Really, Jump Week should be referred to as “bench week” as we spent most of our time sitting on the most uncomfortable benches ever constructed with a couple of parachutes strapped to us. These were purposely designed to cause such discomfort, everyone joyfully boarded the plane without complaint just thankful to be moving again.
As we filed toward the bird in stick order, our lead airborne instructor, a Sergeant First Class and the jump master, grabbed me by the shoulder saying: “Oh no, you’re my Gunny. You’re going out the door first.” Dick.
As we took off and headed toward the LZ, one of our other instructors was lounging near the open hatch we were to hurl ourselves out of. He casually remarked: “Gunny, you’re usually not so quite. All of sudden you don’t have much to say.”
“I’ll have something to say when I get on the ground,” I managed.
|Everyone is supposed to count up to four one thousand after jumping. I guarantee every first time jumper in this picture is actually shouting: “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!”|
So there I was, watching trees zip past beneath the open hatch of the plane. There were a number of things the first guy out had to do. I hadn’t bothered remembering any of them as I was always somewhere in the middle of the stick and always concentrated on being a guy in the middle of the stick repeating commands and doing what I was told.
One at a time each member of the stick would check the gear of the guy in front of him. If everything was good to go he would smack the man in front of him in the behind and shout: “All okay!” This was passed all the way to the front to the first man. The guy at the front of the stick (me) was supposed to knife hand the jump master and shout a predetermined phrase indicating everyone was squared away and ready to go. For the life of me, I could not remember what in the world that phrase was.
“Everything’s cool man!” The jump master shook his head in the negative.
“All’s well dude!” This was also unacceptable.
“All ready to go!” Each of these were punctuated with my knife handing the jump master who finally produced a resigned look on his face.
“Ok jackass, how about, ‘all ok Jumpmaster.'”
“Yeah, that one!”
It was a long week.