Saturday, December 29, 2018

Headline: Parachute Fails - Victor Vermillion Survives a 750-Foot Leap

Who is Victor Vermillion and why should you care?  He was my Dad.  My younger sister was going through old papers - a kind of New Year's thing to do - and she came across this news item.  I quote it below in it's entirety.

"Many folks around Yates Center, KS, will remember Victor Vermillion and his 750 ft. leap when his parachute failed to open.  Victor pulled off this thriller at Moline, KS, 14 years ago.   He is now employed at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Corp., Kansas City, and the story leaked out at the plant through a friend.

The Wasp Nest, a magazine published by the Pratt and Whitney Co., published this story concerning Victor. (Ed. note - my Dad was always called Vic or Dick - his sisters used to make him crazy by calling him "Dicky Bird")

"The way Victor Vermillion of our Production Engineering staff looks at life, nothing can happen to him, no matter how painful or joyous, to destroy the inner tranquility of his soul.  This is no passing mood with him, either.  He's felt that way since June 29, 1930.  (So he was 26 and this article was written in 1944.)

A friend of his came around to see us the other day and said Vermillion went his way among his associate operation sheet writers, quiet and composed.  "Why," said the friend, "they didn't have an inkling that here was a man - the first man in history, so records say - who survived a 750 ft. leap when his parachute failed to open."

We looked up Vermillion, and sure enough, he is as placid as a cornfield in July.  He lost all tendency toward excitability, he said, at Moline, KS, 14 years ago when he pinch-jumped for a parachutist who failed to appear in the air circus he was serving as a pilot.  Vermillion began his jump at 1,500 ft. but he couldn't extricate until the 750 ft. mark.  Then his 'chute failed him.  We asked how it felt to fall that far?  "Just like you were falling 750 ft." Vermillion said reasonably.

"Had he hit in a lake or a feather bed?"
"In a cornfield," Vermillion said calmly.
"My God, man," we said, with considerable agitation.  "Weren't you hurt?"
"Broke every bone in my body," he replied thoughtfully. He pondered a minute and went on, "Of course later some bird out in California survived a malfunctioning parachute, too.  He fell into some telephone wires.  I imagine he's like me.  Nothing much exciting can ever happen to him again."  End of article.

Daddy like most males was never loathe to make a story just a leetle bit more interesting by embroidering a few of the details.  Such as:  He didn't break every bone in his body.  He did turn his rt. ankle and heel into "scrambled eggs" and a rt. thigh break in several places.  The doctors wanted to amputate, but I wouldn't let them.  Only my tailor knows that leg is 3/4 in. (me) " "a foot and a half" my sister.

He was in the hospital for a couple of months and "when I got out I weighed 120 lbs.  But I was still 6 ft. 1 in. tall - on the left leg."

"Placid as a cornfield in July"?  Hah!  He had a hair trigger quick temper, and five minutes later he wondered aloud what was wrong with you?  He'd made his complaint (vociferously), everything was clear; let's get on with it.

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