DECEMBER 23, 1942
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—And here the rest of the letter from the paratrooper, which I started in yesterday's column goes on:
"You suddenly find yourself at the door. Say to yourself: 'Don't think, and jump as far away from the plane as you can, making left body turn as you do so, in order to have the prop blast straight behind you rather than somersaulting you through the air.
"As you jump from the door, and feel the prop blast hurling you back, there seems to be an infinite pause. No sensation of falling, no sensation of fear. You may notice the clouds or the tail of the plane passing over you. You find yourself automatically counting '1,000, 2,000, 3,000.' If your main chute isn't open by the time you have the third count out of your mouth, pull the reserve (and don't drop the rip cord or you'll buy everybody a beer). As the main chute opens, you are suddenly jerked upward, snapped by the chute, and find yourself gently swinging beneath the canopy anywhere from 400 to 1,200 feet from the ground. There's still no sensation of falling, no sensation of movement, except for the swinging.
"You pick out the spot you're going to land in, and slip your chute toward it, at the same time checking your oscillation to reduce your chances of coming in backwards. At about fifty feet from the ground, the earth seems suddenly to begin rushing toward you. Pull down vigorously on the risers when you're about fifteen feet from the ground and you'll still land on your face or elsewhere, but it will make a much softer jolt.
"So you're happy. You think—'Gee—and I was sweating that out!' 'Nothing to it,' you're glad to announce to all and sundry, and the next time you jump you'll either feel the same or worse before you get out of that door. I thought I was through sweating them out, but the last jump proved that I was wrong."
The above seems to me a very poignant description of something which takes both courage and skill to do.
These days up here have been extremely pleasant and it has been nice to see our neighbors and revel in the winter countryside. Late this evening I shall return to New York City in order to have a tree party tomorrow at the Women's Trade Union League Clubhouse for the children of workers, whose fathers are now in the military services overseas.