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Airborne Demonstration Team mourns loss of fellow member after parachute accident

Courtesy of Gary Daniels Courtesy of Gary Daniels

FREDERICK, Okla._New information has been released on the parachute accident Tuesday in Frederick that took the life of a member of the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team.

Officials originally reported Wednesday night that 70-year-old Captain James Yost had suffered a heart attack mid-flight. Now, they're also pointing to an equipment malfunction. The medical examiner's report said blunt force trauma was the cause of death.

The Airborne Demonstration Team said in a release that there was an equipment malfunction, but that Yost went limp, and didn't fully deploy his reserve parachute. They believe that indicates some type of medical event happened before he hit the ground.

Medical staff on site was unable to revive him at the drop zone. He was taken to the hospital in Frederick where he was pronounced dead.

His team members said that even though he had served in Vietnam as part of the Special Forces and had 36 active-duty jumps, Yost wanted to get back in the parachute and loved every minute of it.

"He wanted to be on the plane every time the wheels rolled," said fellow team member Kay Neahring.

Yost went back to jump school in January, this time with the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team. Neahring met him then and said the combat vet wasn't nervous one bit.

"He had no doubt, because I chatted with him and he had no doubt that he was going to get through and he was in really good shape. He ran marathons, he was an athlete," said Neahring

In June, he joined the demonstration team in Normandy, France, to jump in the D-Day celebrations there. That's where he became good friends with fellow paratrooper, David Brothers, not while jumping out of a plane, but during riding around in an old World War II Army Jeep.

"We toured the country side dressed as paratroopers riding around in this World War II vehicle. It was the only thing as good as the jumping. We are just sitting there driving through these quaint old villages having a great conversation," said Brothers.

Brothers would really get to know him and grow close to him that trip.

"You know, if I would've lived down the street from him as a child, we would have been life long friends, that was the kind of guy he was," said Brothers.

Yost was excited about this week, excited to see old friends like brothers, make new ones and parachute. On Tuesday before tragedy struck, he had only one fear.

"His biggest fear was that he wouldn't get to make that jump so he wanted to be on that plane," said Brothers.

He would make it on that flight and his good friend Brothers would be the pilot.

Team members on the ground witnessed what would happen next.

"It was hard to watch him come down," said Neahring.

Team officials said Yost was full of life, could make anyone laugh, and was a just a guy that you wanted to have around. They said that even though he was part of the team for just a short time, the memory of him will go on forever.

The Open Hangar Day planned for Saturday is still happening. There will be demonstration jumps from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and equipment and uniform displays following.

The events could change depending upon the weather.


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