I first met Paul on Safety day in X-keys, NJ. During our 60 minute conversation, he opened up to me as if we had known eachother for years. I remember him telling me about giving up a consulting job for combat training, paying a sh*tload of money for a contracted amount of time to work at X-keys. He said that he loved to teach and since most of his life was spent in the military, he could give up a few months to do what he enjoys doing. Then, we talked about investing in the stock market and how glad he was that the military forced him to start investing his money when he was young. Then, we talked about Love, women and making sacrifices for them. He was telling how his wife was planning on retiring from the Air Force and how excited he was to be spending a lot more time with her and his daughter, how they can concentrate on being a family again and what not. Then, when I asked him where he lived he pointed out his winnebago in the parking lot. I said "sh*t dude! That ain't no cheap winnebago!". He just smiled and we talked about how some winnebagos can go for a million bucks.
Every weekend morning, when I was unloading my gear from my trunk, I'd see him coming out of his Winnebago and I'll yell out "must be nice to literally roll out of bed to go to work. Ya still got bed hair, dude! Unlike you, I've gotta drive 110 miles out to come here". And he just smiled. There'd be times I'd be talking to other jumpers and he'd yell out from afar, "don't believe a word this guy's saying!". And we'd just smile and go about our business. After sunset, I'd flag him down and I'd say "not so fast ya bugger, lemme get yer autograph" cuz I needed him to sign off on my logbook. Then, I'd say "don't read the part that says Paul Rafferty says I passed my instructor and tandem rating". hehehehehe and he still signed away without reading.
Needless to say, I am so honored to have his signature in my log book. Being trained in lethal combat, he could have easily snapped me like a torn stow band on a d-bag for making those rude comments to him. Instead, we smiled at eachother and laughed at the comments I made. I'm just really p*ssed off that him, of all people had to suffer so much. Why him? He did nothing but good for people. Why couldn't he f*ckin' pass away in his sleep? Why like this?!!!!
Paul, you have touched my life in a very positive way. Thanks for treating me like one of your buddies in the little time that we've known eachother. I will never forget our first serious conversation. I won't forget how you took the time to make me laugh and entertained my smart comments. I'll miss ya buddy. You have impacted the world of Skydiving in more ways than one. I'm sure I wasn't the only life that you touched so positively. Thanks for the memories pal. God will take good care of you. My prayers are with you and your family. God bless.
I can't believe this. I ran into a buddy that served in the 82nd with Raff and I and he was told that this had happened and passed it along to me. I remember the day Raff showed up to the unit, I was working in Operations and asked for his jump log to put on file; he hands me a book, I laugh and ask for the real one. I then learned that he was a Knight and told him that I had always wanted to try skydiving. A week later he told me that if I still wanted to try it, he had set it up for me and a couple of other guys in the company to start AFF. We met at his house where he gave us the ground class and then took us out to Laurinburg DZ and hooked us up with Ellen and Sam. It took me a while to get through AFF due to weather and training, but anytime we could squeeze a jump in, Raff was ready to go. He stuck with me and made a point to do my graduation jump and drink a few with me in the bar after the sunset jump. One of the things Raff taught me has stuck with me and I apply it to everything I do. He told me that one of the most important parts of skydiving was looking good doing it. =) Raff always had a way of making you laugh or put you at ease when you're nervous. It was this quality that drew everyone to him, I believe. Raff was definitely one of the special ones. He always displayed the utmost professionalism and courtesy to everyone and everything he did. It is obvious by the forums here that he touched everyone who met him, not to mention the enormous contributions he made to the sport. I only wish I could have seen him one last time. I lost contact with Raff when I left Bragg and he went to GA. Every now and then I would call and get his machine, I am sure he was at the drop zone. I just figured I would talk to him later or make a trip to NC and visit PK.
This should be an example for everyone not to take friends for granted. Make the extra effort to see and talk to them because you never know when you will no longer have the chance.
I wish that I could be there in Raeford for a moment to the man who taught so much about living to so many. But I will be there in spirit. Those who knew him were honored and blessed by that. He is a man who is missed every day...
May 13, 2007, 10:42 AM
Post #115 of 144
Re: [SkymonkeyONE] Paul Rafferty - post vibes here
[In reply to]
When I was a GK we had two "Team Family" members named Gene and Helen Sebeck (sp?)that were snowbirds living in Yuma, AZ every time we were there for winter training. Gene was a WWII prisoner of war, having been a waist gunner on a B-17 shot down on Black Thursday. Gene was one of the real POWs held in Stalag 17 (the one that inspired the movie of the same name).
Gene and Helen loved Raff, and it was mutual. He went out of his way to spend some quality time with them, as he did with many of us. My third year on the team, I think . . . we did a demo into the RV park that Gene and Helen called home during the winter months. The narrator and all of the demonstrators took the first two live passes, and then a couple of RW Teamies brought their Sabres into the target, which was a small roped-off section of the parking lot. Paul swooped in with his Sabre, elevatored over the target, and pegged the most beautiful dead center you've ever seen.
We were talking about the demo in the C-31 over Cox Field the next day, and I noticed that he had colored in the white "Neumann" logo on his gloves to read "UMA MAN"
Add me to the list of those that thinks of him often . . .
May 27, 2007, 5:53 PM
Post #118 of 144
Re: [SkymonkeyONE] Paul Rafferty - post vibes here
[In reply to]
Many folks have shared stories of Paul. Here's another one.
Even when Raff was a newby he was a classy guy and a lot of fun to be around. I jumped a lot with him at the 82nd club in the early 80's. He and I ordered our Fury canopies together and sent in our D license apps at the same time. That was a fun night. Back then, you had to send in a copy of your log book. I snuck into our company's hangar at the airfield to use the copy machine while Paul got someone to look the other way at his company on the same night. We got together the next day and sent them in figuring we'd get consecutive numbers. I wound up with 9397 and Paul wound up with 940? something. Go figure. That was funny!
I miss him a lot. I followed his career through the years always knowing I'd see him again soon.... Blue skies my friend....
Jun 2, 2007, 5:29 PM
Post #120 of 144
Re: [slotperfect] Paul Rafferty - post vibes here
[In reply to]
not too many weeks go by when we don't tell a raff story! for the folks that didn't know him, it usually starts with, "man, you should've known paul rafferty . . . he was amazing." sure the crew will toast him a few times over the coming weeks in az. we miss him, but we know his spirit is always flying with us.
(This post was edited by fucci on Jun 2, 2007, 5:31 PM)