Yesterday was a day of bungie-jump emotion; four awesome wingsuit students, three of whom were working on the same techniques so we spent the day barrel rolling and laughing at the silliness and fun of it all (Barrel rolling is a pre-cursor to learning to fly on one’s back).
Running exits, floating exits, and gainer exits marked the day until I found a friend crying quietly in a corner. Inquiring what was hurting her, she simply looked up and told me “Jordan was killed in action two days ago and I just found out.”
I didn’t know Jordan Emrick well, and had only been on one jump with him. We’d spoken on multiple occasions about flying a wingsuit and he was looking forward to it when he “gets back.” Jordan was being deployed to Afghanistan, and he is an EOD specialist in the Marine Corp.
My first reaction was to cringe. It’s been a tough year with the loss of several friends in skydiving due to pilot error in one way or another. Now we’ve lost a really fun skydiver to the war in Afghanistan. Had you ever met Jordan, his unusually large, toothy grin was one that would never leave your memory. He simply was funny and light.
The second reaction was to want to “do something” whatever that might be. It seemed that many people were feeling the pain of the news, and there was a somber feeling amongst those whose lives had been touched in some way by Jordan’s presence.
We’d been preparing for a Veterans Day Flag Jump anyway, and so my flag was in my training room. I grabbed it and told my friend, “we’ll fly a flag in Jordan’s honor” and went up on a load.
A couple of guys on the load/aircraft knew what was going on and one of them tearfully shook my hand. The plan was to keep the jump low-key.
On exit and deployment, the setting sun lit up the flag in a way that the colors seemed surrealistic. The canopy flight seemed to go on forever. Tears filled my eyes as cheers filled my ears. The British Royal Engineers are training on the DZ, and they all stood for the flag as I landed. It was a great moment of respect for Jordan, for our flag, and even though it was a mere pause in the tickwork of the dropzone, it was beautiful to be a part of it.
Niklas Daniel is an amazing photographer who captured this in full glory, complete with emotion and powerfully moving shots.