Times of San Diego: Opinion – Let’s Put Some Teeth into Veterans’ Healthcare Coverage
By Shelley Lyford
When Brian parachuted onto the Korean Peninsula with the 187th Airborne in September of 1950, his teeth were the last thing he worried about. His primary concerns were, first, that his chute would open, second, that he wouldn’t get shot out of the sky by the enemy or tangled up with one of the thousands of other paratroopers jumping out of the “Flying Boxcar” transport planes, third, that he’d land in the jump zone clearing and not in the trees, and fourth, that he wouldn’t break his leg or become separated from his company once he landed.
Brian managed to survive that jump, as well as months of fierce combat against Chinese and North Korean troops during the freezing winter of 1951. But sixty years later, he literally didn’t have a leg to stand on. Like a lot of paratroopers, Brian had developed osteoarthritis in his knees as a result of the repeated impact of parachute landings with a heavy pack and rifle bag strapped to his body.