Plumb was a U.S. 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
Now, Plumb asks his
audience, “Who’s packing your
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.
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 have posted this as
my way of thanking you for your part in packing my parachute. I hope
you will take the time to let those who have helped you pack your
parachute know that you appreciate them!
Thanks to you all.......janet