Who’s Packing Your Parachute?

Compiled by HB Auld, Jr.

(Editor’s Note: The following was posted on Facebook by Paul Harrington, but it has been around in many different forms, including a book, for years. It is NOT an original post)

Charles Plumb was a US 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 six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!

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 shot down!”

“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 are 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, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.

“…recognize people who pack your parachutes.”


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: When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do — you forward jokes. And to let you know that you are still remembered, you are still important, you are still loved, you are still cared for, guess what you get? A forwarded joke.

So my friend, next time when you get a joke, don’t think that you’ve been sent just another forwarded joke, but that you’ve been thought of today and your friend on the other end of your computer wanted to send you a smile, just helping you pack your parachute.

The Battle of Midway Ended 80 Years Ago Today on June 7, 1942

by HB Auld, Jr.

On this date, 80 years ago, the Battle of Midway, a turning point in the war against Japan, ended. The Japanese fleet was limping back toward Japan, licking its wounds, as the US Pacific Fleet celebrated the victory with the first triumphant reply to Japan’s surprise ambush against US Forces at Pearl Harbor, six months earlier.

Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, Japan’s architect of the war against the United States, had planned to feint an attack against the Aleutian Islands, strung out from Alaska. He planned to hide his four carriers near Midway Island in the Pacific and when the US diverted its forces and answered the false attack against the Aleutians, he would invade Midway Island.

(PERSONAL ASIDE: I was stationed with the US Navy at Adak, Alaska, in the Aleutian Islands from December, 1966, to December, 1967. When I was there back then, quonset huts dotted the island, left over from World War II. The Quonset huts were constructed for American troops to hunker down in during the expected Japanese naval attack that never came. The Quonset huts there on the island were still usable. Many of the naval departments on the island “homesteaded” a hut for department parties and just to get away from one of the five bases still on the island).

Unfortunately for Admiral Yamamoto, the United States had just secretly broken the Japanese JN25 military code and learned of the false attack. When Yamamoto attacked Midway Island, the US was ready and waiting on June 4, 1942.

When the smoke cleared four days later on June 7, the battle was over and Japan had suffered 2,500 casualties and lost four carriers, a cruiser, and 292 aircraft. The US Pacific Fleet lost one carrier (the behemoth USS YORKTOWN (CV 10), one destroyer escort (USS HAMMANN…DE 131) 145 aircraft, and 307 casualties. Japan’s losses brought them down into parity with the US.

In August, 1942, the US pushed its counter-offensive at Guadalcanal, eventually leading to Japan’s surrender three years later.

A Story from World War II


Quoted from ARGunners Magazine, December 20, 2918

by Guest Author: Harold Gerwien

Here is a sad video of Loyce Deen being buried at sea during World War 2 on Nov. 5, 1944. He was a Gunner on a Grumman TBF Avenger but after attacking Japanese vessels during the Battle of Manila Bay, he received a direct hit from Anti-Aircraft fire. As the body was too badly mangled and the aircraft badly damaged, he was buried with the aircraft at sea with military honor and still is the sole soldier to date who was buried at sea with the aircraft. Also ordered was that they didn’t remove the guns from the aircraft, which was normally the procedure!

In the video: Grumman TBF avenger torpedo bomber of VT-15 Torpedo Air Group, approaches and lands on the deck of the USS Essex (CV-9) during the Battle of Manila Bay, in World War 2.

Upon landing, Lt. Robert Cosgrove (Pilot) and Sailor Digby Denzek (Radioman) can be seen in their respective forward and middle crew positions. But the rear gunner position, occupied by Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class,Loyce Edward Deen (Gunner), who has only 23 years old, has been completely destroyed by enemy 40mm shell fire.

As the aircraft is parked amongst others, with wings folded, sailors of the Essex take fingerprints and cut dog tags from the body of AMM2C Loyce Deen in the gunner position.

A Chaplain conducts services from beside the aircraft.

AR Gunner Magazine, December 30, 2018

Captain Carlos W. Wieber, Commanding Officer of the Essex, and her crew, participate in funeral services on the deck. A chaplain conducts the services from beside the aircraft, where Loyce Deen’s remains in the gunner’s position have been shrouded. Closeup of Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman during the burial service. A bugler sounds taps. Beside the bugler is David L. McDonald, who was XO of the USS Essex (and later Chief of Naval Operations in the 1960s).

Deen’s remains are then buried at sea in the TBF Avenger in which he perished. The aircraft floats off the fantail for a short time before sinking from view. Two TBF Avengers are seen flying overhead , in tribute. Crew members then disband and return to their duties.

Music: The Brigham Young University Choir: Goin’ Home (Men’s Chorus) – Dvorak; arr. Rosalind Hall. More of BYU: https://singers.byu.edu/cds-and-dvds/cd-the-road-home/