by Charles Phelps
Charles Plumb was a US A Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. .After 75 combat missions, his plane was 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!
Many years later one day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Charles Plumb aren’t you? Didn’t you fly jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk and were shot down!”
”Yes I am but how in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.
“I packed your parachute,” the man replied with a smile.
Plumb gasped in surprise and professed his gratitude.
The man shook his hand, smiled and said, “…And I guess it worked!”‘”
Plumb assured him, “Yes, It sure did. If that 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 had 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 lowly sailor.” Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at 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 is reliant on others who provide what they need to make it through the day.”
He 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 six years later.
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 parachutes.
I am sending you this as my way of thanking you for your part in packing MY parachute. And I hope you will send it on to those who have helped pack yours!
Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding jokes to us without writing a word. Maybe this could explain it! Sometimes we’re busy or we assume the person that we’re thinking of when we hit their name on the computer or our phone is busy at the time but we still want to keep in touch, so guess what we do? ..We forward jokes or perhaps some other tidbit of trivia that the person we send it to will enjoy. .. And to let you know that you are still remembered, you are still important, and you are still cared for.
So my friend, the next time when you receive a joke or something of interest, don’t think of it as such, but that you’re important enough that your friend on the other end of your computer wanted to send you a smile. Just helping you in a small way to: ‘Pack your Parachute’.