Monday, January 12, 2015 / by Matthew Freda
Who packs your parachute?
The winter can be a tough time of year for many people no matter what the weather is outside their window. The holidays are over and the months of this time of year are smack dab between the end of the holiday season and the month of April, when taxes are due.
It’s during these shorter days and longer nights that we all need support of some kind. Sometimes it’s a simple as a quick smile or hello and other times it’s an ear we need to bend or a shoulder we need to lean on. And sometimes, we’re the one lending the ear or the shoulder.
In this week’s Monday Morning Mojo, Charles Plumb, former US Navy fighter pilot and Vietnam Veteran, talks about the men who packed the parachutes for them prior to their going on sorties during the war.
As you read the story, notice the correlation he draws between his recognition of the men who packed parachutes and our need to be supportive and cognizant of those people who “pack our parachutes” each and every day by being there for us.
It’s a short, but powerful story.
Hope you enjoy it.
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A true story…
Charles Plumb was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a U.S. Navy jet pilot in the Vietnam War. He flew 75 combat missions and during that time, his plane was struck down by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted to the ground, landing in enemy territory, and was captured.
He spent 6 long years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now speaks to people on what he learned through surviving in a prison camp.
In his lectures, he recounts the story of the time he and his wife were sitting in a restaurant. A man eating there came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"
Astonished, Plumb asked him: "How on God’s green earth did you know that?"
"I packed your parachute," the man replied.
Plumb was overcome by what he just heard and gasped in astonishment and gratitude. The man shook 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 lay awake that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he might have looked like in his Navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and bell-bottom trousers. I kept thinking how many times I could have walked right by him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was simply a sailor."
Plumb considered how much time that sailor must have 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.
Plumb asks his audience – and asks you – "Who's packing your parachute?"
We all have someone who provides what we 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 reached out in all these areas before being rescued.
Many times in the daily challenges we face in life, we miss what is really important. We forget to say hello, please, or thank you, give someone a pat on the back on something wonderful that has happened to them, praise them, or just do something nice for no reason.
As you go through this week, these winter months and even this year, acknowledge the people who pack your parachute.