Be Grateful…for Swabbies?
A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, J. Charles Plumb flew 74 successful missions over North Vietnam. But on his 75th mission, his F-4 Phantom jet was struck by a surface-to-air missile.
Charlie ejected, parachuting into enemy hands. He was tortured and confined for six years, functioning, for two of them, as prison camp chaplain.
Plumb, whose awards include two Purple Hearts, the Legion of Merit, and the POW Medal, is now a motivational speaker.
What He Said…… for Swabbies?
Susan and I were eating at a Kansas City restaurant. Two tables away, a man I didn’t recognize kept staring at me. Then he walked over: “You’re Captain Plumb!” “Yes sir,” I acknowledged, rising.
“You flew jet fighters from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk,” he said. “You were shot down!”
I asked, “How in the world did you know that?”
“Because I packed your parachute.” I gasped in surprise and held out my hand. He pumped it: “I guess it worked!”
“It sure did!” I assured him and expressed a long-delayed word of thanks.
That night sleep evaded me. What had that man looked like with a Dixie-cup hat, a bib in back, and bell-bottom trousers? How many times had I seen him without bothering to say “Good morning,” because I was a fighter pilot and he a lowly sailor?
How many hours had he spent weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of those chutes? I could have cared less—until the day my survival depended on it.
Adapted from Insights Into Excellence (Executive Books, 1989, 1991, 1993)
Prayer for the Week: Move me, Lord, beyond appreciation for desires granted to gratitude for all Your wisdom allows.