Day-2 Airborne (34-foot Towers)
There are two theories why the 34-foot tower is 34-foot high. One, because a group of scientists deemed it is the height that an average person realizes he/she is high enough and thus informs their brains not to mess with the height. (In fact, today, I heard that one soldier straight up quit already.) Two, because when they made the first 34-foot towers at Jump School back in 1940, they used telephone poles which goes only 34 feet in height. Ever since then, that’s how high the zip line towers at the Airborne School at Fort Benning. I think this is the better of the two.
This day we attacked them. Well that’s not exactly how I felt when I got up there. And why did I put on that harness so fast I got to be the first one off the tower? When I got the “green light, go” I hesitated. The Sergeant Airborne behind me and the one below got mad. “Give me a second,” I said. “Sound off your last name and roster number, then hit it!” repeated the Sergeant. What’s my name? Pause. What’s my roster number? Deep breath. “Torres, Alpha-4-0-1!” I stepped. Kicked up. And took the jump.
Eight seconds later, I was on the mound. A couple of Privates caught my spread eagle arms. I landed fine on both two feet, then they got me unhooked from the harness that connected me to the pulley on the zip line from the tower. My nerves were calmed. My confidence grew strong. Funny thing about the Army is they let me do it again! Eight times! Had to get two good exits with the T-10 and another two good exits using the T-11 demo parachute systems. Apparently I didn’t do it right in the four other times. That was okay though, because there were others who did it for up to twelve times and then some! In fact, one Private got one of the Sergeants’ feathers ruffled when he refused to jump. He had to be pushed off and out the door. Before his second tower jump, I told him, “to be nervous is natural. What you need is courage. Courage is doing your duty even when you’re afraid. Get some courage.” He responded well and thanked me. The key to this is a good kick exit from the mock door. That’s it. If you hesitate or just step off and fall, then some things can go wrong. Take a step. Kick up with the opposite leg as you jump. Put knees and feet together. Chin to chest. Hands on sides of reserve chute. Good exit.
Day-3 & 4 Airborne (Parachute Landing Fall, [PLF])
Not everybody got to finish their required tower jump yesterday so they spent the entire morning doing just that, while those who completed this section were now doing safety detail.
By the way, the daily PT menu for Day-3 was a 3.2-mile run at a 9-minute-mile pace. Easy, right? Well, a few people fell out. In fact, at the conclusion, an ambulance had to be called for one female soldier who collapsed.
So, PLF is the science that allows one to land safely from a descent velocity of 18-22 feet per second. In theory, one will hit five impact points: 1) balls of feet, 2) calves below knee, 3) thighs, 4) buttocks and 5) pull-up muscles.
“Land!” “Shift!” “Rotate!” “Fall!” “Activate!” “Recover!” These commands were repeated a million times through the two days. One soldier asked if my body ached. I responded, “My whole body is a whole big bruise!” Yes, I hurt all over. The science should work. But it will only work if you master the art first! Two days ain’t enough to master this art. We had to demonstrate at least two good landings on every direction. I mean, two good landings each when drifting sideways to the left, or to the right, backward and forwards! Do the math. I pitied those who could not do it. The black hats, however, were very patiently working with them.
Day-4: One of the officers testified that Pedialyte helped him get replenished. Giving a thumbs up to the other officer who recommended it to him, he said, “Pedialyte? Genius!” A Marine blurted out, “That’s not news, I stack up cases of Pedialyte in my room. That stuff works.” Note to self: I’m getting Pedialyte today after class.
By the way, at the conclusion of PT for Day-4 (oh, where we did just a few sprints between Army exercises and stuff like that), I just wanted to update that we lost another soldier. So our number, if I’m correct, is down to 345 (from 349). (That soldier who refused to jump from the tower after he’d already done two, I didn’t see him today. Either he had dropped out or being rolled over to the next class. Nonetheless, we didn’t see him anymore.)
At the end of day-4, we received another block of instructions and demonstrations on how to release the risers from the T-10 and T-11 canopies upon landing. We will perform and get graded on that on Day-5. Now, on to Wal-mart for Pedialyte.