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PARTING COMPANY

Greatest Thrill
Parting Company

By T. B. Waller

RED O'DONNELL'S* SPORTS THRILL:

Each week the Magazine pays $5 for a sports thrill which some reader has related to Red O'Donnell. This unusual story comes from T. B. Waller, 729 Oak-dale, Madison, Tenn. Send your spots thrill to Red at The Nashville Tennessean Magazine, and send a picture of yourself to be run with your story.

SOME experience their greatest sports thrill in football, or basketball. Mine came while participating in that superthriller of sports: parachute-jumping.

   March, 1945 and the 508th regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, was executing practice leaps in France. The planes took off and the sky soon was filled with aerial boxcars loaded with paratroopers.

 When we reached the drop zone every man on that great team knew what position he was playing and how to play the game.

Our spectators were few but among them were our commander, Gen. Jim Gavin, and movie actress Marlene Dietrich.

A green light glowed near the door in each plane and we stampeded out. My chute opened with a terrific jerk and I looked up at the white silk blossomed above me.

Below I heard someone yell, "Get off my chute." I glanced down and almost froze with fear when I discovered I was up to my knees on top of the chute of Corp. John Davis, Little Rock, Ark.

I recalled seeing two men killed in a similar mishap at Fort Benning, Ga. But I also remembered we had been trained for such an emergency.

The man on top has the right of way and gives orders to the other jumper, regardless of rank. I instructed Davis to slip to his left.

He tugged hard on the two web belts that extended from the left shoulder. Contrawise I pulled down on the belts from my right shoulder.

Down we came, hoping for the best.

A few minutes before hitting the ground, we gradually parted company.

The kickoff was over. The game was under way. And I had experienced a thrill I shall never forget.

*NOTES:
T. B. Waller was Thomas B. Waller, Company F., a Pfc at the time of this incident.
"John Davis" may actuality have been Reece Davis, the only man with that surname in Company F

Red is not a relative of Jumpmaster, Dick O'Donnell

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