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Free Falling

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Familiar with high adrenaline events on a daily basis, two of Mt. Juliet's men in blue morphed the rush to a high-octane level Monday when they jumped out of an elite army plane and skydived in Clarksville.

Mt. Juliet Police Chief James Hambrick and Lt. Tyler Chandler were part of a group of prominent citizens chosen to skydive with the U.S Army Golden Knights as part of their tandem team event held in middle Tennessee this week. The Golden Knights are the U.S. Army's elite parachute team, akin to the Navy's Blue Angels, except with parachutes. They have two "demonstration teams," which do promotional events, and one "tandem" team to promote the Army and salute great citizens across America.

Some other known locals who jumped this week are Channel 2s Dawn Davenport and Titan's owner Amy Adams Strunk, as well as other prominent business owners, teachers, mayors and more.

Hambrick and Chandler were nominated for the honor by the Nashville Recruiting Battalion to represent the Mt. Juliet Army Recruiting Center.

The purpose of this event is to recognize individuals in the community who represent Army values and create lasting partnerships to support both organizations," said U.S. Army Recruiting Company Nashville Commander Anita Brooks. "This event will allow community leaders to participate in a tandem jump with the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army Parachute Team."

The parachute team started in 1959 and they've had more than 16,000 shows in 50 states and 48 countries.

What was it like?

Both Hambrick and Chandler used the word "exhilarating."

No, skydiving wasn't on Hambrick's bucket list.

"I wanted to do this way before I start my bucket list," Hambrick said with a laugh.

Back when he was in the Navy, he started a course to prepare to skydive, but an emergency Navy operation delayed that process.

"I couldn't go then and I've been waiting ever since," he said. "It was a blast."

Hambrick explained Monday's skydiving event in Clarksville involved 17 chosen citizens, and six different teams. He and Chandler were teamed up with the Mayor of Hopkinsville.

"The Mayor went first, then I jumped, then Tyler," he said

They were instructed by a professional and watched a video about tandem jumping.

"We were above the clouds," Hambrick said.

That's 14,500 feet, about 2.5 miles above earth.

"I want to say I am so honored for the opportunity to be selected," Hambrick said. "It was awesome."

Both Hambrick and Chandler had a full minute of "free fall."

"That was the best part!" said Hambrick, who revealed the wilder the ride, the better.

It was a bit chilly so far in the heavens and these days the 'chute is so advanced it knows when to deploy on its own, said Hambrick.

"I loved the entire experience, but the main thing was we were chosen because the Army thought we had their same values," he said.

He said his landing was a "slide in home."

On a funny note, it was when he was asked if he had a life insurance policy.

"Of course," he laughed. "When I landed I called my wife and told her to cancel her tropical trip!"

Of course, he was joking. Hambrick said he'd skydive every day if he could and his goal is to skydive alone.

"It'll happen one day," he noted.

Chandler's experience

Chandler was not quite as cavalier as Hambrick about his experience, but said he'd never change it for the world.

"Nope, it was never on my bucket list, but how could I turn down the offer and the honor," he said.

Chandler said he knew if he was going to jump into open air above the clouds it would be with this country's elite.

"I was not scared, but a little nervous when you think of jumping out of a plane and for a few seconds hanging out of the plane ready to jump," he said. "My tandem partner was a 15 year Army medic and had been on missions in Iraq."

Chandler laughed and reiterated skydiving was never on his bucket list.

"Skydiving with a war hero was awesome," said Chandler, who said he's never been a daredevil.

While he said there are no plans to skydive ever again, his free fall moment was unforgettable.

"I was amazed how beautiful everything was," he said. "I was racing down to earth and had to make myself breathe. The whole experience of flying through the air was indescribable. I'm so honored to have the experience."

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