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31 January 2013


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The VN jump I was talking about was thought by the three Americans to be at about 450-500. On the pass when I led the stick out the door the trees looked so big in the moonlight that it seemed you could touch them by leaning out the door. A C-47 is so small in the waist where the door is that my head was mostly outside the aircraft and I had a nice view of the ground and our signal fire across the DZ. I lay on my back after my landing and watched the plane come around. Machine gun fire was mowing the grass about waist high. There was green and yellow tracer all around the Goonie Bird. It must have been hit several times. Then the SCU (Special Commando Unit) came tumbling out into the night and ground fire. They landed all around me. None were hit. The sergeant who had jumpmastered the American stick of three crawled up to me and we rounded up the little guys and got them into the woods where we kept them in a tight circle until dawn when the NVA withdrew. We could see them walking around on the DZ looking for us. After a while they quit that and started "searching" the DZ with mortar fire. The third American, a captain, had frozen up on landing and broken his hip. He hid under a log in great pain all night. His war was over. They would have shot him if they had found him. pl

The Twisted Genius


That practice jump was far more of a combat jump than the Ranger jump into Grenada. Different times.

I went through jump school in the Summer of 73, before I signed any ROTC papers. Sergeant Majors could do things like that back then. There were three Cambodian captains in our class. They were so light that they got caught in a thermal over Fryer DZ. They just hung up there while pass after pass was made. Eventually, to the horror of the blackhats, they cut away from their mains and landed with their reserves. It was their first jump.


That barn story sounds awfully painful.

I was on a C-130 that got hit by lightning and it caused a wicked chain reaction that made the engines begin to wind down. I was sleeping when next thing I know my gunner is screaming at me to stand up and hook up cause the plane is going down. The jumpmaster whips the door open, looks out, and yells "FOLLOW ME!" before leaving the plane. The ramp is chaos as the Air Force toads are trying and failing to get into their harnesses because of their panic.

The pilots stayed in the cockpit and managed to get the engines up and running again before the plane bailed out. Meanwhile, half a stick got dumped over Eagle River, with a few troopers landing on the Wal Mart roof and another worthy getting tangled up in the McD's golden arches.

Only in the Airborne.


What was it with Fryer and those thermals? I saw the same thing happen in October of 2002 with a female MP.

The thermal lift, of course, not cutting their main. I also remember my stick sergeant airborne (a Marine Force Recon) going out the door like superman, and then telling me to brace him while the Top relocated his shoulder.

The Twisted Genius


I still have the reserve handle and pieces of my main from my first jump that day. I had a perfectly symmetrical Mae West that ripped itself near in two by the time I landed. I got likkered up on bourbon the night before and fell asleep in the C-130 on the way to the DZ. I can hardly believe its almost forty years ago.

My buddy broke his tailbone on his first jump in the SF course. He didn't get it treated until after graduation so he wouldn't be dropped medically. On subsequent jumps, we would hear his blood curdling scream when he hit the ground. On our final jump, the two jumpers behind me tangled and streamered in. I thought they'd both be dead. The engineer 1LT ended up with some heavy brain damage. The Tunisian captain walked off the DZ with the rest of us with some numbness on his left side.

Clifford Kiracofe

...."Around 800 French forces took part in the effort to free Timbuktu, including hundreds of paratroopers who parachuted onto nearby dunes.

Radical militants last April had seized the town, once a popular tourist destination and revered center of Islamic learning.

They began implementing a strict form of Islamic law known as Shariah, amputating the hand of a suspected thief and whipping women and girls who ventured into public without veils scenes reminiscent of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"We have just spent 10 months in hell. Everything that demarcates the liberty of man was forbidden to us. We couldn't smoke, we couldn't listen to music, we couldn't wear the clothes we wanted to wear," Ben Essayati said.

One hope the Wahhabis and salafis will be duly exterminated.

John Minnerath

Fryer/Fryar was the DZ at Benning? I'd forgotten.
I went to jump school there in Jul/Aug of '62.
We did 3 drops off the 250' towers, after a couple million nut busting jumps from the 35' towers.
Then finally 5 jumps out of rattle trap 119s.
Seems like there were around 450 guys in the training Bn I was in and around 150 of us got our blood wings. Airborne troops were up to strength, so they didn't need many and if you couldn't hack it it was off to a repo depot.
5 or 6 of us had passed the SF tests and rode the bus to Bragg with the guys going to the 82nd.
We got dumped off at Smoke Bomb Hill, wondering what the hell we had got into. :)


John Minnerath

We were in jump school at benning at the same time. Same class?

John Minnerath

Could have been. Amazing coincidence if so.
According to a copy out of my old 201 file I obtained, I was in 43rd Company, 4th Student Bn. My Airborne Course Certificate is dated 17 August 1962.
Were you a 2nd Lt then? I remember the gorillas were absolute death on those poor guys.
Somewhere in a box of keepsakes is the piece of tape from my steel pot.
"402" if I remember. the only name we had during the course.


Seems like there are only so many variables you can take out of airborne ops, and there will always be that danger factor. That's one hell of a ride though on a Mae West - nothing else like it though, is there?

Did they have the big billboard on Bragg that said "So and so many days without a training fatality" back then? Someone told me once that you knew you had spent too much time there when DZ fatalities didn't phase you at all.

I don't know how much of a comfort it is, but it certainly sounds like the Army you, Colonel Lang, and Mr. Minnerath joined and the Army I joined maintained the important traditions that mattered.

I remember clearly when it hit me that I was going to jump out of a plane into thin air - walking back to D Barracks from the shoppette in the middle of tower week. The next week and a half was constant gut churning, made worst by a hurricane that delayed the inevitable.

When I went out the door, it was like a baptism - of clouds and sun, mind you, but the epiphany was similar. I don't think I pulled a slip and my PLF was atrocious, but I didn't even feel it because I was so hopped up on excitement. First day of a new life.


john minnerath

I think we were in the same course. I remember how hot it was. at that time the army believed that if you were sweating a lot you should drink a lot of salty water and take salt pills. So they gave us those pink salt pills every day and poured boxes of table salt ove rthe ice blocks in Lister Bags. The water did not taste salty we were so salt deprived. then there were the shower pipes laid out on the ground in parallel. You would walk between them and get a wonderful drenching as your body temperature came down. There was a BOQ across the road from the towers. I lived there. There were a couple of messes, Okinawa Mess and Normandy mess. I was a second lieutenant, at Benning for the Airborce Course, and the Infantry Officer Basic Course. Yes, the gorillas had a special thing for officers. I expected that. It is the price you pay for your rank. I remember one Japanese American sergeant leaning on his leg with the boot between my shoulder blades as I did push ups. Fair enough. I thnk my roster number was something like "227." pl

John Minnerath

We must have stood formation in front of the same old wooden barracks, made the same brutal runs under that Georgia sun, and endured the stifling heat in the sawdust of the pit.
When we were at the towers the wind was bad.
Seems like 1 guy crashed into a tower.
I ended up hanging there for a long time waiting for the wind to go down so they could release me.
I loved it! First respite I'd had from the gorillas. I just smiled down at them as they hollered up at us.
Do you remember the BG who was there getting airborne qualified for some reason? The cadre did show him some deference.

John Minnerath

were you in the 82nd or SF? I don't remember that billboard.

The Twisted Genius

I don't remember a sign like that at Bragg or Benning, but I was only at those posts for schooling.

Those first five jumps were exhilarating. I still thought I was indestructable at the time. After a 180 foot helo rappel off a 120 foot rope and a four plus month stay in Tripler Army Hospital in Hawaii, I had a much better understanding of my own mortality. Jumps after that were exhilarating only after I landed in one piece.


john minnerath

yes. i blew across the road and landed in the garbage cans behind Okinawa Mess that day. you may remember that. In tower week one black enlisted guy rode the machine to the top, all 200 feet or so, then on command unhooked his safety line so that it ran from his harness over the steel rim that held the skirt of the parachute and to his hand. at that point the skirt of the parachute came loose and hung down between his legs so that he was suspended only by the safety line one end of which was in his hand. the gorillas freaked out of course and started bringing him down as fast as they could. All the while he kept waving his free arm and shouting "airborne all the way." Then he started singing "Blood on the risers." Twenty feet up he let go, made a perfect PLF, jumped to his feet and cried out "Aitborne! Sergeant!" The gorillas were speechless. pl


I was an 11C up with the 501st in Alaska. I heard about the billboard from 82nd types who came our way.

The way it worked was: If the post could go 82 days without an alcohol or training fatality, they would get a three day. 164 days got the post a four day. From what I understand, it usually got up to 79 and then reset back to zero.


"180 foot rappel off a 120 foot rope". I apologize, but I had a good laugh at that.

You were smarter than I was- even after my burn in I still felt invincible.

John Minnerath

That was you who got blown across the road over into OCS land?!
I don't remember the incident of the guy being brought back down on his safety line, I wonder what I was doing then.

There was supposed to be some reason we couldn't be brought back down to the ground when the wind started to blow, but I don't remember what it was now.

We took the SF battery of tests at some building on post, it was after the day of training and made for long nights.
Late one night I was walking back to barracks and on a wild hair decided to climb a tower.
So I did and then walked out to the end of one of the arms and sat there and enjoyed the view.
Man, if I had been caught pulling that stunt!


I remember we had an MG's daughter in my class. She was a butterbar and a real piece of work, falling out on the first run.

Anyway, I was near the back of the formation due to my roster number (408!) and she was running behind me. Behind us were all the marines, doing their own thing as usual, with my stick sergeant calling marine cadence.

She kept trying to pass me, and was unable to do so but was mucking up my stride pretty good. After almost rolling an ankle, I asked her to stop before she got one of us hurt. This kicked off a torrent of curses, prefaced with "Do you know who my father is?!" Before telling me that a dumb grunt had no right to tell her anything.

Next thing I know, the staff sergeant airborne is next to her, grabbing her by her shirt and horse collaring her out of the formation and telling her he doesn't care who her father is and to try that dumb grunt shit with him. As we turned the corner I saw her in the front leaning rest, turning red and shouting the Infantryman's Creed at the top of her lungs.

He came to me afterwards, told me that if there was any fallout to let him know because he was a 20 year staff sergeant and the worst they could do is retire him. I reckon things like that were why he was a 20 year staff, but he was a great instructor and it goes to show that the infantry is a brotherhood that surpasses what service you were in.

John Minnerath

We used to rappel out of Chinooks at a 100'
We didn't have high tech equipment back then and just tied up a simple Swiss seat and a caribiner and used our right hand to brake the rope.
One day a buddy of mine jumped out and lost his rope when he threw his right arm out.
We used a single rope and he just went zinging down, a few feet from the ground the rope twisted and formed a knot that stopped him.
The pilot panicked and jumped the chopper up and down 20 or 30 feet at a time several times before he got things back under control.
He was hurt bad, really bad, but lived.
Spent a long time in Walter Reed being put back together.

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