The 17-year-old girl screamed in terror as she stared at the
ground 34 feet below her. Behind her, a Soldier assisting her with
her exit encouraged her to jump.
Braced over the opening, her
lack of retreat showed a desire to push herself, but despite seeing
student after student safely leap off the Airborne Sustainment
Tower, her instincts wouldn’t let her surrender her mortality to the
two straps attached to her harness.
April 19, 2017- Eagle River High School Air Force Junior ROTC
Cadet Megan Hancox exits a 34-foot jump tower at the Joint Base
Elmendorf-Richardson Airborne Sustainment Training Area. The jump
tower builds a paratrooper's confidence in equipment and training.
(U.S. Air Force photo by David Bedard)
A crowd of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. cadets
gathered below to offer encouragement, knowing she’d be glad
she did it. Their cheers of encouragement were – perhaps a
little too regularly – punctuated by the screeches of other
cadets leaping off the opposite side.
ground, it may be difficult to understand the level of fear
one could feel at the top of the tower, but perspective is
everything, and the Soldiers on the ground all agreed the
tower was much scarier than an actual airplane.
immediacy of the earth below was significantly more visible
at 34 feet than several thousand, they said.
can do the tower, you can jump out of an airplane just
fine,” said Army Staff Sgt. Jason Kenny, air noncomissioned
officer in charge of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute
Infantry Regiment. “This is an incentive for them to
continue with their process and complete their commission.
Some will even go to Airborne School before they
Graduating from high school is an
exciting time in life, full of opportunity. However, those
opportunities bear a burden many in high school haven’t
experienced – they’re making life-altering decisions with no
realistic idea of where those decisions will take them.
Overcoming fears like this is something everyone faces
at some point, and these JROTC cadets had the opportunity to
face some of their fear on the accelerated program.
“I think it’s great,” Kenny said. “It gives them idea of
what to expect, and if they’re scared of heights, this’ll
get them over it.”
“Jumping out of towers probably
isn’t a thing I want to do,” said Cole Mooty, a senior at
Eagle River high school before his jump. “But I’ve found
fear isn’t what you need to be afraid of, but paralysis on
the basis of fear.”
Megan Hancox, a junior at Eagle
River High School said she was still nervous before jumping
a third time despite having done it twice before. After
having her harness checked and double-checked by the
Soldiers though, her nervousness seemed to disappear as she
ran off to the tower with her friends as readily as one
might get on a rollercoaster at a theme park.
long, everyone had jumped at least once, with one exception
– the girl who couldn’t yet push past her sense of
self-preservation. However, when she came down, she wasn’t
the slightest bit depressed.
If anything, she seemed
thrilled to have faced her fears. Maybe she’ll conquer them
By U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kyle Johnson
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