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Charles Plumb was a pilot in Vietnam, and after seventy-five combat missions, his plane was demolished by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected, parachuted into enemy hands, and spent the next six years in a Communist prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on what he learned from his experience. One day when he and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man from another table walked over and said, ‘You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!’ Plumb said, ‘How in the world did you know that?’ The man replied, ‘I packed your parachute.’ Then the man grabbed his hand and said, ‘I guess it worked!’ Plumb assured him it had: ‘If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.’ That night he couldn’t sleep, wondering about the man. What had he looked like in a Navy uniform? How many times had Plumb seen him without even asking, ‘How are you?’ – or anything else – because Plumb was a fighter pilot and the other man was only a sailor. He thought about the many hours that sailor had spent in the bowels of the ship, meticulously weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands the destiny of a stranger. As a result, Plumb routinely asks his audience an important question: ‘Who’s packing your parachute?’ All of us have someone who provides what we need to make it through the day. Paul said Phoebe ‘has been helpful to many, and especially to me’. Who helps you? Today show them your appreciation.

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