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
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 some thing 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
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…..