"Leap Frogs" Make Their Debut

by JO3 Jerry Antonelli (Reprinted from "The Amphibian", Aug. 1, 1969)

On July 4th, the Navy's only exhibition parachute team made its debut as the "Leap Frogs" at Coronado's annual celebration.

Formerly, the team was known as the U. S. Navy UDT/SEAL Exhibition Parachute Team.

PHCS Gene Gagliardi, jump master for the team, said "the name needed some changing - something catchy! One day when the team was all together the name 'Leap Frogs' came up and stuck."

Since the team is made up of UDT and SEAL Team members, who sometimes are referred to as "frogmen" the name "Leap Frogs" has particular significance.

The "Leap Frogs" with Warrant Officer Wayne Boles as officer-in-charge, consists of free-fall parachutists from the Underwater Demolition Teams and the SEAL Teams home based at the U. S. Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado.

Their jumping activities are conducted over and above their regularly assigned duties. Eligibility standards are high and membership is limited to a select group of experienced and able free/fall jumpers.

Jumps are made from 12,500 feet or higher, but team members can be easily followed by the naked eye of the spectator since each jumper had a colored smoke canister attached to his foot. Individual movements of the free-fallers can be easily followed with binoculars.

Normally, under ideal wind conditions, the maneuverability and skill of the jumpers, both during free-fall and after the parachute opens, enable them to land with pinpoint accuracy.

Leap Frogs

by CAPT Norm Olson (reprinted from "The BLAST", 2nd Quarter 1996)

".....During this time frame (1961-1962), PHC Gene "Gag" Gagliardi (D-546) of UDT-11 had gained considerable HALO and Sport Parachuting experience in Southern California, which had then become a hotbed for Skydiving. When LCDR Norm Olson, one of the early East Coast jumpers, reported as Commanding Officer, UDT-11, Chief Gagliardi immediately introduced him to the local jumping elite. He immediately got caught up in the euphoria of their advanced expertise and slowly became accepted as a mainstay in the San Diego Skydivers, one of the nation's first sport parachuting clubs.

Subsequently, at the goading of Chief Gagliardi, LCDR Olson recommended to COMNAVOPSUPPGRUPAC that consideration be given to creating a small demonstration team comprised of a cadre of highly qualified freefall jumpers...."

"At the outset, personally owned parachutes and equipment were utilized, which provided little uniformity and sense of purpose, not matter how well the jumps were executed. To overcome this dilemma and still remain within the "no cost to the government" provision, unique procurement techniques were employed. Innovation being the mother of invention, known only too well by the Teams of that era, produced Pioneer Jumpsuits, Bell Helmets, French Jump Boots, Altimeters and Para-Commander Parachutes, the most radical change in parachute design in thirty-five years.

The Team initially consisted of five jumpers: LCDR Olson, PHC Gagliardi, PR1 Al Schmiz, PH2 "Chip" Maury and SK2 "Herky" Hertenstein.

l to r, "Herky Hertenstein, Gene Gagliardi, Norm Olson, Chip Maury, Al Schmiz

Over the next decade, the West Coast "Para-Team" grew in size and adopted the name 'Leap Frogs.' With this growth came more professionalism and national recognition as a group of jumpers to be reckoned with. Subsequently, under the leadership of LT "Scotty" Lyons, the Team was officially designated by the Navy Recruiting Command as the Navy Parachute Team (NPT)....."

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