Like most twenty-year-olds, I thought I was invulnerable. Then, on a steep ridge in eastern Washington, in the winter of 1971, I fell toward my death. I was looking at the tiny figures of workers on a dam far below when my foot slipped and I plunged down an icy sheet toward the Columbia River. I threw my body back to avoid pitching headlong into space, sliding on my back down the steep slope. I tried to dig in my heels, but my boots slid off the rocks. My pack tore loose as I accelerated down the slope. I had a Ka-Bar in my belt, a fighting knife given to me by a Marine veteran. I pulled it and stabbed at the sheet ice, only to find it torn from my hands. I kept sliding, picking up speed. I twisted over and frantically clawed and scratched. But I wasn't slowing down.
- From Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead by Jim Mattis and Bing West