Well “Operation Ash Tray” has brought everything here to a screeching halt. In my 7 years of flying AE I have never seen anything like this. We were the alert crew Thursday night when the phone rang around 10pm, first we were going to a base in the desert, next we were going to Andrews, then back to the desert and finally told to just pack tan and green flight suits. It was rather comical looking back on it. At the time however, with all of 25 minutes to get packed, repack, repack again and then be ready to be picked up I didn’t find it was all that humorous at the time. Finally a few hours later we were mere minutes away from flying to Andrews Friday morning and even got as far a closing up the ramp on the C-17 before the mission was scrubbed. No comment.
For Kevin and me it was a huge disappointment since Amanda and his girlfriend Robin had already made plans to drive down to D.C. later that morning to stay with us for the anticipated 4 to 6 days we would be there. I know it has only been two weeks but I will take any opportunity I can to see Amanda and Cam that I can get and I returned to my room 12 hours after I originally left with no flight hours logged and a heavy heart. Mission first I always say and when you compare with some of those I have the privilege to help on their journey home my temporary disappointment is trivial when you see what they are going through.
Day two of “Operation Ash Tray” we found ourselves off for the entire day. The day started with a quick morning swim and then came an urgent mission to assault two vineyards located the Phalz region near the Rhine river. Our two targets, Dr. Burklen-Wolf and Rudy Ruttger were successfully visited without incident and numerous prisoners were taken into custody. Anything I can do to maintain international relations. As for today I did find some humor when last night we were put into crew rest so we could sit in Bravo “Stand-by” today. Here is my disclaimer. To avoid any potential “Operational Security” issues I won’t discuss our current situation. However if you Google “Stars Stripes Ramstein,” Stars and Stripes will and you will find the following article: http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=69398 . Not much has changed but I am sure once we can start flying again I think it will get pretty busy. Until then I will enjoy the down knowing there is a price for everything.
Down time has continued to be filled with running, swimming and biking. Running here is fantastic and I try to set 2 days a week. I am already back up to 12 miles and if I can keep up this pace might even entertain running the entire Hartford Marathon this coming October. I am still split on what to run for. Honor Flight is a great charity and the debt we owe WWII Veterans will never be repaid. However my first flight we flew back some CT Guard members, two of whom were seriously injured. It would be nice to do something for them as well. Luckily I have a few more months to make up my mind.
In my previous update I totally forgot to mention and thank the support staff from our home unit in Westover. Our full-time staff, recently thinned by staff reductions did a superb job in getting Kevin and I out the door. While it may not have always been pretty we arrived to our deployed location with all equipment (maybe a little more than we needed), our paperwork was in line and we were ready to go. It speaks volumes that 36 hours after our arrival we were mission ready and flying our first mission down-range the other night we were prepared to redeploy anywhere in the World. Thanks to Lt Cols Z & D, Wayne, Rich and Vikki for all of their help.
That is it for this installment. Hopefully this quagmire ends soon and we can resume our mission. Talk to you soon, Chris.