The first US military jump seems to have been in August 1940, so this demonstration of feasibility was a little redundant: German Fallschirmjäger units made the first airborne invasion when invading Denmark on April 9 1940, and other militaries had been experimenting with them for years, starting with the Italians in 1927.
NOTE: Thread is from July 2008, until revived in Post #7 in March 2014. – CKDH
1.) Of course, not everyone yells “Geronimo!” I was a bit surprised, as a kid, to find a book entitled “Currahee!” by Donald R. Burgett, who was a Brit, and , of course, that’s what they yelled. No reason for them to shout the name of an American Indian:
(Although, curiously, when I look up the meaning of “CUrrahee”, it’s supposed to be an Indian word. Weird:
2.) Geronimo always struck me as an odd name for an American Indian, especially after I learned that it was a traditional Spanish name, a form of Jerome. The Apache warrior was really named Goyaale. The Mexicansd gave him the nickname, supposedly because of Mexican’s pleas to St. Jerome, but I’ll bet also because of a rough similarity of names.
3.) The Wkipedia page on Geronimo gives a better reason for the use of the name after soldiers had seen the 1939 film Geronimo:
One of the references given for this paragraph is the Straight Dope column this thread is commenting on.
The custom of yelling Geronimo goes back to the Army’s connections with Geronimo himself. He was imprisoned at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma for several years in the basement of a block house that still exists there. If you visit it, you can see the stone floor where he paced back and forth, actually wearing ruts into the quartz stone!
One day, he finally broke free of his prison, jumped on a horse and rode up a long, sloping hill. On the other side of the hill is a 400 foot bluff (Medicine Bluff), at the bottom of which is Medicine Creek.
He was being pursued by cavalrymen and was not about to return to captivity, so he rode over the edge of the bluff into the creek. He survived until the next morning, but the horse died at the bottom. He is buried at Ft. Sill in an Indian cemetery.
Medicine bluff has been used for years to train soldiers how to rappel. In order to avoid the wrath of Geronimo, who met his end there - it is traditional to shout his name out before proceeding down the rope. I failed to do this myself and tore my ankle up pretty bad.
The tradition carried over to any situation where soldiers are required to jump into the unknown. It is an homage to all fallen warriors.
Having visited the grave of Geronimo on a cliff near Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, I was told that when the cavalry had him cornered at the edge of the cliff, he urged his horse over and they fell to what was supposed to be a noble death. However, Geronimo survived the fall. I’m not sure about his trusty steed. I personally like this version and it sounds reasonable too. Oh hell! I think my chute’s caught in the rigging. Geronimo!
My first thought was the Medicine Bluff jump figured into the paratrooper’s decision in some manner. Sure, they just watched the movie, but what happened in the movie? The protagonist survived a 400 ft jump off a cliff.
He survived, but the horse didn’t. Horse: the first airbag.