June 1, 2013

War Stories: Fell Out of a Helicopter and Lived

I was at Air Assault school in ’86. Part of the graduation requirement was to rappel with pack from a helicopter 100’ in the air.  We were on a Huey as we rose to the required height for the test, and were told to assume our “L” positions on the helicopters skids before being commanded to “GO.”

As I rotated into position, I somehow inverted my carabiner (or snap link, as we referred to them) to where the “gate” was on top vs. the bottom, and was open.  One of two lines I was hanging from was vibrating towards the opening.

The “Rappel master” pointed at me and gave the “GO!” signal, (the “steely” vertical open handed point).  I aggressively shook my head in the negative and pointed with my nose (as best one can) at my snap link.  It took a couple of iterations of giving me a GO! and me signing NO! before he realized my dilemma and gave me a thumbs up (like that made me feel better) as he gave the other three their “GO” signal.  The rappel master spoke into his microphone and gave me a smile and reassuring thumbs up.

I started to slide inverted under the helicopter as the rope slid through my gloved hands. My pack wasn’t helping.  At this point, one of the two lines sprung out of my snap link.  The instructor tried to pull me back in the aircraft but couldn’t reach me.  He busily spoke into his microphone and gave me ANOTHER reassuring thumbs up.  As I smiled all I could think was “thanks for nothing, bro.”

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About the Author

MAJ (Ret.) Will Rodriguez Will served over 20 years as an Infantry officer serving in Europe, the Middle East, Korea and Latin America. He has extensive experience in both light Infantry and mechanized warfare to include combat. He was selected to serve as a TAC at West Point and his final assignment was to the Infantry’s Battle Lab conducting research on tomorrow’s Infantry force. He concentrated in National Security at West Point, holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling & Leadership Development and is a graduate of the Combined Arms General Staff College. Born and raised in a tough section of New York City, Will lost his accent in the Army but kept the attitude. Read more from Will at http://gruntsandco.com/

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  • Twinranger

    Nice, how could you not scream.  So funny.

  • NMOne

    JackMurphyRGR O_o

  • NMOne

    JackMurphyRGR O_o

  • badboy11b

    Talk about a scary f-ing moment brother, I fortunatly never came close to experiencing your situation but have seen other brother's of ours in similar situations. During some training at Ft. Campbell I watched a AF Combat Controller fall about 4 stories from a blackhawk, he lived obviously and thankfully didn't break his neck but he did break plenty of other bones. -Cpl. Diezel 101st Airborne Div.

  • Old PH2

    OH, SHIT!  majrod  I like you even more!  When something, not quite the same happened to me, I didn't even know it was happening until I impacted, fortunately it was only 10-15 feet and I was young and maleable.  The pain came latter at the NJP hearing, but I try not to think on that too much.  I think God must have a special place in his heart for the young and adventurous.  Glad your still with us Will!  Great story!