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USAF pararescue men, astronaut/entrepreneur jump from balloon to benefit SOWF

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On Thursday, Sept. 28, at sunrise, a team of five pararescue men and astronaut Larry Connor jumped out of the largest balloon ever manufactured in the U.S., setting a world record, in an effort to raise a goal amount of a million dollars for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

The “Alpha 5” five-man team leapt from the balloon at 35,000 feet (about the cruising altitude of a commercial jet) and formed a HALO (high altitude, low opening) skydiving formation before separating for landing in the desert just outside of Roswell. The crew launched from Stapp Parade Ground at NMMI after inflating the balloon to its full height of 115 feet. The jump was validated by an official from the Guinness World Records who was onsite observing.

Larry Connor, Team Captain, gladly shared success with all involved in the event “including the PJs, and technical experts who enabled us to do this safely and successfully”, stating, “Together we all did something many thought was impossible, and did it for a great cause.”

Other named members of the team included Brandon Daugherty, USAF Pararescueman, Rob Dieguez, USAF Pararescuman, Chris Lais, former USAF Pararescuman, Shane Wallace, who piloted the balloon, and Tad Smith, Oxygen Technician. A group of more than 50 unnamed persons also supported the jumpers, according to a press release from the Alpha 5 project.

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation is a non-profit that benefits severely wounded, ill and injured Special Operations Personnel, as well as surviving children of fallen special operations personnel and medal of honor recipients “from cradle to career.” For most children, the SOWF provides post-secondary education funding assistance, which has aided 515 students in completing a degree so far. 

To direct a donation to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation in connection to this record-setting skydive, visit specialops.org/alpha5.

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