As I write this we are in the process of pulling pier side to a major US Naval Base on the Eastern seaboard. My squadron is being offloaded here and on the way home to our families and loved ones. At the same time we are on loading about 1500 tigers. A tiger is a civilian relative/friend of a crew member and given a chance to experience a couple of days out to sea before actually pulling back into home port at Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk Virginia. We are going to show them what we did and how we lived this previous seven months. Nearly everyone has been struck by channel fever. All through out the berthings of my squadron people who should of been asleep can’t sleep and those who did go to sleep probably only sleep for a few hours. All we can think about is getting on the MAC flight that is going to take us home to Whidbey Island. All we can think about is what we are going to do on leave. All we can think about is our families back at the beach. Making up for all the things we have missed over the past seven months.
I labeled this postcard the song that never ends because it is. As we talk about my home coming there is some one else being told to get ready or singling up the lines to leave and some are being called in the middle of the night that they have 24 hours to be at an air terminal ready to go. I have enjoyed sharing my experiences with you and your readers. It also appears that I have survived yet another deployment and am getting ready to head home again. All I think of now is going on leave and relaxing. There are a few things that I need to work through while on leave.
The biggest thing is going and seeing my grandfather and the grave of my grandmother. The previous year she had been sick with breast cancer and after some chemo and an operation. The word I had received from my family was that she had beaten that portion. Just after Thanksgiving, I had received the word that the cancer has spread to her bones. Talking to one of the flight docs who had specialized in cancer treatments, told me that it was just a matter of when she was going to die. I had hoped to get home and have my last moments with her. Instead time, just around Valentines day I was woken up and told there was an AMCROSS message for me. An AMCROSS is American Red Cross message. Basically I was told my grandmother had died. I was offered a chance by the commanding officer to use his personal telephone and make phone call ashore. Along with that I was offered a chance to take Emergency leave. I talked to my father and was basically told that by the time I would have gotten home the funeral would of happened and I would’ve still been in an airplane or waiting to get an international flight from the Persian Gulf to Philadelphia. So I turned down the Emergency Leave and instead took a couple of days off from working in the shop. It wasn’t perfect but it did work to sort of get my head back on straight. When I tie back up in Norfolk, I am heading to the airport and catching an airliner up to Philadelphia. Spending a week seeing my grandfather and various other relatives in the area. After which I am going to be back home and back to the grind of getting ready for another deployment sometime in the future.
As I have mentioned there are others out there getting ready to leave or have left or out there right now. I would recommend that if you see a guy or gal in uniform some place pay them a compliment. One of the best compliments I had received was from someone I didn’t know nor did I get a chance to meet. I was at an airport restaurant in my dress blues going home after my first deployment. When it came time to pay for my bill I was told by the waitress that my tab had been paid for by someone else. I left a healthy tip for the waitress and went about my way on to get on the airplane to see my parents. I would also say that some times the basic thing of just going up and saying thank you is appreciated by most of us.
Finally I want to say thank you to you SJS for letting me suck up your bandwidth with my wondering thoughts and pictures. I want to also thank everyone out there that sent the various care packages and cards through out the past seven months. Just after we left Marseille we received a couple of last minute ones with the last mail call. To Rich, the coffee was a savor. We were starting to get issued really bitter Turkish style coffee, when my supervisor opened up that package and saw the three bags of coffee we all jumped for joy. To the Girl Scout troops from Gainesville, thanks again for the cookies. Those were a life saver as well. I think there were a couple of times due to flight schedule changes the troubleshooter in my shop was able to chow down on a box of cookies because they had missed a meal.
In two weeks I should be back to posting at my own site and sharing various thoughts from a blue-shirt down in the trenches of maintaining Naval Aviation.
Southern Air Pirate
Welcome home Southern – it’s been a pleasure hosting your posts. And to all the folks who sent care pkgs and notes – thanks too, you guys are tops! – SJS
Article Series - Postcards from Deployment
- Postcards from Deployment
- Postcards From Deployment: HOA
- Postcards from Deployment: Doin’ the Ditch
- Postcards from Deployment: “The Song That Never Ends”
- Postcards from Deployment: The Day After the Day Before
- Postcards from Deployment: Deployment Stress
- Postcards from Deployment: Of Midpoints and Ground Hog Day(s)
- “Now Hear This — Mail Call, Mail Call…”
- Postcards from Deployment: Now Liberty Call – Asia (Eat Your Heart Out Skippy-san!)
- Postcards from Deployment: Of Wogs and Shellbacks…
- Postcards From Deployment: Now Liberty Call — Hong Kong
- Postcards From Deployment — Oh Those Cruise Mustaches!
- Postcards from Deployment: Homeward Bound
- Postcards From Deployment: Almost Home