Most members of the parachute team have a
minimum of eight to 10 years of active-duty
service, with anywhere from three to four
deployments, so you have to put some time
in before you can come over here, represent
the Navy and do parachute demonstrations
throughout the U.S.
I joined the Navy in 2008, so I’m just coming up
on nine years of service. This is my third year with the
team, so I will finish up this year and then go back to a
deploying SEAL platoon.
I wanted to get into business. I was really interested
in the nightclub industry. I ended up getting a job while
I was college, I worked that for two years and realized
absolutely not, I was not a big fan of that lifestyle.
A buddy of mine introduced me to the documentary
“BUDS Class 234.” That sparked my interest. I told my
parents I was going to stop going to college. They said,
“Nope, you’re finishing college.” So the second I finished I already had a contract to go enlisted into BUDS
[Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL]. That summer I
went off to Navy boot camp.
I went through the program — start to finish —
over about a year and a half. At the end of the SQT
[SEAL Qualification Training] pipeline, I ended up
going through military freefall training. That’s where
I initially learned how to skydive. You need to be military freefall qualified to join the [Leap Frogs] team.
During my career, I’ve been to several advanced
freefall parachuting schools and that’s where I really
learned what skydiving was all about and developed
that skill, or that craft. I met a guy who was on the Leap
Frogs and he introduced me and sparked my interest.
Before I deployed, I did an interview with the team, I
met all the members, let them know, “When I finish up
this current assignment, I’d really be interested in coming
over to the Leap Frogs if you have a spot open for me.”
When I was just wrapping up my deployment, I got
word that my next tour would be over at the Leap Frogs.
When you’re on a SEAL team you’re gone all the
time, your interaction with the public is slim to none.
You have really no idea how much appreciation the
general public has for the military. With this job, it’s
completely the opposite. When we jump, our demonstration lasts about five minutes. Once we touch down,
our real focus is interacting with the general public.
Myself, being from a small town [in the Grand Rapids
area of Michigan], I had very little interaction with the
military, I didn’t really know much about the military.
That’s the cool thing, being able to go out there and do
these Navy Weeks and go to some smaller areas and talk
to the men, women and children who are out there and
answer some of the questions they may have.
I’d love to go to OCS [Officers Candidate School], continue with my career in Naval Special Warfare and qualify
over to becoming a commissioned officer. I’m very happy
I chose this career path and I’m very proud to be able to
serve in the military and continue to do it. n
Special Warfare Operator 1st Class
(SEAL) Brandon Peterson
U.S. NAVY PARACHUTE TEAM “THE LEAP FROGS”
IN MY OWN WORDS
Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Brandon Peterson poses
for a photo Feb. 23 after a skydiving demonstration during Navy
Week Mobile, Ala.