Kirchburg
.
In late April of 1959, the 505th made a mass tactical
parachute drop in Germany at a place called Kirchburg.  We
sat around on our chutes for two days waiting for the winds
to settle down so we could jump.  Finally on the third day,
the Battle Group Commander had us all load up.  We started
flying around in circles around our DZ just waiting for a
break in the wind.  The wind was very strong with gusts up
to about 35-45 miles per hour.  Mass tactical parachute
drops are not safe, if the winds are over 15 miles per hour.
We stood up, hooked up, checked our equipment and then just
stood in the planes waiting for at least another hour.  A
couple of little guys in my plane fainted from the strain of
supporting all of that weight for that long.  The typical
combat load is about sixty pounds of equipment and clothing
plus forty two pounds of parachutes.  Thatís a lot of weight
for anybody to tote for an hour much less for a little guy.
The guys that were jumping Gee-pee bags, like dumbass me,
were jumping even more weight.  Everyone was hanging on to
the anchor line cable for support.  The clouds briefly
separated, the green light came on, and we began jumping.

As soon as my chute opened, I flew sideways.  If the wind
had decreased, it hadnít decreased very much.  It was very
strong, too strong for parachuting.  The guys on the ground
who had jumped before me, were all being drug across the
fields like they were hitched to wild horses.  Being drug by
a parachute in wind like that is like being drug by a
run-away horse.  The jumpers that were fortunate enough to
hit the DZ were bouncing like rubber balls and then the wind
would drag their bodies swiftly away.  Many jumpers did not
hit the DZ.  Because my chute had a delayed opening, I was
closer to the ground before the wind effected my drift ó
much closer to the ground, so I landed on the DZ.  Some
troops landed in the trees, some landed on the paved road
and some landed elsewhere.  One jumper crashed through the
roof of a chicken house and another landed astraddle of a
cow.  Our colonel, Lamar Welch, missed the DZ and landed in
a tree.  His driver found him there and took his picture
while he was still in the tree and that got him a good ass
chewing.

The only good thing about jumping a heavy Gee-pee bag is it
helps in windy weather.  That is assuming of course that you
land on the drop zone instead of in a tree or high voltage
power line.  The Gee-pee bag is suspended fifteen feet below
you on a drop line so it hits the ground before you do.
When the bag hits the ground, it reduces the downward pull
on the chute and slightly slows your rate of de-scent one
second before you hit.  Also, the bag is so heavy, after you
hit the ground, it acts as an anchor during strong winds.
You may still be drug if you jump a Gee-pee bag, but you won
ít be drug as fast or as far and you have more time to get
out of the parachute harness and collapse your chute.

After I made it to the assembly area, they began dropping
our heavy equipment, including vehicles.  A ¾ ton truck was
driven off of the DZ sideways because it had hit the ground
so hard in that wind the impact bent the frame.  After we
were finally assembled, those of us that werenít injured
went on a long march up into the mountains.  Otto had a heel
knocked off of one of his boots because he had hit the
ground so hard and thatís how he started that march.  After
hobbling a mile or so, Otto knocked the other boot heel off
so he would be more comfortable.  [Otto ended up spending a
total of about ten years in the army.  He made it through
one tour in Vietnam and then got out when he was passed over
for promotion to Sergeant First Class.  He eventually moved
to Mosheim, Tennessee where he began to buy and sell
livestock and then opened a meat packing (slaughter) house
in Morristown, Tennessee.  He was quite wealthy at one time,
but additional federal regulations finally put him out of
the slaughter house business.  Otto (James Carson Lawson)
still wheels and deals in livestock to this day.]

Don "Val"  Valentine

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