Who packs YOUR
Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions,
his plane as destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and
parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a
communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on
lessons learned from that experience.
One day, when Plumb and his
wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said,
“You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier
Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”
“How in the world did you
know that?” asked Plumb.
“ I packed your parachute,”
the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his
hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your
chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Plumb couldn’t sleep that
night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he might
have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and
bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not
even said Good morning, how are you?’ or anything because, you see, I was a
fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.”
Plumb thought of the man
hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship,
carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding
in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.
Now, Plumb asks his
audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone who provides
what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he
needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy
territory-he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his
emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called
on all these supports before reaching safety.
Sometimes in the daily
challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail
to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something
wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something
nice for no reason.
As you go through this week, this month, this year,
recognize people who pack your parachute.
for the rest of the story...
Charlie Plumb was one of my
plebes at Annapolis during the summer of 1960. Later I flew a couple of
check flights with him in Pensacola when I was a primary flight instructor.
In June 1967, the “V” had some East German visitors filming “Pilots in
Pajamas” in our camp. I was in the October 1967 Life Magazine cover “Clean &
Neat” cell plotting how to foil any attempts to use us for propaganda when I
heard a clatter outside the room.
I ran to the window (it had
fixed slats and was the only cell I lived in from which I could look out)
and saw a guard followed by a POW going under the window. As they passed out
of sight, another POW appeared moving more slowly. As he passed under the
window, I whispered, “I’m Paul Galanti. Who are you?” The POW looked
startled and pressed on to get his food.
they returned he fell very far behind his cellmate and the guard, glanced up
at the window and whispered back, “I’m Charlie Plumb. Thanks for not washing
me out of the check ride, you S.O.B.”