NotGonnaDieInBedI hadn’t parachuted out of an airplane in over thirty years—not since my thirteen-year tour as a Green Beret soldier with U.S. Army Special Forces. But here I was, ‘chuted up and in the belly of a C-47 Skytrain from World War II. “Boogie Baby” was its name; one of its last war games was at the Normandy invasion against Hitler in 1944.

“Stand up!”

“Hook up!”

I had gone to Frederick, Oklahoma, the previous summer in my capacity as a professional journalist to write an article and shoot photos for Oklahoma Living magazine about the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team, the only organization of its kind in the world. The ADT makes ceremonial and demonstration parachute jumps, WWII-style, all over the United States and Europe. Members had just returned from Holland after the “Bridge Too Far” jump.

And Now I was in “Jump School” refresher training to become one of its newest members.

“Stand in the door!”

A stick of paratroopers can exit a door at 1,500 feet in mere seconds.

“Go!”

Due to my age, I required a doctor’s release in order to attend parachute training. Doctor Jack Aldridge, family doctor and friend, asked to see my wife and me together before he signed the form.

“Are you okay with this?” he asked Donna Sue.

“He’s done dangerous things all his life,” she said. ‘I’d never try to stop him from doing anything.”

Doc Aldridge grinned as he signed the form. “Look at it this way: Had you rather he die in bed or die doing what he really wants to do?”

Wise doctor

Wise wife.