So all week, we’ve been jumping and I’ve wanted nothing more than to tell all of you how amazing it’s been and how I’ve never experienced anything like this before. But, I didn’t want to somehow jinx all of the good luck I’ve had. But now, I’ve completed my Airborne Training, I’ve earned my wings and now I am a Paratrooper- joining a long and proud tradition.
The paratrooper corps. began in 1940 and have jumped in every major conflict since WWII, including storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
In order to prepare for a jump, we must carefully don our equipment. After it is on, we wait for nearly three hours while being inspected and reinspected. In all, we go through about five separate safety inspections.
Finally, when my chalk (group of jumpers) was called to board the plane, you feel a sinking in your stomach but know what you have to do. I stood up and walked out of the building and onto the Airfield where I was greeted by a C-130, ramp down and ready to board. I tried my best to stand tall and walk proud toward the craft, but I had to remind myself that this wasn’t a movie and being a little nervous was natural.
Standing behind it, I was introduced to some of the most intense exhaust ever. Hot air blowing past me so fast, it pushed up back as you tried to walk. I walked up the ramp and took my seat on a bench.
C-130s are really loud, and not very smooth, so the ride in the aircraft wasn’t doing much to settle my nervous. Once the jump-master began the pre-jump commands, I still hadn’t calmed down. But it was time to work.
10 Minutes! Get ready! Outboard personnel stand up! Inboard personnel stand up! Hook up! Check Static Line! Check Equipment! Sound of for Equipment Check! One minute! Thirty seconds! Standby! Green light, GO!
The Chalk began shuffling to the door. One by one, I watched my battle buddies step up then disappear. Inching closer to the door, I still didn’t know how I was going to react. Two people in front of me, one person in front of me, they disappear, my turn.
Standing there, looking the jumpmaster dead in the eye, it took me back the the Million times I had been through the Mock door. He took my static line, I turned and kicked my foot out.
WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST DO?!
For the next 5 seconds, I had so many things racing through my head. What did I do? Why am I falling through the sky? What if my chute doesn’t open? This is really freaking AWESOME.
Just like that, I felt free. My chute opened and everything was calm. I was focused and alert, checking my canopy for any holes and watching out for fellow jumpers. The scene was beautiful, I couldn’t believe that I was doing it.
At 100 feet, I prepared to land. Luckily, the drop zone we use here is tilled soil, making the landings feel like nothing. I hit feet first then conducted a PLF that wasn’t textbook, but didn’t hurt me at all. I laid there, thinking about what I had just done. Was it a rush? I was breathing hard, but I think it’s because the landing had knocked the wind out of me. I still felt good, relaxed in a way. It was one of the best feelings, seconded only by the feeling of the chute grabbing me out of the air and slowly bringing me to the earth.
I got up to retrieve my chute and pack it away just in time to see another C-130 pass over dropping another Chalk.
I came to the conclusion that I could watch paratroopers jump all day. It really is something spectacular.
I completed four more jumps in the next two days, culminating on Wednesday night when we did a full-combat night jump.
And as of this morning, I am Airborne, a paratrooper. And I could not be more proud to say so.