I remember like it was yesterday stepping up to the open door of a C 130 and looking down several thousand feet as a light flashed green and my Senior Jump Master gave the command to jump. I hesitated for just a brief moment and came to the realization that I feared my Sargent much more than the drop. It was my first jump as a paratrooper.
I took the most difficult step of my life out that door. The decision to jump defined my career in the 101st Airborne. But as I felt the shock of the static line another realization came to me. Who had packed my chute? Fortunately, that person had done a good job because my chute opened and I floated safely to the ground, successful. Four more and I would have my wings.
With each jump afterwards, I continued to think about the people who had prepared my gear; people I had not met but who my life depended on. In a moment of clarity, I realized that all the training I had gone through at Fort Benning would not have mattered much if it had not been for the skill and dedication of someone who had packed my parachute. Someone, who worked namelessly behind the scenes far from that plane and that Jump Zone.
That realization made me a better soldier and a better leader and that lesson has stayed with me throughout my life. In all that we do, as adventurers, we must never forget that there is a whole cadre of people who support us on our adventure and they, like that nameless rigger, determine if we are successful or not.
Before your next adventure, I invite you to reflect on those who are packing YOUR parachute and take a moment to thank them. For without those wonderful professionals, and those understanding family and friends, we would not be able to chase the sun down dusty trails to beaches with no names.