GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

General Richard Wilmot

This from my friend and associate General Richard Wilmot:

Fort Lee, Virginia is the setting and the Airborne Department of the US Army Quartermaster School the organization involved.

Colonel Harold Dorsett is the Director of the Airborne Department and he is a tough old coot with a booming voice and a rather short temper. He, was in charge of the Parachute Packing and Parachute Air Delivery Department of the Quartermaster School---tough paratroop boys. Harold had invited the Cadets at VMI to come to Ft. Lee to witness an airborne demonstration. The public was also invited and it was to be an exciting day with three or four thousand civilians and the cadets coming to witness the event.

I was a captain at the time and one of Harold Dorsett’s crew. I went to the drop zone early and my job was to jump out of an Army Otter airplane and serve as a so-called “wind dummy.” The wind dummy helped the follow on skydivers to see how the wind might impact there parachute flight path. This technique was used long before the sophistication of skydiving we know today.

Two of my companions and I flew across the drop zone and jumped out at the appropriate time. We let the wind take our parachutes on a nice ride and we drifted across the drop zone and as a result the skydivers who would follow us could get a good idea of how the wind would affect their flight path. When I landed, I removed my parachute, and my job was done for the day so I went to the bleacher area and took a seat to watch the big show.

Dorsett and his bunch of skydivers took off and flew to altitude for their demonstration jump. As they were making their final approach I had a strange, powerful premonition--I knew Colonel Dorsett was going to land in the middle of the parking lot and on top of my car.

I so believed this would happen that I ran to my car as the jumpers left the airplane and I watched them descend. Sure enough, the colonel--and only the colonel--was heading for the parking lot (which was full of cars) and on course to hit my car. At the last moment before impact he raised his feet which allowed him to clear the top of a Volkswagen by inches and he smashed into the side of my vehicle. I owned a four door station wagon and he hit the back door on the passenger side, breaking the window glass, cutting his hands, placing his chin on the top of the car, loosening up all his teeth, crushing the door, breaking two ribs and leaving large abrasions on his knees all before coming to rest on the ground, on his back between my car and the Volkswagen.

I was standing over Colonel D and he said to me, “What the hell was that all about? Did I hit your car?”

I responded with a “Yes Sir.”

He countered with, “Very good--at least we kept it in the family.”

Colonel Dorsett retired about six months after the incident and at his retirement party we gave him the door. We had painted our names on the door and he was mightily surprised to receive such a valued gift.

Colonel Dorsett went on to become a professor at a university somewhere in the USA (I do not know where). Some several months later it was reported by one of the Airborne Department officers who visited Dorsett in his new home after his retirement that:

"The mighty Colonel Dorsett had hung the battered door with our names painted on it in a place of honor in his home------over the fireplace in the living room."

I will always remember the colorful gentleman who was Colonel Harold Dorsett.

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