“Recollections” of Mike’s First Parachute Jump
It was the day of Mike’s first parachute jump at Ft. Benning in October 1961.
Mike was especially “Out of Sorts” that day, what I thought was just nerves over
jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. So, I made him a big breakfast: eggs,
bacon, grits, toast and jelly. He didn’t eat a bite. Having been in the Army
only three months, I figured this was just the first of many strange experiences
that I was to encounter in the years ahead.
Our Camellia Apartment car pool arrived shortly and Mike got into the car
still looking a little bit queasy. As Mike then tells the story, he arrived at
the hanger, put on his parachute and sat for the usual hour waiting to load the
plane - all the time tightening his straps and thinking this was just nerves.
Eventually, he loaded the plane, took off and made the jump. By this time, I had
arrived at the drop zone to welcome him on the ground, along with other ’61
Of course, we couldn’t recognize our husbands falling through the sky, but I
was able to see that Mike was not leaving the drop zone with the other jumpers.
FIRST ALERT! As it turned out, Mike was still feeling very sick when he hit the
ground. A sergeant then ran up to him to check him out. And, of course, they
then loaded him into a jeep and off they went to some unknown location. My
reaction: “Hello, what about me? I am his wife. Where is he going?”
When Mike’s carpool arrived back at Camellia Apartments one of the guys said,
“They had taken him to the hospital.” Naturally, I hopped into our car and went
to Martin Army Hospital. I was totally freaked out, wandering the halls of the
hospital, trying to find my husband. Finally, this nice man came up to me and
offered to help. I later learned he was the hospital commander. I finally found
Mike and learned he was having an emergency appendectomy and was scheduled for
surgery in a few hours.
The surgery was successful but so much for that jump class. Mike was then
assigned to the training battalion for a two- month profile, waiting to enter
the next class to complete his jumps. Colonel Joseph was the training battalion
commander. For the next two months Mike and I made Christmas decorations for the
Battalion headquarters. We met with the Colonel and his wife for drinks every
afternoon at his quarters, cutting out and painting plywood Christmas elves to
place in front of the headquarters.
This turned out to be a fun time and a learning experience. I had come to
appreciate the prerogative of informality that we had graciously been given by
the Joseph’s and also recognized there were times, when formality dictated, I
remain quiet. (very difficult for my talkative nature).