Even if you’re a student of history, this one may have flown under the radar.
Back in 1964 there was a confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia. In his book One Crowded Hour, Tim Bowden tells about an incident that happened in Borneo during this time.
A group of Gurkhas from Nepal were asked if they would be willing to jump from transport planes into combat against the Indonesians should the need arise. The Gurkhas had the right to give the request a “thumbs down” because they’d never been trained as paratroopers. Bowden quotes cameraman Neil Davis’ account of the story:
“The Gurkhas usually agreed to anything, but on this particular day they provisionally rejected the plan. But the next day one of their NCOs sought out the British officer who had made the request and said they had discussed it further and would be prepared to jump under certain conditions.
“What are they?” the British officer queried.
“The Gurkhas told him they would jump if the land was marshy or reasonably soft with no rocky outcrops, because they were inexperienced in falling. The officer considered this and noted that the drop zone would almost certainly be over the jungle. No rocky outcrops there. So, they would surely be all right. Anything else?
“Actually, yes,” answered the Gurkhas. They wanted the plane to fly as slowly as possible and no more than a hundred feet high. At that point, the British officer explained that the planes always did fly as slowly as possible when dropping troops, but to jump from 100 feet was just impossible. The parachutes would not open in time from that height.
“‘Oh,’ the Gurkhas replied, ‘it’s OK then. We’ll jump with parachutes anywhere. You didn’t mention parachutes before!”
What does it take to have, or receive, Gurkha-like commitment and courage?