Local Army parachute team prepares to jump into Dowdy

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Black Daggers, a parachute demonstration unit based out of Fort Bragg, are set to drop in to Dowdy Ficklen Stadium for Saturday’s military appreciation game.

The group travels around the country doing demonstrations. Master Sgt. John Perusek will be among those dropping in.

“I’ll be the lead jumper. I’ll be jumping in the football and the no quarter flag,” Perusek said.

Perusek, who has served in the Army for 28 years and completed nearly 1,000 jumps over the last six years, always wanted to be in the Army. He, along with other representatives from special operation forces, were on campus Thursday to meet with students interested in the military.

Currently, ECU has over 800 veteran students on campus. Steve Duncan, ECU’s director of military programs, said they want to serve those who served the country.

“When they’re coming out, they say what am I going to do with my life,” Duncan said. “We’re trying to say that East Carolina is a place that understands you. We live in the East Carolina area with military students.”

Duncan said they work to make sure campus is a welcoming and safe place for veterans. He said they have nearly 200 employees trained to help veterans and even spot early signs of PTSD.

Saturday’s game will be a chance for the university to salute those who served the country. 5,000 tickets were given to area bases and wounded warriors.

Perusek said the game may be his last jump before retiring. If it is, he said it couldn’t have been a better location.

“I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in North Carolina, so it’s just an amazing opportunity to come and jump in front of my surrogate family environment,” he said.

Kick off for the game is set for 7:30 p.m.

The coin tosser will be a member of 1941 ECU football team who served in World War II and took part in D-Day.

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