What's up folks,
The past week has been a very long and busy one. The trip to Florida was a good one and the young guys I brought down with me proved themselves flawlessly.
"Silver Flag" is a week long deployment where units from different bases come together and attend training on equipment that each careerfield uses. Then after four days of their respective training we have a mock war. It is up to us to build a tent city, repair blown up runways, and make sure we have fire protection and security.
I ran a team of 11 HVAC (heating and AC) guys. I had my 4 young guys and the rest came from Beale AFB in California and Little Rock AFB in Arkansas. I didn't know going down there that I would be the team leader, so needless to say I was under some serious pressure during the exercise.
Anyway, we built tents, placed a bunch of deployable HVAC units on each tent and two refrigerators for a morgue and chow hall. My whole team performed flawlessly. After we had all our units set and running, some of the cadre went behind us and put troubles into our equipment. Our command and control center would call me on the radio and I'd dispatch a crew to go do a service call. The guys applied what we had learned earlier in the week and had our stuff running again in no time.
These are the guys that went down with me. They are pretty young, but I would take them to a deployment in a heartbeat. They gelled so well with the other team members and had such an awesome attitude all week.
Our living conditions for the week weren't the best. Other than spending the night in tents for the exercise, we slept in a "hooch". It's basically like a work shed.
We ate MRE's (Meal, Ready to Eat) most of the week but really enjoyed the hot meals when we got them. For those of you who've never experienced a delightful MRE, you don't know what you're missing. They come all packaged in a brown plastic bag. There is a main entree, a side item, a desert, and usually some type of powdered stuff (milkshake, tea, etc). All of this stuff is individually vacuumed packaged, you tear open the envelope and enjoy the contents. There is also a way to heat each envelope. There is a plastic bag that has a chemically soaked piece of cardboard in it. You slide your food envelope into the shake and bake style bag, and pour in about 4 oz of water from your canteen and this thing starts getting hot. You leave your envelope in there for about 5 min and wah-lah....you have a piping hot envelope of food.
Here is a chocolate chip cookie (complete with moisture absorbing pack to keep it fresh while packaged). A lot of us make fun of MRE's, but truth be told, most of them are not bad. Each MRE has a total daily calorie intake for a typical man (about 2,800 calories). This is because the fighting person on the front line may only get to eat once a day. So you have to be careful if your not humping it very hard in your job. You could actually gain weight eating these if you have a cushy desk job while at war. Oh and I forgot to mention the main reason we poke fun at these MRE's. They have a tendency to stop up the plumbing if ya know what I mean. I'll leave it at that.
We wrapped up training on Friday, but our flight back to TX wasn't till 6:00 am Sat morning. We stayed in Panama City Friday night and me and my guy's went out for a nice seafood dinner at this kick ass place called Montego Bay. I highly recommend it. After dinner we walked down to the beach and soaked up the night time atmosphere for awhile. It was very somber for me to stand on the beach and listen to the waves crash in. I thought about all my friends and family on the MS. coast who are trying like hell to restore some type of life.
So about 9pm the guys wanted to go to a strip club. We were ordered to stay together for the night, so old sarge got outvoted on just wanting to go back to the hotel. I couldn't pull rank on these guys because they had worked hard and deserved their night in town. So off to the Golden Nugget we went. I gotta be honest....it didn't suck. Plus I got free cokes because I was the "designated driver" (I'm the one who called the taxi). So the guys had a few drinks, spent a bunch of money on the dancers and had a blast watching my reaction to the whole deal. I haven't been in a strip joint in years, and I felt like a fish out of water. It was just funny watching these young single guys throw money around and talk shit with these strippers.
The journey down to FL and back home went well. I took this kick ass picture of the sun rising on the way down to DFW when we were heading out. I had my MP3 player blaring some Steely Dan when the sun popped up. I had this overwhelming feeling of gratitude hit me, so I pulled out the camera and snapped it.
So I'm back now. Thank you Momthatsnuts for checking in on me. I hope my other cyber friends haven't quit stopping by. Take care and I'll holler later.