Finally Somehow Home - Chapter 7.2

Updated: Nov 14

We hit up Korea for alittle skydiving. I had been to Military Free-Fall School by then, so I was jumping HALO and HAHO. One night we were jumping a UH-1 Huey, and I decided to play a joke on my buddies. I’m lactose intolerant and I rip some gnar-gnar farts if I drink milk, so I knew we’d be in close proximity at high altitude with zero cabin pressure which meant a shitload of ass-pressure and very little ambient air pressure, and I knew the damage which would ensue. I went with the half gallon of whole milk for dinner. I just remember being up in the god damn Huey. It’s a single-prop helicopter and wobbly as fuck at 10,000 feet. It flew like it was barely hanging on. I thought we were getting ready to jump pretty soon so launched my first attack, and I’d been saving up for awhile, so it was a good one. There was about a half-millisecond delay as the cloud instantly permeated the cabin… then it hit like a pestilence from the staff of Moses. I just remember the door gunner exclaiming suddenly: “OH MY GOD!” Then opening the massive sliding doors on both sides of the Huey to expose us to the frigid gusts of the Korean winter. For 15 minutes. While a bunch of F-16s landed on the airfield that we were supposed to parachute in on. It was miserable. Finally, we got out of the damned bird and flopped around in the air alittle bit because the Huey was only doing 80 knots up there, it took awhile to get up to a good stable freefall speed. The next day I met the pilot. It was in the morning, and I still smelled like booze. She was a hammer. Blonde hair, blue eyes. She looked at me as if she knew it was me whose ass had wrought the horror of the night before. God damn it.

We used to go to Guam a lot. I loved going to Guam because the weather reminded me of Indonesia. It was warm and humid and had big tall clouds in the sky and when it rained it was thick fat drops and felt like taking a warm shower. We did a lot of skydiving in Guam. But military skydiving is not quite the same as civilian skydiving. The rig and canopy are bigger and heavier because it needs to be able to support the weight of the jumper plus all of his combat equipment and ammo. There was also the added oxygen bottles and O2 mask and flight helmet. Jumping slick – no combat equipment or O2 - was fun. That was a lark. The problem is that if we were going to show up at a nice war, we needed to have a lot of other shit with us. Jumping combat equipment in freefall was always an interesting endeavor because all of your equipment tried its best to kill you the whole time. Once when I was in Australia on a 25,000 foot combat equipment 02 jump I left the aircraft and everything was just fine until I realized I couldn’t breathe. One of the valves in my O2 system was stuck closed. Sometimes they would get condensation or saliva on them and then when exposed to the cold air outside of the airplane it would freeze because at 25,000ft that shit is subzero. So, while in freefall, I pulled my hands in to mess with my oxygen mask, which caused my body to rotate to a head down position which is not good when you are jumping a front mount rucksack because the wind is blowing it all over the place trying to get it to make you unstable and spin out of control. So anyway, I’ve been in freefall for a few seconds now and my vision is starting to blur at the edges. I know I’m running out of oxygen and I’m going to pass out pretty soon if I don’t do something quick. I could pull high which means that I would deploy the parachute right then and then I’d be stuck under canopy at 22,500 ft with no O2. So, if I pulled high and I still could not get my O2 working I would pass out and either ride the parachute into the dirt face first at 14 knots or maybe wake up once I got down where there was oxygen. I didn’t want to do that because mostly I didn’t want to be the guy who pulled high. There are a lot of things that you can deal with if you get fucked up, but if you make it through unscathed, you’re fucked because now you’re the dumbass that pulled his rip cord at 22,500 ft instead of 4000ft with everyone else. I wasn’t going to be “that guy”. I didn’t give a fuck if I died. That’s the kind of thought process that dictated most of my decision making at that stage of my life. Sooo, I arched as hard as I could to try and fall faster and get down to where there was some oxygen in the air. Finally, in exasperation I just breathed in as hard as I possibly could (nice to fucking know that’s all it took after I almost die), and it broke the seal and let oxygen come into my god damn lungs. OK. Problem solved. I got down to 4000 feet with no further drama - other than wrestling with my god damn rucksack the whole way down - and pulled my main chute. I saw the lines go up over my shoulders and I started falling more upright. It used to take a little while for my chute to open the way I packed it because I liked to roll the nose on it which caused it to open slower and not blast you in the balls when it opened all at once, but this time it was taking too long. I looked up and saw the parachute above me still stuffed neatly into its bag instead of in a vast canopy over my head. Aww shit. Bag lock. I reached up and pulled down the risers twice quick and hard as I could and was getting ready to cut away when the main chute finally opened around 2000 feet. It didn’t really occur to me that I had almost died about 12 times in the last few minutes until I landed. It didn’t occur to me to be scared. I was just solving problems, doing it by the numbers. It’s like combat. If you think of what could happen, it will and you’ll die. As they say in skydiving… you’ve got the rest of your life to figure it out.

So back to Guam. We were always down there for some reason or another. We had a little place in our hearts for this establishment called “The G Spot”. All the ladies that worked there were imports from the Vegas strip clubs and were in Guam cleaning up on the Japanese tourists that would come through there wanting to look at a little bit of “round-eye” ass. Those girls were great to us and fun to look at, so we hit it off with them right away. There was a rule in my team that if you got laid the night before you did not have to show up for team PT (Physical Training) in the morning. My ATL (Assistant Team Leader), Pirate, was always skipping out. The ladies loved him.

One fateful night at The G Spot, I decided that I did not need to go back to the barracks with everyone else and that the rules that everyone else had to abide by did not apply to me that day. So, I stayed out. And got ripped. We usually had a very strict eight hours “bottle to throttle” rule which we generally did a pretty good job of adhering to. But not tonight. So, I stayed out till two when the bar closed. Time to think tactical, no shit. No money. No cell phone. Twelve miles from base. And training the next day starts at 0530. What you gonna do hot-shot? I think it would be a great idea to make a Bear Grylls special on how to get out of dicey liberty situations. So, I started running. I ran for several miles when a cop pulled over and after I told him what I was up to, asked me if I needed a ride. Right about the time he reaches to open the door and let me in he gets a call and speeds off - lights flashing. So, I ran for a few more miles. A good Samaritan pulled over to see if I needed a ride. Blessed angel of mercy. In the form of a 350-pound Chamorro drag queen. I shit you not. I couldn’t be too choosy at that point, so I got in. I kept one hand on the handle as we drove down the road because she was looking at me like I was a 3AM snack. I wisely got out a half a mile from the gate to alleviate myself of the explanation to the gate guards and ran the rest of the way back to the barracks…or thereabouts. The next thing I remember, a couple of Navy Military Police were standing over me poking me with the toe of their boots trying to wake me up. I heard them yell to someone nearby: “Is this one of yours?”

“Yeah, that’s my Team Leader.”

“Well, he doesn’t even know his own name.”

“I’ll come get him.”

Nothing that a quick shower, a couple of IVs and some pure O2 won’t fix. Didn’t miss a beat. I was back to the land of the living by the time we started training that morning.

NOTE: Finally Somehow Home is a separate book from The Perfect Fucking Life, and is not yet in publication at the time of this post.

All this shit is written and created by Jason Lee Morrison © 2022

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