ARMY TEAM FALLS FOR HELOISE
By Scott Huddleston -
San Antonio Express-News
(Kin Man Hut/San
Syndicated columnist Heloise fallls to Earth
with tandem parachuter Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott of the
Army's Golden Knights Parachute Team at Stinson Airport.
CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS PHOTOS OF THE JUMP
Reaching back into her youth, Heloise recalled her dad, an Air
Force pilot, being called up on TDY temporary
When Daddy comes home and says TDY, you don't ask where;
you don't ask why. You don't let Daddy see you cry. It's TDY.
The syndicated columnist known for household hints composed that
poem and recited it to about 800 people at a military family readiness
conference in Arizona in 2000. It left some misty-eyed, including
a few war-hardened generals.
To thank her for being an advocate for military families, the Army's
Golden Knights parachute team took her out Friday on her latest
military adventure. In a tandem jump over San Antonio, her hometown,
she got her first taste of skydiving at about 13,000 feet.
Yeeeeha, she shouted after landing, with Sgt. 1st Class
Mike Elliott guiding her safely to the ground.
She's ridden in a tank at Camp Lejeune, flown in a T-38 at Randolph
AFB and pulled a respectable 7.8 Gs with the Navy's famed Blue Angels.
Now, Heloise has racked up another thrilling escapade.
I would do it again. But only with these guys, she
It's been nearly 50 years since her mother, Heloise Bowles Cruse,
started a newspaper column. But even before the first Heloise was
famous for her hints, she was organizing a support group for military
wives and consoling widows.
Some are surprised that today's Heloise, whose real name is Ponce
Cruse Evans and who resumed the column after her mother died in
1977, has Army ties. But the military mindset of readiness prepared
her to give advice on removing stains five minutes before a party,
Part of it is always being prepared for Plans B, C and D.
On Friday, she joined Tiger Woods, Bill Murray, Barbara Mandrell
and other VIPs who have jumped with the Golden Knights, who are
also marking their 50th anniversary and are in town for today's
Army All-American Bowl. She and 11 others experienced a roughly
45-second free fall, then a five-minute glide to the ground at Stinson
We like to give civilians a feel for what we do and see the
planning and teamwork. They usually enjoy it, and so do we,
said Donna Dixon, Golden Knights spokeswoman.
Heloise said she has fond childhood memories of the Pentagon. Her
father, Marshal Cruse, who went by Mike and was a lieutenant colonel,
would take her with him to work there on weekends. Heloise skateboarded
in the halls and learned to drive in the sprawling parking lot.
It was surreal, she said, to see and smell the Pentagon's charred
walls two months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
She was about 9, at Hickam AFB in Hawaii, when her father, a pilot
during the Cold War era, would go on TDY.
I couldn't let him see me cry, she said. I didn't
want to do that to him, to let him leave seeing me sad or angry.
Her dad died in 2006. Heloise said she still gets emotional seeing
a military family on an overseas teleconference.
The only time she took skydiving lessons, in the 1970s, her dad
gently urged his Ponce Pie not to jump. But she felt
safe with the Golden Knights.
I'm not a thrill-seeker, she said. These guys
are the best of the best at what they do.
Her most harrowing exploit was in 1997 in Miramar, Calif., in an
F/A-18 Hornet of the Blue Angels. When the pilot did a touch-and-go,
a tire from the landing gear blew out and took out an engine. He
did an emergency trap landing, like on a carrier, using
the tail hook to snag an arresting cable to stop.
On Friday, Heloise took relief knowing Elliott, her skydiving partner,
had jumped tandem with former President George H.W. Bush. But for
a second before they jumped, she wondered, What am I doing
Then I remembered that his name was Mike, and my father's
name was Mike, she said. And I thought, I'm safe.'
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