Part 13: Graduation

Graduation: In which I ultimately decide against blood wings

I needed to make a trip to Military Clothing Sales before I left Fort Benning. I bought an Airborne T-shirt, and another for my dad that read: My Daughter Is A Paratrooper. And I wanted a pair of jump boots.

And as silly as it was, I wanted to buy the boots while at Fort Benning. Tim drove me to Clothing Sales, on the back of his bike, no less. And while I was trying on boots, he slunk off had a shirt made for me. It was coral pink (how girly) with a decal of Airborne wings above the left breast. But no ordinary Airborne wings–these were blood wings. Nothing says chic like coral pink and fake drops of blood. But more on blood wings in a bit.

Graduation took place fairly early in the day, although if you study the photos, you’ll see people fanning themselves and holding umbrellas to ward off the sun. It was still Georgia hot. Tim attended, fancy camera in hand. At the time, I didn’t think to ask how he managed to skate out of a day’s worth of the Officer Basic Course. Of course, he was Special Forces, prior enlisted, if anyone could find a way to skate out, it would be a guy like Tim.


Of course they made us march to our own graduation. I’m in the middle row, front and center


But can you believe it? They let us sit during the speaking portion of the ceremony (me, fifth from the left)


The Charlie Company guidon, in all its glory


Ah, the man himself, the charismatic Captain Greene

I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a Rolex on his wrist. Can I admit it now, after all this time? I had a tremendous professional crush on him. Professional, people. Honest.


At attention, waiting for our Sergeant Airborne to come through and pin on the Airborne Badge (me, third from the left)


After the pinning (me, third from the left)

Don’t we look happy? Well, except for Lieutenant Doyle. He looks reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate and someone has just told him the future is plastics. Actually, he knew Tim was taking pictures and was simply messing with him. It’s a guy thing.

After all these years, it just hit me that the lieutenant on the other side of LT Doyle has his hands in his freaking pockets. His pockets! I’m surprised one of the black hats (now in maroon berets) didn’t say anything to him. His pockets! Oh, the humanity.

About those blood wings. For the ceremony, they pin you with the metal badge. The metal badge has two (very) sharp prongs that you secure with fasteners. With blood wings, you skip the fasteners and the sergeant pinning you strikes with the heel of his hand and “fastens” the wings to your chest that way.

Officially? Verboten. Unofficially? That was another matter. The black hats whispered the offer up and down the ranks. You could, if you wanted, accompany them to a back room in the barracks, where they’d gladly give you your very own set of blood wings. Also whispered through the ranks were stories about guys who fainted after receiving their very own set of blood wings.

Can I admit it now, after all this time? I considered it–for about three seconds. But then I decided that I had done enough. I’d made it through Airborne School. I’d jumped from a perfectly good airplane–five times. I had a pair of jump boots waiting for a spit shine and a coral pink Airborne T-shirt.

And I had a pair of silver wings.

And that was all that mattered.

Thank you for reading my Blogging Airborne Series!

14 responses to “Part 13: Graduation

  1. I have so much respect for you and am just a little bit jealous. You have such a fantastic attitude and I hope you achieve all you’re hoping too. Good Luck to you and hang tough!!

  2. Charity

    Thanks so much for reading! I appreciate it.

  3. Mr Cherry

    The only leg in my family was my mother….called her a leg once…..never did that again!

    Great blog…


  4. Danny

    Airborne! All the way, Sergeant!

  5. Jack

    Thanks for posting this; you took me a long, long way back and made me laugh and smile at all the memories. Very nicely done.

  6. THANKS,
    I am on a airfield south of Quantico, VA. It is HOT, HUMID

  7. THANKS,
    I am on a tarmac south of Quantico, VA. It is HOT, HUMID and there is a 13 knot wind. A friend sent me your link. It made my day, thanks for the memories. I graduated in 80 and became a jumpmaster in 94. My chest bled for hours, my wife is still upset about it whenever the subject comes up.

  8. Charity

    So glad you enjoyed it. And Tony … ouch. That’s all I can say. Thanks for stopping by and reading!

  9. Steve

    Thanks for this. Brought back a lot of memories of when I went through back in ’84.

  10. C

    I know this is an older post, but I loved it. I’m a female CPT going through C Co at age 30, and starting jump week on Monday. Your writing is excellent and made me laugh. Thank you!

  11. Bob Hicks

    I went through jump school way back in 1965. Your blog really brought back memories. One thing I noticed–very little has changed in over 40 years. We didn’t have women in the class, and we jumped with an old M1 rifle (the M14’s stocks broke too easily) instead of an M16. Other than that, it brought back memories of everything we did. Congratulations!

  12. AgentR

    AWESOME! I don’t know you obviously but I’m so proud of you! Lol!!!

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