for them to realize that, ‘Hey, despite injuries, despite what’s happened to me, I can still get out and live,'” he said.
Governor McAuliffe landed on the beach after jumping in tandem from the Skydive Suffolk Caravan aircraft just before 7:00 p.m.
“I was fine until the plane kept going up and up and I was the first one out, so I was in that first seat by the door and you just kept looking how high you were getting,” he said. “The wounded warriors, you know, for me, as a military father, I want to show what little I can do to help and jumping out of that parachute with those wounded warriors is what I thought I could do.”
USO Warrior Week invites wounded, ill and injured service members and their families to take part in different activities.
Mayor Sessoms said the scariest moment was getting out of the plane.
“Once I was out of the plane, it was spectacular…If you look at what they’ve been through physically, mentally, and to see them with the type of attitudes that they have, and the way they can accomplish so much, my goodness, what a little thing for me to do but jump out of an airplane,” Sessoms said.
Congressman Scott Taylor and Virginia Beach Councilman John Uhrin are expected to parachute to the beach on Saturday.
The Patriotic Festival and USO Warrior Week run through Sunday. Admission is free at the 6th and 7th Street entrances. Get more details about the festival on hrScene.com.