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Utah National Guard unit takes first place at competition

Published: Thursday, Aug. 14 2014 2:54 p.m. MDT

2006 file photo. Members of the Utah National Guard's Group Support Company, 19th Special Forces Group Airborne, took first place this month at Leapfest 2014 in West Kingston, Rhode Island.

Tom Smart, Deseret News archives

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DRAPER — Members of the Utah National Guard's Group Support Company, 19th Special Forces Group Airborne, took first place this month at Leapfest 2014 in West Kingston, Rhode Island.

This year's competition Aug. 2-4 consisted of 57 teams from all over the U.S. and international teams from the U.K., South Africa, Canada, Australia, Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

Each competition team consists of five personnel: four jumpers and one alternate. Competing from Utah's unit were 1st Sgt. John McNichol, 1st Sgt. Robert Trone, Sgt. Oscar Cuevas, Staff Sgt. Kenneth Mullan and Staff Sgt. Ryan Richardson.

Leapfest showcases accuracy in airborne operations and promotes camaraderie among troops. The competition is attended by representatives from the active Army, Army Reserve, Army National Guard, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and several international teams.

"We made friends with some of the Canadians and hope to set up a friendship jump with them in the future," Mullan said.

Jumpers exit from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at an altitude of 1,500 feet using an MC-6 static line, steerable, parabolic parachute. Each stick consists of four jumpers, and every team makes two jumps for the competition.

Participants aim to land as close as possible to a marked, designated area within the landing zone. Upon landing and completing a parachute-landing fall, participants are timed by qualified judges until they reach the designated area.

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