Some wedding gowns are infused with several layers of symbolism, making them more than just a pretty face. Ruth Hensinger’s wedding dress was more than just a symbol of her marriage with her soulmate; it reminded her that her spouse had escaped death’s grip so they could be together. How? The parachute that saved her husband’s life during World War II was used to make the outfit.
The garment is housed in Smithsonian’s archives, which have been conserved for future generations. Maj. According to the legend, Claude Hensinger was a B-29 pilot returning from a bombing run over Yowata, Japan, in August 1944. When their engine caught fire, they had no choice but to bail out of the plane.
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Claude was able to land on his feet with minor wounds.
A safe landing was only the beginning of the parachute’s usefulness. He used it to stop the bleeding from his injury and to sleep on while awaiting assistance. In 1947, he brought it back to Pennsylvania and proposed to Ruth with it.
For her garment, Ruth utilized nylon parachute material in Scarlett O’Hara’s gown style in “Gone With the Wind”. Ruth created the skirt herself while a local seamstress prepared the bodice and veil for her wedding. The final product is stunning, and you would never guess it was made from a nylon parachute.
As a result of the couple’s subsequent marriage, the gown was passed down through their daughters and sons’ future wives before ending up in the Smithsonian.
The tale of a parachute being repurposed into a wedding garment is not unique to the Hensingers; other couples have done the same thing. George Braet, an army pilot, was flying planes in Europe in 1945 when the enemy shot at his airplane. With his parachute protecting him from flying metal, George was saved.
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