APAGear II Archives Volume 2, Number 1 February, 2000


How I Spent My (Terranovan) Winter Vacation

By Sous-Sergent Jayson Holt
(28th Airborne Infantry Regiment)

(Buji Kern)

I spent my winter vacation attending the SRA Airborne School. I need to be airborne qualified to join the Legion Noire, and after two attempts my CO finally accepted my request to attend the School. It was three weeks of intense training, but now I can finally call myself a paratrooper.

Week 1

We didn't do any actual jumps the first week, except for practicing on the 5 meter tower. We did spend a lot of time learning how to use our equipment. After days spent packing and unpacking my parachute with angry sergents screaming at me, I'm pretty sure I could rig a 'chute in the dark. When he wasn't proving how incompetent at rigging parachutes we were, Sgt. Alvarez liked to make us do PT. Lots of push-ups.

They have something there called the Pit. It's a pit full of big, sharp, nasty rocks, and you have to go down in it and practice dropping on your knees and elbows. It sure teaches you to land softly.

Week 2

We started the second week with actual parachute jumps from the 15-meter tower, and ended it with our first actual jump. The tower was no big deal, as I've never really been afraid of heights.

The jump was another story. I don't like to admit it, but I was pretty damn scared. I clipped myself to the static line, and watched the other guys in front of me go. Finally the jumpmaster pointed at me, and I felt a knot in my stomach. I didn't really want to jump, not at that moment, but I made myself anyway. I think I screamed all the way down.

Week 3

In the third week we did a lot more jumps. I got used to it, and it's really not that bad anymore. We had some drama when a guy's 'chute failed to open, but fortunately he got the reserve 'chute out. He hit the ground kind of hard but he was okay. Later I was talking to him and he said that when his 'chute didn't open, time kind of sped up and slowed down at the same time. His brain started processing information so quickly he watched his arm move across his chest to pull the reserve cord, and it seemed to move quite slowly. I hoped it wouldn't happen to me.

Finally, we came to the last test of Airborne School, the dreaded night jump. Everybody was pretty nervous about it, although most of us, hardened by all of three weeks of airborne training, wouldn't admit it. One of the sergents pulled me aside that day and said, "Don't worry about the night jump. If you close your eyes every time you jump anyway, it won't really make a difference."

I wasn't sure if that helped. We ran and did PT, but we all wanted to get the day over with so we could jump. Finally we carefully rigged our gear and boarded a big transport. The ride out to our drop zone was quiet, even more so than usual. After a brief ride the jumpmaster signaled to us. We lined up, clipped in our static lines and waited our turns. Part of me wanted to be the first guy, so I wouldn't have to stand and wait. Before long it was my turn to go. The jumpmaster said, "Go! Go! Go!" and I dove out the door into the darkness. The static line pulled my 'chute out and I started to drift back down to land.

I looked around, and it was a beautiful night. I could see the lights of Marabou, and craft on the lake. It was all very pretty. Then I remembered to watch the ground getting closer. I hit the ground a little rough, but I was fine.

The next day I graduated, and got my wings pinned on me. It was the best moment of my career so far. I was a paratrooper now, and I had made it through jump school with only a sprained ankle and a few cuts and bruises. I considered myself lucky.

We all thought we were pretty hard, but to be honest these paratrooper's wings don't mean as much as they used to. Don't get me wrong, we're all proud to wear them. But a long time ago- I mean a really long time ago, on ancient Earth, being Airborne meant a lot. Back when parachuting wasn't safe, and the airborne units took 30 percent casualties on infiltration.

Still, I get to wear the wings and the beret badge, and that puts me a cut above the rank and file. Not bad if you ask me.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 2, Number 1 February, 2000