Why do people yell Geronimo when they jump off something?
World War II paratrooper Aubrey Eberhardt was the first to
scream "Geronimo!" while jumping from great heights. Retired First
Sergeant Ed Howard explains how it happened in his essay entitled
"Paramount's 1939 Western Geronimo...A Forgotten Movie With a Giant
Legacy." In 1940, the United States' first Parachute Test Platoon
was formed. It consisted of 50 volunteers who trained in the
sweltering heat of Georgia's Fort Benning. The days were mighty
hot, so the paratroopers wanted to stay cool in the evening. One
night, Private Eberhardt and three friends watched the movie
Geronimo at a local (air conditioned) theater. After the film, the
group discussed the jump they were to make the following morning.
According to Howard, one paratrooper asked Eberhardt if he believed
he could jump "without fear." Eberhardt, eager to prove his
toughness, said he'd show everyone he wasn't afraid by yelling
"Geronimo!" as he jumped. Eberhardt believed that if he had the
presence of mind to remember the word, it would prove he wasn't
scared. Questionable logic perhaps, but we're going with it. Long
story short, Eberhardt jumped, yelled "Geronimo!" as promised, and
the shout quickly caught on with his fellow paratroopers. Some time
later the phrase was outlawed because officers felt it would draw
unwanted attention to paratroopers landing in hostile territories.
That said, the "Geronimo" motto is still seen on certain military
insignias, so Eberhardt's legend lives on.