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Kaelin  (Level: 49.2 - Posts: 1685)
Thu, 17th Jul '08 3:10 PM


My grandfather was a Marine that fought in Guadal Canal - but was also a parachute packer as well. He just turned 89 and reminded me of what it meant to be a parachute packer and I found this and thought I'd share:

Who Packed Your Parachute
An excerpt from Aim For The Heart by Tom Mathews
As a leader, do you honor and appreciate the power of WE? Do you stop to thank and recognize the members of your team? Do you consistently show an attitude of gratitude?

I recently read a great story about Captain Charles Plumb, a graduate from the Naval Academy, whose plane, after 74 successful combat missions over North Vietnam, was shot down. He parachuted to safety, but was captured, tortured and spent 2,103 days in a small box-like cell.

After surviving the ordeal, Captain Plumb received the Silver Star, Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit and two Purple Hearts, and returned to America and spoke to many groups about his experience and how it compared to the challenges of every day life.

Shortly after coming home, Charlie and his wife were sitting in a restaurant. A man rose from a nearby table, walked over and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"

Surprised that he was recognized, Charlie responded, "How in the world did you know that?" The man replied, "I packed your parachute." Charlie looked up with surprise. The man pumped his hand, gave a thumbs-up, and said, "I guess it worked!"

Charlie stood to shake the man's hand, and assured him, "It most certainly did work. If it had not worked, I would not be here today."

Charlie could not sleep that night, thinking about the man. He wondered if he might have seen him and not even said, "Good morning, how are you?" He thought of the many hours the sailor had spent bending over a long wooden table in the bottom of the ship, carefully folding the silks and weaving the shrouds of each chute, each time holding in his hands the fate of someone he didn't know.

Plumb then began to realize that along with the physical parachute, he needed mental, emotional and spiritual parachutes. He had called on all these supports during his long and painful ordeal.

As a leader, how many times a day, a week, a month, do we pass up the opportunity to thank those people in our organization who are "packing our parachutes?"

Eesusbejesus  (Level: 75.0 - Posts: 3641)
Thu, 17th Jul '08 3:13 PM

That's an awesome story, Lorri. Thanks for sharing it.

Papermanbill  (Level: 41.3 - Posts: 1312)
Thu, 17th Jul '08 5:31 PM

If I recall correctly Parachute Riggers were trained at Lakehurst NJ in the sixties, what a responsibilty. I read somewhere that another person would always do a better job packing for someone who they didn't know, than they would for themself. (Go figure). It is kinda' hard to find a responsiblity with as much as doing those chutes. How about the chute that stops the Space Shuttle.

1mrshunch  (Level: 94.0 - Posts: 46)
Thu, 17th Jul '08 6:06 PM

Great story- thank you for sharing!

Tuzilla  (Level: 144.6 - Posts: 3839)
Thu, 17th Jul '08 7:30 PM

Good story, but I had half expected a different parachute story. It is a true story from a general who came to command the parachute packers. On his first day he went into the packing area and inquired about the failure to properly deploy rate of the parachutes. He was proudly informed it was under one percent. So you feel that is pretty good?" he asked one of the packers. The packer replied yes. So the general asked him to point out the last parachute he packed. He did so and the general said grab it, we going for a jump. The failure rate fell to zero in a very short time.

Jank0614  (Level: 67.1 - Posts: 4593)
Thu, 17th Jul '08 8:22 PM

If hospitals only had a 99.99% success rate, 12 babies would have gone home with the wrong parents the US.

Two great stories! Thanks Lorri and.Steve.

Mplaw51  (Level: 184.4 - Posts: 1581)
Thu, 17th Jul '08 8:47 PM

Great stories, God must have been sitting on both of their shoulders for Plumb and his parachute packer to be in the same place at the same time years later. Good stuff...

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