Paratrooper with fear of jumping finds help through Airborne Anonymous

FORT BRAGG, N.C. – The night jumps that turned into nightmares. The “sticks” that felt like a stick up his hidey-hole. Cpl. Bryan Copewell, an Army paratrooper, experienced them all.

He has catapedaphobia, the fear of jumping. But now he’s found a solution through a non-profit organization called Airborne Anonymous.

Copewell admits that he’s terrified of jumping from anything, despite being airborne-qualified with over 15 jumps to his credit. But, he admits, “most of those jumps were me going out a window to avoid motor pool Monday.”

The Ft. Bragg AA Chapter, nicknamed “Leg or Bust,” is headed by Chairman Rodney Little, himself a battle-hardened veteran of one terrifying aborted jump at Fort Benning.

“We understand the fear of jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, and our 12 Steps-on-the-Ground program helps transition soldiers into the Air Force,” Little said.

“I can’t jump from an airplane, or from my bunk at reveille, or even go down stairs two at a time,” said Copewell. After being diagnosed, he was recently assigned to the S-1 at the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, as a clerk-flunky.

“I’m so glad I became a ‘leg,’” he adds. “I sit at this desk all day with my feet firmly planted on God’s green linoleum, and I don’t get dizzy anymore when I walk down a sloping drop zone.”

Little escorted Copewell to his first AA meeting, held in a single-story building off-post that sits on perfectly-level ground. Copewell introduced himself with the well-known statement, “I’m Bryan Copewell, and I’m catapedaphobic.” He says, “I knew I was in the right place when attendees responded, ‘I will not jump with you today.’”

AA has seen an exorbitant growth in membership in recent years, once Internet-savvy soldiers realized that paratrooper recruiting videos are complete bullshit, and that there have only been a few unit-sized combat jumps since 1944.

“Tom Hanks screwed me with that Band of Brothers show,” says Copewell. “He’s the problem. I’m not the problem.”

Lieutenant Dan
Lieutenant Dan contributes to Duffel Blog. He previously led a group of Air Force company grade officers who have all the solutions to all the world's problems. Now he rescues dogs and sings them to sleep with classic Air Force songs like “Trust the System” and “Don't Fall Out of Formation.”