An inherent element of paratrooping is the requirement to undertake airborne insertions under cover of darkness. As a result, airborne forces around the world routinely practice night jumps and they become just part of the normal activity for serving paratroopers. On one occasion, I was attached to British Airborne Forces and we were preparing to jump into Arnhem (The Netherlands) for the 50th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden which was, at the time, the largest airborne operation of the Second World War (September 1944).
Our sense of history was almost overwhelming as we prepared to board. As we flew in towards the Arnhem drop zone, I was standing in the open para door, ready to jump, looking down as the sun just began to rise over the Netherlands. The luscious greens and browns of the fields around Arnhem looked like a perfectly made quilt and I almost forgot what I was there to do when the dispatcher suddenly bellowed in my ear “RED ON, Sir!”, followed a couple of seconds later by “GREEN ON, GO!”
And out the door we went.