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Who's packing your parachute?
By Stuart Kerner

During the Second World War, Group Captain Giles Gantry took part in more than fifty missions over enemy territory in his Lancaster Bomber.  That was until one night in 1944, when his plane was critically damaged by the German guns and he and his navigator were forced to bail out.

Gantry parachuted straight into enemy hands, and spent a year in a prisoner of war camp, before escaping and returning to Britain with the aid of the French Resistance.  Gantry never flew again, but took a vital role in the RAF Bomber Command towards the end of the war.

Twenty years later, back in civilian life, Gantry and his wife were sitting in a restaurant in their home town, when a man approached their table. Gantry vaguely recognized him, but couldn't place the face.

'Afternoon, Sir.  If I might interrupt you, are you by any chance Group Captain Gantry late of Bomber Command?  You flew 50 times over enemy territory before being shot down, if I'm not mistaken.'

'I am indeed,' responded the pilot. 'How the devil did you know that?'

'Well, Sir, you probably don't remember me too well.  Airman Arthur Chambers, as was. I packed your parachute the night you got shot down – I assume it worked, Sir.'

Gantry jumped up and shook Chambers warmly by the hand.  'It did indeed–otherwise I wouldn't be here now!'

Gantry was bothered all night, thinking about that man he had met that day. Wondering just how many times he might have seen him and not even said‘Hello, how are you today?' or anything else for that matter because, of course, he was a pilot and Chambers was just an ordinary, lowly airman.

Gantry thought of the many hours this airman had spent at a table carefully folding the silk of each parachute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't even know.

‘Who's packing your parachute?'

Each of us has someone who provides what they need to make it through the

Sometimes in the rush of each day we miss what is really important.

We may fail to say hello, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason.  Say thank you to our parents and carers, teachers and support staff.

As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize all the people who pack your parachute.


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