Excerpt from “Chapter 1 – The Jump”

The Jolly Roger: An Airman’s Tale of Survival in World War II by William C. Atkinson

Excerpt from “Chapter 1 – The Jump”:

There were no visible flames, only intense, searing heat. At once, his entire flight suit caught fire, and with no conscious thought he reached for his parachute at his feet against the waist window bulkhead. Instinctively, he tucked it under his arms like a football and dove through the open window, the force of the leap tearing loose the attachments to the airplane of his headphones, throat microphone and oxygen mask.

Through a hurricane of wind rushing past him, he frantically ran his right hand over the chute searching for the metal clips to snap onto the D-rings on the front of the parachute harness he wore. The wind burned his eyes, and he was unable to see anything clearly. With his left hand, he maintained a death grip on the chute’s carrying handle, instinctively unable to let it go. The ground was getting ever closer, although he was unaware of just how rapidly it was approaching.