Barf Jumpon November 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm
A C-130 Hercules transport is a good ship, reliable, long-distance. Parachutists jumping from the old C-47 Dakota relied on the guys in the cockpit pulling speed and dropping the nose so the tail went up and you didn’t smack into the aft stabilizers when the wind caught you upon exit. No such problem with the Hercules. What you had instead was the pervasive whiff of fuel in the cargo bay—and sometimes a rough ride.
My Special Forces team, ODA-213, U.S. Army 12th SF Group, and a couple of other teams caught a one-way C-130 from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to an FTX (field training exercise) jump into an armor training problem at Fort Hood, Texas. Our mission was to parachute behind “enemy lines” and run some ops in the “enemy’s” rear areas. That meant full combat gear—stuffed rucks, ammo (blanks, grenade and artillery simulators), weapons, radios, and, in my case, as team medic, a medical bag.
It was also a training exercise for the pilots. Most of the way, they flew NOE, nap of the earth, which meant a thousand feet or so above the ground where the winds were usually rough and passengers got bounced around. Just before takeoff from Bragg, the teams had lunch by opening LRRPs (Long Range Recon Patrol rations sealed in plastic packets for long life). Spaghetti and meatballs or ham and eggs weren’t too bad the first time you ate them, as long as they didn’t come back up.
Not long into the flight, with everyone lined up in the web seating in stick order, the noxious odor of fuel oil combined with LRRP meals initiated a slightly green pallor that became contagious throughout the army portion of the aircraft. I saw the Air Force flight engineer roll his eyes and run for “barf bags.” The Air Force guys thought paratroopers were a bunch of weenies—and we, in turn, figured they wore underwear from Victoria’s Secret and shaved their legs.
It wasn’t long before half the plane was bent over paying homage to their barf bags. Across from me, Sergeant Rock Taylor lifted his head out of his. A half-digested spaghetti noodle, like a tape worm, dangled out one nostril. Mad Dog Carson stared. My bag was half-full. I couldn’t resist. I thrust it at the Dog.
“Have a LRRP,” I offered.
That did it. Shouting something indistinguishable about my ancestry, he dived for his barf bag.
The deck of the plane was slippery, since not everyone hit his barf bag target. Once the green light came on, the planeload of queasy Green Berets slid to the door and, wanting nothing more than to escape the source of their misery, fell, tumbled, and hurled themselves into the slipstream. Every trooper carried his barf bags out the door to drop them on the DZ while he was in the air.
The sky filled with parachutes and falling barf bags.
Look out below!
“My heart almost stopped beating when I heard my artificial leg bouncing off rock and sliding downhill toward the enemy Taliban. This guy was in for some shock and awe when my steel-and-plastic leg with the boot still attached landed in his lap.” From Back In The Fight (St. Martin’s Press) by Sergeant Joe Kapacziewski and Charles W. Sasser. Pre-order now.