"When the plane gets to 10,000 ft, the door will open. We want you to hook your thumbs into your harness and get into a catcher's squat. Put your toes over the edge of the doorway and be ready to jump." You know, this is not a sentence that I'm used to hearing. But this was not an ordinary day. I was a guest of the LTG Benjamin Freakley and in the capable hands of the most elite parachute team in the world, The U.S. Army's Golden Knights.
Doing a Tandem Free Fall Jump does certain things for you and certain things to you -- all of which are extremely positive. You experience the "now" in a way that is unique to falling out of a plane from two miles above the earth at 120 miles per hour. There are adrenaline rushes, and then there's this. It is describable in one word, "awesome!"
On the other hand, those of us who were honored with this invitation got an up close and personal view of what it is literally like to put our lives in the hands of a soldier. All Americans do this every single day. Although we know that our men and women in uniform are always there to protect us, I know many of us do not keep this idea top of mind.
That being said, when you meet the best-trained, best-equipped fighting force in the history of the world in person, the only thing you feel is, "safe."
The Army Strong Experience was two days of extraordinary interaction with America's Army that was, without question, a public relations mission. Its goal was to familiarize a select group of business and community influencers with some of the issues of maintaining a full-strength, volunteer military during a war. It should surprise no one that the Army has exceeded every recruiting quota. This is America, and Americans have stepped up.
What was a surprise was the fact that, because of academics, social, medical or other issues only 3 in 10 people between the ages of 17 and 23 are qualified to serve. 94% of Army recruits have high school diplomas the rest have GED's. The force abounds with college grads and post-grads. Our fighting force is, by corporate standards, very educated. They are also dedicated to a level of excellence that (and I don't mean to sound corny, but there's no other way to say this) makes you proud to be an American.
Probably the most important thing I learned during my two days of jumping out of planes and shooting shot guns and pistols was that we (you and I) can actually help the Armed Forces of the United States by being experts in what we do and offering to help. We, as civilians, can do something to aid in the defense of our nation, besides paying taxes -- we can learn about the Army, the opportunities it offers our citizens and help get the word out.
That's the singular message for today. Visit shellypalmer.com today and you can see an episode of MediaBytes that features a video of my Tandem Free Fall Jump. It's was fun and that comes through on the video. But, if you really want to do something great, visit goarmy.com and learn about the extraordinary men and women who serve and protect you everyday. If you'd like more information about how you can get involved, friend me on Facebook or drop me an email.
Shelly Palmer is the host of MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer, a daily show featuring news you can use about technology, media & entertainment. He is the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV (2008, New York House Press) and the upcoming, Get Digital: Reinventing Yourself and Your Career for the 21st Century Economy. (2009, Lake House Press). Shelly is also President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, NY (the organization that bestows the coveted Emmy Awards). For information about Get Digital Classes, visit http://www.shellypalmer.com/seminars
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