Skydiving for his fellow vets
Photo courtesy of skydive instructor Kelly Craig
Ralph Myers, 81, skydived in Snohomish last week in honor of the World War II veterans of D-Day which included his uncle. The troop landings were to retake occupied France.
SNOHOMISH — First time skydiver Ralph Myers, 81, jumped out of an airplane on June 7 at Harvey Airfield to raise donations for the Wounded Warrior Project. The jump not only commemorated the death of his uncle Samuel Eugene Donahue but also the comrades that fought during the Normandy landings and the Battle of the Bulge.
Now living in Bellingham, Myers served in the U.S. Army in Germany from 1960-1963. During his service he witnessed the height of the Cold War as well as preparation for a potential battle during the Cuban missile crisis. He was ranked an army specialist fourth class and he also had a classified job title in the United States Army Security Agency.
Through his time in the military, he developed a greater admiration for his uncle Samuel. “Sam was a member of I Company, 101st Airborne, that jumped on Utah Beach and later fought in Operation Market Garden, and Bastogne,” said Myers. “He was one of the survivors from his company.”
Even though Donahue was one of the survivors, his battle was far from over. Donahue suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism. “He wouldn’t talk about the war. Every Christmas, which is when all the battles took place, he got really despondent and he drank a lot,” said Myers. “When I was in service in Germany he died, he was I think only 45 when he died. And the result of course was, I think he had cirrhosis of the liver from all the drinking.”
“In those days they didn’t call it PTSD and he never had any treatments. I think they may have called it shell shock or something like that, but seeing what my uncle went through and never getting any treatment for it. I think that it is very important that we reach out and help our men and women that serve in the armed forces,” said Myers.
Not only did his training get him into great physical shape but also healed emotional trauma. “My wife died eight years ago and we had a son… But in 1993 my 25 year old son was murdered. That has been the most difficult thing for me to deal with, throughout you know, I was 52 or 53 when he was killed. And they caught the guy and the guy served prison time so forth,” said Myers.
Nathan Whalen photo
Ralph Myers, 81, gives a big thumbs up together with Kelly Craig, a tandem instructor with Skydive Snohomish, in the plane before takeoff June 7 at Harvey Field in Snohomish.
Myers started training last December and he hired a fitness instructor to get him in the best physical condition before the jump. “I never felt like giving up. To be able to help our fellow military people, men and women. That motivated me more.”
As Myers’s time approached to board the airplane, he glowed with excitement, giving spectators the thumbs up as they began to take off. “If I chicken out when we get up there then push me out!” Myers said to Kelly Craig, tandem instructor.
“Looking down it was pretty intimidating but I was just enjoying it!,” said Myers.”I plan on keeping up my training, I already booked another 6 months with my coach.”
If you would like to support Myers in his mission to help our men and women who served our country, you can make a donation on Ralph Myers’ Wounded Warriors Project page: www.tinyurl.com/ralphmyers . All donations and proceeds are donated to the Wounded Warrior Project to support veterans injured during service.
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