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Raefordite

Paul Rafferty - post vibes here

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I am just sitting here looking out the window on a rainy day and thought I would go through these old threads and read what was written about my deceased friends. This one hit me incredibly hard. Paul and I were best friends and I miss him terribly. We got into a lot of shit together. His RV was parked right next to mine at Raeford for a time. He gave me my tandem rating. Lastly, I stood by his bed for the last five days of his life in the burn ward at Temple University Medical Center in Philly, along with Stephan Lipp and Paul's family.

When Paul finally died, me, Stephan, Frick, and Will got hammered at a seedy bar on Broad Street near the hospital. And I do mean HAMMERED! I, after this horrible passing, then walked right down the middle of the street back toward the hospital and then took a swing, as hard as I could, at a huge guy leading the pack of about ten other huge guys on rice rockets. I missed, they calmly pulled over (and did not remove their helmets), and then they kicked the living shit out of me and Frick. I suffered four broken ribs and deserved it totally. There was no point other than needing to actually "feel" the pain of Paul's loss. It was a dark, dark time.

If there is but one lesson to be learned from this very-tragic death of a world-class skydiver, father, friend, it is this: DO NOT EVER, EVER "FIRE WALK!" Paul's death was utterly pointless and completely avoidable. I, at every opportunity, attempt to stop drunken people from doing this at boogies. I have seen at least three other people fall into fires and get badly burned at boogies since Paul's death and I just shake my head. When I am feeling really pissed off about it, I show people the photo I took of Paul in his hospital bed at that burn unit. It is utterly sobering.

It took me over a month to get the smell of that burn ward out of my body. Everytime I sneezed or coughed you could smell death. It was horrible.

I miss you, Brother!

BSBD!

Chuck Blue

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I am just sitting here looking out the window on a rainy day and thought I would go through these old threads and read what was written about my deceased friends. This one hit me incredibly hard. Paul and I were best friends and I miss him terribly. We got into a lot of shit together. His RV was parked right next to mine at Raeford for a time. He gave me my tandem rating. Lastly, I stood by his bed for the last five days of his life in the burn ward at Temple University Medical Center in Philly, along with Stephan Lipp and Paul's family.

When Paul finally died, me, Stephan, Frick, and Will got hammered at a seedy bar on Broad Street near the hospital. And I do mean HAMMERED! I, after this horrible passing, then walked right down the middle of the street back toward the hospital and then took a swing, as hard as I could, at a huge guy leading the pack of about ten other huge guys on rice rockets. I missed, they calmly pulled over (and did not remove their helmets), and then they kicked the living shit out of me and Frick. I suffered four broken ribs and deserved it totally. There was no point other than needing to actually "feel" the pain of Paul's loss. It was a dark, dark time.

If there is but one lesson to be learned from this very-tragic death of a world-class skydiver, father, friend, it is this: DO NOT EVER, EVER "FIRE WALK!" Paul's death was utterly pointless and completely avoidable. I, at every opportunity, attempt to stop drunken people from doing this at boogies. I have seen at least three other people fall into fires and get badly burned at boogies since Paul's death and I just shake my head. When I am feeling really pissed off about it, I show people the photo I took of Paul in his hospital bed at that burn unit. It is utterly sobering.

It took me over a month to get the smell of that burn ward out of my body. Everytime I sneezed or coughed you could smell death. It was horrible.

I miss you, Brother!

BSBD!

Chuck Blue



I left the party to get some sleep, and fire engines passed us going the other direction at the end of the road. We were sober, and noted that skydivers, absinthe, bonfires and emergency vehicles did not bode well. A frantic call a moment later verified our worst fears.

We stayed clear until the morning, and the air of shock hung heavy when we showed up at the DZ before breakfast. We got the details of the event, as well as assurances that "he's going to be fine; he was awake and talking, and they took him to the best burn unit you could hope for."

I think he understood the reality of the situation, because he was quoted as saying "take care of my daughter" before they life-flighted him out.

I am not sure if it is more merciful to have hope or to realize that there is none. Having spent all too much time in trauma centers and ICUs (as a customer) and had family members recover from severe burns, I was subject to no such illusions.

I went to the hospital to offer support for his family, since watching a loved one die in a strange city is as tough an experience as you could go through, and to say goodbye to Paul. Talking to the doctor, he initially suggested that there was an outside chance for survival - since making it even that long was a testament to just how tough Paul was - but he then admitted that the odds were nil, and that to go peacefully was the best for which to hope.

I was doing okay until I saw a hand-lettered card from his daughter that said "I love you, Daddy," at which point I lost it. Since red eyes and tear-streaked faces were the norm in the waiting room, I fit right in.

I was on autopilot from that point until about half an hour later, when my brother called me to tell me to report to Abington Hospital where my sister had just given birth to twins.

When I am shopping for birthday presents for the twins, I sometimes find I have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

Paul was one of the good guys, and it was an honor to know him. I try not to take friends for granted, since the good times are too precious to waste.


Blue skies and gentle breezes my friend,

Winsor

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Golden Knights Alumni Ass'n

Airborne and Special Operations Museum
Very nice dedication. I think of him regularly as I pass our original DZ twice a day.




:D Not forgotten, my good friend.






Updated/Corrected Golden Knights Link


_______________________________
If I could be a Super Hero,
I chose to be: "GRANT-A-CLAUS". and work 365 days a Year.
http://www.hangout.no/speednews/

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We were invincable in our youth. We did crazy things on a daily basis that could have killed us. We pulled low, drank and jumped, drank and drove, Played bumper cars at night with the lights out at 60+mph, held downplanes to telephone height, Built 4 stacks after exiting a cessna at 1100 ft, Tri by sides, gorilla down planes, High speed car transfers on chicken rd, Bar fights, hook turns, swooped the trees, Got in Twin bo's with 12 jumpers in them, The list goes on and on. When ever I was involved in this madness, Paul was there smiling and loving every minute of it.Our actual time spent togeather was only 3 years, several hundred jumps and many adventures. 25+ years later I look back on it all as the best 3 years of my life and Paul was a big part of it. We were like brothers and I miss him. Whit, I tipped one back last night and remembered those crazy days.

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Today is definitely a somber day for so many of us. I miss Paul a LOT.

Chuck



I had just left the hospital, where I went to say goodbye to Paul, when my cell phone rang. My brother said to make a beeline to another hospital where my sister had just given birth.

Every year now, on the way to the twins' birthday party, I think of that short drive between the end of one life and the beginning of two others.

Paul was a Mensch, and he is sorely missed.


BSBD,

Winsor

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We were invincable in our youth. We did crazy things on a daily basis that could have killed us. We pulled low, drank and jumped, drank and drove, Played bumper cars at night with the lights out at 60+mph, held downplanes to telephone height, Built 4 stacks after exiting a cessna at 1100 ft, Tri by sides, gorilla down planes, High speed car transfers on chicken rd, Bar fights, hook turns, swooped the trees, Got in Twin bo's with 12 jumpers in them, The list goes on and on. When ever I was involved in this madness, Paul was there smiling and loving every minute of it.Our actual time spent togeather was only 3 years, several hundred jumps and many adventures. 25+ years later I look back on it all as the best 3 years of my life and Paul was a big part of it. We were like brothers and I miss him. Whit, I tipped one back last night and remembered those crazy days.



Hi, Cliff. Those were some crazy times. Gosh darn it, I knew we were invinceable! My 30~600th jump were at Ft. Bragg and my log book is littered with your name, Chris Bickerdike's, Paul Jackson's, Raff's and a dozen other crazy MF's! Whenever I've had a beer or two and contemplate life, my days with my friends at Raeford always comes to the forefront of my thoughts.

I miss you Paul and all my friends from those days!

Blue Skies.....
____________________________________
I'm back in the USA!!

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Ruthie,
Great to hear from you. We sure lived life back then. Send me an email ,we only live an hour apart. My wife and I are planning an ash dive for my Dad, he died 3 years ago and this is the first year my family could all be together. Todd Cudski and Kevin Klunk will be there. I hope you can make it also. Todd and I went to Gene Paul's celebration of life earlier this year and Todd Lorenzo was there, he hasn't changed a bit. I saw your brother Bill and it was an emotional reunion. Paul is missed by so many people. Cliff

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I just found out about this and it breaks my heart. I was looking him up to contact him as he was my inspiration to be more than I thought I could. I served with him in Bco 1/505th Pir. He was my reason to go on to military freefall school and on to serve in the Special Forces with 7Th SFG(A). He was a great leader and good friend.

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It's coming up on that time of year again. That weekend, my husband, son and I did some shopping in the area and were on the way to Cross Keys to visit Paul when we heard the news on the truck radio. We went home and made many calls, eventually learning the grim details.

I met Paul at Raeford, probably in the early '90s when my husband was the rigger there. He used to play with my little kid like he was a member of the family - carry him out to the pit, carry him like a football and throw him up in the air, take him for a ride in a golf cart. I guess that he was a member of the family - the family to which we all belong.

He had, perhaps, the prettiest eyes that I'd ever seen.

Mrs. Joseph A. Andrzejewski
Mrs.Gonzo
Mrs. Alphabet
Gillian

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I was living and working in Korea when I read of his accident here. The updates were many and support from his friends and family was overwhelming.

Alas, Paul moved on and left us all with sadness and cherished memories. Blue Skies my friend. I think of you often...
____________________________________
I'm back in the USA!!

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ERRR

There's no way that it's been ten years. It was only yesterday!



I was at the birthday party of my niece and nephew on Saturday, which always brings me back to the trip to the hospital to say goodbye to Paul on the day they were born.

It was always a joy to run into Paul (and his fellow Knights) at dropzones throughout the circuit, over the years.

He was a class act, and he is sorely missed.


BSBD,

Winsor

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