Gabriel's Horn, Pastor George Weaver, May, 2011

posted Apr 27, 2011, 6:36 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Apr 27, 2011, 6:43 PM ]

    Captain Charlie Plumb graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and went on to fly the F-4 Phantom jet on 74 successful combat missions over North Vietnam. On his 75th mission, with only five days left before he was to return home, Plumb was shot down, and consequently captured, tortured, and imprisoned in an 8 foot x 8 foot cell. He spent the next twenty-one hundred and three days as a Prisoner Of War in communist prison camps.

During his nearly six years of captivity, Charlie Plumb distinguished himself among his fellow prisoners as a professional in underground communications, and served for two of those years as the Chaplain in his camp.

Since his return home, more than 4,000 audiences have been held spellbound as Captain Charlie Plumb draws parallels between his P.O.W experience and the challenges of everyday life. He has been selected one of the top 10 motivational speakers in the country.

    Plumb likes to tell the story of a day when he and his wife were sitting in a restaurant and a man at another table got up and approached them. “You’re Plumb!” the man said. “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 the former pilot.

    “I packed your parachute!” the stranger said. Plumb gasped in surprise. The man pumped his hand and continued, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him it did. “If your chute hadn’t worked, I certainly wouldn’t be here today.”

    The former fighter pilot couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that encounter. He wondered how many times he might have seen this person while on the ship and not spoken because he was a fighter pilot and the man who packed his chute was “just a sailor.” He thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the carrier, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t even know.

    When Plumb lectures, he often asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?” he is asking: who is watching out for you? Can you identify the people who have packed your parachute over the years and those who are packing it today?

    And just as important, whose parachutes are you packing? Who looks up to you? Who may be depending on you for support or encouragement? For understanding or guidance?

We owe a debt to all those who have packed parachutes for us over the years. To those still packing our “chutes” yet today, we should give undying thanks. And to any and all of those for whom we too are packing parachutes, we need the will and determination to do our best.
George Weaver, Pastor of Maturing Ministries