Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Military Flights, and how I Love Them. No, Really.

I really like to provide these bursts of positivity every now and again, if only to counter those of our critics who say we are relentlessly negative. There are a lot of things I enjoy about the United States Army. Sure, a lot of them have started disappearing since the war, but there are some great points.

After taking a C-17 in to start my joyous and wonderful leave (cue celebrations: I am, however, not likely coming to DC, so no beers for anyone) I was motivated to post just how much it f-ing rocked. So here goes.

First let me thank all the excellent airmen who operated the flight. I'd name them, but with my luck some of the nutballs out there will start harassing them because they didn't shoot me on sight. They put us up and put us down far easier than any commercial flight ever has, and shaved about three hours off the time a commercial flight would have taken as well.

I know that most people may not think that sitting with the cargo is awesome, but I think that's because most people haven't done it. It is always such a relief to get on a plane where you actually have leg room, and most importantly of all-once the plane is at cruise altitude, you can actually get up and stay up. Commercial flights are packed so tight there's no room even if you wanted to stay up, but if you do hang around by the stewardess area, it's highly discouraged anyway. Military flights? Plenty of room to sack out, and they really don't care if you do. In fact, it's expected. Everyone, including myself, had something prepared to rack out with, and one smart cookie scored the top of a packing crate in advance by placing his gear there. Not that I was uncomfortable-like the rest, I got down on the floor and curled up and straight slept for several hours. Yes, it's loud, yes, it's cold, but somehow, the whole setting combined to make me feel perfect. I have trouble sleeping, often, especially if strangers are around. But there's something different about being around fellow military, most just back from being deployed, at least half in uniform. I can't sleep well with one stranger in the room, but give me forty soldiers and I sleep like a log. I think it's because I trust my fellow soldiers like I never would trust civilians, and that with so many of them around, nothing really bad could ever happen.

Upon getting to my destination, though, I was confronted by what one woman referred to as "the homeless shelter" and another "tent city". Apparently there have been problems getting flights out to Ramstein for all these dependents with kids. I think because they're such large families in general, and also the school year is ending, so it's prime crowd time. However-another shocker to those of you expecting me to lay blame-it's no one's fault, and the folks at this base are doing the best they can to accomodate them. The women and kids are holding up like champs, too, and their cooperation and coordination are both refreshing and heartening. Immediately upon arrival, they offered all of their expertise to anyone who might be staying, God bless them! No one could blame them if they were sour, but they've been fairly cheerful, acknowledging that MAC flights are a risk and they knew what they were getting into. Just like I had to wait a bit myself to hit my flight, but once I caught it, you can' beat either the comfort or the price.

Anyway, I'm here, the flight was great, life is and continues to be golden, and leave is fabulous.

Hope you all are having as decent a day as I am. Several of you, I owe beers, and you know where to collect!

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