Who Packed Your Parachute?


Shared Thoughts from Franklin Schargel, Akribos Professional Associate




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 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, 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 had not 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.' Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, 'Who's packing your parachute?' Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He also 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.

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason.  As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes.

I am sharing this with you as my way of thanking you for your part in packing my parachute, and I hope you will send it on to those who have helped pack yours!



About the Author


The Akribos Group as a Professional Associate. Mr. Schargel is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and educational consultant. He has presented over 200 workshops for educational, community, and business groups throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, and Latin America. His workshops are designed for administrators, teachers, students, parents, business leaders, policymakers, and all those interested in building globally-competitive schools, raising graduation rates, lowering dropout rates and narrowing the educational achievement gap.Mr. Schargel’s career spans thirty-three years of high school classroom teaching, school counseling and eight years of school supervision and administration. Franklin’s success in dramatically enhancing the learning process in his inner-city school, expanding parental engagement, increasing postsecondary school attendance, and significantly lowering the students’ dropout rate has been well documented in 25 books, 55 newspaper and magazine articles and 5 internationally released videos (including a PBS special). The United States Department of Education, Fortune Magazine, Business Week, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting System and the New York Times have recognized his work. Read More

Planning for success