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Thread: Mental Snapshots of the USAF

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    Default Mental Snapshots of the USAF

    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.

    Ill 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. Hed 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 Ive 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.

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    Default Re: Mental Snapshots of the USAF

    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.

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    Default Re: Mental Snapshots of the USAF

    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.

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    Default Re: Mental Snapshots of the USAF

    Quote Originally Posted by CJSmith View Post
    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 dont want to cheapen their sacrifice by talking about it in the wrong way.

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    Default Re: Mental Snapshots of the USAF

    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.

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    Default Re: Mental Snapshots of the USAF

    Quote Originally Posted by imnohero View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: Mental Snapshots of the USAF

    Quote Originally Posted by Smeghead View Post
    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!

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    Default Re: Mental Snapshots of the USAF

    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.

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    Default Re: Mental Snapshots of the USAF

    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.

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    Default Mental Snapshots of the USAF

    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.

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