Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Veteran's Story II: Ken McClellan

In honor of Memorial Day at the end of the month the Insider Staff is putting out the call for veterans and those with military background  to submit essay's. We put out the call in a previously published article with some ideas and plans for this project. http://www.middletowninsider.com/2013/05/wanted-guest-blogs-from-veterans.html.
 Submissions can be sent to middletowninsider@gmail.com
We are honored to have received a submission from resident veteran Ken McClellan published below.The Middletown Insider staff thanks you for your sacrifice.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All right.  I have a story for you.

I was serving in a Ranger Battalion, and going through the Jumpmaster Course.  This is a course where they teach parachutists how to …. How shall I put it?  How to throw other guys out of airplanes.   I’m paraphrasing.  It’s a course that teaches how to make sure other parachutists are rigged up properly and ready to perform a parachute jump, how to spot a drop zone, and make sure everyone gets out of the plane over the drop zone.
As part of the training, students jump out of the plane carrying a Container- Weapons and Individual Equipment (CWIE).  This box is strapped to the front of you, hangs down to your toes, and can weigh over 100 pounds.  You can’t walk with this thing, you sort of kick it forward and walk up to it, kick it and walk.  Once you exit the aircraft, you drop it on a long strap, so it doesn’t break your leg when you land.

So, I was in the airplane, all rigged up with my CWIE, parachute, all ready to go.  I kicked the box out the door and it dragged me after.  Not a pretty exit, but I got out, and didn’t hit the edge of the door or the tail of the airplane, so it was good.  I waited for the parachute to open.  You can tell when it opens, because you slow down a lot, very fast.  It’s called an opening shock.  Well, this time there wasn’t much of a shock.  More like a slight tug.  I looked up, and my parachute looked like a rolled up newspaper, instead of a large billowing canopy.  Not good.  But, I was well-trained. I tucked back in, grabbed the rip-cord for my reserve and pulled.   On the bright side, I’d keep the handle as a souvenir.  The small pilot chute popped out of the bag, and sort of waved at me.  Not good.  But, I was well-trained.  I threw away the rip-cord handle, tucked back in, grabbed the pilot chute, yanked it out and threw it off to the side, just like I’d been trained to do.  The chute opened, slowing my descent.  I dropped the CWIE container on it’s strap and hit the ground almost immediately.  Made it!   I landed without injuring myself!  Always a good thing.  I start gathering my equipment, and look around, there’s a sergeant running across the drop zone toward me.  I think, “That’s nice, someone coming to check if I’m ok”.   The sergeant runs right past me to the parachute, picks it up and starts examining it, like he’s looking for damage.   “I’m fine” I called out.  He looked up, as if just realizing I was there, and said something like, “Oh, ok”, and went back to looking at the parachute.   So, on the good side, even with a malfunction, I was on the ground in one piece.  But I didn’t have a souvenir.  So, while the guy was examining the parachute, I got out of my harness, and walked off the drop zone.  I figured if he was so interested in the parachute, he could carry it off himself.

Ken McClellan

Popular Posts