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MILITARY EXCLAMATION

AMONG MILITARY PARACHUTISTS, IT IS SAID THAT "GERONIMO"
BECAME A TRADITIONAL SHOUTED EXCLAMATION DURING THE EARLY
YEARS OF AIRBORNE TRAINING. IN 1940, THE SAFETY OF
PARACHUTING, AS WELL AS THE SANITY OF THOSE PARTICIPATING,
WAS IN DOUBT. AN UNKNOWN YOUNG VOLUNTEER IS SAID TO HAVE
SHOUTED "GERONIMO" UPON JUMPING FROM AN AIRCRAFT, IN ORDER
TO PROVE TO HIMSELF, AND ANYONE WHO WOULD BELIEVE HIM,
THAT ONE COULD JUMP FROM AN AIRCRAFT IN FLIGHT AND NOT
BE INSANE. THE ASSUMPTION WAS THAT IF ONE COULD RECALL
A NON-SEQUITUR SUCH AS "GERONIMO", ONE'S REASONING
CAPABILITIES MUST BE INTACT. HOWEVER, NO ONE HAS EXPLAINED
WHY A MAN, WHO HAS JUST SHOUTED "GERONIMO" IN MID-AIR,
SHOULD BE CONSIDERED SANE.

Submitter comment: THERE WERE ONLY 48 MEN IN THE FIRST AIRBORNE CLASS IN 1940.
THREE 250-FOOT TOWERS, FROM WHICH PARACHUTISTS COULD BE
DROPPED, AND WHICH HAD FORMERLY BEEN USED AT THE NEW YORK
WORLD'S FAIR, WERE PURCHASED AND ASSEMBLED AT FORT BENNING,
GEORGIA AS TRAINING AIDS. THE VOLUNTEER RATE BECAME VERY
HIGH AFTER THE INITIAL SUCCESSFUL JUMPS. IN FACT, MORE THAN
1000 MEN WERE WILLING TO ACCEPT A DEMOTION IN RANK IN ORDER
TO BECOME MEMBERS OF THIS NEW KIND OF UNIT.

Where learned: GEORGIA ; FORT BENNING

Subject headings: SPEECH -- Folk etymology
SPEECH -- Vocabulary of Special Group
SPEECH -- Formula

Date learned: 08-00-1981

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