Ron Rico

By Garland Davis

These days when a man’s wife is ready to deliver a baby, the new father is included in the entire process.  In addition to laying the keel, he has to go to classes to learn to become her birth coach, you know, hold her hand tell her how to breath while the baby is sliding down the ways and being launched while she subjects him to the vilest language and threats of never getting any pussy ever again.

Now, back in the day, you know, the 1960s the prospective father was considered a pervert if he even suggested being in the delivery room.  Most civilian hospitals barely provided a waiting room somewhere in the vicinity of the maternity rooms. The Navy Hospital in Yokosuka had a couple of chairs in the hallway where they could fret and wait.

I will not tell you his name.  Some of you may know him and I know one  will recognize him from this story.  His wife went into labor before sunrise.  His ship gave him the day off.  He was sitting in the hall, when the thought crossed his mind that he had special liberty and was wasting it sitting in the hospital when he could be in the Animal Locker (Stag Bar) at the Petty Officer’s Club. 

He talked with the nurse, and she told him it looked as if it would be a few hours and if he left the hospital to leave a number where he could be reached.  He gave her the number of the Club and drove there.

He wrapped himself around a few rum and cokes and shot some Shuffles as the afternoon wasted away.  Shipmates came and went as the day dragged into evening with no word from the hospital.  Along about 2200, the nurse finally called.

She said, “Petty Officer (This is where I’ll keep his name secret) your wife delivered a healthy boy.  Mother and son are well.  Your wife told us to ask you the child’s name so we can complete the paperwork.”

He thought for a minute, stared at the drink in his hand and said, “Call him Ron Rico.”


Who Packed Your Parachute?

Charlie Plumb hall of fame inductee

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.

I am sending you this as my way of thanking you for your part in packing my parachute.

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