PDA

View Full Version : Mental Snapshots of the USAF



Absinthe Anecdote
08-18-2013, 02:43 PM
The other day I was thinking back on all the little things I saw during my time in the Air Force. Some of them have no particular meaning attached to them while others do. Mostly what I am talking about here are those eye-catching sights you witnessed that left an imprint on your memory.

I’ll start us off with a few:

1984 – Malmstrom AFB: I walked into the armory one afternoon and saw a guy mopping the floor. On second glance, I noticed the ghost outline of SSgt stripes on his OD green fatigues. He’d obviously been busted down to AB for something and the expression on his face as he mopped the floor was unforgettable. It was the sourest frown I’ve ever seen.

1986 – Dover AFB: I was walking a boundary sentry post behind a row of C-5s late one night and it was snowing. Way down the ramp there were maintenance crews preparing a plane for departure, there was a big K-loader rolling up to the back of it. Down there APUs, generators, light-all carts were making all kinds of noise but it was relatively quiet and dark down at my end of the ramp. I stood there and watched it snow; somehow it was a pretty and serene sight, I was happy.

2002 – Prince Sultan AB: I went outside to watch the last of package launch for another routine patrol of the Southern No-Fly Zone over Iraq. I was about to go back inside because I thought all of the planes were up when a lone F-16 lifted off. He was climbing out with his afterburner lit and looked impressive with a full bomb load and external fuel tanks; after he gained a significant amount of altitude he made a turn to the north. From a distance and with the bomb load and fuel tanks, I thought the silhouette of the aircraft resembled a witch on a broomstick.

CJSmith
08-18-2013, 02:48 PM
Flying on a aeromed mission and watching the med crew help the guys who lost limbs. That's when it all became real for me.

Smeghead
08-18-2013, 03:17 PM
One that sticks with me is sitting on the pad at FOB Lagman, Afghanistan waiting for our airlift out. As we wait a B1 flies over real low on its way to F up someone's day.

Absinthe Anecdote
08-18-2013, 03:35 PM
Flying on a aeromed mission and watching the med crew help the guys who lost limbs. That's when it all became real for me.

Fortunately, I have never seen that but it does remind me of when I was working at the Pentagon 2007-08 and on the last Friday of the month our wounded warriors would come up from Walter Reed to walk the halls.

These guys were recovering from every kind of injury imaginable and the emotions on their faces were as varied as their injuries. Some were smiling and happy, some wore blank expressions and some appeared very very angry.

I could write a lot more about how I felt looking those guys in the face; however, I don’t want to cheapen their sacrifice by talking about it in the wrong way.

imnohero
08-18-2013, 04:53 PM
Unfortunately, most of my mental "snapshots" are negative ones. Some poor guy rapped up like a mummy on an aeromed flight cuz he had 3rd degree burns over 90% of his body. Having to tell a helo unit they couldn't go home because we got a mission redirect after we landed and seeing their sadness and anger, shit like that stuck with me. The few good memories I have were not about military events but the peace and wonder of nature...the arctic tundra, iceburgs in bay at Thule, rock of Gibraltar, flying the polar route one night as seeing the aurora, things like that.

Absinthe Anecdote
08-18-2013, 05:31 PM
Unfortunately, most of my mental "snapshots" are negative ones. Some poor guy rapped up like a mummy on an aeromed flight cuz he had 3rd degree burns over 90% of his body. Having to tell a helo unit they couldn't go home because we got a mission redirect after we landed and seeing their sadness and anger, shit like that stuck with me. The few good memories I have were not about military events but the peace and wonder of nature...the arctic tundra, iceburgs in bay at Thule, rock of Gibraltar, flying the polar route one night as seeing the aurora, things like that.

Well, there you go! I’m sure there are a lot more good memories in there somewhere. I didn’t mean to stir up bad feelings for you; then again, sometimes it helps to put those thoughts down in written form.

jondstewart
08-18-2013, 08:20 PM
One that sticks with me is sitting on the pad at FOB Lagman, Afghanistan waiting for our airlift out. As we wait a B1 flies over real low on its way to F up someone's day.

I hope I'm not getting too much off the subject, but are you referring to a FOB near the town of Mehtarlam? I was there from April 2006 to April 2007, one of the privileged Air Force people dumped off with the Army for a year that was part of the Provincial Reconstruction Team. I was NCOIC of the DFAC. OMG, horrible! All we ever got were the UGR rations and the Army liasions at Bagram couldn't be bothered to give us decent A rations that were not processed crap!

OtisRNeedleman
08-19-2013, 12:13 AM
I have albums of mental snapshots of the USAF. Probably more like mental movies, if you will.

June 1974 - Lining up in a column of fours to go to my basic training barracks after arrival at Lackland.

June 1978 - Separation outprocessing at Travis AFB after arriving from Osan, where I'd spent the last 27 months.

June 1981 - Being commissioned a second lieutenant at Scott AFB.

April 1982 - Returning as a butter-bar to the unit I had left as a sergeant not quite four years before.

April 1987 - Starting work at Randolph, at a desk literally covered with messages, documents, and some taskers - my predecessor had left three months previously.

January 1994 - Promotion to major while at Fort Meade, as a single dad. My ten-year-old daughter pinned on one oak leaf and a Navy captain pinned on the other one.

December 1998 - Retiring at DLI, then driving out to the beach and looking at the Pacific while wondering what the future would bring. Taking off the uniform for the last time and putting it away.



There is so much in between all of those dates, but those are some of the more memorable mental movies.

LogDog
08-19-2013, 12:30 AM
In the late 80s while at Cannon AFB, our unit sent about half the personnel assigned to our air transportable hospital to Sheppard AFB for a week of field training. One evening while coming back from dinner my buddy and I notice the American Flag silhouetted against the setting sun with a nice pastel sky. We stopped and before I could say why I was stopping my buddy suggest we get a picture of it. The reason I was stopping was to get my camera out. I took the picture and went back to camp. When I got back to base I had the film developed and the picture came out beautifully. It was a great picture and used as the last picture of our Group's Dining-Out and it got some oohs and aahs. I wished I could have kept a copy of the picture but the film was given to me by our squadron for our training and therefore it belonged to the squadron.

I still have a mental image of that picture.

LFAWes
08-19-2013, 01:42 AM
My most memorable is standing in the parking of the Navy Exchange at Subic Bay on June 15th 1991 I walked outside and everyone was standing still and looking up. Looking up all I could see was a cloud that looked like a picture that had been taken from Hiroshima.

My first thought was glad it over so we can go back to Clark. But the next day with Typhon Yunya passing over all of the dirt that was in the air came back down. The sun didnt come out on June 16th. I spent all day with a broom on top of the roof. All of the wieght of the dirt was causing homes to collapse.

I never went back to Clark. And lost everything I owned.

Bunch
08-19-2013, 04:43 AM
The irony of getting into a C130 to leave Balad AB after deployment and our group is all joyous that we finally leaving that dump and then an Army Lt. Col comes into the plane and in a very calm manner he comes to tell us to they about to load three caskets to the plane and that they would appreciate if we show so decorum for the fallen. It was a very mute flight until the caskets were deplaned at Kuwait.

akruse
08-19-2013, 07:11 AM
Deployment after deployment of picking up broken, destroyed human bodies for 120 days at a time all for nothing gained.

RobotChicken
08-19-2013, 08:30 AM
"Seeing the last 'Buff',KC-135 leaving Ramey AFB while golfing on 'Ike's course...." (and then being stationed at Lowry AFB later, closed down too)

Airborne
08-19-2013, 12:59 PM
We were doing a night exercise at a disused airfield in England. I was there about 2 hours early by myself to set it up and make sure the airfield was clear, etc. For all the talk of the horrible English weather, it was a warmish 80 degrees with a gentle breeze with beautiful non-threatening puffy clouds as the midsummer sun set on the English horizon getting cooler as it went away. The only sound was crickets and birds. I sat in the GOV and listened to pop music on BBC Radio1 and had a sandwich that I picked up from the commissary. It was like the most perfect night and the government was paying me for it. All the talk of graduating schools and getting promoted by rank or position, but this serene moment is the one that sticks in my mind as "what it's all about".

imported_chipotleboy
08-19-2013, 06:28 PM
Back in the early 80s, when we had a President who joked about outlawing communism and bombing Russia, I attended a high school that was right underneath the takeoff pattern for Offutt AFB. One afternoon during football practice, a SAC exercise kicked off and we soon had an aluminum overcast. At the time, I didn't know if it was an exercise or the real world.

Calmo70
08-19-2013, 06:47 PM
Attending a mandatory Pre-Marital training course before my commander would give me permission to get married (E-3 in 1972 - yes it was a requirement).
Having to "Customs Inspect" an occupied body bag in Thailand.
Being at any SAC base, here the siren go off, the alert bombers start engines and taxi - and then waiting to see if they actually take off - because if they did - it wasn't a good thing.
Being at Rhein Main in 76 or possibly 77 (can't remember) - when the officer's club was bombed during the middle of a base wide exercise - initially everyone thought it was part of the exercise.
Flying on a C-130 with a couple of members of an undisclosed country's air force and their forklift - which they started mid-flight as the heat went out in back of the C130 and they were afraid of their radiator freezing - they should have been more afraid of the loadmast

js7799
08-19-2013, 07:50 PM
1996 - First deployment from Hill to Shaikh Isa, Bahrain. We relieved the 34th FS, who had been in Bahrain since the Khobar Towers bombings. Seeing the look of relief in their eyes when they finally got to go home will be with me forever.

1998 - Deployment to Incirlik. The Turks were on strike over wages, and nothing was being done around the base. Dumpsters were overflowing, the chow hall was closed and our "BX" consisted long tents put together, filled with some basic items. Oddest TDY I've ever been on.

9/11 - My first night shift on the night of the attacks, I sat out in the cool desert night on an empty ammo trailer and the usually-busy Las Vegas skies were eerily quiet. We had seen the events on TV earlier in the day, and there was a sense of worry, not knowing what was going to happen next. But there was also a feeling of intense pride in our mission, and we got our planes gen'd and ready to kill some bad guys. No one complained about the 12 hour shifts on alert. Most complained because there wasn't more we could do.

LogDog
08-19-2013, 08:39 PM
Myself and about 20 others from our medical group were deployed to Zagreb, Croatia to replace the Navy who operated a small "field" hospital on a Croatian Army base at the Zagreb airport and a clinic in the U.N. compound in downtown Zagreb. On the Croatian Army base, the U.S. Army personnel were living in an Italian designed container, two persons per container, which had a door, windows, and an air conditioner. Our group was initially housed at a hotel outside the city but after a month, the OSI recommended we be housed inside the city at one of the contracted hotels. Half our group was put up in the Esplanade Hotel while the rest of us were in the Sheraton Hotel, both 4-star hotels. We had a contracted bus to pick us up in the morning and take us to our hospital at the airport and to return us in the evening. In our off-duty time, we had run of most of the city and could go almost anywhere in civilian clothing but there was a general order about not drinking. Our U.S. Army counterparts could only go downtown in full gear and in a convoy and didn't have the freedom to enjoy the city like we did. On two occasions, we took about half our group and went white water rafting and tours of a crystal factory. Also, since we were in hotels, the U.S. government picked up the tab (about $110 a day) and paid us $92 a day per diem. We were able to spend less than $20 a day on food eating out every night in nice restaurants and we also had an AAFES Exchange on the Croatian Army Base which sold everything from TV, boom boxes, and food. As one Army Colonel I spoke with, who like us were under IFOR, said "This is the Club Med of deployments." I had to agree with him.

Stalwart
08-19-2013, 08:45 PM
I am in the Navy, but a specific Air Force memory I have: I was in high school when the KC-10 exploded on the flight line at Barksdale in 1987. We heard it and felt a vibration when it went off. My step father was stationed there working on the flight line and told me the shock wave knocked him over.

BRUWIN
08-19-2013, 11:32 PM
Standing on a windblown mountain over Kabul at midnight with three Afghan police and the Macedonian Army. I was just staring down at all the lights and wondering how the hell I ever got to where I was in life.

imported_AFKILO7
08-19-2013, 11:54 PM
My last deployment sticks out more than anything. Walking into the hospital at Bagram and hugging my friend mere hours after he lost his leg on a dismounted patrol...later that night I escorted him from the staging area in the hospital to the airplane I stood by his side as he made his first phone call to his wife. On Mother's Day. What we do and how we do it has very serious and potentially permanent outcomes.

Gonzo432
08-20-2013, 01:30 AM
Feb 86: Heel taps getting closer from behind at Lackland, first night at BMT.

Mar 05: Looking out the window of a CH-47 Chinook (1st and only helicopter ride) somewhere in the Sunni Triangle, red tracers going one way, white tracers going the other.

TSgt"M"
08-20-2013, 01:33 AM
First time I wore NVG's and looked at the stars. Made me feel pretty small.

eman_osan
08-20-2013, 06:14 AM
Watchng all the planes from SVNAF fly into Utapao the night before Saigon fell to communist North Viet Nam and there was nothing we could do about it.

RobotChicken
08-20-2013, 06:37 AM
Watchng all the planes from SVNAF fly into Utapao the night before Saigon fell to communist North Viet Nam and there was nothing we could do about it.

"Reminds me of the song; 'All she wants to do is dance', true story."