BUTLER — U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ian McGlynn has been in charge of the West Point parachute team for four years. But he’s never experienced Friday Night Lights.
McGlynn carried the game ball into Butler High School’s game against St. Mary’s of Rutherford on Friday night — after stepping from a helicopter. McGlynn and cadet Camm Johnson both dropped into Memorial Field prior to kickoff, the highlight of a ceremony to recognize Butler High School alumni killed in action during World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam.
“It’s an honor to recognize all who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Richard Dean, whose great-uncle, John A. Dean, was the first Butler alumnus killed in action, in Belleau Wood, France in July 1918.
“We can never stop saying ‘Thank you’ to our veterans and those who are serving now.”
A color guard comprised of members of local VFW and American Legion posts carried the American flag onto the field. After the 106 names were read, some by family members like Dean, a 21-gun salute was fired. Butler junior Matthew Trog played “Taps” on solo trumpet.
After the Bulldogs ran onto the field, everyone paused and looked to the sky for the parachutists.
McGlynn, who had noted strong winds when he scouted Memorial Field Wednesday, slowly descended with the game ball strapped to his belly. Johnson followed with an American flag.
The Bulldogs crushed St. Mary’s, 62-28, on Friday night. Freshman linebacker Rocco Presti’s cousin, Joe Presti of Kinnelon, is a former member of the West Point parachute team currently serving in the U.S. Army in Africa.
“I was shocked,” said Carol Worden Terry, a member of Butler’s Class of ’58 whose late husband, Fred Terry, was one of three West Point cadets who founded the parachute team in 1958.
“I love it. I’m so excited, and Fred would be so excited to know it’s still going on. … That’s how we dated, me standing on the sidelines while they were jumping all over the place. It was crazy but wonderful.”