Hoody Memorial Honors Fallen Local Soldier
Corey Hood loved jumping out of airplanes. After serving five tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan with the 82nd and 101st Airborne, Hood, a Lakota West High School graduate, was selected to join the Golden Knights, the United States Army’s elite demonstration and competition parachute team.
“To put it simply, they are the best of the best at jumping out of airplanes and performing for crowds,” says Hood’s childhood friend Nick Enger, whom he met in junior high. “Corey couldn’t have been more excited about joining the Golden Knights. He called it his dream job. The job fit him perfectly.”
In August 2015 the Golden Knights were performing at the Chicago Air and Water Show, and Enger remembers Hood was excitedly posting pictures from the plane during the practice run at Soldier Field. On August 15, Hood’s team was performing a joint jump with the Navy’s parachute team, The Leap Frogs.
“There was a mid-air collision and his emergency parachute opened but could not maneuver to safety,” Enger remembers.
Hood passed away the following day from his injuries. His wife, Lyndsay Hood, was standing on the beach where he was supposed to land. As she reflects back on that day, Lyndsay says, “Corey was the most loyal friend you had ever met. He would bend over backwards for anyone, even if it put him out personally. And he was the most fun-loving, thrill-seeking person I had ever met. He was rough around the edges but had the biggest heart paired with the most infectious smile.”
It’s obvious to see the lasting impact Corey made on those around him. A group of Corey’s friends, including Enger, founded the Hoody Memorial Fund with help from the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty in July of 2016.
On August 13 the group hosted the Inaugural Hoody Memorial Golf Tournament & Dinner at the Beckett Ridge Golf Club, and blew all of Enger’s expectations out of the water. The target was to raise $7,500, and instead they raised $40,000 and hosted the biggest golf outing Beckett Ridge has seen.
Through the fund, a scholarship will be awarded each year to a Lakota student who possesses the same qualities that Corey exhibited through his life–a strong will, a desire to succeed and “a little bit of grit,” Enger says.
“Corey was not a straight-A student,” Enger recalls. “His drive in sports and competition was a perfect match for him to excel through the ranks of the Army.”
Corey excelled to Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army Golden Knights and won several awards, including two bronze stars. After enlisting, Corey met Lyndsay while he was stationed at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina, and they eventually married in 2004 on a Hawaiian beach.
“I miss him every minute of every day,” Lyndsay says. “He was an amazing individual who sacrificed everything for his county, family and friends. He lived life to the fullest and provided me with 13 years of happiness and exciting moments.”
Lyndsay says she’s thankful to Corey’s friends for keeping his memory alive. “I can’t say enough about his friends who started all of this. I’m lucky to have them in my life,” she says.
At the August 13 Hoody Memorial, a crew from the Golden Knights came into town and participated in the event, where spectators could watch a color guard and bag pipe performance, topped off with four skydivers.
“It is absolutely humbling to see the generosity of our local community,” Enger says. “[Corey] always lived by the saying ‘go big or go home,’ and we channeled some of that mentality when planning this event.”
The 2017 Hoody Memorial Golf Tournament will be held on Saturday, August 5, 2017. Though it’s hard to top skydivers and bagpipes, Enger says next year’s event will be even bigger and better than this first year.
“Corey was proud to be from West Chester and Lakota,” Enger says. “So it’s only fitting to have the golf tournament and dinner in West Chester and have the fund benefit a Lakota student.”
Enger adds, “I think about Corey every day. One thing that always reminds me of him is a quote from a fellow service member about Corey. We liked the quote so much that it’s now in a picture frame at our house. It says, ‘You think your Guardian Angel is cool? Mine is at 13,000 feet ready to jump at a moment’s notice. My Guardian Angel is a US Army Golden Knight.’”