27 October 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 31 Oct 90

31 OCT 90

No trick or treaters, strange? Last day at Camp 5. The shower here has teddy bear shower curtains. Interesting. Made a phone call. Ride shows up 2 hours late, waited by gate. Ran into Witzel from college, he's at Camp 5 with 9th Comm. Trying to make sure they've got everything needed when the time comes.
Buzz and Nasty finally showed up with next crew and we rode back to airfield. They aren't too happy with the hurry up and wait situation either, which made them seem more normal to me. Got back to the squadron, got a headache, ate crappy chow, got mail, came back to tent and crashed.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 30 Oct 90

30 OCT 90

Day 2 in Camp 5, a garden spot with bushes and trees. Slept late, got up, showered, stood in line to make a phone call. Finished book, walked over to HQ building to find the guy who is letting us use the rooms and tell him thanks.
Talked to some East coast Cobra guys at lunch, they're supposed to move up where we are in a week. They've been living in a hangar with regular access to phones. Won't they be happy when they get up to where we are. The cruel joke in at JNA is that there are pay phones on the wall and in telephone booths, but none of them are hooked up.
Made another call, bugged Jughead for 20 minutes, hit the rack. Oh most important they had Dr Pepper at the small exchange. If they had M&Ms too, why ever leave?

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 28 Oct 90

28 OCT 90

Had a formation today, supposed to get Desert cammies Wed. No new info passed at AOM. Dutch, Stoney, Freddie and I left for a 2 day R&R at Camp 5 around 1100. Camp 5 is an oil worker facility that has been commandeered to house around 1000 Marines. There are chow halls, air conditioned rooms and clubs set up. Spot knows a LtCol over here who is letting us use 2 rooms, pretty cool.
Met Injun on the way our, traded room keys for car keys and went to lunch. Had a cheeseburger, fries and Pepsi (No Coke!) Mine was $4.35, Injun's was $6.00 He said he asked them to not spit in his. Watched a movie, did some reading, made a phone call and got to sleep in air conditioning again.

26 October 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 28 Oct 90

28 OCT 90

Our first legitimate day off. I slept until about 0900, someone woke me up sweeping out the tent. I got up and started cleaning out the junk I was accumulating under my cot. Emptied out my two parachute bags and overnight bag. Filled a trash bag with crap and consolidated. Got rid of old skivvies for new. Passed out extra pogey bait to tentmates. Ended up with 4 piles of stuff, military, books, clothes and gedunk box. Decided I needed a writing desk and/or shelf. Built a lap desk out of some scrap wood, now just need to cover it with some scrap vinyl and I'll be living the high life!
Next made a small shelf out of 1x2s, and stacked some empty water bottle boxes to put clothes into. Made some doors out of cardboard with duct tape hinges. Maybe will keep some sand out? Naaaaaaaaah! Finally got everything stowed and another box arrives with....more stuff. Good timing. Cold weather gear. Groucho glasses with big nose. Candy for Halloween. Important stuff. Pink flamingos finally arrived for our tent also.
Put everything away and went to grab a burger from picnic. Everyone had a good time, mainly played volleyball, horseshoes and drank faux beer. I put cajun spice on the burger. Had a twinkie!
CG 3rd MAW solicited input to improve aviation safety. Lots of mishaps since we arrived. I'm sure he's expecting to hear personally from me. We just need to steal all the good stuff and ideas from the other services. And we need to work together with other services. Next will be to do away with knee jerk safety stand downs when there is a mishap. WE should continue with realistic, standardized and objective based training. These breaks only pay lip service to the true pursuit of aviation safety.
Blanket restrictions on altitude, angle of bank, number of pax are not the answer. Flying 1990s missions with 1960s technology is not the answer. Increased tasking, reduced training, less money and reduction in assets are not answers. Promoting pilots based on their ground job vs their flying skills is certainly not the answer.
Give the Staff jobs to Warrant Officers or SNCOs. Promote me based on my Combat Readiness Percentage, not how well I inventoried the flight equipment or got paint for the barracks.
The answers are to train, train and train some more using objective, graduated training and readiness syllabus. Qualifications need to be in a computer database, and mission tasking matched to pilot capabilities. More night training, LAT quals, TERF and NVG quals are answers. Put a grunt liaison in every squadron. And get me a NVG compatible cockpit. Good equipment plus realistic training equal mission safety.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 27 Oct 90

27 OCT 90

160171, 5T2, 1.5, 140, Peewee

Flew all day, actually flew to range, then sat all day to test fire machine guns. The crew chiefs loaded us up with 50 Cals and 7.62, we took a bunch of door guns over to test fire.
Chuck came in this morning, helped him haul his gear over to the tent. Said he couldn't stand being home, knowing we were here. He brought my custody cards. Now I can consolidate my FE account and verify who has what.

25 October 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Storm 26 Oct 90

26 OCT 90

160176, 5T2, 3.4, 260, Jughead
Got up at 0555, got ready for the brief. I was section leader on a hop to pick up a Regimental CO and take him up to northern Saudi positions. These turn out to be about 20 miles from the border. I'm sure there has to be someone further north, doesn't there? Anyway, I was happy that I got to sign for the bird AND lead the section. After we briefed, we were told that there were only 4 pax, so you only need 1 Huey. Dash 2 was told to stay at JNA. I reminded Ops that the frag listed 8 pax in one zone and 4 in another. Ops said they had confirmed only 4 pax. SO guess how many were standing next to the LZ when we showed up, single ship? We landed, I explained to the Colonel and contacted controlling agency to launch Dash-2. We took the first 4 up north, Dash-2 caught up with us eventually with the other 4. We then completed the rest of the frag, 3.4 hours of flying. I'm sure the Iraquis saw us flying around and are shivering in their boots, in awe of the mighty Devil Dog Super Huey.
Missed breakfast, missed lunch, had 1 canteen of water and some M&Ms. By 1630 I had a headache so bad I couldn't even walk to the chow hall. Drank a lot of water and laid down on the FE floor for an hour. Finally got up, wandered to the chow tent, had 2 bites of brown rice, 1 bite of spicy chili, a cup of salt flavored with chicken broth, slice of bread with peanut butter and orange soda. Stumbled back to work, laid down for another 45 minutes. Finally made it back to Chez Tent, got a shower. Bitched about field grade and felt better.
Routine is becoming routine. Supposed to have another Safety Standdown soon, using new ideas to stress safety. They're asking for input. If they could guarantee that ideas would actually leave the squadron they might get some. Otherwise, most people will say that everything is fine. I'll work on my dream sheet in the morning while trying to stay out of my Marine's way. They need someone to show them how to manage their time a little better. I'll certainly be of no help doing that.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 25 Oct 90

25 OCT 90

Kept busy all day transferring Lessons Learned info onto disk. Trying to get info to appropriate action agencies so that we can get fixes/support/new stuff/etc...If the Army can afford to have people working on making chocolate that won't melt, we should be able to get some decent flight equipment. Or would that be too much to ask?
Mail call, got some newspapers from Joan. Already had seen most of them, but the thought was nice. Message came in identifying those guys whose video home got taped over. Sections will be redone to send home again. Went to chow, came to tent at 1645, thought I'd lay down for a few minutes at 1745. Woke up at 2200 long enough to find out I'm flying at 0730 tomorrow. Took off flight suit and crashed.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 24 Oct 90

24 OCT 90

No flying, spent al day watching the shop. Tried to do as little as possible, but still a few projects that I'm interested in. Got the flight equipment log books from CamPen finally, but still no Equipment Custody Receipts. Maybe Chuck has them, they are the cards that list all the DS90 gear that was checked out. Chuck is also supposed to bring another VCR, the first one got sent to the FAARP.
Rotating groups of 15-20 to the phones again . If someone hasn't been able to call home by now, it's their fault. Another nearby R&R spot may open up soon, on 1 Nov. Not sure how many will get to go, but it will have phones. Only the night crew has slept in air conditioning for the last month, and now no one does from our squadron. It's cooler now, but not by much. I desperately need Morgan Fairchild's address.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 23 Oct 90

23 OCT 90

Another day in paradise. Our day off yesterday was nice. The flying has slowed down as more units have come in to spread out the tasking, and there is not as much need for recon missions as there was initially. Plus they have more Hummers to drive around, in addition to all the Land Cruisers, Suburbans, Cherokees, and Range Rovers that are popping up over here. Evidently there is a need for "admin" vehicles, for everyone to move around without having to take a Hummer or a tank. But since the vehicles are going out to the forward areas, they sprayed them all over with tan paint. It's funny to see a brand new truck, covered in tan paint, with the paint scraped off of just the windows, headlights and tail lights. Maybe I can get a good deal on one when this is over.
With the ops tempo slowing, everyone wants to slack off a bit. Since my shop was going round the clock when they first got here, they are really tired. We have one guy out on guard duty, and I'm trying to deflect the routine tasks away while they catch up. They'll be spooled up again soon enough, and they're ready. I'm moving around from around 0615 until 1830-1900. Some days I feel like I've accomplished absolutely nothing, sometimes the brain gives itself the day off whether I want it to or not. Other days everything gets done. My Marines are a good bunch and we finally have some other Flight Equipment shops over here to share info and material with. The MAILS Marines are very good, MAILS-16 is ahead of MAILS-39 with the gas masks and Nevis. But everyone is working together.
Had a post-phase Huey today. Preflight, rinsed engines, ground turned. It had a lot of small gripes, but other wise a very solid aircraft. I like flying and testing when it's just me, a crew chief and a camel. We don't go too far from the field, probably around 5 miles, just far enough to get away and get clear of the pattern. Once clear we can start writing down gauge indications, checking performance. My favorite test in when you check the flight control rigging. Sometimes it is just one continuous maneuver. Start out going forward then slowly pivot the helicopter around the transmission. Bring the tail slowly around as you continue straight ahead. Sideways, then backwards, sideways, then pointing straight ahead again. It's a good coordination exercise, and a fun time to be in a helo.
Chow was burgers with gravy and rice, not too bad after being doused with Worcestershire sauce. Had an awesome piece of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Wrote a letter in the terminal, where it's cool. Butted in to other people's business for an hour or so. Quote of the day "You can't row the boat without making some waves."
No Iraqui hordes yet, guess the Holy Day invasion rumor was wrong. Guess leaving on the 23rd rumor was wrong also. Guess 45 day ultimatum was false. Still in the same spot, no word on anyone moving anywhere. But we're ready. Been ready in Memphis. Been ready in 323 as part of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force. Not too ready in college. All kinds of times on the MEU. Panama. Manila. Sri Lanka and Burma. Some I missed, some never happened. In some ways this has been no different than sponging up oil in Alaska, snuffing out fires in Yellowstone or chasing drug smugglers around the border. Each situation offered its own unique challenges. We're going to be ready and do our best.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 22 Oct 90

22 OCT 90

Training all day, briefs every 2 hours. I gave a class on the AR-5 gas mask, everyone said it was good. Probably just glad we didn't go into the box with the tear gas tabs to try em out.
KFC for lunch. More briefs on intel and tactics. Evening chow at 1830, gossip on our tent porch for an hour, letters. Yes, our tent has a porch now, we're moving on up. Some guys found some scrap lumber and fashioned a front entry for the tent. We make this place too nice and I'm sure we'll be booted out.

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 21 Oct 90

21 OCT 90

Today was our picnic, turned into a day off, kind of. The picnic was cancelled because it was "too hot?" But it hasn't been too hot to have been working on and flying helicopters for the last 2 months? OK, I figured maybe the guys weren't that interested in mandatory fun anyway. Then Spot decides to have a formation at 1200 for all the enlisted Marines. Boy are they pissed. They have to get up, shave, etc and walk down to the terminal for a pep talk.
I slept til 1000, wrote a letter, ate some CJs (Cracker Jacks), looked at the clouds....yes, clouds. We had some cumulus clouds roll through today. Highlight of the day so far. Set up my mosquito net and "slepted" (sleep/sweat) until 1430. Went to terminal to shave, pick up laundry, write a letter and buy a Pepsi. Several Os were there, wandering aimlessly. Went to chow, stew over noodles, Pepsi and a new treat, ICE CREAM. Tasted like cold pudding, but hey, who's complaining?
Been taking pictures, working on capturing the perfect "Gunfighter into the Sunset" photo. Hope to get a good one for the cruise book or to send in to Navy photo contest. I've got a few from the past, they don't have to be from this year.