18 October 2005
Looking at 3 million gallons of fuel...
20 OCT 90
Busy at work today, no flying. Tomorrow is supposed to be a day off for the Marines, with burgers, sodas, volleyball etc...Talked to Nemo about pros/cons of going to 303 or HMX after we get back. Haven't seen any HMX guys over here. I did see were they crashed one of the Presidential helos in Illinois, the first that's been crashed. Everyone's OK, no VIPs on board. They were doing a rehearsal and some snow fence may have been blown into the tail rotor. What a great year Marine Corps aviation is having!
Got a letter from my mom, said they had a good time in Vegas at Ernest's softball tournament. Can't believe the guys pick the desert to run around in and play softball. It's so cool there this time of year. She's been having a hard time with me being here. She heard about the Hueys from the ship and it made her cry. I had mentioned to Injun that I was worried that she had only written twice and was hoping that she wasn't too worried about me. One thing I hadn't considered is that she works at the Times-Herald, so all she hears and sees all day is the media hype and bad news.
Projects continue. Spot came by today and asked "How are we doing on the LASER pointers?" I told him we were missing two. He asks "How come it took me 60 days to find this out?" I don't know, selective memory. Irish and Nasty remember being told the first week we were here. Then the best line, he says "Well, I hope you have $2000 dollars." He walked off before I could point out that 2 of them would actually be $4000 dollars. I cooled of for 30 minutes, then went to see Irish. He had predicted this conversation 2 days ago, said just to give him the info on the custody cards and inventory sheets. It will be fun to keep track of all this stuff in the coming months, when the rockets are flying and helos are going to every corner of the theater. Don't worry, be happy.
The shop is really starting to come together...Megaughey and Chames practice the Gunfighter handshake.
19 OCT 90
Rawheid came by and brought me an AAFES catalog. What a great guy, there's lingerie models in there! How did this make it in country. I'll have to start a waiting list for guys who want to order stuff for Christmas. Wonder if they understand they'll only get the lingerie, not the model? Made me think of the lingerie auctions at the 29 Palms O Club, where guys were buying things that would never fit their wives. Once again, I missed the whole point of the exercise, but it was entertaining. And a politically correct step away from the strippers.
Good news, found the two sets of wayward NVGs. $40,000 dollars of good news. They're in Florida. Yup, Florida. Finally got to call VX-5, they gave me Sonny's number in Florida, out at Eglin for some project. He says, "Yea, I got 'em, you guys left town too fast for me to get them back." Evidently we confused out MAWTS-1 augment guys goggle with the ones we lent to VX-5, they had the same numbers, just scrambled around. I told him to hold on to them, no telling where they'd end up if tried to get them too us. Boy was that a relief. Nasty also says I can use the car to drive to Dhahran to scope out the area where we were the first day to look for the LASER pointer and AR-5 that are missing. I figure they're in one of 3 places 1) back in CamPen 2) 169 pilots who checked in then checked back out before we left have them or 3)rattling around in the bottom of someone's parachute bag. I appreciate Nasty's attitude because it was "well, they're probably gone, but it won't hurt to look for them" vs "where are they?" Irish has been helpful too. I asked him about my dilemma with the Flight Equipment "Gift Shop", we're giving out a lot of gear I figure we'll never see again. Flight suit, helmets, GPS receivers, LASER pointers, PVS-5s. He said to just keep him up to speed, and we'll consolidate the account and get Spot to authorize dropping the gear later, if we don't get it back. Out here, some of the gear is consumable, like the flight suits. They'll get worn out and surveyed anyway. It'll be a balancing act between keeping some spares on hand while supporting the folks we can with what we have. Best course of action is to just let the FE boys do their swap and trade magic, it reminds me of the old war movies where the gear show up, the Officer asks "where did we get that" and the Sgt says "you don't want to know, sir."
Called on amen to check on the new Cobra helmet. The old helmets are the old style helo helmet, Vietnam era. Outer shell with inner retention/ suspension strap design, with the addition of amount for the Helmet Sight System (HSS). Very heavy and required FE to remove and insert spacer cushions to fit each pilot. The HSS helmet is considered part of the aircraft inventory, so we only rate one per seat. One of the FE shop's coups at CamPen was scrounging enough "spare" parts to make sure each Cobra pilot had their own helmet, so they could get the best fit for each pilot and leave it alone. The new helmet is similar to the fixed wing helmet, light weight, custom fit. It will be out soon and is supposed to be personal issue. If not, maybe we can buy some ourselves.
No mail. Cooling off enough in the evening to get in the sleeping bag. No rotation message yet, to send us home. Wonder what the hold up is. Maybe Mooch can type up a fake one? He did this during Westac 89 to mess with Mankid, a Captain who continually talked about how he was "getting out of the Suck" as soon as the float was over. The typed up a message from HQMC that notified Mankid that his commitment was extended "indefinitely" due to the building crisis in Panama. They put a date time stamp on it, copied it a few times to make a really poor copy, ad posted it on the message board. We were snickering in the back of the ready room as he read it. He was standing at first, then slumped into a chair. After a few minutes, he took of looking for the CO. Checked the wardroom first, then found him in his stateroom. CO was confused, "I don't know anything about this..." Someone decided it was time to clue Mankid in. Didn't hear anything else about him getting out, but he did promise to get even someday.
Heard Steve Martin visited the REMFs, never made it out to us. Also heard that he has the runs now. Welcome to the sandbox Steve. Enjoy your salad!
Walt tells Spike, Charlie and Ducky what he thinks of their flight schedule
18 OCT 90
No flying to day. Engine rinse, projects, awards, chow, check out what the other Marines are doing. We've got a really good maintenance crew. Hate to admit there's a couple of Cobra guys running the show, Irish and Talon. Can't always figure out where they are coming from, but the Marines respond and we are doing great with aircraft availability, esp now that the Huey blade issue has been resolved. Walt is our MMCO, he's a Mustang and is pretty squared away. He must be the man who's really pulling the strings. The SNCOs and enlisted Marines are a motivating crowd, any time I want a laugh I just corral one of these Marines. I have a great shop, it runs itself, but Sgt Lee is kind enough to let me come by and he pretends like I'm really helping by being the OIC. As long as I'm there to get them the recognition they've earned, I'll have done my part.
We seem to be settling in to a routine. The airfield is growing. C-5s, C-141s, C-130s and the CRAF come and go 24 hours a day. The joke about the Air Force transport guys is that we figure they get Air Medal points for coming in to our "Forward Deployed" area, especially if they have to go north of the field and land to the south. There is never a quiet moment at the airfield. The ramp, pits and staging areas are lit up with floodlights all night while the planes are unloaded. The ALCE was established out by the runway soon after we arrived, they have some impressive capabilities. I went over to check out their trailer after they set up, their comm gear lets them talk to just about anyone and most importantly they have air conditioning. It's they're job to coordinate the airhead here at Jubail, and it seems like a pretty cool job for the Air Force.
We have held on to our spot in front of the terminal, and keep several spots open for alert aircraft. We also have helos parked out on the apron on the other side of the taxiway, some slashed and a couple ready to go for the day's mission. Also have some ordnance prestaged for the Slugs and Snakes. The 82nd has moved on to who knows where, guess the neighborhood went downhill once the Jarheads showed up. They are going to put down matting for the transport helos, south of the field, lots of Frogs starting to show up. The Shitters are over at a nearby camp, where they'll have a little more room to move around. They're huge, and the ramp here is just too packed for them to move around. The pits are running non-stop and the fuel farm has grown to a huge maze of fuel bladders. I'm told each bladder holds 10,000 gallons of fuel. I can't figure out how they get all the valves set correctly to get the fuel pumped anywhere. And guess everyone figures out 1 gallon equals 3.8 liters.
Got back to Chez Tent at 1900, fell asleep, then got up to take a shower. Portable showers have arrived, evidently one side is hot water and the other side it cold water. I found the cold water side. That explains why the other side was full. Shower unit consists of a 4 plastic tub with rubberized canvas sides, individual shower head. Several units have been hooked together to make two blocks of 12 showers. Water is pumped from a huge bladder, through a heater for one side. Other side is somewhat warm because the water comes from a bladder that heats up during the day. As it empties and refills, the water cools off again. Can't complain about that, it's free and we get to hose off after flying around in our portable sandstorm all day.
17 October 2005
Here's a picture of our flight surgeon, Doc Aubuchon, waiting to embark C-5 in El Toro. We'll blend in nicely with all the woodland camouflage.
17 OCT 90
Made the mistake of eating breakfast with our 2 flight docs, Aubuchon and Leong, aka "Pair-o-Docs." We walked up to their table and said, "Can we sit here, you guys don't talk about amoebas and bacteria at breakfast do you?' Doc Leong said "No, only Dysentery." So I asked "How about violent diarrhea?" Leong responds"Actually, the proper term is projectile diarrhea...Boy, you should have seen the place, it was a mess. We'd just waxed the floors and that poor guy just went shootin across the room. Looked like Halley's comet. Not a pretty sight." Guess we won't sit with them again, at least not at the chow tent.
Unidentified sources report that two Marine choppers were seen carrying military personnel to airfields in Saudi today. Unfortunately, the whirlybird pilots were overcome by excessive ultraviolet exposure and disabling flatulence. In other words, they were sunburned and had gas. The glamorous life of a Naval Aviator. These pilots have been restricted to Saudy Acres, a retirement home for wannabe airline pilots. Please write.
Flew some Group guys around today with Peewee. Showed them the airfield, Marines in the field, Port of Jubail, all of the usual spots, including the golf course. Worked on projects and goofed around this afternoon. Wrote letters to family.
16 October 2005
16 Oct 90
Got up at 0500 to rinse engines, only took til 1030 to finish. Worked on more inventories, avoided field grade, then worked on awards. Turning LOA recommendations into CG CerComs per Irish's direction. He thinks they rate one, I've never written one so sounds good to me. Trying to get a call back to Chuck to see if any gear was left in the shop, like NVGs. I'd rather not cough up 15 grand per copy for the two pair that are still wandering around somewhere. We think we may have them checked out to VX-5 still, as I have 2 custody cards still, but one of my Marines telling me he "thinks" that a Major brought them back. Won't know until I get a serialized inventory from SSD and my ECR cards. Probably should have brought those.
Nearby 53 base thought they had incoming this evening, opened up with return fire. We launched 2 Hueys to check it out, 1 with a FLIR and put 4 Cobras on standby. Spot got a a nice bump on his head, got hit with a door while preflighting. I saw it happen and couldn't believe that he wasn't knocked out. Maybe he'll be more careful around Mooch now. Mooch claims to not hve done it on purpose. Hueys were gone scouting around for about 40 minutes, luckily didn't get shot at by our own guys. No bodies were found, maybe we'll know more in the morning. Nervous grunts maybe?
Our quick reaction team went out too, our inner defense if anyone wiggles through the Battalion protecting us. Mooch was in charge of organizing and training the guys, they dug foxholes and have teams set up to protect the airfield. They did this for the first week or so until the Bn showed up. That was one of my favorites, when the Bn showed up and asked "who's out in front of us?" No one.