“C-130 rolling down the strip,
64 Rangers on a one way trip,
stand-up, hook-up shuffle to the door,
jump right out and count to four”
I’ll be the first to admit that I am one of the luckiest guys in the U.S. military. Not only did I make Brigadier General, but I was assigned to one of the handful of GO positions on jump status. Now, my fun meter has just about pegged with all this winter weather this year, but when it is time to jump, it’s time to jump. Even if it is 5 degrees outside.
Plenty of time to get the safety brief and “suit up”. Here the Jumpmaster is checking me out.
First time for me to jump out of a C-17. It was such a better ride than a C-130! The seats had a heater behind them that sort of worked. Nice to jump out of a plane that is not older than I am! It had warmed up to 16 degrees by the time we got on the bird.
The Drop Zone was at Ft. A.P. Hill, near Fredericksburg, VA. The 130 mile an hour wind chill wasn’t there long enough to matter, not would I feel it with the adrenaline running through my system! Then the beauty of the thing. Checking your canopy to ensure everything deployed right and then enjoy the silence. I love the silence of floating 1200 feet over the earth and observing my fellow jumpers weaving around the skies, the ground crew ready to receive us, and in this case the beautiful whiteness of the snow blanketing the DZ.
There was almost no wind, so steering my MT-6 was easy. Then came the landing, which can be rough for a guy my age. But this was beautiful! Six inches of snow let me land softly and I only had to brush off the snow from my ACU’s. I felt pretty proud that I managed to land within 100 feet of the ground crew. I did commit an airborne faux pas, by unhooking my reserve chute and dropping it on the ground too hard, which caused it to pop open. They had warned me that these new reserves were really sensitive and I had guarded it very carefully up until that time. I guess I owe the JM a case of beer!
I was the first out the door on the first stick so I got to observe the other five passes. Here are photos of the other jumpers exiting the plane. It was a great day, 19 degrees out, but no wind, which made the setting beautiful. The troops deployed to the woods to continue their tactical operations, while I bade them farewell (no one wants a GO hanging around)!
I used to joke that I jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, until one USAF guy asked me “I thought you jumped out of Air Force planes? They have no ‘perfectly good’ airplanes!”
Anyone out there a jumper?