Letter from Jack Blair to "Everyone", 07 April 1943., result 1 of 1
7 April, 1943
S.W. Pacific Area
Received your latest Alumni Magazine (Jan.) a few days ago along with a news letter. You really do not know how well these articles are appreciated by the fellows overseas. In this section-- reading material of any sort is a rarity. And I am not the only one to read the Magazine--after I have gone over it thoroughly-- the officers give it the once over-- then I take it down to my company and it goes the rounds. So you see-- even though it is of more to me-- many others enjoy the different reading articles which are included.
Now, a little news from some of my classmates: Henry Gutekunst is a chief petty officer in the Navy; Bill Hunsicker is a Lieut. in the Marines and is located in this vicinity; Bill Laing is a Lieut. in Field Artillery-- these are the only fellows who have written to me and keep in touch with the Allentown news as much as they can.
Remember my brother, Oakley (Class of '40)? He has returned from South America and is now attending Northwestern Naval School. In addition, he has become engaged to a Miss Eleanor Merrill--a graduate from Wellesley College,Mass..
A few weeks ago I cracked my ankle in a jump. The cast comes off today and then back to jumping I go. On the last jump a few of the boys had some pretty hard landings-- due to the terrific grounds winds-- consequently there were numerous broken legs; nevertheless, they will soon be back into harness again.
Although I/cannot be present to give a presentation on information pertaining to parachutes-- I will endeaver to tell this branch of the service to Muhlenberg Men now in college. The Army needs young men for this specialized branch--and as soon as possible.
In the first place--officers receive $100 extra when on jump pay or status. Enlisted men receive a monthly bonus of $50.
Just to give you an idea how paratroopers are toughened----- they crawl through animal entrails to accustom themselves to the smell and nausea of rotting bodies. They march through treacherous swamps, deserts, jungles. over mts. etc.. Wielding knives and bayonets are their specialty.
There have been more then 120,000 parachute jumps at Fort Benning, Ga.. And with all these jumps--there have been very few accidents that were fatal due to a malfunction of a 'chute. Each jumper has strapped to his back; a T-5 pack assembly, including a main pack and a reserve 'chute. The two parachutes alone have the combined area of 1,196 sq. feet of silk. Well trained parachutes open bail out of a plane at fifteen men every eight or nine seconds--- and take it from me-- that is really moving up there'!A jumper falls free at approximately 125ft. per second. With the static line'chute there is a break cord attached to the static line which in turn is attached to the plane. A jumper will fall about 100 to 130 feet before his parachute opens. He may or may not ex- perience the knowledge of falling. A fully equipped paratrooper receive a little shock but he is trained to absorb this shock in a certain manner and also by the art of tumbling.
A man who has won his 'wings'-- by jumping five times successfully from/a plane in flight-- and sometime refuses to jump is court martialed--and reduced in rank. Parachutists re- ceive 'wings' and are a little than those issued the Air Corps. In the center of the wings is a parachute--signi- fying a paratrooper
Physically,a young man has to be in good condition. His test is on the order of the Air Corps as they involve the same problems in the air-- such as 'blacking out', and dizziness, heighth phoebia etc..
A paratrooper--officer or enlisted man-- is among one of the best paid soldiers in the world!
Wonder if you could consolidate some of this material and post it on the bulletin board--possibly the Paratroops may be graced by the joining of some Muhlenberg Men!
You will hear from me again---- possibly from the center of the 'big show'!
Regards to all Muhlenberg Alumni
Jack Blair, 111
Lt. 503 rd Parachute Inf.
Enclosed is a snap shot.
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