World War II
Paratrooper, Part 1 - First Jump

Paratrooper, Part 1 - First Jump
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.2

     challenging words:    All-Americans, bulky, canopy, fear-frozen, gory, Heequipment, hitched, inky, japanese, opening, relentless, silken, smoldering, Soouund, swath, sweaty
     content words:    WWII Paratrooper Jump Song, Lieutenant Colonel Byron Paige, Rob McCall, Even America, Sunny Pearl Harbor, Main Street U. S. A.

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Paratrooper, Part 1 - First Jump
By Toni Lee Robinson

Down from heaven comes eleven and there's H--- to pay below.

Hit the silk and check your canopy and take a look around.
The air is full of troopers set for battle on the ground.

It's a gory road to glory but we're ready, here we go.

~(WWII Paratrooper Jump Song by Lieutenant Colonel Byron Paige of 11th Airborne)

2     "Stand uuup! Hook uuup!" The shouted orders came from an odd figure on the floor of the noisy plane. The jump master lay just inside the open door. His goggled eyes peered back toward a line of figures in the shadows. Cold air roared past the opening behind him. Somehow, his barked commands cut through the noise.
3     Rob McCall stood first in the line of eleven men. He faced the open door, the cold wind blasting his face. He felt sweaty and sick. His hands shook. It was all he could do to stand under his bulky pack. He wondered how long his legs would hold him.
4     From the floor of the plane, the jump master yelled again. "Heequipment check!" Rob passed shaking hands over clips and buckles. "Soouund off!" the jump master bawled. "Number one-readaaye?"
5     Rob cleared his throat. "Ready," he squawked finally. It was the worst lie he had ever told. Dimly, he heard the same shaky squeak all the way down the line behind him.
6     "Stand in the door!" the relentless voice barked. It was the moment Rob had dreaded. He swallowed against the hot, heavy lump in his belly. He forced his wobbly legs to move. He stood at the roaring maw of the plane, inches from the jump master's head.
7     Rob curled his fingers around each side of the open door. He stared at the sky rushing past. Suddenly, he knew one thing for certain. "I can't do this!" he thought. In the same moment, the jump master's arm lifted. Rob felt a sharp thwack behind his knees. He tumbled into space.
8     His hands clawed the sky, finding nothing to cling to. His lungs grabbed air, ready to scream out the panic in his body. Then, before the scream could come, he felt a firm tug. He heard the slap of air filling the silk bubble above his head. His ‘chute had opened. He was gliding smoothly to earth.
9     Relief came over Rob like a warm blanket. Everything had happened just like it was supposed to. Above him, a perfect globe of white silk held him secure. It was as if he had hitched a ride on the coattails of a powerful angel. Suddenly, Rob felt wonderful. The scream in his chest came out as a shout of triumph. "Geronimo!" he yelled at the top of his lungs. He laughed. He'd done it!

Paragraphs 10 to 16:
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