Meet Captain Charlie Plumb, a man I am proud to call my friend and mentor. He’s one of the most amazing men I have ever known. Charlie was a fighter pilot in Vietnam, flying 74 successful missions.
On his 75th mission, his last before going home to his new wife, Charlie was shot down, parachuted into enemy hands and spent the next six years in a North Vietnamese prison camp being tortured, beaten and isolated in an 8’X8’ cell.
Upon Charlie’s return he began speaking about his experience which is how we met. Charlie’s family has become my family and vice versa… they are a blessing in my life.
Years after returning, Charlie was in a restaurant when a man a few seats away kept looking and pointing at him. Finally, the man walked up and said, “You’re Captain Charlie Plumb.”
Charlie said, “Yes.”
“You were stationed on the USS Kitty Hawk, you flew F4 Phantoms over Vietnam. On your 75th mission you were shot down and spent six years in the ‘Hanoi Hilton.’”
Charlie said, “Wow, how did you know that?
The man said, “I packed your parachute.” [Dropped jaw]
Charlie was speechless.
Luckily the man knew what to say.
“I see it worked!”
Charlie smiled, shook his hand with enormous gratitude and said, “Indeed it did, my friend! You have no idea how many times I’ve thanked God for your nimble fingers.”
The man continued, “Did you have all the panels?” Charlie replied, “No, I only had 15 (there are 18 in all) but that was my fault because I ejected at a low altitude and high rate of speed.”
Charlie then said, “Let me ask you something, do you keep track of all the parachutes you packed?”
He said, “No, it’s enough to know I served.”
Wow. Charlie thought about how many times on a gigantic aircraft carrier, he, a proud fighter pilot, passed this enlisted man paying him no attention, a man who’s job was to stand in a musty room folding parachutes exactly right… a man who’s dedication to excellence would save Charlie’s life.
So, let me ask you… who packs your parachute?
Who’s got your back when you don’t even realize it? And how could you notice, appreciate and encourage that person today?
And who’s parachute(s) do you pack? Who’s parachute could you pack? How might you do that in a better way, or for more people?
Here’s what I believe: We are all here to pack each other’s parachutes. We have the honor of serving each other, not with a sense of obligation but one of cheerfulness and joy!
When we adopt an attitude that we’re on this earth to serve, without expectation, relationships are healed, businesses grow… life just becomes better.
Please share this! And to learn the rest of Captain Plumb’s amazing story please the button below to order Charile’s book, “I’m No Hero,” detailing his entire experience. I’ve read it cover to cover twice and reference it often.
Live Truly, Truly Live,