Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Habermann joined the Army to be a dental assistant. A newfound hobby, however, took his career to new heights as a member of the Golden Knights Parachuting Team.
Fort Jackson's DENTAC first sergeant, who spent nine years with the elite parachuting team, was a member of the skydiving team that landed on Hilton Field May 17 during the Armed Forces Day Celebration.
"I started skydiving on my own as a hobby when I was assigned to Korea," he said.
After hearing about the Army skydiving team, Habermann thought he would give it a shot. The tryout was five-week's long and included six to 10 jumps each day.
"It was the hardest thing I've ever done. It was pretty grueling, both mentally and physically," he said. "It was a gut check on how bad you want it."
Habermann, 36, was selected for the team and spent four years on the Black Demonstration Team before jumping five years with the Competition Team. During that time he won 12 gold medals, four silver medals and nine bronze medals in national and world championships.
"The competitions were secondary to the recruiting piece. That is really how we paid the rent," he said. "The team's celebrity status got us access. We would go into high schools and tell students there is more to the Army than just dressing up like a tree and shooting."
One of Habermann's more memorable landings was onto the deck of the U.S.S Yorktown aircraft carrier in Charleston.
"There were stiff winds blowing across the deck so it was a little nerve-wracking," he said. "But it was mainly a mind thing. The target is the same size wherever you put it."
The Fort Jackson first sergeant also made an appearance on the David Lettermen show where he jumped out of a plane after doing a reading from the Top10 List. He has also appeared jumping on Baywatch, Monday Night Football and an Army versus Navy game.
He also helped set a world record. Habermann was one of 300 parachutists who joined to make the largest formation Dec. 12, 2002, in Eloy, Ariz. "Everyone's dream is to have a world record. Ours lasted for about 12 months."
After spending so many years on the team, Habermann decided it was time to move on and return to the dental corps.
"It's not good for your career to stay in one place too long. You want to keep moving," he said. "After nine years on the team I had no regrets. I wouldn't trade one second of it."
As senior dental NCO of the Fort Jackson Dental Activity, Habermann is responsible for the health, welfare and safety of 38 soldiers and 46 civilian personnel. He serves as the dental liaison for the installation and assists the commander in the administrative management and supervision of five dental clinics.
"We have some really good people working for us," he said. "But it can be challenging supervising government service workers, contractors and soldiers."
Habermann, who has now made 6,728 freefall parachute jumps, is still very active in the skydiving world, employed on the weekends as a tandem skydiving instructor at Skydive Carolina in Chester, S.C.
His wife Julie, whom he married last year, is also an avid skydiver with more than 200 jumps behind her belt.
By Chris Rasmussen
Staff, Fort Jackson Leader Press
Article originaly appeared in the Fort Jackson Leader, the post newspaper at Fort Jackson. The article and photographs are by Chris Rasmussen. He may be reached at Chris.Rasmussen@conus.army.mil
Source Citation:Rasmussen, Chris. "Skydiving dental assistant." The Dental Assistant 77.4 (July-August 2008): 40(2). General OneFile. Gale. Alachua County Library District. 28 Sept. 2009
Gale Document Number:A203279808
Disclaimer:This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.
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