Sunday, January 29, 2012

Paratroopers Jumping

Gunnar had a jump this week.  Typically they will stop permitting soldiers to jump so close to a deployment because they are trying to avoid injuries.  It's typical however, for his unit to disregard some things like that.  Thursday was the scheduled jump.  Gunnar went out to the drop zone area early in the morning.  Fort Bragg has several drop zones and he gave me directions to come out so the kids and I could watch him.  He missed an all-important detail and instead of taking a left I went straight for many miles down a dirt road through some remote area of the Army base that I'm undoubtedly not permitted to traverse.  I'm talking dirt roads alongside shooting ranges.  The only sign of life I saw was a handful of soldiers walking with lots and lots of gear and weapons.  There was a truck following them.  They looked tired and like they'd been walking forever.  My first thought was to see if they needed a ride, because that's the kind of gal I am.  Then I was wondering why the hell the guy in the truck wasn't letting them ride with him.  I also wondered if I was supposed to go 40 mph down a bumpy dirt road in the middle of the woods.  Eventually Gunnar realized he gave me bad directions and I had to turn back and go around the guys that were still walking!  They looked at me like I'm nuts.  I looked at them like they're nuts for walking all day.

As it turns out, they were walking 10 or 20 miles or something insane like that.  And the truck is there to pick them up when they physically cannot walk any further.  Walking to exhaustion maybe?  It's called something like that.  Hooah.

So the weather was uncooperative and the ceiling dropped too low so the jumps were canceled.  I drove back home and then the weather got slightly better but it was getting late and there's only so much daylight in January.  So Gunnar spent all day like this...

Naps happen
Jumps were rescheduled for Friday.  It was a beautifully clear day but windy.  Too windy.  I can't believe they made them jump it was so windy.  But they did.  And this is what it looked like...

Sort of hard to see but that's a Sherpa.  And it's adorable.  That's what they were jumping from.
Gunnar and his buddy getting ready to jump
View from the air.  That's the chutes from the other paratroopers jumping.
Drop zone.  The goal is to land there.  It was so windy, it didn't exactly work out that way for some.
Back on the ground!
So Gunnar made it back to earth.  He hit pretty hard and lost consciousness for a moment.  He was evaluated for a mild concussion but everything looks okay.  I get worried because of his previous TBI from the last deployment.  And head injuries are just bad news in general.  He was lucky though and some other soldiers not so lucky.  At least two were sent to the hospital with injuries from the landing.  Here's to hoping for speedy recoveries for those guys. 

Well that's what a jump looks like!  Hopefully he won't be doing this again for a while.  And fingers-crossed, next time maybe on a less windy day.

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