NEW MARKET, Va. (WHSV) – Veterans flying high.
Something many of them may be used to, but this time was just for fun.
This weekend military veterans were sailing through the sky at the 5th annual Heroes on the River.
”Any veteran-organized event attended by other veterans you’re always gonna get a huge group of guys, especially combat veterans,” Matt Surprenant, Army veteran said.
Heroes on the River was started by Adam Packham whose family history is rooted deep in the military.
He said he wanted a way to bring veterans together by doing outdoor activities and skydiving was the perfect fit.
“I feel like the veteran community is constantly striving to better themselves. Any new skills, new knowledge, this is something to put in the repertoire,” Surprenant said.
Veterans at Sunday’s event said the camaraderie the event brings and being able to talk to and share stories with people who have gone through similar experiences is what makes it special.
“I feel like a lot of combat veterans that have actually seen combat we look for things that are gonna give us an adrenaline rush because not too many things do when you have bullets coming at you,” Surprenant said.
According to the United States Parachute Association, Heroes on the River is the largest combat veteran tandem skydiving event in the United States.
“I think it’s extremely important that organizations like Heroes on the River exist because they give veterans the opportunity to freely express themselves,” Surprenant said.
Packham goes the extra mile and gives the tandem jumpers a “challenge coin,” something done in the military to show excellence or achievement.
“I landed and my adrenaline is going a mile a minute and Adam walks up to me and says ‘hey man good job’ and he shook my hand, and I felt that coin in there and my eyes just kind of lit up I was like oh man I haven’t had one of these in forever,” Surprenant said.
Packham said many veterans have told him that this event has saved their lives and that’s the most important thing to him.
Heroes on the River is a non-profit organization. Packham is looking to expand the variety of events he does to bring more veterans together.
If you would like to donate or find out where the next event is taking place you can visit their new website.
They are also on Facebook, Instagram and as of this weekend, TikTok.
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