STUART, Fla. - An elite group of enlisted sailors descended on Stuart's Witham Field. Literally.
Petty officer First Class Navy Seal Justin Gonzales was among them. He jumped from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at 3,000 feet. It was a test jump for the team's first performance at the Stuart Air Show. Gonzales said he never gets nervous.
“It’s really just like any other job. Just a little bit more exciting,” he said, with a smile. “Feels great to feel the wind. ”
Gonzales took a break between operational Navy Seal tours to join the Navy Parachute Team. The so-called "Leap Frogs" demonstrate acrobatic parachuting. But it’s not the free-falling tricks Gonzales likes best.
“Meeting kids,” he said. “After we land, we get to interact with the kids. Sometimes, we have them help us pack our parachutes, and they’re very inspiring for us. Their excitement … it’s refreshing. ”
Thomas Kinn, the team’s Leading Petty Officer, enjoys being a role model.
“We’re changing lives out there. There are people who might not have direction or they have dreams or hopes, and then they actually get to talk to somebody,” said Kinn.
The Leap Frogs travel the country about 250 days a year, raising awareness of the Navy.
“The hardest part of my job is probably going home. It’s good to go to work every day,” said Gonzales.
The Leap Frogs perform Saturday at the Stuart Air Show around 12:30 p.m.
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