It is hard to believe that we are already ¼ through our deployment. I took last week’s letter off if you will since there was absolutely nothing to write about during “Operation Ash Tray.” The decision to keep us on the ground that early morning essentially took us out of play for 8 days so needless to say we were eager to get back in the air.
You would think with more than 7 years of experience at this I would know that you should always watch what ask for. We were teed up for a Balad – Ali Al Salem – Ramstein run on a C-17. Since I would end up with calluses on my fingertips if I thoroughly described all of the events of that mission let’s just say that if there was a theoretical possibility of something going wrong it did.
What was scheduled to be a 17 hour day took almost 25 and by the time we reached our rooms at 4 pm in the afternoon most of us opted to just stay up. It was one of the longest and most aggravating days I can remember.
Kevin and I were finally moved into the same building area as the rest of our crew. Since I feel compelled to only say nice things in these letters I am afraid I will have nothing to say about Ramstein Lodging. That’s kind of humorous; I didn’t have anything to say about them during my last trip here as well.
The rooms are not much bigger if any however they are much more functional. Before we were forced to put our food items such as snacks and cereals on our television stand or tucked away in a night stand. We now have a little cupboard space along with a counter, a full desk and television and microwave that do not look to be from the 1980’s.
Best of all, we now have our own bathroom! How I will miss the early morning wake-ups of my neighbor taking a shower. Of course it is hard is to complain too much when there are a lot of people who have it much worse that I do.
The highlight of the past week was finally a trip to Andrews and the opportunity to see Amanda and Cam while in D.C. Of course with my luck it couldn’t go off without a hitch. We were originally slated for the mission early in the week and Amanda, Cam and Robin, Kevin’s girlfriend made their travel arrangements.
Late Thursday evening we were notified that the mission had been extended and that we were scheduled to fly onto San Antonio after dropping our patients off in Andrews. Once again, hours before leaving I had to make the dreaded phone call to Amanda to tell her that we would not be coming once again. Like a true champion, she took the news well and went along with her day at work.
Friday morning we were alerted for the mission on time, did our normal pre-mission routine and ended up at the Detachment 15 minutes early. Three of took the time to take our personal luggage out and an undisclosed amount of German beverages out to the plane.
As the loading of the above mentioned items was occurring I mentioned that I planned on escorting the medical equipment back from San Antonio as the remainder of crew would normally fly back to Germany on a commercial carrier. One of the individuals on the plane informed us that SA leg had been dropped and we were only flying to Andrews. It was a mad dash back to the Detachment. This time as the phone rang at 4 am back in the States with the good news.
After an hour and a half delay that seemed like forever we were finally on our way and shortly before 8 pm EST we made it to the hotel. Amanda had found a small flag for Cameron to carry and he was easy to make as we drove across the parking lot.
Kevin was first out of the truck and immediately caught Cameron’s attention. The look on his face was that of utter disappointment, I know you have the same green suit but you are not who I thought you were. Then after a few seconds he looked around Kevin, said “Da-Da” and ran over. After demanding “Up” and a quick kiss it was on to assaulting the Velcro patches as he always does. It was truly awesome to see him and Amanda.
The downside of the trip was that we only had 24 hours off before we had to fly back to Germany. After a mid-morning breakfast it was off to Arlington. I can’t count the number of times I have been there but there is always something special about taking someone there for the first time. Perhaps it is the sheer magnitude of the size, the precisely laid out grave markers or the peaceful quiet.
We made it just in time for a changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown. Amanda had never seen it before so as Cam got a little restless he and I went for a short walk. From there we made our way Section 60. Called by many the “Saddest acre in America,” it is the final resting place for many of those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Walking there with Amanda and Cam I realized that you can never rationalize with an almost two year old why his Dad has to leave, but you are reminded why do it.
We enjoyed the remainder of our time that afternoon and evening however despite all of the prayers of the aircraft breaking or the mission being cancelled, we made our way back to Germany. We have a few flights this week that will keep us busy and before too long we will be talking about the ½ mark.
That is it for this letter. I hope you are all well and Happy Mother’s Day if happens to apply. Talk to you soon. Chris.