For being deployed this past week has been a good one. We were scheduled to fly on Memorial Day however that mission was scrapped after we were alerted and unfortunately were released too late to do anything that day. In its place we flew a mission down to Bagram on Wednesday.
Upon our arrival we were greeted by the majority of our Westover contingent including much to our surprise some of the day shift. We had a longer than normal ground time and they were gracious enough to take us to the nearby chow hall. I am amazed how much things have changed since 2004 when I was stationed there.
On our way to chow hall we walked by our old C-Hut where Paul and I lived for a long 5 month deployment at that time. The paint on the wood has long since faded and the plywood building is really starting to show its age. I still don’t miss it. No surprise the chow hall in a deployed warzone is better than the one in Ramstein and after a very good but quick meal with friends we loaded up the plane and headed back to Germany.
After a short 24 hours on the ground at Ramstein we were back in the air, this time to Andrews down in D.C. Prior to taking off I was surprised to come across an old Hartford Hospital acquaintance. As one of the patient buses pulled up to the tail of the aircraft Col Robert Gross, one of our previous Trauma Surgeons who has since moved on to Bay State walked out. I have seen him on a few occasions when we drop patients off at Bay State and I knew he was in the military however you never expect to cross paths. After a brief catching up we loaded up the plane and were back in the air once again.
The Ramstein to Andrews run has been one of my personal favorites. Even though one of the longest flights sometimes exceeding 10 hours it is a big step home for the patients that we transport. All are being moved on to care that they need and you can see the relief of most once we are back on good old U.S. soil. After flying 22 of the previous 48 hours I was relieved myself.
Unfortunately with Amanda closing on our new house next week it was a little too close for her to load up Cam and come down for another visit which provided me with an opportunity to catch up with our Westover contingent deployed to Andrews. Much to our surprise one our crews deployed to Travis AFB in CA was prepositioned for a mission the following day.
It amazes me in two days I can see almost every deployed 439th AES person even though geographically separated by over 10,000 miles. D.C. was a very hot and humid 90+ degrees when we landed. A far cry from the low 70’s I have become accustomed to in Ramstein with barely any humidity. After a very well needed shower a few of us went out for a quick dinner and I think I remember my head hitting the pillow but that very well may have been a dream. After a day of lounging around, our recuperated crew boarded my favorite plane in the whole world, my beloved KC-135 for an 8 hour voyage back to Germany.
Our return to Germany was bitter sweet to say the least. Through rotation and attrition I have become the new OIC of our crew. In a career field with such a high number of Majors and LTC’s I never expected to assume that role but truly appreciate the trust and confidence of our leadership.
With the current transition we lost 2 very good flyers and a bunch of experience. Both flyers are from Pope (Active Duty) and much to my surprise were very down to earth, exceptional flyers and over the past two months have become good friends. Dave will soon leave for Pope for a position at AMC Stan Eval and Joe will continue to search for an assignment closer to his Son who lives in Portsmouth NH. I wish them both the best of luck.
We met the new replacements on Monday morning during lunch. They are both stationed here at Ramstein and are on a 30 day loan you could say. We have another 1LT and TSgt. The LT is new and has never flown down range and the TSgt hasn’t been downrange in some time.
As if I didn’t already miss home enough on Friday Amanda sold our house and closed on our dream home on the north side of town. Just a little over a mile from where I grew up it will be a nice change and even though it is a little more out in the woods than most of the town it will be worth.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to help Amanda and Cam on the big move. I truly appreciate it. The most enjoyable part is that the house is only 4 years old and that means no projects, well at least for a while. I am sure I will come up with something as time goes on and I get board.
That is it for this session. I hope all is well as usual and will talk to you soon. Chris.