November 19, 2009
It is 4 o'clock in the morning. I barely got 5 hours of sleep and today is my first jump out of a perfectly good C-130 aircraft. I fall in for the roll call with the rest of the men and I already feel the knot in my stomach. A combination of nervousness and fear. We are about 60 men and it is the first time for only 15 of us.
The buses are here. We hop in and make our way towards the airbase. It is still dark and cold outside which makes the situation even more stressful. Everybody is silent. No chit chat at all. After 15 minutes we arrive and drive through the main gate. Now the buses take us to the airfield itself. The trucks with our parachutes are already there.
"Move your asses! Out of there! Quickly, quickly quickly!" shouted our NCO's just as the buses stopped. And so we did. All of us are out and form a line behind the truck to pick up our parachutes.
"One parachute and one reserve chute!" says the Sergeant to me as he hands over the two parachutes to me. Damn it! I'm already trembling and I have no idea if it is because of the cold or the nervousness! Maybe it's both?
I run with the two parachutes in my hands to the two lines that our being formed from our NCO's and Officers. They order us to begin putting the gear on. I open the bag and look at the parachute. It is packed exactly as it was during the training. I grab it with confidence, but the nervousness is still there.
Harness is on, my bergen hangs in front of me as it should, the reserve chute is attached on my belly, and lastly my helmet. Shit! This is bad! I can barely move with all this weight on me! And the belts from the parachute press the magazines in my vest towards my chest! This is killing me!
-Parachute, 15kg exactly
-Reserve chute, 10kg exactly
-Web gear between 5 and 10 kg
-Bergen around 20kg
-Rifle (M4M203) and it's protective bag around 4,5kg
One last check on my equipment from the Officer. Better be safe than sorry. It looks good, so I sit down with the rest of the men who are ready for the jump. The sun begins to rise now, but the ground is still cold and I freeze my ass of. All men are ready for the jump. The briefing begins and the pilots prepare the aircraft for the flight.
It's time to board the plane. Officers and NCO's help us to stand up as all of us are so heavy that it's impossible to stand up by ourselves. We walk towards the plane. The engines are already running and they blow wind on our faces. The noise is so loud that the man next to us must scream if he wants to be heard.
All of us sit now on the floor, close to each other, like canned fish. The plane barely fits us all in there.
We don't know where we are and what direction we take. We can only sense that the plane is rolling and then taking off. We are airborne now and the adrenaline just got higher than it was before!
I have no idea how much time passed, but it is not much. The Load Master approaches the door and opens it! The aircraft is now filled with daylight and air that makes one hell of a noise! I see the door from where I sit. I can see outside and freak out. Our altitude isn't so high, but this isn't comforting at all. Maybe it has the opposite effect. What if something goes wrong with my main parachute and I don't have enough time to open my reserve chute?
The field is very narrow, so we will jump in sticks of 10 men, each turn. The light above the door is red now and the Load Master picks up the first 10 men. Stand up, hook up, equipment check and get ready for the jump! Holy shit! The Load Master holds the first man in front of the door! He will toss him out of the aircraft once the light is green! Boom! Green light and he tossed him indeed! The others follow with swift but short steps, like in the basic training! This is crazy! I see them jumping, one by one, and once their whole body is out, I can only see them for a fraction of a second before they get blown off from the gravity and the prop blast!
The plane makes a turn for the next drop.
"You! On your feet now!" the Load Master picks me up! I am the fourth in the stick! There is no going back now! I am trained for this and can do it! I spent the past 3 weeks running, crawling, making exercises, I even bled during the training! There is no way I will throw all this effort in the trash bin by quitting!
I am ready to jump. Right foot forth, left foot back, so I can make short steps as I approach the door. BOOM! Green light! "GO! GO! GO! GO!" Shit! This is going too quick! I feel as if I teleported immediately in front of the door! That's it! I look down but everything I see is a giant brown/green carpet! I make the last step with my left foot! The right foot is already outside and in a fraction of a second my whole body! WOOSH!
What the hell was that? The prop blast almost ripped the helmet off my head and I feel like a piece of shit flying in the air! I look down but everything is so blurry! My speed is being reduced! Yes! It's my canopy saving my life! I should have counted "1,000! 2,000! 3,000! 4,000! 5,000!" as I was taught in basic training but screw that shit!
OOOUCH! This is bad! As the canopy opened and stopped my free fall, the belts around my crotch squeezed my balls! I leave the steering handles and try to make my "seat" on the harness more comfortable! It's not perfect but at least I can bear that pain! Hands on the steering handles quickly! Someone in front of me is coming too near! I need to turn right as I was taught, otherwise we're both done for!
That was close! But wait....what's that? I am approaching the speedway now? This can't be true! Shit! I can hear the trucks running and honking down there! Turn! Turn, you stupid parachute!
Ok, it's fine. I'm in the field again. The ground is coming closer! Or maybe it is the other way around. I am closer to the ground and my speed is accelerated!
Ok, this will be a tough one! Get ready for landing aaaaaaaand......BOOM! Ah fuck! I fell like a broken doll on the field! Fortunately it is soft because of the rain yesterday. Now the wind is blowing my canopy away and it begins to drag me for a a few meters, then it falls down. Wait...did do something wrong? I surely did! I forgot to release my bergen that was hanging from my belly, shortly before landing! Wow! It's a miracle I didn't broke my legs like biscuits!
I stand up and begin to pack my stuff to go to the rallying point. Hey! There he is! The photographer of our unit comes towards me to immortalise the moment after my first successful parachute jump in full gear! And he even took pictures of me as I was falling!
Four more to go and I have earned my Jump Wings!
WHO DOES THE ENEMY FEAR THE MOST? AIRBORNE!
WHO DO THE LADIES LOVE THE MOST? AIRBORNE!!
WHO DOES THE ARMY NEED THE MOST? AIRBORNE!!!!