Wounded veteran gets rare opportunity to jump with the SkyHawks

Major (Retired) Mark Campbell

Wounded veteran Major (Retired) Mark Campbell (left) was given the rare opportunity of performing a tandem jump with the SkyHawks at CFB Esquimalt on July 26. Photo: Corporal Jessey Gagné.

A/SLt Charlie Galley, 
CFB Esquimalt Public Affairs

A Canadian Army war veteran who lost both legs in combat in Afghanistan took a rare opportunity to jump with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Parachute Team, the SkyHawks, at CFB Esquimalt.

On July 26, the SkyHawks took Major (Retired) (Maj (Ret’d)) Mark Campbell 12,500 feet above Albert Head before strapping him to one of the team members for a ‘tandem jump’, a jump where two people connected by a harness jump together.

“Intense, fantastic, incredible – just the jump itself was exciting, but also the opportunity to see the SkyHawks behind the scenes, in action, in rehearsal, and being welcomed into the team, made me feel very warm and welcomed. They are a truly spectacular jumping team,” Maj (Ret’d) Campbell said.

The rare opportunity came when his former SkyHawks friends contacted the team and set it up without him knowing. It was also a chance for Maj (Ret’d) Campbell to leave Edmonton and reconnect with family and friends in his hometown of Nanaimo.

Maj (Ret’d) Campbell was harnessed with Tandem Master Sergeant Antoine Collette. Once the parachute was deployed, he was given control of the steering until they came in for a landing. He has previous experience jumping as a paratrooper. However, this was his first time experiencing free fall.

Maj (Ret’d) Campbell was an Infantry Officer and part of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team in Afghanistan on Operation Athena in 2008 when he lost both his legs in an explosion. He retired from the CAF in 2017 after 34 years of service, the first six of those as a reservist on Vancouver Island.

“It’s been fourteen years since my injury but that doesn’t necessarily inhibit me from things I like to do. I still hunt, fish, and go to the rifle range,” Maj (Ret’d) Campbell said. “Life continues, and I believe you have to make the most of what you have. Focus on family and your well-being, and pursue hobbies on the side, adapt and overcome.”

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