USHL calls the Cavalry for puck drop

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot

Hockey fans in Sioux City, Iowa had to look way up to see last night’s game starting puck drop, as Army Staff Sgt. Jamie Koopman from the Iowa Army National Guard’s 1/113th Cavalry rappelled from the arena ceiling down to the ice prior the USHL Western Conference playoff matchup.

VIDEO | 02:29 | USHL calls in the Cavalry for puck drop

Koopman was chosen to represent the Iowa National Guard at the start of game 3 in the best of 5 series, between the hometown Musketeers and the Tri-city Storm who were duking it out on the way to the Clark Cup finals.

The Muskies were 2 and 0 going into the game, and the enthusiasm that began with the spectacular puck delivery carried through to the end as the home team swept the series on Tuesday night.

As a member of his hometown 1/113th Cavalry Troop, Koopman is a traditional guard member who works full time as a civilian for MidAmerican Energy.  During his time with the National Guard, Koopman has trained as a Cavalry Scout and he has also attended Army Ranger School. Among other accolades Koopman is also Air Assault qualified and has earned the Rappel Master title.

 “He’s done it all,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Parks who is also a Rappel Master from B Troop 1/113th at Camp Dodge near Des Moines, Iowa. 

Parks, Koopman and their belay, Staff Sgt. David Collins who is also part of the 113th, were tapped to help make the hockey puck delivery a reality at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City on Tuesday night.

“This is good opportunity to show the community who we are,” Parks said.

Parks explained that for him these kinds of public events are a lot of fun. He said he has done rappelling demonstrations at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines a number of times. He added that not everyone is familiar with the kinds of things soldiers do as members of the National Guard.

“As a guard member you can go do this stuff,” Parks added enthusiastically.

The kind of “stuff” Parks is referring to includes rappelling, but he said there are a variety of opportunities in the National Guard. Parks said there are jobs available in Sioux City as Cavalry Scouts but also in communication and intelligence, as well as mechanics, medics and cooks among others.

When Koopman joined the National Guard in his home town of Le Mars 15 years ago he said he originally joined as an Infantryman, then eventually made his way to the Cavalry. Koopman echoed Park’s sentiments when talking about his Guard experience.

“I knew I wanted to do fun stuff,” Koopman said about the particular military occupation specialty or MOS he wanted when he first joined.

Parks and Koopman’s ideas of “fun” may not be the kind of thing that comes to mind for the less adventurous. Koopman added that because the unit in Sioux City has some unique specialties it has allowed him to attend a number of specialized Army training schools.

“With a reconnaissance unit you get these more specialized schools like Air Assault, Pathfinder, and Mountain Warfare,” Koopman explained.

At the hockey game the two Rappel Masters received an enthusiastic cheer as Koopman made his way down to the ice to deliver the puck. After the Musketeer win at the end of night the whole arena, players, fans and Cavalry troops were able to celebrate a win together and all were included in the fun. 

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