©Copyright CJ Magro, Paratroopers of the 50's
By: Chuck Dean
Chuck, went to jump school at Ft. Benning graduated August 1963. Went from there to the 82nd Abn Div. and was there when Kennedy was shot. He put in for the 173d Abn Bde in 1964 and was sent to Okinawa where he spent a year preparing for Vietnam. 

Was one of the first paratroopers deployed with the 1/503rd Infantry Bn, 173d Abn to begin the troop buildup in May of 1965. Left 173rd in April of 1966 and was reassigned to the 4th Infantry Div at Ft. Lewis. He then spent two years as a Drill Sergeant (E-6) at Ft. Ord, CA.

He is presently, the National Chaplain for the 173d Airborne Brigade Association.
173rd Patch
Chuck has also written a book, on Vet Nam; you can find out more about Chuck and his book on his site: http://www.namvetbook.com

"He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions."
                                     Deuteronomy 32:11

I dreamed of being a paratrooper as a young boy. 
Paras in Air

I liked the uniform, shiny wings on the chest, and black jump boots.  To me a real soldier - areal hero - was a man who served his country in an airborne outfit.  Later, when I finally joined the Army, the reality finally hit home. I realized that I would have to risk life and limb - and actually leap from a perfectly good airplane thousands of feet in the air - to qualify!

I found out that there is a price to pay to look good, stand tall, and call myself one of America's finest fighting machines.
abn spit & polish

After infantry boot camp I was sent to Jump School, and there I had a quick reality adjustment. I discovered what real military training was all about, but I still did not understand why we had to do so many pushups and run a gazillion miles a day.  I was also having a problem understanding something else.

What in the world did having a muscle bound gorilla, wearing a skin-tight T-shirt and black cap, scream into my face, have to do with becoming a paratrooper?   JS Instructor
34ft Tower Climbing up and jumping off a 34 foot tower made perfect sense.  Learning how to land on the ground also had its purpose.  PLF
But waking up at four in the morning to the bellow of the "gorilla," and all the run, run, run...didn't quite fit. Run

However, I found out that in the Army most everything has a purpose - even when it doesn't make sense at the time.  When I finally stood in the doorway of a C-119 aircraft 2000 feet and leapt into the turbulence of the propeller wash at 150 knots,

it all made sense.  I was physically and mentally ready to lay my natural fears aside, and exit the aircraft to become the paratrooper I had always wanted to be. When I made that first exit I felt as though I was born to fly!

Eagles have a similar experience.

Did you know that a mother eagle is sort of like a jump school instructor? Minus the T-shirt, black cap and the looks of an ape, she has a similar attitude about training her young.  She builds her nest in the highest places for a good reason, and it's not just security.  (When you are the biggest bird around...who needs that much security?)  The real reason her nest is strategically placed in high places is to teach her babies that theyare supposed to fly.

She lays her eggs, the chicks hatch, she brings them food and keeps them warm.  They depend on her for everything; but the nest is not just home-it is their whole world.  And do you know what?  Baby eaglets don't have a clue that they were born to fly!  For all they know they will be in that cozy nest, tucked under mom's feathers all their lives.

Then one day their world starts to fall apart literally!  Mom's behavior
starts to change.  She begins to tear branches and pieces from the nest and throws them overboard.  The eaglets don't take much notice in this at first, but when the cold air whips through the gaping holes of the nest, they move closer to mom...and she moves away!  In fact, Mom's feeding isn't as regular as it used to be and hunger coupled with a disintegrating nest makes things even more uncomfortable.

Mom eagle then gets real radical.  She singles out of the eaglets and prods and pushes him towards the edge of the nest.  "Heaven sakes, mom!  What are you doing?  It's a long way to the bottom if I fall from here!"

Rolling, shoving and nudging, she finally succeeds in pushing her baby out, and down it falls fifty feet...a hundred feet...a hundred and fifty feet! Swirling and tumbling in mid air the eaglet screams out for dear life.  Mom watches from high above, and then at the last moment she swoops down and catches the doomed chick on her wings and returns it safely to the nest. Over and over she does this with each eaglet until they get the idea that they too can fly.  They don't first learn how to fly...they must first learn that they are supposed to!  They need to know that they were born to fly!

God is like our mother eagle, and we are the eaglets.  We were born to fly but don't  know it.  When we finally get right with God and begin to live the Christian life we may want to sit back for the ride and skate right into heaven. But it doesn't work that way, because God begins to stir up our nest...["Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over the young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions." Deut.
32:11]  He pushes and prods us, letting us fall off the edge.  And just as we begin to think the end is near...He swoops down with His wings and returns us to the safety of His protection.

Another thing about eagles:  They don't fly like most other birds.  They don't take off by flapping their wings...they have too much class for that. God made these magnificent creatures with a built-in sense of wind currents. They will stand for hours in a ready position and never take off until the right wind comes along.  When it does, they lift their wings and go with the current...they literally ride the wind.  Eagles love storms because the mighty wind currents that are involved takes them higher than ever.

 We are born to fly. However, flying without God's wind beneath our wings is dangerous business...if we try it we will surely fall under the weight of our own burdens...our own efforts...our flesh.

Learn to love your storms, because they are meant to make you fly higher
than ever expected.  However, don't spend your time flapping your own wings,
wait for the winds of God's spirit to blow, and then simply lift off and go
along with the currents that He provides.

Chuck Dean

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