The best part of deployments are the homecomings — and the worst part of deployments are the homecomings.  As each day counts down and your homeport draws near, time slows to a crawl, the clock seems to freeze and restlessness grows.  Nervous energy abounds as do anyone of a number of “oh yeah, we also need to do…” tasks, ranging from preps for the post-cruise corrosion inspection from the wing, the post-deployment reports to the ISICs and plans for the inevitable trip tot he shipyard for an availability period and the creation of the supporting work packages.  Still, channel fever grows in direct proportion to the anticipation of arrival...

SJS,

The end of this wonderful government paid vacation is around the corner. We have been making an end run home. There is supposed to be one last port visit, to my home town in the Emerald City before the ship actually ends this cruise. That port visit most of my command is slated to leave. We will be embarking tigers and doing a tiger cruise from the Emerald City down to San Diego. I am doing it this time and bringing my father-in-law out with me. So he can get a chance to live my life for a few days. It will be interesting, they will have the usual stuff planned. Everything from an air power demonstration that may drop live death, to night time fire works as the self-defense mounts fire off their tracer rounds, big bucks bingo, ice cream social, movies on SITE TV that will be interrupted by FOD walks, etc. Basically a week in the life, and not the stuff they showed on those shows like JAG or in the movies like Top Gun.

While trying to get ready for home coming it has been nothing like meeting and paperwork hell. Last minute taskers that get assigned and then unassigned and then assigned again, all because some one else had the good idea fairy visit them. Then the good idea fairy spray came out and then the good idea fairy came out again. There are some of us that believes the good idea fairy is like a cockroach, you can kill one and then another pops up someplace else. Anyhow, like I said it seems like some training event gets started, then canx’d, then started again only because someone realized that the requirement needs to be fulfilled. On top of that it has been how to document the training. If not that then it has been paperwork hell simply because some additional paperwork that has become a requirement just before coming home. Everything from verifying personnel data in the service jackets to updating training to cover the good idea fairies. I think I have succeed in the last forty-eight hours to use enough paper that would justify clear-cutting the side of a mountain.

In the middle of all this as well has been the work to prepare our jets for our fly off. So it has been competing for hangar space trying to get enough of the little gripes that would affect the navigation and aviating of the airplane off the ship to the home base. I think I have talked about this portion before. To add into it we have dived into some storm that is tossing us around a little bit. Again just enough to make the suggestion to a few people that they should resort to the soda and saltine diet. What makes it even worst though is that there are some flying requirements that we need to hit as well, but due to the storm the ship isn’t feeling safe enough to launch jets or recover. Just a couple of days ago it seemed like everyone was trying to beat snakes in the cockpits while landing. Even the E-2’s were having problems and at the time we were doing flight ops the closest divert was NAF Midway, so when they came in saying “Trick or Treat”. The powers to be in charged decided to recover that event and knock off for the day. You know it is a bad day when the E-2 calls trick or treat. Since then we have had the deck open for a couple of hours in driving rain and high winds getting only the most basic of maintenance done. Again just enough to make sure the planes are safe enough to operate. We aren’t trying to break anything or lose anything in the high winds cause we are opening up panels. It sucks to lose an aircraft panel over the side this late in the game. It is sort of like losing a tire off your race car with in inches of the finish line.

When I have had a chance to bounce over to your site, I noticed a few people asking about the personal side of my life. Married life has been alright. Now I have only actually spent time with the wife for about a total of three months out of the first year married. Beyond that, I am living the geo-bachelor life right now. We are working on trying to get that fixed. That has been low priority compared to anything else going in our life. Such as getting a budget together, downsizing our respective stuff, deciding between sailor bachelor décor and her décor. Basically learning the idea that I need to be like a reed in a wind storm instead of being a huge oak. There is a time and place to stand firm and a time to bend to the winds of change. At times it feels like I am bending more and at other times I think I am standing firm only to find out that through her feminine trickery or wits, she has brought me around to her thinking. Other that that we are planning on home coming and dealing with some time off and together.

So the end is almost here and with it my contact to outside world. I hope you all have enjoyed these postcards and I hope soon to get time to work on my own site again. Get back into my a couple of my hobbies, work on my house, and basically try and enjoy some time on the life. So here is to the end of the last round of postcards. Remember, just as I am coming home there is someone else in this nation’s military ramping up to leave or is leavening. If you see one of them give them a shake of the hand and an honest pat on the back.

Sincerely,

Charles

Charles — BZ on a deployment well done, on your faithful and illuminating correspondence and all our best wishes for speedy homecoming and reunion with the CINCHOME.  Have a blast with your father-in-law and the Tiger Cruise, I think you’ll find that will really help the time pass.   – SJS

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