Parachute Awards

Who Packed Your Parachute 

by Charlie Plumb

from his book, Insights into Excellence (Executive Books, 1993)

Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam.

After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile.

Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.

"I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!" Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."

Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor." Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory - he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes.


The Parachute Award is given by the Beaver College of Health Sciences to recognize individuals who are outside our college yet have played a pivotal role in the success of an event, project, or day to day operation.


Lesa Felker, Academic Affairs (Retired)

Floyd Hicks, Physical Plant

Holly Hirst, Graduate School

Susan McCracken, Chancellor's Office

Michelle Melton, Web Services


Clint Nelson, Technology Support Services

Jane Nicholson, University Communications

Kent Greer, Environmental Services

Kevin Smith, Technology Support Services

Shirley Harris, International Education & Development

Tom McDonnell, Technology Support Services


David Hodges, Physical Plant

Jill Venable, Health Services

Sandi Sanders, Academic Affairs

Joyce Moretz Young, Health Services

Patsy Snyder, McKinney Alumni Center

Charna Howson, Office of Research


Darrel Farrow, Environmental Services

Tony Grant, Information Technology Services

Charlie Wallin, Food Services

Darlene Risk, Acadmic Affairs 


Brett Scantlin, Physical Plant

Tena Gulliver, Registrar's Office

Danny Moorhead, Information Technology Services


Lida Keber, Catering and Food Services 

Charlie Perkins, Mountaineer Printing 

Marie Freeman, University Photographer


Bronwen Sheffield, Distance Education

Sharon Jensen, Career Development

Nancy Crowell, Human Resources

The Staff in the Office of General Counsel


Amy Carson, Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance

Patty Dale, Registrar's Office 

Charles Davis, Technology Support Services

Derek Eggers, Center for Academic Excellence

Lisa Houser, Distance Education