As Cadet James Fisher, from Ole Miss: University of Mississippi, looked over the edge of the Sgt. Maj. Gary Fortunato Memorial Rappel Tower, he did not feel nervous, but rather right in his element.
“I went to Sabalauski Air Assault School in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, prior to coming here,” Fisher said.
Having previous rappel experience, Fisher obtained a unique approach to the tower at Cadet Summer Training.
“My perspective is, I have knowledge that I can use to help, but the instructors that are out here are in charge. I shouldn’t be overstepping bounds,” Fisher said.
With immense pride in having earned his Air Assault badge, Fisher still recognizes the significance behind filling his role as a Cadet in a learning environment.
“It’s a delicate balance. If I see something that I know is wrong, I’m going to help my buddy before the cadre get to him, so he doesn’t have to fix it,” Fisher said. “However, if I’m standing over there, I’m not tying my Swiss Seat before everybody else. I’m following along just like everybody else, because I believe that’s the respectful way to do it.”
He expressed his gratitude for having had the opportunity to attend Air Assault School, asserting that he was lucky to receive such specialized training, but he understands that it does not make him superior to his peers.
“I got lucky enough to go and I’m just like happy I got to go, and very thankful for that,” Fisher said. “When I’m out here, what I try to do is help motivate people to be comfortable, like hey, I can promise you the equipment works, I’ve done this 20 times, it’s fine.”
In addition to this, Fisher emphasized taking a detail-oriented outlook when rappel training becomes overwhelming.
“What I do is I try to focus on really small details, making sure I’m doing everything right, because if you’re focused on the little details, by the time you get to the bottom, you don’t even realize that you’ve done it all,” Fisher said.
He explained that this method distracts from the nerves and pressure of being so high in the air, turning an intimidating situation into an accomplishment.
Fisher further implemented this lesson to life as a whole, stressing the importance of focusing on the positive aspects of everyday and disregarding the negative ones.
“One thing Air Assault taught me, and going down the rappel tower, is don’t focus on the one bad thing during your day, focus on all the good things around it, and then you don’t even notice the bad thing, then it was just like a little hiccup,” Fisher said.
With this in mind, it would take a lot more than 64 feet to stand between Cadets and their success.