GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It was the "thrill of a lifetime" Tuesday for Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes. He joined the elite Navy Leap Frogs Parachute Team, for a tandem jump from 10,000 feet, into Jones Park.
The stage was set under near perfect weather. Crew members with the Leap Frogs prepared for the mayor's high altitude arrival. The plane from the 815th Airlift Squadron at Keesler was right on time. Soon, bright colored banners fluttered toward the ground, measuring the winds. Moments later, the Navy parachutes appeared.
A four-stack formation showed off the skills of this team, while pulling a large American flag. Suddenly the mayor's tandem was in sight and headed for a near perfect landing, not far from the lighthouse.
"Like nothing I've ever done before, it was just awesome," said an excited Mayor Hewes, just after touching down.
"Nothing like it. It was just amazing. Just brought home how beautiful our area is, this is a perfect day. We can't thank our Leap Frogs enough for doing what they've done, part of military week," said Mayor Hewes, "It's our honor to host them all the time. But to let us do something like this, let me do something like this, was a once in a lifetime deal."
The mayor's tandem partner has 20,000 jumps under his belt.
"That was awesome, that was a lot of fun. It was exciting. The view was amazing. Such a beautiful day down here in Mississippi," said veteran Navy Parachute Team member, Jim Woods.
The mayor's wife was certainly happy her husband was back on solid ground.
"They didn't give me anything to hold onto, so I had to go!" he told her, as both laughed.
It's an experience Mayor Hewes will be re-living for many years to come.
"Thank y'all for being down here on the coast. Hope you come back soon," he told the Leap Frogs.
"Thanks for letting us jump in your town!" said one. Another added, "It was a great experience."
Navy week activities are helping mark this year's 75th anniversary of the Seabees.