While serving as an enlisted soldier in 1995, Lt. Cmdr. Shane Derby attended the basic parachutist course in Fort Benning, Ga., achieving his basic qualification. Eighteen years later, while serving as a contracting officer and providing direct contracting support to Program Executive Office (PEO) C4I, Shore and Expeditionary Integration (PMW 790), he toured both Logistics Support Unit ONE (LOGSU ONE) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expeditionary Support Unit (EODESU) ONE in Coronado, Calif.
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SPAWAR Commander, Rear Adm. Patrick Brady pins gold jump wings on Lt. Cmdr. Shane Derby and designates him a Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist. (Photo by Rick Naystatt, Jr.)
Lt. Cmdr. Derby had the opportunity to see firsthand how the Information Dominance IT and ADP Support Equipment he was acquiring was being used, packed up into pack up kits, and ultimately loaded onto the aircraft.
During the tour, he was invited to ‘jump’ with the unit. A bit weary and uncertain, he inquired more, knowing it had been almost 18 years since his last parachute landing fall (PLF). He submitted the request for permissive jump orders to his commanding officer; his fate to become a Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist was set into motion.
On Dec. 6, 2012, he went out the back door of a C-130 for the first time since 1995.
“I was scared! The last jump I did, I was 21-years old, and had nothing to lose,” Lt. Cmdr. Derby explained. “This time was different. At 39, I had butterflies like I’d never experienced before.” On Aug. 7, 2013, he completed his fifth and final jump needed to meet the requirements to wear the coveted ‘Gold’ parachutist wings.
“I must say, I truly understand the meaning of proficiency and why it’s necessary to train, to jump often, to stay current on equipment and policy,” Lt. Cmdr. Derby said. "The first two jumps I landed satisfactory; the next two, particularly one of the next two, I hit the ground hard.”
According to Lt. Cmdr. Derby, the wind direction shifted during those jumps and caused a great deal of forward momentum, but his training kicked in. He remembered to keep his feet and knees together, landed hard, but walked away.
During the final jump, however, he steered the chute flawlessly. He recalled that he landed very lightly.
“It was like I was 21 years old again,” he said.
By Lt. Melinda Garcia, Contracts Specialist, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command