The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : As Spc. Matthew Tattersall Prepares to Leave the U.S. Army, He Wanted to Make His Last Jump as a Paratrooper a Memorable One: So He Took His Pet Siamese Fighting Fish Along for a Selfie

Saturday, April 18, 2015

As Spc. Matthew Tattersall Prepares to Leave the U.S. Army, He Wanted to Make His Last Jump as a Paratrooper a Memorable One: So He Took His Pet Siamese Fighting Fish Along for a Selfie

As Spc. Matthew Tattersall prepares to leave the U.S. Army, he wanted to make his last jump as a paratrooper a memorable one.

So last weekend, he jumped with Willy MakeIt, his pet Siamese fighting fish.

A selfie Tattersall took of his fish, not out of water, but out of an airplane, went viral on U.S. Army W.T.F.! Moments, a Facebook community popular among troops.

"The picture got way more popular than I thought it would," Tattersall said.

Although social media users were hooked on the image (the photo got more than 15,500 likes), bosses upstream at Fort Bragg, N.C., thought the move was all wet.

Tattersall, who's assigned to 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, said he's waiting for the final fallout from his aerial actions. Meanwhile, he has written a 1,000-word essay on the importance of airborne safety and professionalism in the Army.

"When it's all said and done, it wasn't all that safe or professional for me to have done that," Tattersall said.

But the 23-year-old, who calls himself "23 years stupid," said he has no regrets.

"It was worth it," he said. "I'm fully willing to embrace any consequences that come of it, and I hope they're lenient."

Tattersall, an infantryman with a deployment to Afghanistan, joined the Army in 2011, shipping to basic training in January 2012.

He will complete his enlistment on May 20.

His last jump was April 11.

"It was a daytime combat jump, but with me being so close to getting out, I didn't have any gear, so it was a Hollywood jump for me," Tattersall said.

He and his friends have long talked about doing something special for their last jump, but "no one actually went through with it," he said.

So when his turn came, "I wanted to make it awesome, and I did just that," he said.

The night before the jump, Tattersall went to Walmart and bought the fish he named Willy MakeIt.

"It's so random to have it be a fish," he said, crediting a friend for the idea.

Tattersall poked holes in the top of a water bottle so Willy could breathe. "I had his little pod ready," he said.

On jump day, no one knew about the plan Tattersall was hatching, he said.

"I kept it in my pocket, and I was as nonchalant as I possibly could be," he said. "I knew the jumpmasters wouldn't have let that fly. I knew none of the NCOs or other leaders would have let me jump. It was completely on me."

As he jumped from the C-17 and fell to the ground under the canopy of his parachute, Tattersall took a quick selfie.

"I had to be quick, but paratroopers get the job done," he said.

"... Conditions were perfect. I made sure I wasn't around anyone where it would have been a hazard," he said. "But I guess that's famous last words for anyone."

Tattersall and Willy MakeIt made it safely to the ground, and the hardy fish earned a middle name.

He's now Willy Did MakeIt, and he has big dreams.

"Willy and I are trying to go to space," Tattersall said.

But first, Tattersall hopes to be able to move on from the Army honorably. "I have big hopes and big plans for the future," said Tattersall, who aims to start college in the fall.

"I'm proud to be a paratrooper. I wouldn't change a thing about it."



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