W H O
I S P A C K I N G
Y O U R P A R A C H U T E ?
Charles Plumb was a U.S. Navy jet pilot in Vietnam.
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
One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man
at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet
fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were
"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.
"I packed your parachute," the man replied.
Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped 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 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
you?' or anything because,
you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was
just a 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 has someone who provides 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,
his spiritual parachute.
He called on all these supports before
Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what
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
through this week, this
month, this year, recognize people who pack
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