The Pantry Inc., the leading independently operated convenience store chain in the southeastern U.S., has named its Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops Flugtag Team to test gravity’s limits on a custom-made aviation machine in honor of our military service members and their families at the first-ever National Red Bull Flugtag competition in Miami on Sept. 21.
The event is the world’s wildest homemade, human-powered flying craft competition. Powering the Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops Flugtag is a flight “Kroo” consisting of five military veterans who have dedicated their lives to supporting our troops and their families. Together they will take a giant leap off a 28-foot-high flight deck into the water below in an attempt to break the American distance record of a staggering 207 feet.
The team, piloted by U.S. Army airborne pathfinder and silver star-recipient Staff Sergeant (SSG) Tommy Rieman, includes former U.S. Army counter intelligence officer, Captain Angela Amidon; retired member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights, Sergeant First Class (SFC) Mike Elliott; former U.S. Army paratrooper, Sergeant Andrew Ladner; and retired U.S. Army air component supervisor and drag racer, SFC Don O’Neal.
“While there’s no official training program to operate a handmade, human-powered flying craft, we hope our collective experience in the military will put us ahead of the competition,” said SSG Rieman. “Our troops and their families make leaps of faith every day to protect our freedoms and this 28-foot leap will be just one more way Kangaroo Express is raising awareness to help Salute Our Troops.”
The Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops Flugtag is designed and crafted by the United States Veteran Corps (USVC), a North Carolina-based military support organization that participates in service projects and events in the military and civilian community. The flugtag is a custom-made aircraft modeled after a World War II CG-4A Glider, most famously employed in the invasion of France on D-Day and is inspired directly by U.S. military veterans, spouses, dependents and patriotic citizens.
Over the past two summers, the Salute Our Troops campaign raised a total of $5.67 million, breaking fundraising records for many beneficiary organizations, including two of the most accomplished grassroots campaigns the USO has been involved in during its more than 70-year history.
Salute Our Troops celebrations, held throughout the southeastern United States, will feature a chance for guests to become a part of the Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops Flugtag. At each stop, guests can share messages of thanks and appreciation for our U.S. Armed Forces that will later decorate the fabric of the craft.
Donations from the campaign will support the USO, lifting the spirits of America’s troops and their families; Fisher House Foundation, donating “comfort homes” at major military and VA medical centers that enable military families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization; as well as eight state-based military support organizations.
The Pantry’s Kangaroo Express operates 1,567 stores in thirteen states under select banners, including its primary operating banner Kangaroo Express. More than half of the stores are located within 25 miles of a military base. The company has long been a supporter of military personnel and their families, most recently raising $3.17 million for the USO and other military support organizations.