Jumper delivers Stars & Stripes, other stories
Posted: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 6:00 pm
By: By JOHN BRANNON
The Messenger 09.14.10
By JOHN BRANNON
Parachutist Ronny Alley of Honea Path, S.C., has some startling numbers.
About 11 a.m. Sunday, during a brief interview at Everett-Stewart Regional Airport, he sat and sipped a soft drink and relaxed, waiting for the 7th annual Airport Extravaganza to get under way.
Alley is a member of the Special Forces Parachute Team based in Fort Bragg, N.C.
The team performed during the air show, one of several events in the current CornFest celebration.
Alley is flag man for the team, meaning that when he jumps, he carries a large American flag which unfurls in glorious in-flight flutter.
Alley himself is the story behind that story.
Which brings us back to the numbers mentioned above.
“I’ve got 5,000 jumps to my credit, and I’ve had to use my reserve ’chute only five times,” he said. “So five times out of 5,000 is not so bad.”
And, as they say in literature class at most any college, the plot thickens…
“I’ve been shot 16 times,” he said with a casual air.
Sixteen times? Doing what?
“Well, working out of country for the (U.S.) government and for other governments,” he continued. “I’ve been real lucky. Most of ’em were in the arm or leg. Only one was bad. I was shot in the upper chest with a 45 (caliber) pistol.”
He said he was out of service, so to speak, during recuperation that took several months. But he went right back to jumping.
Is Ronny Alley, as the expression goes, “a tough ol’ bird”?
“Well, there are several doctors who have been trying to figure out how I’m still alive,” he said.
And where was he, what were the circumstances of his getting shot?
“I was in this country. That’s about all I need to say. It don’t need to be talked about,” he said.
Alley, 57, began his “jump” career in the military when he was a mere 17 years old.
How long will he keep on keeping on jumping out of perfectly good airplanes?
“As long as I’m able, I guess. I don’t have any reason to quit right now. I enjoy it,” he said.
John Brannon may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
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