U.S. NAVY Leap Frogs
The United States Navy‘s SEa, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as the Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy’s primary special operations force and a component of the Naval Special Warfare Command. Among the SEALs’ main function is to conduct small-unit maritime military operations that originate from, and return to, a river, ocean, swamp, delta, or coastline. The SEALs are trained to operate in all environments (Sea, Air, and Land) for which they are named.
The primary mission of the Navy Parachute Team (NPT) is to support Naval Special Warfare recruiting by gaining access and exposure to appropriate candidates through aerial parachuting demonstrations. The U.S. Navy Parachute Team is a fifteen-man team composed of U.S. Navy SEALs. Each member comes to the team for a three-year tour from one of the two Naval Special Warfare Groups located on the east and west coasts. On completion of the tour, members return to operational units. The parachute team began in 1969 when Navy SEALs and Frogmen volunteered to perform at weekend air shows. The Team initially consisted of five jumpers: LCDR Olson, PHC Gagliardi, SK2 “Herky” Hertenstein, PR1 Al Schmiz and PH2 “Chip” Maury. Schmiz and Maury were members of the original “Chuting Stars.” When LCDR Olson was transferred to California, PHC Gene “Gag” Gagliardi (D 546) of UDT ELEVEN introduced him to the local jumping elite with the San Diego Skydivers, one of the nation’s first sports parachuting clubs. He convinced the Commander Naval Operations Support Group, PACIFIC to create a small demonstration team consisting of a cadre of highly qualified freefall jumpers. Its activities were to be conducted on a “not to interfere” basis with other military duties and at no cost to the government, other than utilizing normally scheduled aircraft. This group eventually adopted the “Leap Frogs” name.
The team was officially commissioned as the U.S. Navy Parachute Team in 1974 by the Chief of Naval Operations and assigned the mission of demonstrating Navy excellence throughout the United States. The East Coast-based “Chuting Stars” were disbanded in the 1980s with the “Leap Frogs” taking on all official parachute demonstrations within the Navy.
A typical Leap Frogs performance consists of six jumpers leaping out of an aircraft at an altitude of 6,000 feet. After freefalling sometimes using smoke or streamers, the Leap Frogs fly their canopies together to build canopy-relative work formations. After performances, the Leap Frogs make themselves available to the public to answer questions about the Navy and the Naval Special Warfare community, as well as to sign autographs.