By Dave Coe
As a former aircraft carrier sailor aboard the USS Forrestal, CVA 59 from 1964 to 1968 -- including a tour of duty off the Coast of North Vietnam in the so called Gulf of Tonkin “Yacht Club” -- l am honored to share this “Cup of Encouragement” for Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2019.
This true story, I believe, exemplifies what the scripture in the Gospel of Matthew (22:37-39) means when it is applied.
I believe that’s the case not just because I am an ex-aircraft carrier sailor, but because I believe it also exemplifies the S3 Servant Leadership quality of Stewardship, using your Heart, Head and Hands (see below).
In Matthew 22:37-39, someone asks Jesus which of the laws is the greatest. Jesus replies: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!
As Kare Anderson first reported in Forbes magazine in November, 2015, one day Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, and a man at another table came up and said, “You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”
'How in the world did you know that?' asked Plumb.
“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.
Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!”
Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today.”
Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man.
Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back, and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.”
Now Plumb asks his audience, “Who's packing your parachute?”
His point is that everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day.
Plumb points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory. He needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.
He wasn’t always aware of the many people who packed his many parachutes as he grew into manhood. Now, after that terrible ordeal in a North Vietnamese prison and having met the man who packed the parachute that kept him alive, he’s acutely aware.
He wants the rest of us to be aware too – and I’m honored to help him.
I thank God for and salute all veterans, most especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Thank you and God bless you.
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If you have questions, comments, prayer requests or would like S-3 Encounter Information, you can reach Dave at email@example.com.