Posts tagged ‘deployment’

Okinawa at last

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and East China Sea lies the island of Okinawa. The tropical Japanese Isle is more than 400 miles from the southernmost part of mainland Japan. The similarity I gradually noticed here is that Okinawa is to Japan as Hawaii or Puerto Rico is to the U.S. These two islands — while definitely still America — have their own distinct flavor and island people’s culture. Okinawa admittedly is not as modern and flashy as the rest of Japan, it is kind of like the neglected stepchild despite the huge numbers of tourists from mainland Japan that are visible everywhere.
After 11 or so days, I finally arrived. The humid air assaulted me the moment I stepped off the C-5 into the open air. Flashbacks to Hawaii have been frequent with both the weather and scenery, though Okinawa definitely wins in a contest over which island is hotter. Within a minute or two, it is possible to go from bone dry clothing to completely soaked.
Now that I’ve caught up to when I first got here, I have a lot of work to do to fill in the gaps in the two months since.






While also sunny and warm, this wasn’t quite our final destination of Okinawa. The photos presented here depict how we had to unload our two CH-53’s out of the Air Force plane since it was “broken”. Shortly after the three hour offload was completed, they were magically fixed and headed back to Texas the next day. We spent 4 full days in Northern California just outside of Travis Air Force base. The eight of us were mostly relegated to staying at the hotel since we did not have a vehicle. On one day when we didn’t have to go to the base at all, Longbine and I took a train to San Francisco. We didn’t really know where to go, so our site seeing was limited to long walks up the steep streets with stops at 5 or 6 bars during the day. I had to talk him in to at least walking past Chinatown so I could catch a glimpse of it.


Offloading the Main Gearbox with attached Rotor Head




Close up of a tie-down chain



Enjoy the oil we spilt…suckers

The Odyssey

After 5 days we finally left Alaska, including one aborted flight the day before when we had to turn around in flight after 20 minutes. Our little group was more than ready to leave the area after so many days stuck in base lodging and hotel rooms in Anchorage. During our 2nd day here, the main body of our squadron det with 70 people came, spent less that a day here, and left. We enjoyed ourselves at many of Anchorage’s bars, and I left a record of our presence by slapping many an HMH-772 sticker around town, but I wanted to get to Okinawa.

Unfortunately, this was not to be the case. The Air Force C-5 still had lingering issues so the crew decided to fly south to Travis Air Force Base, California, to get better support.


F-22 flyby




Boarding the C-5



Alaska — The land of the Midnight Sun

Arrived at Elmendorf, Alaska sometime around 1 in the morning. That was the only time the sky was actually dark, and even then, it was kind of like a pre-dawn twilight and the horizon was still visible. The sun began to rise at around 2 or 2:30. We were only supposed to be here for one night, but we wound up staying here for 5 or 6 days.




Sunrise over Elmendorf Air Force Base




Stinsky and Trowbridge trying to capture the colorful dawn







No room for us on base anymore, making the mile-long hike to check out of our rooms — and alert for any bears roaming around the base












Got lucky (or as I later found out, unlucky) to leave a day prior to the rest of the squadron detachment with a very small number of people, since we were taking a heavier cargo of helicopters onto the transport plane. There was only 8 of us total: 2 from Avionics (Wooner and Labrador) and 3 each from Airframes (Trowbridge, Stinksy, and SSgt Hensley) and Flightline (myself, Barnes, and Gunny Longbine).

Once we got nice and sweaty waiting to get on the C-5, we ran around some more in the cargo bay checking the tie-down security of our 2 CH-53s, then sat down to icy air conditioning. Hensley provided me with a sleeping pill while we were waiting to take-off, and the next thing I know, I wake up a few hours into the flight. Apparently, as the C-5 was taxiing to the runway, I was carrying on a conversation with Hensley and Gunny Longbine and then I was quiet for a minute so they looked over to find me slumped over in my seat, out cold.


Wooner, waiting, in the Passenger Terminal




The Airframes contingent: Trowbridge (in the foreground), Hensley and Stinsky


Time passes slow waiting in the dim light


Longbine and Hensley with “RJ”, one of the Air Force loadmasters



Packed tightly


The Beginning

While I’ve only just gotten this site running, it is already 2 months into my deployment. Instead of starting in the present, I feel I must start this like some good books do and purposely go back in time to show how everything started.

May 29, 2013


Game of Spades in the Flightline shop.

Spent everyday leading up to the departure working. Wouldn’t have it any other way, really; it’s boring sitting in a hotel-esque room with bags packed and nothing to do. I stayed at work in our shop for a little while since we kept hearing our Air Force C-5 transport plane would be delayed, so I shot a picture of a couple of the guys playing Spades. I choose to not include their upper bodies in the picture and shoot in B&W because I felt this is a timeless kind of moment — servicemen passing idle time with card games in-between hard work.