Charles Plumb was a fighter pilot during Vietnam, and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. After completing 75 successful missions he was shot down over Vietnam by a surface to air missile and captured by the Viet Cong. He spent six years as a prisoner of war, but was returned home to the United States after the war and lives a normal life now.

One day while eating at a restaurant a stranger walked over to the table where Charlie Plumb and his wife were eating and said, “You’re Plumb! Charlie Plumb! You flew a fighter jet in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier The Kitty Hawk, and was shot down!” Charlie was bewildered at the accuracy of information he was hearing so he asked the stranger “How do you know that?” The stranger told Charlie, “I packed your parachute. It looks like it worked!” Charlie was surprised during the chance encounter, and it never really hit him to later that night.

All night long Charlie Plumb couldn’t sleep. He tried to picture what the stranger would have looked like in sailor uniform, maybe passing him in the halls. Charlie knew he never spoke to the man before because he was a pilot, and during that time pilots and sailors were on two different levels. There was no doubt that he wouldn’t have spoken to the sailor, and it didn’t occur to him then how much he really depended on his efforts. Passing by the sailor in the hallway and not giving him the time of day, it never occurred to Charlie Plumb, until several years later, that a sailor’s handy work would save his life. He imagined the sailor sewing shrouds to mend the fabric and carefully folding the

chute, knowing that someone’s life may depend on it.Image

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