The big engines roared and strained as we climbed up to 15,000 feet over the Arizona desert. The back of the C-130 was splashing a dim red everywhere. The red lights were used at night with no night vision, and green IR lights were used when teams were kitted up with night vision goggles (NVGs).

No goggles for us tonight. We’d jump from 15,000 feet with full combat load. Later, as I’d descend to the desert floor under the canopy, I’d trade the devil my left nut for a pair of NVGs.

Helmet check, oxygen tank, and mask check, front-mounted combat backpack clipped onto our parachute harness secure, check.

The jumpmaster signaled us to get up, the light turned green on the ramp and we got the signal to go. My jump stick waddled to the back like ducks into a pond, only our pond was the black of night.

No moon, high overcast, and no starlight meant the dark of a well diggers arse hole for me and the team.

Off the ramp we waddled out one after the other and dove into darkness.

The forward airspeed of the C130 helped to push you into a stable flying position as we dove out. Small chem lights marked our bodies to identify our stick and take up falling V formation.

I counted eight and slid into my spot near the rear as we descended towards the earth at over 100 miles per hour.