Chris, the flight nurse that we came to appreciate so much while Lea was hospitalized in Hartford, is currently deployed to Germany, where his team is making flights into Afganistan and Iraq to treat and transport injured military personnel. Below is the first note from this deployment.
Well I guess you can say here we go again, beginning my final tour, 120 days at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Kevin (from my Westover unit) and I were placed on the same crew which we appreciated. It is hard to believe we are already through Day 7; time at least for me is flying. Our first week was fairly hectic. We flew from Dulles in Washington D.C. to Frankfurt on United. I would like to personally thank that wonderful airline for charging me $250 in excessive baggage fees. They somehow thought I could pack 4 months of supplies, 8 uniforms with boots and some other military gear in 3 bags. I had to laugh at first since I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. While I will be reimbursed when I file my first travel voucher, it is the point of it all. Didn’t the government bailout United not too terribly long ago?
Our schedule is much different than it was two years ago. We are in Bravo (Stand-by) for 24 hours, off for a day and then assigned a mission after 12 hours of pre-departure crew rest. Our first two missions have both been to Afghanistan. If everything goes to plan it makes for a 22 hour day, if something goes wrong it only gets longer. So far, so good and I would like to keep it that way. One of our missions had a few fellow Nutmegers aboard which made for a very sad beginning of this deployment. Ironic that I traveled ½ way around the world and was blessed with the opportunity help some of my neighbor’s home on their long journeys. So far in the first week we have racked up over 27 flight hours. If you add in our trip from the States last Friday we have been in the air over 35 hours this past week. I can’t wait to cash in my frequent flyer miles on this one.
Tomorrow is our first true down day since we got here and in true German fashion I feel obligated to uphold international relations and visit some of the local retailers especially those specializing in wine production. While I have two vineyards I really like and have visited for years some of those on our crew suggested another vineyard that overlooks the Rhine river. The owner is American and loves service members so it should be interesting. Any request? Kevin and I hope visit Rudy Ruttgar and my personal favorite MD, Dr. Burklen-wolf in the next few weeks.
My quarters are much like they were two years ago, just a little nicer (no mold and carpet). The room is humble, has a fridge and microwave and while be it painfully slow, we finally have internet in our rooms. Welcome 2010 AF lodging! All in all I can’t complain too much, it could always be worse. As for the food here…um….uh… No comment. A salad alone the other day cost me $2.75 and that was with a discount from the lunch lady. We are currently working on our Per Diem issue.
With our time in between missions Kevin and I have been keeping busy running (not Kevin), biking and swimming. I found a very nice 6 mile long running path not too far from my room. Some of the Westover folks deployed to Andrews were nice enough to take my bike with them and placed it on a mission over here to Germany. They were also nice enough to decorate it with a bright pink Easter basket, tassels, a horn and completed it off with a personalized California license plate with my name on it and playing cards in front and rear spokes. At least they were nice enough to fill the Easter basket with Girl Scout cookies to help with the humility. Kevin purchased a bike later that same day and we have pretty much rode everywhere since. It is nice to not have to rely on a vehicle shared by 7 people if you want to go somewhere and with hundreds of kilometers of trails around the base we will put them to good use.
Many people have asked if they can send me a package. The simple answer is no. I am blessed with living on one of the largest U.S. bases in Europe. I have access to a grocery store, a mall, a movie theater, a gym and a pool. While we pay for these amenities in very long flights down range many people have it much worse than I. With that said, they would love packages and support from home. While I am touched by all of the kind thoughts there are many more deserving service members than I. I will however be more than happy to deliver any packages anyone may want to send and I will ensure they get out to those who need it most. Coffee, canned fruits, non-perishable sweets and of course baby-wipes are always fan favorites.
That is all for this weekly installment. Please tune in next week for another thrilling episode. I hope everyone is well and I will talk to you soon. Chris.