Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Random Happenings

Every once in awhile during my career funny little things happened, that may or may not have been funny, but sure made me laugh.

We were going out to do a training flight one day. As normally happens we are all listening in to the pilot and the ground troop talk to each other on the plane interphone system.
This is required in case something bad happens so we'll all know the best way to get off the plane safely.

In the Air Force when you're using the interphone you make a call-up by saying who you are calling followed by who you are. For example; Ground - Pilot would be the pilot calling down to the guy on the ground connected to the plane by his headsets connected to a long headphone cord.

One day I had a new trainee, and we were going through the start-up procedures and she looks at me and asks "Which one is the ground pilot?" I sort of stare at her blankly thinking to myself that no one could possibly be that dumb.

"What?" I asked her.

"The ground pilot...where does he sit?" she asked.

Thankfully I stopped myself from smacking her by taking off my headsets and wandering down the aisle of the plane.

Another day we were going through the start up procedures again. Get all the engines started and get ready to taxi to go take off.

"Running them up crew, brake release." we hear from the cockpit, and the plane starts moving forward.

"UH...PILOT - GROUND!" we hear excitedly exclaimed over the interphone.

Pilot slams on the brakes and brings the plane to a stop. "Ground-Pilot, you're cleared off.......thanks" the pilot says.

"Uh...copy sir. I'm off"

And I'm sure he had some choice words after he was disconnected.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You Crossed the Line Buddy

We had just gotten done flying a mission one day, and as was normally the case we were taxiing back in to our parking place and I was really wanting a smoke. The closer we got to getting off the plane the more I wanted one.

We finally get to out parking spot, shut down the plane, and are able to get off. As we had been doing for months we exit the plane, head over to the barriers at the edge of the flightline and light up. I get a couple drags in and out of no where come the Security Forces (Air Force cops).

There is a term for what happened next, we like to call it getting "jacked up". We're on the ground with 3 or 4 SF dudes drawing down on us with M-16 assault rifles. We comply, because we really didn't know what was going on, or what we had done wrong.

"Um...what the hell man?" I asked from my prone position.

"You crossed red!!" The SF airmen replied with great enthusiasm. Which was kind of disturbing considering the kid was probably all of 19 years old and it was probably his first time over in the suck.

Crossing the red on the flightline is a really bad thing to do. Security is pretty tight on the flightline anyway, but there are areas designated at red. That means the aircraft in them can only be approached if you have the appropriate access, and you have to get cleared by the SF to go into those areas. They are appropriately designated usually with red painted lines on the tarmac.

Like I said, we'd been doing this for months, there was no red line, there was no indication that there had ever been a red line. We were all smart enough to know not to cross red. That's just dumb.

"Dude, there is no line there. We do this all the time." I said.

"Yes there is, and you guys all crossed it!" Still highly enthusiastic.

"Whatever man." And I take a drag off my smoke laying on the ground. I had somehow managed to drop it within reach when we were "gently" asked to lay down on the tarmac.

After a few minutes of the SF dudes talking to each other, they finally decide that we can stand up, but we can't go anywhere until they get this all sorted out.

I walk over toward our aircraft again, and get stopped by enthusiastic gun toting airman. "Where you goin?"

"Just checking to make sure we didn't miss anything? Besides you just saw us get off that plane so we obviously have access to it."

I could tell by the look on his face that the hamsters in his head were tearing up there tiny little wheels processing that bit of information.

"Dude, could you show me this line that we crossed? Just want to make sure we're looking at the same thing here."

"It's right th....Um...Uh."

"Yeah told you there wasn't a line. Dickhead."

"Well there should be!"

I shake my head, grab my bag and head for the crew bus. Enthusiastic airman just stands there, realizing that he goofed up and there was really nothing he could do.

The next day I got to spend some quality time with my First Sergeant, but it was worth it just watch that airman sputter and spit while we left. I think it was the one-finger salute that he got though that pushed him over the edge in to actually reporting the incident.

Take It All Down

In Southwest Asia we have this thing called General Order #1.
Basically GO1 says that if it's something you might possibly enjoy, you can't bring it into the country. For example; porn, highly frowned upon by the locals, alchohol, also highly frowned upon by the locals (except in Bahrain, because it's possibly too small for Allah to see). And various other little things that might make the country a little more tolerable.

After spending 6 years living in tents that were supposed to be used for 6 months the new dorms had finally been completed (I have a story about that too) and we were ordered to go through and tear down the tent city that had so fondly been our homes for a long time.

Now since whoever designed the layout of tent city had no concept of rain going to the lowest part of the terrain, we had to build subfloors in each of the tents. These were basically 2x6s with 3/4 inch plywood on top of them so you had a floor.

Well, the morning we were to start tearing down the tents rolls around and we gather up and get our orders. We are supposed to gently tear down the tents so they can be repackaged and supposedly sent off somewhere so someone could use them for training.

"I think we should just light a match and watch it burn! We'll be done in about 10 minutes" was my suggestion.

"No airman. You WILL take these tents apart with the greatest of care." replied the Captain that was overseeing this detail.

"Roger that sir" Salute smartly and carry on. Apparently this dude had no idea these things had been baking in the Saudi Arabian desert for the last six years, and his approach would not be nearly as much fun as a match.

So we go up to the first tent. Now these tents were fairly large. Not sure of the exact dimensions, but I do know you could put about 20 cots in them and have a little room between them with 10 on each side. They were velcroed at the corners to hold them together, and then tied down the joints to make them even more secure. We set about untying the joints and that when we started to realize that dry rot will eat about anything. The 550 cord just started to crumble making it really had to untie and unlace to get to the velcro part.

After about 30 minutes of watching us work the Captain decided he had better things to do and started wandering around the tent city.

So I reached down and grabbed and one of the corners of the velco and gave it a mighty tug hoping that it would release and we'd be able to start taking the shell off this tent.

Well it released alright. The whole strip ripped right out of the shell, as it did I lost my balance and started to stumble backwards. My feet hit the floor of the tent behind and I fell directly on the side of that tent. It bowed in but held, until I tried to get myself off of it. As I pushed my butt back in to it to I heard this ripping sound and I find myself laying on the floor of the tent looking up at the ceiling, and fairly good Ed sized hole in the side.

At this point we decide to see how rotten these things are, what the heck there's tons of them in tent city so if we tear up a couple it won't matter too much.

My buddy gets a running start and crashes right through the side of one like the Kool-Aid man. We all laugh, and then decide we'll all give it a shot. About 8 of us, do the same thing and it's pretty cool. Then my buddy decides "I'm going to see if I can run through a whole tent!" Awesome we think. Go for it.

So we all go over to the side he's going to explode out of and start waiting. We hear him getting close to the tent, then the rip and some stomps. Not quite sure how to describe the next sound, it was sort of like hitting a cantalope with a stick and then a big thud, then nothing.

We all run in the tent to see what happened and there my buddy is out cold and bleeding from the skull because he must of closed his eyes, and as he broke through the first side and was going through the tent he ran head first into one of the support beams, cut a gash in his forehead and knocked himself out.

Once we stopped laughing, we picked him up and got him some help.

But back to GO1. After we got all the tents down we started tearing up the floorboards and found all sorts of stuff. Playboys, some liquor, couple of brew kits, it ended up being a pretty awesome detail.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Today is the Day

Well today is the official day of my retirement from active duty service. Today is 20 years, 6 months and 16 days, since I first left Biloxi for Basic Training. Doesn't seem like that long ago I was getting on that bus to head to New Orleans to catch a plane to Texas, but man it's been a long strange journey to this point.

Hope to have more time to write out some more stories before I start forgetting them.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Because it's Memorial Day, this seems like a good place to tell to this story.

Marty Flynn. Great man, terrific NCO.

Marty died while flying a mission on a helicopter in Vietnam doing search missions for troops that had fallen during the Vietnam conflict and never returned to the United States.

He was a great NCO that took his job very seriously, but he also took a young Airman under his wing and taught him a thing or two when he thought he knew everything.

No humor in this story today. Just a small rememberance of a man that I was proud to call boss, friend, and compatriot.

Miss you Marty.

The Plane is on Fire!

So we were about half way through a mission one time, and things were going well.

I was sitting at my position doing my job, having a good time. The crew was working well together and we were looking forward to getting back to base.

I'm getting my butt kicked, being busy so the first time I notice a little flash out of the corner of my eye I think nothing of it.

Head down, still working I see it again.

Now this is getting kind of annoying. I'm distracted by this flashing light that I keep seeing, but I keep working.


"What the heck?"

I look over at the officer that is sitting near me, he's head down working away. I notice there are lots of lights and things on his position that could be causing this annoying little flash of light.

Get back to work, and ignore it I think to myself.


"Alright I'm gonna figure out what that is and cover it up."

So I sit there and I watch the officers position to see if I can identify the source of my annoyance.

That when I notice about two feet above the officers head a little dark streak is developing between two pieces of equipment.

"What the heck? That's not supposed to be......"

Then I see what the little flash has been.

Flames poke out between the pieces of equipment.

Flames on a plane. Not good. Really not good.

I fly on a fairly big plane, so we have about 90,000 lbs of JP-8 jet fuel in the tanks, as well as see hundred pounds of liquid oxygen. Which the flames are coming out right next to one of the ports to hook up our masks.

Now we have been trained to deal with these situations. We practice them. Again and again. I can deal with this in a calm manner.

I scream like a little girl. And smack the officer on the back of his head.

"What the!?!"

He is not happy that I have so rudely interupted him with a smack on the head.

Then I point.

He looks up, sees the flames coming out of his position.

Being the highly trained military officer that he was he puts his training to good use. He screams like a little girl, and runs to the other end of the plane.

"Fire, my positions on fire!"

As he runs down the aisle flailing his arms excitedly.

So now I'm standing there watching the flames lick out of the equipment, thinking to myself "will my underwear be clean when they find my charred body?"

Then the training kicks in. I call the crew on our planes interphone, inform them of the problem, and reach over and turn off the position.

That's the first step. Turn it off, and hope the lack of electrictiy will stop the flames.

It doesn't.

So I put on my oxygen mask, and check everyone else on interphone to make sure they are on oxygen.

We have these great fire extinguishers on the plane that work on any type of fire. It's called Halon 1211. Great stuff, it'll put it right out.

But you have to remember that while Halon won't kill you, when it mixes with carbon (such as from burned electrical equipment) it produces chlorine gas.

Chlorine gas is bad. It's really bad when you stuck in a plane at 30,000 feet breathing recycled air.

I shoot that position full of Halon! Man what a blast! That extiguish goes off, get a little kickback, and the fire is out.

We ride the 40 minutes back to base with our oxygen masks on, not really comfortable, but much better than the possibility of breathing chlorine gas.

Land without incident and get off the plane. Find out later that if it had burned a little longer we would have had a big problem because the flames were close to the insulation of the plane.

Too bad I was in Saudi and couldn't have a beer after that flight.

Survival School - You Want Me To Go Where?

After we were put in the big boxes for resistance training and allowed to enjoy our accomadations for a little while I guess the guards got a little bored.

One comes and bangs on my door.


We were all assigned numbers when we got there, and I was 53. But at the moment in time I had forgotten that I was 53.

That was the last time I forgot I was 53.

I don't respond to his pounding and of course this makes him very happy.

He flings open the door to my big box and reaches in and drags me out. He explains to me the virtues of remembering that I am 53, and responding appropriately when called. The happened with much yelling, spitting, and shaking me around like a rag doll.

At the time I was 6'1" and 140 lbs, so shaking me around was pretty easy (more on that later).

He's dragging me through the big room with all the big boxes and yelling and shaking, and shaking and yelling. Eventually we get to another little building and it has a row of small boxes in it. By small I mean big enough for me to fit in, if I sat down, pulled my legs up to my chest, and ducked my head a little. Then I was able to enter the box with a little help from my newest friend in the camp. If you apply a boot to someone's hip area you can get them to slide pretty good on concrete.

Anyway I'm in this little box, and it's dark. Not too scary I guess, and least the shaking and the yelling have stopped, and it's actually pretty relaxing being there in the dark.

Then I notice that there was a little hole in the top of the box. And light was shining through this little hole, making a perfect little circle on the wall of the box, as long as you didn't get in the way. And in the middle of that perfect little circle someone had scratched in a little happy face. At that very moment that was the best thing I had ever seen. And it made me laugh. Not a little chuckle but a full on laugh.

That was when I found out how loud it must be for a fish when you tap on the tank. The guard came over and pounded on the top of my box a couple times.

"Shut it 53!!"

And I did.

Not sure how long I was in the little box, because once the initial humor wore off I realized I was pretty dang tired. So I slept.

When the door was opened I was leaning against sound asleep. So I roll out of the box, and bang my head on the concrete.

"Good God 53!! Get your butt up!! Get up now 53!!

I tried. But for some reason my legs had gone to sleep. I was pretty numb from the waist down. So I'm laying there flopping like a fish out of water, trying to stand up.

"53!! What the hell is wrong with you??! Get your butt up now!!"

It was at this moment that I found out that you can pick up a 140 lb person by their shoulder if you hold on tight enough.

The guy set my on my feet, which I still couldn't feel, but I was able to stay upright.

"Move 53!"

I start trying to move. I pick up one useless leg and take a step. It was at this moment that I realized that it wasn't going to hold me up. The "dead" foot hits the ground, the knee bends (I think still didn't really have feeling back yet) and I go face first in to the wall, then the concrete.

"53! You better be dead and not jacking with me!"

"ow, ow, ow, ow"

"53! Get up! Get up now and get moving!"


Eventually my legs woke up and I was able to get on my feet. I got to go back to my big box for a little while. All in all I got a nap, a scrape on my cheek, and a bump on my head. But man that little tiny happy face, made it all seem worth it.