Walter Reca: Paratrooper

Walter Reca: Paratrooper

Part of Walt’s unique set of skills was due to his experiences in the Armed Forces. Not only did he learn discipline, survival skills, and parachuting, but he also received an introduction to the United States military that would later aid him in clandestine activities.

Walt enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in February of 1951. Following his training as a paratrooper, he was stationed for a time in Germany. Following his Honorable Discharge in 1954, Walt came back to the States and worked a number of odd jobs. Under the GI Bill, he was able to attend barber school and opened a small barber shop in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Three years later, the Michigan Parachute Club was formed and Walt was adopted into their ragtag family. He used his skills as a paratrooper to thrill audiences and make some quick cash with his daredevil falls.

Ten years later in 1961, Walt enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He was a member of the ParaRescue 305th Air Rescue squad at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison, Michigan - just outside of his Detroit birthplace. He was assigned a place as a Rescue and Survival Specialist, AFSC B92130A.

Walt was on active duty from October to November of 1961. On November 9 of that year, he was able to see a little more live action. Walt was assigned to Operation Long Legs II, a goodwill mission to South America with the United States Air Force Thunderbird Team. Walt advanced quickly in the Air Force. He took to the skies with natural skill and was eager to learn. He held the rank of Airman First Class, and his unit received a presidential citation for participating in the 1961 Berlin Air Lift.

After returning from overseas, Walt received an Honorable Discharge from the Air Force in 1965. His best friend Carl said that the military taught Walt the love of jumping, but he never enjoyed the crazy stunts the rest of the guys performed.  According to Carl, Walt jumped for a purpose - money, fame, the thrills - and the rest of them jumped for fun.


Ready to dive deeper? Purchase the memoir D.B. Cooper & Me here.
See the evidence for yourself - watch the documentary "D.B. Cooper: The Real Story" here.

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