Tribute to Vernon Farmer-U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Paratrooper.

Vernon Farmer passed away last week. He was the grandfather of Northeast Georgia Urological Surgery Center’s Scrub Tech Kathryn Loggins. Our thoughts are with her.

Several months ago he was in our office and was relating funny stories about being a paratrooper. He agreed to let us video him. Truly one of America’s greatest generation.

US Blood Upon The Risers

Although this song was originally song by American Paratroopers during WWII,
some do consider it a war protest song as well.

It tells the story of a paratrooper’s last jump because his parachute fails.
It is said that in Ft. Benning, Georgia, students of the Army Airborne School are required to memorize the lyrics of this song.

“Blood Upon the Risers” is an American paratrooper song from World War II. It is associated with all airborne units, including the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the 173rd Airborne Brigade and 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) of the 25th Infantry Division, and the 120th CTS (United States) as well as British airborne units, also being known as “Mancha Roja” (Spanish for “Red Stain”) in many airborne units from multiple Latin American countries. In Spain it is called “Sangre en las cuerdas” (Blood upon the risers in English).

The song is and was sung by troopers training to jump qualify as an act of comic camaraderie – by singing a somber sounding but comic song depicting their worst possible training outcome, members of the unit were able to not only hide their own fears, but use the fact that every one was equally working to hide theirs as a moment of bonding and genuine help in holding their courage, the song ending with the group assuring itself that if this did happen at least “You ain’t gonna (as implied – have to, or gotta) jump no more.”

This song has been featured on the television miniseries Band of Brothers and the video game Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, and also mentioned in Donald Burgett’s book Currahee!: A Screaming Eagle at Normandy. Sung to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, the song tells of the final fatal jump of a rookie paratrooper whose parachute fails to deploy. This results in him falling to his death.

The song is also a cautionary tale on the dangers of improper preparation of a parachute jump. The protagonist does everything right except forgets to hook on his static line which would automatically deploy his main parachute, and he in panic deploys his reserve chute in bad falling position with disastrous results. As the reserve chute is stored in a belly bag on the World War II era rig, deploying it in bad falling position could easily lead in an accident not unlike the one described in the song. “Risers” are the four straps which connect the suspension lines of the parachute canopy to the parachute harness.

Gory! Gory! What a helluva way to die!
Gory! Gory! What a helluva way to die!
Gory! Gory! What a helluva way to die!
And, he ain’t gonna jump no more!
“Is everybody happy?” cried the Sergeant looking up.
Our Hero meekly answered “Yes,” and then they stood him up.
He leaped right out into the blast, his static line unhooked.
And, he ain’t gonna jump no more.
(CHORUS)
He counted loud. He counted long. He waited for the shock.
He felt the wind. He felt the cold.  He felt the awful drop.
The silk from his reserve spilled out and wrapped around his legs.
And he ain’t gonna jump no more.
The risers wrapped around his neck, connectors cracked his dome.
Suspension lines were tied in knots around his skinny bones.
His canopy became a shroud as he hurtled to the ground.
And he ain’t gonna jump no more.
(CHORUS)
The days he’d lived and loved and laughed kept running through his mind.
He thought about the girl back home, the one he left behind.
He thought about the medics and wondered what they’d find.
And he ain’t gonna jump no more.
The ambulance was on the spot. The jeeps were running wild.
The medics jumped and screamed with glee, rolled up their sleeves and smiled.
For it had been a week or so since last a ‘chute had failed.
And he ain’t gonna jump no more.
He hit the ground. The sound was “Splat!” The blood went spurting high.
His comrades then were heard to say: “A helluva way to die!”
He lay there rolling around in  all the welter of his gore.
And he ain’t gonna jump no more.
(CHORUS)
(Slowly and Solemnly)
There was blood upon the risers. There was brains upon his chute.
Intestines were a’dangling from his Paratrooper suit.
They picked him up and they poured him from his boots.
And he ain’t gonna jump no more.
Gory! Gory! What a helluva way to die!
Gory! Gory! What a helluva way to die!
Gory! Gory! What a helluva way to die!
And, he ain’t gonna jump no more!

(Change  tune to Beautiful Dreamer)

Beautiful streamer, please open for me.
Blue skies above me, but no canopy.
I counted to 10,000, but waited too long.
Reached for my ripcord … the handle was gone.

Gory! Gory! What a helluva way to die!
Gory! Gory! What a helluva way to die!
Gory! Gory! What a helluva way to die!
And, he ain’t gonna jump no more!