Hard to believe we are already down to a little over 5 weeks.  I am sure Amanda wouldn’t agree but for me the time has gone by fairly quickly. 

I took charge of the crew two weeks ago after Dave left.  With two LT’s and two Staff Sergeants and below we are by far are the most junior crew here at Ramstein.  Two of our crewmembers deployed across the runway from the Ramstein AE squadron and are here for only a month.  Nice for them however unfortunately for us it means another change out here in a couple of weeks. All in all they are good flyers, eager to learn and the experience will come with time. 

Our first mission was a nightmarish 28 hour day with a plane loaded almost to the maximum capability.  On the trip down to Bagram we were loaded with Cargo and had another 4 crews returning with us.  Normally we try to sleep on the way down however with very limited room it was difficult to say the least and with so many people on board it was anything but quiet. 

Once we arrived in Bagram we were notified our load would have 24 litter patients and 24 ambulatory.  Unloading the cargo took over an hour and setting up took just as long.  Loading all of those patients went as smooth as it could.  We usually have large loads like this when we fly back to the States but I haven’t seen anything like this since Iraq was in full speed. 

Unfortunately for us after we were loaded and closed up one of the engines wouldn’t start.  I felt my heart sink.  Just as we were considering off-loading all of the patients and finding a place to sleep due to our crew duty day the plane was fixed and we took off.  The 7 hour trip back to Germany was uneventful however I was more than ready for a quick shower and a nap by the time I got back to my room.

The 3 weeks prior that had been busy for our crew so it was a nice surprise to have two days off in a row.  Well of course something always happens so it was nice to have one day off after everything was sorted out. 

Axel, one of our friends for the past many years who works at one of the vineyards that we frequent invited us to join him for the Germany World Cup opener.  He lives in GroBkarlbach which is about 40 minutes east of Ramstein.  It is small village of about 500 people and I was amazed that the house he lives in was built in 1580.  While obviously it has been renovated and modernized I was awed in how good of condition it has remained in over the past 430 years. 

After meeting his girlfriend and visiting for a few hours we walked 2 Km to the nearby village of Bissersheim where the village volunteer fire department was having a fund raiser Barbeque complete with a beer tent.  This village as well only has 500 residents so I was surprised when there were at least 200 people in the town square for the match which was being broadcast on a large screen T.V.  Germany won the match 4-0 much to the liking of the locals. 

We decided to grab one more beverage for the walk back and that is where things took a turn for the worse.  It was then when the firefighters running the beer tent found out that Kevin is a firefighter from Boston.  After a few t-shirts were swapped and much more beer was served we finally left some 4 hours after the end of the match.  Have to love firefighters. 

Unfortunately we flew during the next game since the vineyard Axel works at, Weingut Knipser was hosting a private party to which we were invited.  Maybe it is a good thing we flew.  The fire department did enjoy it so much that they did ask Axel if we could come back tomorrow night for the game.  Only in the name international diplomacy we will attend.  I wouldn’t want to ruin any American-Germany relations.
 
Well that is it for now.  We are on the front end of a Balad mission and I hope to send this off in the morning.  Happy 4th Anniversary to my wonderful wife.  Staying home with an almost 2 year old, a German Sheppard and moving into a new home, she is the true hero.  Talk to you all soon.  Chris.

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