Those of us who have spent any amount of time at sea recognize the syndrome – after the first week or two, when the initial rush of getting underway and operating at sea begins to wear off, the routine settles in and pretty soon, one day (or night) melts into the next and the only way you tell the difference is the calendar on the bulkhead with the crossed out days…Â So how do you avoid becoming a seagoing zombie that slogs from berthing, to workcenter, to flightdeck, to chow (Rinse. Repeat.)?Â Well – our deployed correspondent has some ideas.Â We have another one for you, good reader, at the end.Â – SJS
The hardest thing about being on cruise is not letting yourself get into that groundhog day mentality. It is very hard to let that mind set slide in on you. It is very much wake up, get some water on your face, go grab breakfast, attended the morning maintenance meeting, go to pass down to your work center, work till lunch, eat lunch, work till shift change, give pass down and do tool checks, then progress to dinner. After shift it is go to the gym, go to a college class if your enrolled (I am not because I am that point with my college to start taking advance classes towards my major of aircraft maintenance), go study for a qual, or just grab a shower and head to bed. Rinse and repeat for the next one-hundred and eighty plus days. It sounds silly, but one has to work hard on preventing a dull mind set from getting in place. So that is where pranks and humor see to arise. What I have always noticed on the previous four deployments that I have completed is how much longer a deployment goes the cruder the humor goes. Since this is a family site, I won’t go completely into the rudeness, but you have been there you know. To give you an example of a prank that was pulled recently. One of the guys in my berthing compartment always talks through every movie that we are trying to watch. Whether that movie is on the TV channels or someone’s borrowed DVD. It is incredibly annoying and this joker has been doing this since workups. He makes stupid jokes or comments about the character. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was every so often, but it is ever frigging moment. So a couple of guys went out and bought some water pistols while we were San Diego and snuck them onboard. Last night once of the guys had broken out his DVD of Iron Man. We were sitting around the TV trying to listening to the movie when the talker walked in. The guys with the water pistols were ready when he started to make comments during the movie, first was the verbal warning and then the talker started again. BAM! Three people turned and hosed the talker with ice cold water all over. To top it off our A/C works really well in the berthing. So he was starting to freeze a little bit. One of the guys told him that was his first and only lesson, he was going to train him like he trains his hunting dog. Every time the talker made a comment during a movie he was going to get a shot in the face with the water. Later on in the night after I got tired of watching the movie I went back to the rack only to see the three guys with the water pistols chase each other around the berthing playing tag with the water. Had to put a quick stop to it and had them mop up the water, safety reasons. Sometimes it is the simple things that keep us entertained for a while.
We spent the last couple of days hanging out just south of the Hawaiian islands. Waiting for Hurricane Felicia to dissipate from around the region. Wait before you readers ask, the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon is which side of the International Date line the storm forms on. On the Eastern Side of the date line (i.e. the side that North America is) all the storms are called Hurricanes. Once you cross the international date line heading to Guam, Taiwan, Philippines, etc it becomes a Typhoon. Typhoon’s are just as dangerous if not more so then Hurricanes. The biggest reason is that Typhoon’s have a whole bunch of open water to gather steam and quickly transition from a simple tropical depressions to a full bore category 3 or higher storm because of all the warm water they are born in. On top of that take a quick look at the Pacific Ocean. Where are the major Land Masses that can suck up that energy? That is right, there aren’t any until you get over to Japan, China coast, and South China Seas area. They take a serious toll to the nations in their path. These nations civil defense for weather like this is very good. I had a chance to experience the edges of a Typhoon back in 2006. I was visiting MCAS Iwakuni with a previous squadron and we were secured in our barracks, planted sand bags around the doors. Most of the locals moved further inland and up into the hills out of predicted flooding zones. I sat in my barracks room with my radio turned to the local AFRTS station and batteries installed. Waiting to see what would happen. I remember falling asleep later that night to the wind howling and rain just coming down in buckets. I woke up the next morning and watched outside the gate as local police were escorting power crews around to check on lines and poles. Other police were checking doors to make sure that everyone was okay. The only downside for me in the whole experience is that once the bases in Japan set a certain typhoon condition all the forces on the base are placed in a duty status. I am so use to living in Virginia or the Gulf Coast and doing Hurricane parties that it was a bummer when I couldn’t buy any booze at the mini-mart to mix up some drinks while waiting for the storm to pass. Oh well. Getting back to the here and now, the ship found some calm water a couple of days ago away from the path of the storm and we just have been hanging out there to make sure Felicia doesn’t zig or zag back into our path. We took a no fly day, yesterday and now back into the business of flying. I spent yesterday knee deep in planning meetings and preparing training lectures for later in the month.
I brought a bunch of books like last time to keep me busy while I am out here. See if you can detect the theme with these titles. “Guadalcanal Diary” by Richard Tregaskis, “Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Raymond A. Spruance” by Thomas Buell, “A Dawn Like Thunder: True Story of Torpedo Eight” by Robert J. Mrazek, “Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway” by Jonathan Parshall, Anthony Tully, “Honor Bound: American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia 1961-1973” by Stuart I. Rochester, Frederick T. Kiley. Give you a second to ponder it. That is correct they are all books about events or people involved with the Pacific region. I have these titles and a few others to keep me entertained for the next six months. Outside of this theme are a couple of other books. One is titled “The Evolution of Nuclear strategy” by Lawrence Freedman. This edition was published in 1983 and I found it at a local used book store for fifty cents. It looked like an interesting book to read. As part of my continuing effort to read classics I have found an illustrated copy of “The Mysterious Island” by Jules Verne at the same used book store. This one set me back about five dollars. So I picked them up together and threw them in the box of stuff that I packed for out here. That is how I spend most of my time deeply involved in reading. This used book store I go to is always a delight because you never know what you will find. It is in what use to be a Woolworth’s department store in a town called Bellingham. It has narrow aisles and the shelves are overflowing with books. I have gone in there and found books written in the 40’s and fifties that were exciting adventure stories written for boys, or found personal history stories from people that survived WW2, down to some pretty old school electrical theory math books (written in 1937 and 1944) that were useful for rate training. Heck I even found a book written in 1938 by some professor from U of Chicago about the history of rocketry and theory of rocket development that had a forward written by Charles Goddard. That one would of set me back about 50 dollars. I would really recommend to your readers to find a good used book store like that. You never know what you could find just poking around in the shelves.
Well that is about it for here right now. If I get a chance I will try and get a some more pictures taken of events around the ship. If I remember it I will try and get a shot of the chow line and the triangle fish and square turkey that we get from time to time.
What Charles failed to mention as a monotony-buster is mail, good old fashioned stuff-it-in-an-envelope or box snail mail.Â Should any of our readers desire to drop a note (or better yet, a small package of coffee or cookies would be appreciated, we’re sure…), he may be reached at:
AT1 Charles Berlemann
VAQ-135 Unit 25409
FPO, AP 96601-6419
Methinks maybe a little later in deployment there might be a need for refreshing the library too 😉 – SJS