I had to e-mail you today. I was in the audience this AM and needed to let you know what an impact your presentation had. I was 13 years old the year you went down and vividly remember seeing all the anguish you all had to endure. May God bless you still to this day.
The way that you wove your personal story to draw us in was amazing. I was right there with you mentally. You had me with those first footsteps in the dark. I will "pack my parachute" and make sure all 18 panels are there. Thank you so very much for your gift of words.
May peace and health be with you,
Jo Ann Ahrens RN, MS, CDE
Diabetes Management Consultant South Bend
I just concluded a Sunday school lesson in which your video was the topic of discussion for a couple of weeks. The people of the class were so appreciative of your message and what it meant to them. I just wanted to let you know that parachutes are being packed and eyes are opening up.
Our area has been hit hard over the past few years with furniture manufacturing leaving this area of NC and moving to China for cheaper labor. I run into a great deal of people who have been blown out of the sky and start to play the script. I myself have been out of work for a couple of years but have taken a job at Wal-Mart to help pay the bills and keep my head on straight while I try to emulate your message which has guided my through the thick of things. For those who are ready for the message, I give them a copy of the video and ask them to tell me what they think at the end of it. Almost everyone is refocused after seeing your message and is better equipped to meet the challenges that await them.
Thanks for you message and your willingness to share it. Rarely does someone let their guard down long enough to help someone they do not even know get to the next milepost. And that is what parachute packing is all about. Thank you for packing so many parachutes.
- James Farmer
Please convey to Captain Plumb my gratitude. I was an Air Force ROTC cadet in field training at McConnell AFB KS in 1985. I had the pleasure of having the good Captain speak and impact my life and attitude. I'm now a Lt Col running the munitions training school at Sheppard AFB TX.
One of the tasks I have to perform is to speak to all these brand new members coming into the military and try to guide them into understanding what they have taken on, what type of team they've joined and what they have become. I have used the phrase packing their parachutes and discussed team work concepts that I remembered learning when I was their age. For some reason this evening I remembered that some of what I had been sharing was what Captain Plumb had shared with me and I looked him up on the Internet.
I had a student tell me a few weeks ago that he was inspired to do better anytime I came in the room because I always reminded him that he was special and part of something bigger than himself. Let me echo those sentiments back to Captain Plumb for the impact he made on me 21 years ago and let him know that his legacy continues in the men and women serving today.
Sir you're a hero.
Thomas A. Ventriglia, Lt Col, USAF
Commander, 363rd Training Squadron
I was recently privileged to see and hear Mr Plumb in person. He spoke at my company's (U.S.Cellular) annual Culture Survey readout in Wisconsin Dells. I must say, Mr Plumb is by far the most gifted, inspiring speakers walking this planet. As a 24 year old who has "seen everything and heard everything", I sat there dumbfounded hearing this man's heroic story. I consider getting the chance to hear his message one of the greatest privileges I have ever had and probably ever will. I truly hope the Lord continues to bless Mr Plumb and allow him to spread inspiration to the rest of the world !!
A true fan and inspired listener,
- Brian Conradt
Charlie, Mr. Plumb,
My name is Jeanette Jordan. That's rather irrelevant because I am sure you do not remember me. The point is that I never forgot you!
You spoke at a Junior Achievement Conference, held on the campus of Lindenwood College in 1983. I was captivated by your experiences. I looked you straight in your eyes the entire time, looking for your pain.
All I saw was triumph. I kept listening for your defeats. All I heard were your victories! To say it was inspirational would be an understatement, even now, more than 20 years later.
From that day to this, all I wanted to do was serve HEROES like you. I knew that I would never be one myself (or so I thought).
I now work for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and have done so for 18+ years. I have the unique opportunity to serve HEROES, like you everyday.
I have had the opportunity to meet some of your fellow prisoners from Hanoi. None of them strike me like you did. But each of them has the same victory and triumph in his eyes.
I use your stories in my encounter with the new HEROES, who suffer from a variety of conditions, including Posttraumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression.
I tell them of the camaraderie that you sustained you all. I tell them of the motto that kept your heads high. I tell them of the torture that each of you endured, SURVIVED AND OVERCAME!
ALTHOUGH THEY DON'T HEAR IT FROM YOU, YOU CONTINUE TO INSPIRE HUNDREDS OF SOLDIERS EVERY CHANCE I GET.
It has taken me more than 20 years to send this e-mail. But I wanted you to know that your inspiration and guidance has been instrumental in my life since the first time I met you.
THANK YOU from a grateful citizen.
Dear Captain Plumb and staff,
I had been thinking of the presentation of yours at which I was present some years ago. I found your site this afternoon when it occurred to me that you probably had one and I looked for it (seek and you shall find). Once I saw the link for your testimonials, I felt I should share mine with you.
Twenty years ago this summer, I was a sixteen-year-old kid who had the good fortune to have been chosen as a delegate to the American Legion Boys’ State program at the TN Tech campus in Cookeville, TN. We had a week-long hands-on crash course in state government that week and we sat through a number of speakers--mostly politicians, judges, and the like. Most of them I had seen on TV in campaign ads, the news, etc.
One particular evening was different. We had a speaker of whom I had heard nothing. I assumed that he was a local of some sort who had been brought in to fill a speaker’s slot. When he was introduced, instead of beginning to speak, or to commend us for our selection (we had heard that several times and were feeling a bit smug), he simply began to pace. If my memories from 20 years ago serve me correctly, it was 3 steps each way. We all thought he had gone completely blank and was about to blow his “speech” and were somewhat amused at his was pacing. Then he spoke very clearly--and absolutely fastened our attention to him--when he told us that his cell in the North Vietnamese prison camp was 8 feet across--and that was as far as he could walk from wall to wall. He had every young man there spell-bound for the remainder of the evening. I have no idea how long he talked--it could have been 20 minutes or it could have been 2 hours.
I don’t remember, after the haze of the years, any other speaker from that week or anything they said, but I remember story after story after story from his presentation that evening. Later, to my initial surprise, my best friend from college (who I did not even know in high school at the time of that Boys’ State assembly) told me that he also was there and that was his most impressive memory from that week as well. We remain friends even now and have discussed that presentation many times over the years.
I would love to tell you that I went away from that assembly charged up and took on the world and won and because of how inspired I was that evening, and that I never failed at anything--but that isn’t how life works and of course, it is the failures that teach us how to succeed. And I have had my victories here and there over the years. One was that it was my dream when I was a kid to learn to fly--to be a pilot. When I had trouble with some of the basic stick and rudder stuff a few years later when I was learning to fly, I practiced with a sawed-off broomstick (to which I attached a simulated yoke) just as I had remembered Captain Plumb telling us. I got my pilot’s license, and though I no longer fly, I have never forgotten that little story, and I have never forgotten that evening.
I supposed that I have rambled a bit, and I hope you will forgive me. I now am a preacher for a local congregation of the church of Christ, and recently, as I was contemplating a lesson on the “Prison of Sin” and was thinking of ways to illustrate how we each can overcome sin, I thought once again of Captain Plumb and his inspiring story--of an ordinary man who overcame extraordinary circumstances. Know that sometime in the near future, some of his story will be told again to a new audience in a different place. I will do my very best to do it proper justice. Thank you , sir, for your service to our country, both then and now. God bless you and thank you for the thoughts and lessons you provided that evening that have remained with me over half of my life.
- John Summers
Dear Susan and Charlie,
I had the fortune of seeing and hearing Charlie speak twice, once in Elmira, NY and once in Colorado Springs, CO. I bought his book with the tape as well. What a wonderful thing.
I suffer from severe depression. I was glad to have heard Charlie, because, it affected me in such a positive manner. This was several years ago, but I have never forgotten it.
Recently, I came across the book and tape again and was reminded of how much it all meant to me, and wanted you to know that.
Please keep doing what you do.
I had the privilege of hearing Charlie in the early 80's at a convention for
Bank of Montreal at Whistler, B. C. in Canada. At the time, I was not only
working in a new role for the Bank, but also relieving for my Boss, who had
recently had a nervous breakdown. So basically doing 2 jobs. I was invited to
go to this convention as a nominee.
Charlie's message changed my whole life, with the inspiring talk about choices and attitudes. I went on that year to be the "2ND" top performer in my relieving role in
Canada. The area that I worked in was ranked 37th in the spring, and by the end of the year came in number 2. The challenges that came up were huge, however with the positive attitude and knowing that I was given choices, I was able to over come those challenges, and even over achieve the goals given.
Since then, I have had incredible experiences, at work and in life, and nowat
the age of 60 years, am taking on a new role with the Bank, and will continue to
have fun enjoying new challenges that will come my way. I have tried to pass his
message on to others that have reported to me directly in the Bank in many
different branches, (note ..I have had Senior roles in having up to 8 branches
reporting to me at one time), and my family. My family still asks where I get
my drive from...seems I have more energy than my kids and they are in their 40s.
Anyway, could go on with lots of success stories ie winning trips for
performance, bonus etc, but will close in saying to Charlie ...Thank you so much
for your personal, inspiring message to me....God Bless.
- BARB WACHEK
I’ve known Captain Charlie Plumb since the late 1980’s when we served together at a Naval Reserve facility in Millington, TN. During our service there, I was fortunate to hear Charlie tell his story of strength, hope and faith and of his experiences as a POW in Vietnam. What touched me even more about Charlie’s story was how he dealt with circumstances regarding his return to the United States after his release.
Several years later, while serving as a State Senator in Mississippi, I was honored to hear Charlie tell his story again as Guest Speaker at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In the audience that day was another former POW and a friend of Charlie’s and mine, George Robert Hall. I am proud of Charlie and George Robert and thankful for the service and sacrifice of all the men and women who serve in the military of the United States. Charlie’s story will make everyone who hears it thankful for such service and sacrifice.
One of my treasured possessions is an autographed copy of Charlie’s book, “I’m No Hero.” The only untruth in that book is the title … Charlie Plumb is an A-1, bonafide American hero. I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to hear Charlie’s story. It may change your life as it did mine.
SmithReeves & Yarborough
After the video, I really thought hard about what Captain Plumb said. Was I REALLY living happy? Had I allowed myself to fall victim to negative thinking and living? Was I packing parachutes or just stuffing them? As I thought about more and more, I realized that I was very negative, angry and guilty of stuffing instead of packing. It has already begun to change my outlook in life. I thank God for my beautiful wife and son, for my health, for everything I've seen and been through over the years. I never realized how many people needed my support. I only worried about me.
Thanks to Captain Plumb's riveting speech and analogies of his experiences and how they shaped his way of thinking, I was able to take something more than how to succeed in the corporate world. I was inspired to see how blessed I really am, and a new way of viewing life and it's obstacles.
I am truly grateful that Captain Plumb's stories were introduced to me. They will play a role in my life every time I face hardship and happiness. Thank you Charlie, you have helped change my life for the better. I am now starting to truly see and feel happiness inside myself.
I recently attended a corporate training session and Captain Plumb's "Overcoming Adversity" video was shown to our group I'm 31 years old, and up until now, I thought that I was living the best I could. I was the guy who would chase down the car that cut me off, just to give him an earful. I was the guy who would be angry at other people and let that emotion direct me in the decisions that I made. I let people that I didn't even know dictate my feelings and emotions. That's how I thought everyone lived and saw life. I was normal, living the normal way.
It's almost 20 years now since you were our keynote speaker at the Annual Conference of Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) at Waikiki in Honolulu. Marilyn and I reflect often on the success of that conference. Even though I’m now retired from active medical group management, I still hear from long time friends. The one constant in these communications is that our 1984 conference was the best ever. And everybody still remembers your rousing presentation at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel sponsored by the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE).
With the ongoing raging controversy about Senator Kerry’s anti-war speeches in 1971, I can’t help but wonder how you must personally feel about all that is going on, having spent those long years in the Hanoi Hilton as a “guest” of the North Vietnamese. I personally find the man totally repugnant and am more then just a little bit frightened about the prospects of him becoming President.
I have read “I’m No Hero” several times, my copy with your signed autograph being one of my prized possessions.
I hope this finds you in good health and still proudly presenting your great story to captive audiences around the country.
- Jim Jepson
I knew you momentarily in flight training (I was Coast Guard), but the only
thing you might remember is sharing a crew car with my wife Ellie and me from
the DesPlaines Inn to the ORD airport as you were preparing to give your talk to
the United Airline Pilots during our strike of 1985.
You were absolutely fantastic then. We raved about you, bought your books, gave them as gifts, and have quoted you for all these years since that talk.
Monday's "USA Today" had an article entitled "Retirement nest eggs under threat" and the article quotes a retired United pilot saying "you won't find two more bitter people" ...than he and his wife. He obviously did not "hear" you back in 85.
I retired just a couple of years before that pilot, and Ellie and I certainly will have to make adjustments to our lives when the retirement
funds shrink, but, thanks to you, we will not spend any wasted time being bitter. We may be entitled to bitterness, but why would we want it. Our lives have been, and will continue to be, ever so much richer, more satisfying, and less bitter since we heard you speak. We just felt you should know.
- Brent and Ellie Revert
I have recently heard Captain Plumb's presentation and it had a most profound affect on me realizing that I was on yankee station as a bridge officer on the USS Bennington CVS-20 the very day that Charles was shot down in Vietnam. We were operating within 20 nautical miles from the Kitty Hawk that moment. It brought back vivid memories of the times and in hearing of his ordeal made me realize the value of service to our country. I will never forget...
- Lt(jg) Lou Raisler