ELYSBURG — Dave Noblit was a bit disappointed at first that he didn’t get to make his first tandem parachute jump on Sunday.
The U.S. Marine Corps veteran understood the reason for the postponement, though.
Noblit, 32, who lost both of his legs while serving as a Marine corporal in Afghanistan in 2010, was scheduled to join the All Veteran Parachute Team (AVPT) in its jump from about 5,000 feet into the Ralpho Community Park. He would have been tethered to AVPT President Mike Elliott, who previously was strapped on to the late President George H.W. Bush on three skydives.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded Noblit, though, ruling he did not have the proper harness. His jump was postponed until next year.
Noblit may not have been able to skydive, but other U.S. military veterans jumped into action.
Five AVPT members did make the jump Sunday, and they did not disappoint.
The skydivers landed one at a time, the first with an American flag attached and flying behind him, coming down within yards of the large X on the field.
Elliott presented Noblit with a folded American flag as he and his team saluted the Marine.
“Jumping from a mile up, I thought, at first I was bummed out,” said Noblit, formerly of Herndon and now living in Elysburg. “Sometimes the best decision to make is the hardest, but you gotta be safe. I was bummed, but it’s good to be more safe than sorry.”
Noblit, also an assistant football coach at Southern Columbia Area School District, wants to make the most of his second chance at life. Tattooed on his right arm are 25 names of those who didn’t come back, those who never got a second chance.
Noblit now has to wait a year, until next year’s All Home Days, to make his first jump.
Ralpho Township would have held its 101st All Home Days this weekend, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Army veteran J.P. Marinari, one of the organizers of the jump, said the local veterans and community members were disappointed when All Home Days was canceled. So he and the AVPT members saw the jump as a way to still honor veterans. The exhibition drew more than 100 spectators to the park.
Lindsey Jones, of Elysburg, brought her sons, Connor, 5, and Reggie, 11, to watch the skydivers.
“I think it’s a wonderful group,” she said of the organizers and skydivers.
In addition to Marinari, state Rep. Kurt Masser, R-107, of Elysburg, and Elysburg veteran Clint Herr sponsored the jump.
Joannie Yuricich, of Coal Township, also showed up to watch. She was familiar with Noblit.
She is with the American Legion in Shamokin and helped the Homes for Our Troops group members make Noblit’s Elysburg home more accessible.
She was a little nervous, though, about the jump before learning Noblit wasn’t jumping on Sunday.
“My heart’s in my throat,” Yuricich said.
The AVPT also was scheduled to do a night pyrotechnic free fall jump at 9 p.m., but that was moved up to 7:30 p.m. so as not to violate FAA safety rules.
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-9, of Dallas, also attended.