There is a website called inspire It features true stories that are inspiring to read. One of the stories is a story I read somewhere else in the past and had forgotten about. The story is entitled "Who packs your parachute? It involves a true story about Charles Plumb and his parachute experience.

Parachute Charles Plumb was a U.S. Navy jet pilot. He was a graduate of the Naval Academy. He flew in Vietnam. After flying 75 combat missions his luck ran out. His plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile, Plumb ejected, and safely parachuted to the ground. But, he was captured. He spent the next six years in a communist Vietnamese prison.

After returning home Plumb began to give lectures on lessons he learned from his experience. One day, while traveling, he and his wife were in a restaurant. A man came up to their table and said: "You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down." Plumb looked at the man and asked: "how in the world did you know that?" The man said: "I was on the Kitty Hawk and it was my job to pack parachutes. I packed your parachute that day" Plumb pumped man’s hand and thanked him.

Plumb  said that he couldn’t sleep the night after thinking about the event and their discussion. He wondered how many times he might have seen this sailor on the ship and not even said "good morning?" He thought about the fact that as a fighter pilot he would have not have even given a second thought about who the person was who packed his parachute. Plumb also thought about the long hours this sailor and others spent working in the lower part of the ship where the parachutes were folded for the fighter pilots. There would have been sailors working hard carefully folding and checking the parachutes to see they were folded correctly for the safety of the fighter pilots. As a fighter pilot, Plumb had not thought about who actually did the labor that was so important for his personal safety.

After that experience, when Plumb would give a talk, he would ask the audience "Who’s packing your parachute?" He would go to explain that everyone has someone who has performed services for us which we take for granted. We fail to acknowledge the fact often unseen faces have performed acts which have benefited us or helped us in our daily life. And, as we go through our day, we fail to say hello, please or thank you. We neglect to congratulate someone on something that has happened to them or to give a compliment. We seldom acknowledge services performed that assist us.

Plumb’s advice is that as we go through this week, this month, this year, we recognize that people who have packed our parachutes.


  1. Paul, great message about who’s packing your parachute. My mother always made sure my brother and I acknowleded the people who “packed our chutes”, it was part of who she was. A simple thank you or hello can go such a long way. Thanks for putting that story out there. Mike Johnston

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