Twenty Years Ago (What, Wait… it’s been 20 years!?!)

Greetings Me Droogs N Droogettes!
20 years ago I took off from Ft. Bliss Texas, Final Destination; Baghdad, Iraq.

And yeah, I was a waaaay overweight Fatbody.
440 pounds at that time of the pic being taken.

They had us gather all our gear at dawn on the porch of the ancient barracks…the ones I think that have been condemned since then as ‘unfit for human habitation’ as even when we were there, we couldn’t even use the tap water to brush our teeth, it was so bad.

We flew commercial to Frankfurt Germany, at which point we then went from ‘normal commercial’ to “Retired AirFarce General Aviation”, i.e. a old beat to hell Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, leased by a Retired Conglomerate, and Chartered at Extortionist Rates that took us on to Kuwait:

A looooooong and cramped flight to say the least.

Sucked even more that we go conned into loading the baggage with a promise of a seat in the First Class section, only for the fuckers to reneg on it.


Once in Kuwait, we had like a one-day layover. Specifically -I- had a layover as they had a problem scrounging up a set of Body Armor my size (5xl). They had to ship one in from some obscure log-base, and it was in Woodland Camo, which sort of sucked later on in the Iraqi sun and heat. Once I got it, they put me and my bro, Lil Country, on a C-5A:

That one specifically…

Let me tell you…
First Thing: The ‘passenger’ compartment is on the roof of that big sucker. Right behind the cockpit. It’s called “The Courier Compartment.” Held about 8 of us in that forward deck. That was it for pax on that flight… the rest of the plane was pure cargo. The ladder? Hoo boy… scary doesn’t describe it while you’re climbing it with a ruck and a duffle on top of the ruck (90+pounds of gear) all while wearing your vest, with plates.

Second Thing? You’re flying backwards.
Most disconcerting thing I’ve ever experienced, taking off and landing backwards. Really fucks you up.

Third and Last Thing? The Chaff and Flare Launchers are right there on either side of you. As we were on approach into The Saddam-A-Go-Go, the Haj fired off -something- at us… found out later it was an old ass MANPAD someone had squirreled away, and took the risk to shoot at a big, fat, slow moving Target over BIAP…

The Chaff and Flare Launchers were what let us know we were “in the shit” so to speak.. THUNK! THUNK! THUNK! THUNK! like ever second or so… that and the wild assed combat landing… the pilot had that big Fucker doing shit that I was sure it shouldn’t be capable of… Lil Country yelled at me at that moment and took this picture:

“TFW You Question The Wisdom of Your Choices in Life”

Yeah… a Bit Hairy.
But… in the Long Run
I made it. Lost all that weight too. Got to play with a lot of cool toys:

…meet some cool people:

and pretty much redefined the Scope of Things…

Really, all and all…
“What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been…”
More Later
Big Country

25 thoughts on “Twenty Years Ago (What, Wait… it’s been 20 years!?!)”

  1. 12 March 2014 was the day I last waked across the brow of USS John C Stennis, as I departed on terminal leave pursuant transfer to fleet reserve, AKA retirement.

    Funny how as I was leaving, you were going. 😀

  2. Old time aviator here. Rear facing seats are much safer during rapid deceleration. Civilian passengers face forward because of the psychology behind it and they are fare paying customers. But it’s far better to be compressed back into your seat than to be cut in 2 by a lap belt.

  3. Cuz’ they didn’t want to waste a brand new jet plane on you puke assed civilians that as far as the .mil is concerned is lower than a new in his boots maggot recruit that even keeps his sprouts tucked and tight and proud! We flew into Bosnia when I went in on the plane they scaved from Amelia Earhart after they found it off that island… It had four engines but one smoked the entire trip from Tempelhof to outside of Sarajevo and the copilot said they shut it off on departure and it still smoked.

    1. Oh dear Gawd, I’ve been reading…
      These fucking scumbags need to hang.
      We had a nice place to live, and THEY FUCKED IT ALL UP ON PURPOSE!
      Fuck the saxon, wait until Uncle Jeb and Cletus find out they can’t make mountain dew anymore….

  4. Thank you for your service. As a life long civilian I am truly sorry you were not better treated and supported by those of us unable/unwilling to do what you did.

    1. Ditto, mostly.

      I mean – like I have to keep telling my droog Doug (especially after a few too many brews):

      “Remember, we don’t talk about Bogata.” 😉

      So, being a ‘lifelong civilian’ myself, I wholeheartedly agree with Randy (and I’d bet also most most others here): Thanks for your service and it is a shame upon us that ‘our’ government hasn’t treated/supported you better. Know that regardless of how any and all coming ‘unpleasantnesses’ turn out – that you and your brothers in arms are appreciated far more than you will ever know.

  5. “They” tell you riding backwards is safer, but most of them haven’t had one of those big, wall-mounted, yellow oxygen bottles sail past their heads on a hard landing.

  6. A while back you posted about the Down Syndrome kid who was captured by the Ruskies. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t.

    Video I saw on TikTok was one Uke solder asked the DS kid if he wanted to go shoot mortars. Kid said he knew how. Kid puts the mortar in nose first and the other Ukes start shitting themselves. They managed to catch it before it go boom, but they start beating the DS kid and cursing him for almost killing them.

    There’s no ring of hell hot enough for Ukes.

  7. 20 years, eh? It’s funny how memories pile up. Interesting times had by all, good and bad. YMMV.
    How was it hanging with Rollins?

    1. Dude was COOL AF! Highly intelligent… Fucker said I was one of the biggest sumbitches he’d ever met.

  8. I agree with Art, you look damned good for 440, unless you are 8 foot tall! (second pic)…..Bigfoot run in yer fambly?? I walked out of Ft. Lewis in Dec, 1976 I think that maffs out to 48 years ago! Man I am an old bastard. Fuck it, press on regardless.

    1. Appreciate it A… gonna have to try it on the MIL… the vaxx has her all fucked up

  9. I was in Savannah for St. Patrick’s day 20 years ago, so that means I was working as Able Seaman on an oil tanker back then. Best trip down the coast ever. I had the 12-4 watch. We left Portland ME, and I had a newer 3rd mate as my OOW, great kid. The captain was a crusty old guy, awesome too. Ss soon as we dropped the harbor pilot off, he walked around the bridge and turned off all 3 radars, the chart plotter, all but 1 VHF radio, sat coms, Auto ID System and and left us with the compass, gyro compass, gyropilot, doppler log and the lights. Told me and the mate to navigate manually using the charts, sun and stars to Savannah, and dip inshore if we wanted to get running fixes off of lighthouses. He had all the mates do this so the 2nd and 3rd mates and their AB’s would learn how to navigate properly. It was just a couple of days, but we learned so much that the captain did this once a year for the next few years.
    That new 3rd mate is a captain now.
    In Savannah,the pilot blew the whistle as we passed downtown, and all the girls drinking at the Irish pub on water street rushed out to flash us as we went by. I damn near steered us into one of the hotels, got a “mind your helm, Paul, goddammit” from the captain.

  10. …walked back into the world in 1974, Blue Ball Express from Kaneohe after a C-“flying shitbox” from hell, stopping at every tiny island all the way across the ocean. It was November, and thankfully we got to LAX in time to get cursed at and spit on by a bunch of Mama Cass lookalikes.
    Country ain’t improved since then, Big.

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