Followed by DSS Agent Zach Bowen, Ambassador Johnson heads to the plane at the LLapango Airshow. Photo courtesy U.S. State Department.
More than 30 years ago, the Jumping Ambassadors, a U.S. Army military freefall detachment from the 7th Special Forces Group performed demonstration jumps across Latin America. At the time, the team was based in Panama, but it showed off the skills of its members and the red, white and blue of the United States in stadiums, soccer fields and airports across the region, including multiple demonstration into the Republic of El Salvador during the nation’s civil war. One of the team’s commanders, Captain Ronald Johnson, D-10122, never dreamed he would one day be back in El Salvador serving as the actual United States Ambassador, but that’s exactly where he was on February 1, performing a demonstration jump at the country’s 23rd annual Ilapango Airshow.
The airshow is the largest of its kind in Central America with an average of 40,000 attendees. Following the event, the short video of the Ambassador’s jump broke records on the U.S. Embassy’s social media accounts with more than 100,000 views. Johnson made the jump from a C-47 aircraft nicknamed Pluto, which the airshow’s organizer, Eduardo Poma, piloted.
“I am proud to represent the United States of America as Ambassador here in El Salvador, and it was a special honor to perform a demonstration parachute jump in support of the airshow and the people.” said Johnson.
Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent Zach Bowen accompanied Ambassador Johnson on the jump and also shot the video. “I was prepared to land with the ambassador and to protect him in case of an off-DZ landing.” said Bowen. Fortunately, all went well and they nailed the landing.
As the former commander of the Jumping Ambassadors Parachute Team and a former member of the Special Operations Command Para-Commandos, this was not Ambassador Johnson’s first demonstration jump or his first jump outside the U.S. He has held a PRO rating for many years and is a former static-line, tandem and AFF instructor who has jumped in more than a dozen countries.
La Libertad, El Salvador