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As a third generation graduate of the U.S. Army Airborne School, Columbus State University ROTC Cadet Tyler Davidson said completing the course with his final jump June 25 was one of the most rewarding moments of his life.
However, he said knowing that his father, Col. David Davidson would be taking that jump with him was what made the moment even better.
"Going up for the first time, you're really nervous," he said. "When you jump out, it's quiet and peaceful and you remember what you have to do. Being able to end with a combat equipment jump and having my dad next to me was awesome."
The elder Davidson officially relinquished command of the 316th Cavalry Brigade June 20 and now serves as the operations officer for U.S. Army North at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He traveled back to Fort Benning just in time for the final jump and to pin the silver wings he earned 20 years ago on his son during the Class 25-14 graduation ceremony June 27.
David Davidson said the opportunity was the result of perfect timing and support from the Maneuver Center of Excellence and the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade.
"I'm an Armor officer, and there are very few Armor officers on jump status," Davidson said. "Based on the MCoE reorganization, an Airborne unit came to the 316th Brigade, which allowed me to go into jump status. It was 21 years from jump five to jump six."
When David Davidson graduated from Airborne School in December 1992, his father, retired Maj. Thomas Davidson, traveled to Fort Benning to pin the silver wings he earned 30 years prior on him.
"My father took the same jump and graduated from Airborne School in 1962," he said. "He served three tours in Vietnam, and is a (1972) Distinguished Service Cross Award recipient ... I also had a great-uncle (John Wallace) in one of the first Airborne test companies in 1942 who later jumped into Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France, with 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day."
David Davidson said the advice he gave his son was to focus on the mission and complete his jumps safely and accurately.
"Feet and knees together, pay attention and listen to what they tell you," he said. "You will apply what you learn in the first two weeks to the third week, so you must pay attention and all of it comes together when you exit the aircraft."
Tyler Davidson, 20, who will begin his junior year at CSU this year, said he was fortunate to get an open slot for Airborne School this summer. He said he hopes to follow in his father and grandfather's footsteps and pursue a career in the Army after graduating from college.
"It's an amazing opportunity for a cadet because so few of these slots come open for us," he said. "I never did basic training, so I never lived in barracks. Here I actually got to see the Soldier side of the Army, which was a really good experience for me."