I’m writing today about Dave Hartsock of Texas, and all the people who are like him.
Dave was the instructor. His student, a woman, was a total newbie. The day for the parachute jump was beautiful: sunny, clear, warm. Dave gave Shirley her briefing before they took off in the airplane to jump – in tandem (that means attached to each other), as he has done hundreds of times. This day was different. This day the parachute did not deploy properly and they were spinning to their certain deaths.
They did not die though, but Dave is now paralyzed. When the chute didn’t open properly, he checked to see if he could fix it, and realized there was no fix, so they were in trouble. After spinning toward the ground for what seemed forever, he accepted the gravity of the situation.
He told Shirley to tuck her feet in, and he twisted himself so that he would hit the ground first and cushion the fall for Shirley with his whole body. He took the hit for her.
Why? I watched a Fox News interview with him, and he said that when people jump with him, they trust him with their lives. He has the obligation, he said…the obligation…to make sure they come out okay: “I was going to be the one to take the shock to make her okay. That was my first obligation.”
Whew. What a man of character! He is now permanently paralyzed. He figured he would likely die in order to be the shock absorber for his student’s body, and he did it with calm and resolve.
This attitude is no different from the guys in combat in our military, our police, and our firefighters. It takes a certain profound character to put one’s life on the line for strangers because of obligation willingly and voluntarily accepted.
We need more people like Dave.
I watched him in his wheelchair, still calm and accepting of his situation, and firm in his resolve.
No anger…no resentment. Just character.