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Skydivers partner with veterans for ultimate thrill over Virginia Beach: 'The view is gorgeous'

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Posted at 8:30 PM, Nov 13, 2022

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A new Veterans Day weekend tradition dropped dozens of current and former service members from a plane onto the soft sands of Virginia Beach on Saturday.

The 2022 Land in the Sand partnered Skydive Suffolk skydivers with 50 local active-duty military and veterans to provide our country's heroes the ultimate thrill for free.

Among the first to land in tandem with a skydiver was Capt. Steve Djunaedi, Executive Officer for Naval Air Station Oceana — a pilot who says he'd never jumped out of a plane before.

“I mean, the view is gorgeous up there. A lot of wind at first but once you get under the parachute, it’s kind of like everything stands still a little bit. It’s really cool," said Djunaedi, safely back on the ground.

Organizers, which also included the Veterans United Foundation, tells News 3 the event took around six months to prepare, including working with the City of Virginia Beach.

Though skydiving events have had vets landing on the sand before, this is the first to happen on Veterans Day weekend.

Harry Basnight, a U.S. Navy veteran who now works for Veterans United, says skydiving can be a lot of fun, but for veterans who are battling trauma, he believes it can also be a fresh start.

“Doing events like this, it gives them...there is light at the end of the tunnel. There’s still something to look forward to," he told News 3. "No matter how much you might be suffering or having a bad time, you still have outlets to have fun.”

Also, present Saturday were several vendors and services aimed at helping veterans, along with rescue boats in case winds took skydiving tandems into the ocean.

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