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Skydiving to Salute – Iwo Jima Marines

The jump took place on the morning of March 16th, 2024 at Mil-Hi Skydiving in Longmont, Colorado. Please enjoy the photos and video celebrating Paula’s 75th birthday.

Donations are still open and always welcome. Click here to donate and support the USMC Memorial Foundation. 

Skydiving to Salute – Iwo Jima Marines

The Rest of the Story

The USMC Memorial Foundation is celebrating our President’s 75th Birthday and the retirement (last fall) of Denver PD Officer, Henry Jones (Honorary Board Member) on March 16th, 2024 Paula Sarlls could not parachute when she was in the Marine Corps – there’s a story – but she is going to skydive in honor of her Iwo Jima Marine friends turning 100 this year!

Jim Blane is well known in Marine circles for being a legend on Iwo Jima, Tinian, Saipan and Roi Namur in the Marshall Islands. He turns 100 this year and the Memorial events are all dedicated to him and the other Iwo vets turning 99.

Henry Jones retired last year, and Paula bought him skydiving as a retirement gift, IF he would jump with her on her birthday. They had great plans for this event.

Unfortunately, he had a bad automobile accident last week and can’t do this.

BUT…Paula will be jumping to Salute our Iwo Jima Marines and Officer Jones. She has also recruited a fellow jumper to help her – USMC Memorial Foundation Board Member Matt Hays, USMC.

She will be taking as many jumps as possible and asking people to donate per jump!

Paula was stationed at Quantico, MCB in 1968 and worked as an air controller on the MCAS at Quantico. The planes using the airport were planes the Corps was testing for purchase, such as the Harrier; the President’s helicopters that were CH-53’s – HMX-1; T-28’s from WWII and S-2’s. There were other planes that visited the airport like AC 130’s. The most important were the HMX-1 squadron of CH-53’s.

There was a private flying club on the base, and they offered parachuting for those who could afford it and wanted to do it. In those days, however, women were not adults until they turned 21. Paula was 19. Her parents were required to sign for her to parachute and they refused, much to her chagrin! But she married her beloved Tony in 1969 and thought, “Now I am emancipated and can jump!” BUT alas! Her husband was required to sign since she wasn’t 21 yet! He was in Vietnam on his 2nd tour and refused to sign.
When she finally turned 21, her husband had been discharged and their finances didn’t allow for her to jump and the dream was put on the back burner for 43 years until March 16, 2012, when she went skydiving for the first time! She fell in love with it!

Shortly thereafter an Iwo Jima friend of Paula’s, Don Whipple, did it for his 90th birthday. She told him that he was an inspiration and vowed to do it herself when she turned 90, but couldn’t wait that long so took on the challenge of doing it when she turned 75!

Since then, the USMC Memorial Foundation was formed, and Henry Jones became an honorary board member. He was a Denver Police officer who handled the VIPS at DIA. He and Paula worked closely on several great events where VIPS came to Denver for the foundation. The one of most import was Sgt Donald Deloy Stoddard who was returned from Tarawa for his final resting home in Boulder. Henry and Paula carried out the dignified transfer and burial in true Marine fashion on June 26, 2021.

When Henry retired last year, Paula bought him a skydiving trip IF he would go on her 75th birthday and help raise funds for the Memorial remodel! Last week he had a bad automobile accident so will be unable to jump.

In true Marine fashion, Paula will jump alone in honor of her Iwo Jima friends and Henry! BUT WAIT, Marine Matt Hays has volunteered to take Henry’s place on the jump!


Iwo Jima Marine, Cpl James Blane turns 100 on November 18th this year; Iwo Jima Marine Jack Thurman pictured in the famed Rosenthal photo raising the flag turns 99 this year; Iwo Jima Marine Don Whipple who witnessed the flag raising on Iwo Jima turns 99 years old this year; Iwo Jima Marine Al Jennings turns 99 this year; Iwo Jima Corpsman Tom Ramm is 99 this year; Iwo Jima Marine Hiram Skeens turns 99 this year; Iwo Jima Marine friends who are deceased Max Brown, Wally Hill, and Stan Newman. Read this article January 2024 article published in My Prime Time News to learn more. 

Paula is the President of the USMC Memorial Foundation working to raise funds to remodel the United States Marine Corps Memorial at 6th and Colfax so that it honors these brave men and the millions of other Marines, Corpsmen, Chaplains, war dogs, etc fulfilling the mission of “Honoring Marines and remembering all who serve!”

Event Details

Place: Mile-Hi Skydiving – Vance Brand Airport - 8700 St Vrain Rd, Longmont, CO 80503

Date: March 16th

Time: 0900-1700 hours

Founded in 1974, completed and dedicated in 1977, the United States Marine Corps Memorial is located in Golden, Colorado. The Memorial’s mission is to honor Marines and all who served. Join us, in partnership with NFL Alumni, to raise money supporting the United States Marine Corps Memorial remodel project.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

  • 6:45 AM   Registration
  • 7:30 AM   Presentation of Colors and Invocation
  • 8:00 AM   Shotgun Start
  • 1:30 PM   Lunch, Awards, Silent Auction and Keynote Address
  • 1:30 PM   Lunch only attendees arrive
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