Mo Story Posted by Dr. MO Captain Joseph Charles Plumb Jr. was a U.S. Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. He was shot down on May 19, 1967, during his 75th mission (five days before the end of his tour). Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured, and survived 2,103 days as a POW until his release on February 18, 1973. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.
One day, when Captain Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “I recognize you. You’re Captain Charles 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 was a sailor on the Kitty Hawk at the same time as you, and… 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 might have 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, and so many other sailors, had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in their hands, each time, the fate of someone they didn’t know.
Captain Plumb is now a motivational speaker and regularly asks his audience a powerful, simple and thought-provoking question, “Who’s packing your parachute?”
Everyone has many people who provide what they need to make it through the day. Plumb points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory….he needed his physical parachute… the silk one, his mental parachute…his way of thinking, his emotional parachute… his way of feeling, and his spiritual parachute… his beliefs. He reminds his audiences that he needed to call on all these supports during his days as a POW, and still does everyday to deal with whatever is going on in his life.
Sometimes in the daily goings on that is our lives, we miss what is really important. We may not 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 we go through this week, this month, this year, let’s recognize people who ‘pack our parachutes’ more and more often. And let’s continue to develop our mental, emotional, and spiritual ‘parachutes’ too.