NASHVILLE, Tenn. — You could say James Tuck feels most comfortable when he's off the ground.
Tuck joined the U.S. Army in 1980, first going to Initial Entry Training at Fort Knox, KY and classed as an 11C, Infantry Mortarman.
In 1981, he went to Airborne and Ranger school at Fort Benning, GA before his first assignment as part of the 1st Armored Division in Germany.
His career brought him back to Fort Campbell as part of the 101st Airborne Division, before he was reassigned to the Berlin Brigade in West Germany and stood on the Berlin Wall until 1987. He then exited the Army at the rank of E-5, Sergeant.
"He was Airborne qualified in the Army, which meant he jumped out of airplanes for a different type of purpose," said Colonel John Haake.
Now, Tuck is skydiving for the 115th time, but it will be his final time.
"I'm under hospice care. I've got lung cancer and colon cancer," he said. "So, this was one of my last wishes."
When his hospice worker learned of Tuck's final wish to jump one more time, she reached out online for help. That's when service members in Nashville answered the call.
"We say 'soldier for life,' but it's more than just part of our warrior ethos," said Haake. "It's a commitment that we make to each other that we're always going to be there for each other."
Surrounded by loved ones, Tuck prepared to jump from 11,000 feet in the air.
"He goes big," said Tiffany Massey. "When he wants something he goes big."
Growing up, she referred to Tuck as her uncle, although he was her father's best friend. Now, her children do the same.
"What other weekend could be more fitting for a jump for a veteran than Memorial Day weekend?" said Tiffany's mother, Tammy Massey.
After suiting up, Tuck took off from the Humphreys County Airport in the company of fellow veterans.
"Mr. Tuck serving in the 80s — the Cold War was underway; he literally stood on a wall between tyranny and freedom — and it means a lot that we could have another soldier that fights today's fight jumping with him," said Colonel Haake.
After twenty long minutes, he floated down to earth, making a triumphant return.
"It was awesome," said Tammy Massey, fighting back tears. "To know that's what he wanted to do and he got to do it. I'm proud of him."
Those who know him say that despite the short time James Tuck has left, he always lived life to the fullest. His final days will have been no exception.
This story was first reported by Olivia Michael at WTVF in Nashville, Tenn.