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Pillar of Sportsmanship

Pillar of Sportsmanship

Greg Windmiller Receives the USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service

Saturday, December 1, 2018

On September 27, USPA Director of Competition Steve Hubbard called Greg Windmiller, D-20004, to the podium during the awards ceremony at the USPA National Championships of Canopy Piloting to receive a gold medal. It was not Windmiller’s first gold. In fact, it wasn’t even his first gold that day, as he had just won the canopy piloting speed event with a perfect-300 score. This gold medal—the USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service—was a different type of honor, one that USPA bestows on those “outstanding Americans who, by their efforts over a period of years, have made significant contributions to the skydiving community.” Windmiller’s diverse accomplishments during his 28 years in the sport are so evident that, unbeknownst to each other, two people—National Director Albert Berchtold and former Regional Director Marylou Laughlin—nominated him at the same time. They both attended to bestow the award.

Windmiller, who now has made more than 15,000 jumps, began skydiving at the Special Forces Military Freefall School at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, after joining the U.S. Army in 1990. He later attended the Military Freefall Jumpmaster Course. While an instructor at the Long-Range Surveillance Leaders Course in Ft. Benning, Georgia, he was a member of the Silver Wings, Ft. Benning's exhibition parachute team.

Ten years after joining the Army, Windmiller became a member of the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, one of nine selected from the pool of 29 who attended the rigorous assessment and selection event. He became a competitor on the freefall style and accuracy landing team, eventually rising to team leader.

In 2007, Windmiller co-founded the Golden Knights’ canopy piloting team. The team saw much success in 2008, its first full year of competition, and Windmiller took the overall bronze medal at the 2008 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Championships of Canopy Piloting in Pretoria, South Africa. He also set the FAI World Record for speed at the event, entering the course at nearly 90 mph. Since then, he’s broken the record four more times and earned countless national and world competition medals in canopy piloting (in addition to his previous medals in style and accuracy, as well as formation skydiving). He’s been a member of 12 U.S. Parachute Teams, and when he doesn’t make the team, he is the first to volunteer to be the team manager. Windmiller retired from the Army in 2016 after 26 years of service but continues to stay involved in the sport he loves.

Perhaps even more noteworthy than Windmiller’s achievement in competition is his commitment to jumper education and safety. Windmiller is a USPA AFF and Static-Line Instructor and Tandem Instructor Examiner. He started teaching canopy-control classes professionally in 2007 in his spare time, and hundreds of students have benefitted from his unique teaching style and techniques. The medical training he received in the Army has served the community well, and he has given medical briefings to judges and staff at every canopy piloting world meet since 2009. Berchtold remarked, “When there is an accident at the DZ and everyone else cringes and looks away, he runs in to help. Once the dust settles, Greg is also the first one at the hospital before any friends and family arrive.” 

The respect of his fellow jumpers was evident by their deafening applause when Windmiller walked to the podium to receive the USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service from Berchtold and Laughlin. His citation reads, “For representing true sportsmanship in the U.S. and international skydiving communities as a U.S. Army Golden Knight, multiple national champion, world record holder and U.S. Team leader and for promoting safety as an instructor and canopy piloting coach.”

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