Packing Your Parachute
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 6 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.
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. And I hope you will pass 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, know 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…….
Stay positive and keep smiling….. :0)
Want to know a bit more about Charlie Plumb.
Captain Charlie Plumb
He graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis and went on to fly the F-4 Phantom jet on 74 successful combat missions over North Vietnam. On his 75th mission, with only five days before he was to return home, Plumb was shot down, captured, tortured, and imprisoned in an 8 foot x 8 foot cell. He spent the next 2,103 days as a Prisoner Of War in communist prison camps.
During his nearly six years of captivity, Charlie Plumb distinguished himself among his fellow prisoners as a professional in underground communications, and served for two of those years as the Chaplain in his camp.
Since his return home, more than 4,000 audiences in nearly every industry have been spellbound as Captain Charlie Plumb draws parallels between his P.O.W. experience and the challenges of everyday life. He has shared his message to an even wider public through appearances on Good Morning America, Nightline, Larry King Live, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. One of the most sought-after achievement speakers of his time, Charlie Plumbs presentations are as he is, sincere, straightforward, humorous, and tailored to motivate each specific audience he encounters. His insights on how to cope with the difficulties as well as the opportunities in life have a positive impact on those who hear his message, those who read his books, and those who come to know him as a friend.
Captain Plumb’s Military honors include two Purple Hearts, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the P.O.W. Medal. To learn more about Captain J. Charles Plumb, the professional speaker and the man, please delve further into the information included on this website. For more information, feel free to contact his office at any time: 818 591-7007.
3700 Senda Calma – Calabasas, CA – 91302
Original Book Excerpt
INSIGHTS INTO EXCELLENCE Packing Parachutes
– Excerpt from Chapter 16By Charlie Plumb
Recently, I was sitting in a restaurant in Kansas City. A man about two tables away kept looking at me. I didn’t recognize him. A few minutes into our meal he stood up and walked over to my table, looked down at me, pointed his finger in my face and said, “You’re Captain Plumb.”
I looked up and I said, “Yes sir, I’m Captain Plumb.” He said, “You flew jet fighters in Vietnam. You were on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down. You parachuted into enemy hands and spent six years as a prisoner of war.” I said, “How in the world did you know all that?”
He replied, “Because, I packed your parachute.” I was speechless. I staggered to my feet and held out a very grateful hand of thanks. This guy came up with just the proper words. He grabbed my hand, he pumped my arm and said, “I guess it worked.” “Yes sir, indeed it did”, I said, “and I must tell you I’ve said a lot of prayers of thanks for your nimble fingers, but I never thought I’d have the opportunity to express my gratitude in person.”
He said, “Were all the panels there?” “Well sir, I must shoot straight with you,” I said, “of the eighteen panels that were supposed to be in that parachute, I had fifteen good ones. Three were torn, but it wasn’t your fault, it was mine. I jumped out of that jet fighter at a high rate of speed, close to the ground. That’s what tore the panels in the chute. It wasn’t the way you packed it.”
“Let me ask you a question,” I said, “do you keep track of all the parachutes you pack?” “No” he responded, “it’s enough gratification for me just to know that I’ve served.” I didn’t get much sleep that night. I kept thinking about that man. I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform – a Dixie cup hat, a bib in the back and bell bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I might have passed him on board the Kitty Hawk. I wondered 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.
How many hours did he spend on that long wooden table in the bowels of that ship weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of those chutes? I could have cared less…until one day my parachute came along and he packed it for me. So the philosophical question here is this: How’s your parachute packing coming along?
Who looks to you for strength in times of need? And perhaps, more importantly, who are the special people in your life who provide you the encouragement you need when the chips are down?
Perhaps it’s time right now to give those people a call and thank them for packing your chute.
“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.” ~ Herman Melville