Jump School

Posted by Backyard Urban Gardening on Sunday, November 15, 2009

I rubbed the sweat from my eyes for 3 hours. Burning, itching, pain that wouldn't stop. Two days of 100 degree heat, too much dust, and too much dirt infected my eyes and blurred my vision.

At 3 p.m., uncomfortable from the weight of the T-10 parachute harnessed to our backs and miserable from a lack of air conditioning, the Jumpmaster called us to our feet for one last walk through inspection. Squad leaders from the 1/507 Parachute Infantry checked us one-by-one pausing periodically to check off items on the pre-jump checklists they carried on clipboards.

Awaiting my turn for inspection, I remembered the video we’d watched earlier that morning to demonstrate various examples of parachute malfunctions and corrective actions that meant the difference between life and death. We reviewed the single riser and two-riser slips and discussed emergency landings, entanglements and collisions. With names like “cigarette roll” and “inversion”, a malfunction during a parachute jump can cause panic, which has led to death or serious injury for many airborne troops. I’m not sure that watching the video taught us anything worthwhile that would actually save our lives, but it instilled a sense of fear in me. I feared I’d have a malfunction and die.

When we left the hangar and approached the aircraft, the shirt sleeves and pants legs of my camouflage Battle Dress Uniform were sticky and soaking wet. Even as I write this, 17 years later, I can still recall the heavy odor and bitter taste of burning jet fuel that choked us as we ascended the loading ramp of the C-130 Hercules, engines running. After two weeks of jumping into saw dust pits, the time to risk our lives had arrived.


I was prepared. I hoped. I perfected my parachute landing fall technique during ground week on the lateral drift apparatus. I could perform a PLF instinctively falling from any direction—backwards, sideways and forwards. I conquered the mock door drills and the 34 foot tower with static line techniques. During tower week I practiced the mass exits with my squad and refined my PLF technique on the swing landing trainer and using the suspended harness apparatus.

I attended church on Sunday, spent the day in reflection, and called my mom. I was at peace with what might come.

As the group ahead of me jumped, I stared out the door into the forest of trees below. The aircraft banked to the left and a hush fell on my 10-member squad. From his position near the door the Jumpmaster’s command to “Stand Up” interrupted my gaze and my eyes focused toward the front of the aircraft.

The command to “Hook Up” was sounded.
“One minute”, signaled the Jumpmaster.

“Thirty seconds”.

Above the roar of the engines, above the wind noise, it became quiet on the plane. I blocked out all the distractions to focus, eyes forward staring at the Jumpmaster. A knot formed in my stomach, my throat began to itch, and a wave of adrenalin overtook my body as I struggled with my own mortality.

“Stand in the door!”

And then a few seconds later, “Go!”
I jumped into silence.

7 comments:

Josefina said...

No pains, no gains..........................

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allmyposts said...

Hey is this article taken from "Inside Delta Force?" it sounds similar. Check the book out..


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Brian said...

No this is not an article from "Inside Delta Force". It's from my own experience at U.S. Army Airborne Training at Fort Benning, GA twenty-two years ago last summer.

I can remember it like yesterday.

montu said...

Inside Delta Force. But the theory is bit different. Agreed.

Love Stories online by Manny said...

you should write an ebook friend.you are awesome.

Mike said...

Awesome post man!

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