Well we are finally approaching the half way point of this deployment. It is hard to believe I left Bradley 8 weeks ago today and I truly hope the 2nd half goes as quickly as the 1st half passed. 

We have a very busy week ahead of us with 3 missions scheduled totaling almost 46 hours of flight time alone.  By the 60 day mark we will have already accumulated over 140 flight hours and 12 missions.  Not bad considering that Operation Ash Tray I and II kept us grounded for almost two weeks combined and cost us at least 5 flights. 

Last week we a flew a mission to Kuwait, Balad and then back to Ramstein.  We were told we would be picking up a VIP in Balad and they weren’t joking.  Upon our arrival in Balad we picked up the Air Force Surgeon General, LTG Green.  A very nice individual and probably one of the most personable General Officers I have ever met.  He took time to talk to all of the patients on board and then took time to visit with every member of the crew one by one. 

I wish he had told me at the beginning  that he participated on the workgroup that decided to utilize the KC-135 (Refueler) for Air Evac mission before he asked me what I thought of the airframe.  I provided  my insights from my numerous operational missions and then he pulled the rug out from underneath me. 

Much to my surprise he appreciated the candid feedback and we continued to talk for another 15 minutes or so on the topic.  I was a little disappointed we didn’t get any coins however his Executive Officer took a picture with everyone but we are still waiting for them to be emailed. 

We are slated for another Andrews mission next weekend and it will be nice to get back to the States even if just for a day.   Unfortunately it comes a week before Amanda closes on the new house and it would be much too chaotic for her to try and pack Cam up again for another visit down to DC. 

It will be nice to see and catch up with our Westover folks deployed down there.  I know that I can’t wait to eat real  American food and would do anything to see a real TV commercial.  AFN (Armed Forces Network) is our only T.V. provider and they cannot show commercials and therefore make a very rude attempt to fill the normal commercial times with idiotic safety messages, public announcements and of course short peep talks from various individuals.  I think by this point I would prefer watching and listening to static than the same messages over and over and over again.  

I was notified yesterday that I will become the Officer in Charge of our crew next week after my colleague Dave heads home.  We are getting another Lieutenant for his replacement.  Through simple attrition Kevin is in charge of all of the enlisted and having a qualified leader and experienced flyer will make my job a whole lot easier. 

I was hoping that being a Captain would keep me under the radar but that plan sure didn’t work out all that well and with only a few Majors in-coming for the next rotation I could see the writing on the wall and wasn’t that surprised.  We were recently assigned two newer flyers and our new nurse is coming with limited experience.  Should keep us busy and on our toes.

That is all for this letter.  I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend.  Connecticut has had a tough year and perhaps the inscription on the base of the monument located at the American Cemetery in Normandy best sums it up.  “To those we owe the high resolve, that the cause for which they died shall live.”

Chris Watkins