PAUL RAFFERTY UPDATE - please reserve for news

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The Good Lord must need angels. It's the only explanation for this tragedy.

Our tears are flowing and our hearts are broken. To all of Paul's family, our thoughts and prayers are with you now as they have been throughout this horrible ordeal.

Our skydiving community has lost another great one.

Elaine, Dammit & Lauren

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I shall not be imprisoned in that grave where you are to bury my body. I shall be diffused in great Nature, in the soil, in the air, in the sunshine, in the hearts of those who love me, in all the living and flowing currents of the world. - John Burroughs

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Raff was a special guy. I just met him a couple of months but we bonded right away. He helped me introduce my buddy Rick to skydiving. And when early this season Rick got hung up in a tree on his very first jump, he stood under that tree for 2 1/2 hours with John and me while the fire department roped him down. Not one negative thing was said. It was always encouraging and constructive. Thanks to Raff, Rick was fired up and ready to jump again the next weekend. He jumped twice more with him and was scheduled for another on Monday. I informed Rick of the news this evening. He is crushed. I am jealous of Rick, he got to jump with him. Raff and I kept on saying “next load I/you don’t have a student, it’s on!” Never happened, he always had a student. SFC (Ret.) Paul Rafferty was also a comrade in arms, a fellow member of the Army, a band of brothers. Not long after we me he kidded me about my leaving the enlisted ranks as a Staff Sergeant and going to Officer Candidate School.
"Hey TJ".
Yeah, what's up Raff?"
"Did it hurt?" he asked with that toothy grin and those eyes that smiled.
"What's that Raff"?
"The frontal lobotomy they gave you in officer training?”
I had to laugh because he was right.
Raff had an exiting and rewarding career in the Army. I know this because he told me, and his eyes smiled when he talked about it. But even more when he discussed his plans for retirement. I never got to give him the 175th Infantry battalion coin I promised him for.... well, I guess for just being himself with Rick when he up in that tree.. Challenge coin? For the non mil-spec folks it is a silly trinket that really means a lot to those of us in boots. There are thousands of different challenge coins out there, just like there are skydivers, but there are a few that are really rare, just like Raff. The one I had for Raff I kept on forgetting to put in my gear bag. I would still like to get it to him and I shall. To a man of substance, passion, kindness, and honor I say farewell. I will miss you every day at the DZ. The blues skies of all must be those in Heaven. Don’t forget to PLF when you get there. TJ

Captain T.J. Sullins
Company C, 1-175th Infantry

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It pains me to tell you that Paul has passed away today at 4:05pm EST. He had been fighting hard since late last night. The damage to his lungs was just too severe to sustain his oxygen level. The doctors recommended they back off on the medications and let nature take its course.

I'll keep you posted w/ the funeral arrangements. I'm sorry I am unable to further/better elaborate... this is just too painful.

Kim and Scott Rhodes

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am the essence of clear blue sky;
I am the yearning to climb very high.
I am the breeze you feel as you spot;
I am the rapture of building a blot.
I am the rustle of a canopy in flight;
I am the flicker of camp fire light.
When you pass through the door into open air,
I know you are smiling, I'm the wind in your hair.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.
-Allen Roulston

Goodbye brother ...Blue Skies.


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I'm sure I've ridden a plane or two with Paul, but I didn't know him.....I wish now that I had, because given the tremendous emotion I've seen his friends expressing here, he was obviously a helluva guy.

I'm not much of a praying man, but it hurts me to see y'all hurting like this. Be strong for each other, and continue to be there for each other.

"When in doubt I whip it out,
I got me a rock-and-roll band.
It's a free-for-all."

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Hamba Gashle my friend & brother......till we meet in that great big playground in the sky, go well and in peace. You were an inspiration to all, a smile when all were down, a fierce competitor, with compassion and sportmanship, you will be missed my brother.

You remain in some of my best memories, and always will.

Alexa, Julie, Bill......... my heart goes out to you all

Your friend


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Well let me start by saying that I'm not a skydiver, but I admire the skydiving family. When my son had his 1st major accident, his non-biological brothers and sisters (fellow skydivers) were there for him, and were probably the main reason for his recovery.

Just as in the military we are known as a band of brothers, the skydiving family is the same.

My heart and prayers go out to Paul's family. Words can not express the hurt that you must be feeling.

Know that me and my family's prayers are with you all.

God Bless

Matt's Dad

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We are both extremely saddened by this tragedy.

Bill and Nicole, our thoughts and prayers are with you. We love you very much and want to help however we possibly can. When you get home, let us know what we can do for you.

To Alexa, you daddy was a great man. God has called him home, but he will always be with you. Stay strong and remember how much he loves you.

May God be with all of Paul's family - immediate, extended, and beyond.

Jaime & Travis

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To all of Paul's family and close friends you are in my thoughts and prayers. This is such a tragedy to have lost such a great example of human nature.

Bill and Nicole....love to you guys and hang in there.

Alexa...know that your Dad was an amazing man and loved by many.

Paul...fly free my friend. I know you'll be up there with us when we jump laughing cause you can swoop the trees perfectly every time and never have to pack.

Please let us know if there is anything anyone needs and pass along hugs from Georgia.


Hot Mama
At least you know where you stand even if it is in a pile of shit.

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I'm in tears !!!!!!!!!! I was there that weekend, and I though after the accident that he was going to make it, He was a golden knight , now he is a GOD"S Knight , he'll be skydiving in heaven , watching over us. my prayers to his family!!!!!!!!!

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I am going to try to say something profound, something comforting, something to explain how meaningful this seemingly meaningless tragedy is, BUT, all that I can think of are these words: "Let not your heart be troubled".

I told a little earlier about Paul but maybe left out what I though of him. I thought enough of him that when I trained my oldest son to skydive, I trained him and then turned him over to Paul to jump with. Then when I trained my second son I turned him over to Paul to jump with.
When my two daughters went into the wind tunnel the person that I asked to fligh with them was Paul. When I took a 10 year lay off and jumped again for the first time the person that I picked (asked and he happily agreed) to jump with was Paul. I can't say anything more profound about who he was than to say that this is who he was.

Comforting? I am not regretful. I am sorrowful and sad that I will not see a good friend for a while.
There is a quote in the Bible that goes like this, "To live is Christ and to die is gain." This is a hard saying to accept but in times now past a wake was a party celebrating the departed passage into a place where there is no sorrow or pain, a place of perfect tranquility. In life we will always have these things and the only place of true Rest is the place that we will all go eventually. So, I have no regrets about Paul's life or his passing. He has just gone where I will also. I will see him again and make many more jumps with him than I have made. I am comforted in knowing this. I hear him saying "Let not your heart be troubled."

Meaningless or meaningful? That is for each of us to decide. I would prefer to see it as God's way of reminding us all of what we all once knew. I say all as in human kind. Humanity all once knew that this life and that now wasn't all there was. Then we all got enlightened to the pop-knowledge that God wasn't cool.
If you believe that there is nothing beyond this then it was meaningless.
If you believe that there is more than what we can touch and feel, that there is a bigger picture, a life more valuable in the eternal, then there is meaning to it.
I know therefore I speak. I know that it has meaning. How do you see it?

Paul has done great things in his life. I believe that he has done great things in his death also.

Paul, my family and I love you and we will see you again.

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:( No words can explain the sorrow I am feeling for Paul and all his family. I was just talking about seeing a couple of weeks ago in the Parachute Activity. His bright shining smile will be sorely missed. Paul keep flying and we know you'll be smiling down on us from heaven.

Have you thanked the rigger that saved your life!
IAD-I, AFF-I, Coach, MFFI566

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