First celebrated 70 years ago, Armed Forces Day is the day to honor all who are serving or have served in our military. A lot has changed in those 70 years, but the importance of our military and our gratitude for their service has not.
First week of September 1977 Ft. Benning Georgia, third and final week of jump training.
First of five actual jumps to be airborne qualified, beautiful day, sun is shinning and the temperature is in the mid to high 80s.
All through training it has been impressed upon us, DO NOT TRY TO DO A STAND UP LANDING! This is how people get their legs, ankles and feet broken.
We are in the plane (C130 Hercules) everyone seems excited (or scared sh%*less). The red light comes on and the commands are yelled out to us
Stand in the door
The green light comes on and out we go, from the ground it looks like an a crane as it empties it bowels in flight.
I look up and there is a round T-10 canopy above me (I can now take a breath). I start to look around and the feeling is indescribable, the view, the fresh air, the screams of terror from those still freaking out.
I actually thought I would be falling faster than this, (I must have hit a thermal) it felt almost like the riding down side of a Big Wheel ride at the fair.
I start to notice the ground getting closer and I forced myself to remember the prior two weeks of training, point feet down, bend your knees slightly, get ready for impact.
I never felt touching the ground, there I was standing on the ground ant the riser lines starting to go limp. I was staring into the eyes of a Black Hat (jump instructor) and realized I was not falling to the ground (this is very bad and could get me in a LOT of trouble) so I force myself to do the PLF (Parachute Landing Fall).
It was one of the most enjoyable jumps I had in the Army. Over the next 4 days re did the rest of our qualifying jumps which included as our last jump, a night jump (one night jump was required for qualification).
When we got back to base we had our graduation ceremony that night. We got our wings pinned on our chests.
The final question from the NCO pinning them on, “Do you want blood wings?” It made no difference in your answer, he hits the shinny new silver wings so the pins poke into your chest and break the skin.
Welcome to the Airborne Men!
Note: There were no women in our jump class, it was over a year later before I saw my first female Army Paratrooper.
My eternal gratitude to all the men and women who serve, or have served, in the US Armed Forces; it’s because of you we enjoy the freedoms America offers to us.
In memory of Jerry A Crow, a career man in the United States Navy, Vietnam veteran 1966-67, nuclear submariner, my brother and friend, loved, missed, and remembered every day.