I would return to March after getting married and shutting down a small business with an 8-year clientele. My employee would be let go as well. I would pay off all my vendors, cancel the expensive insurance, and pay the state and city tax bill.
When I got back to March AFB, the well-oiled group of professionals was putting everything together for the Wing activation. The powers that be determined that Wright [patterson would be the staging area for the C-141C aircrews. A C-9 Nightingale shuttle would be established that would haul several crews at a time. Once we arrived at Wright-Patterson AFB, the crews would go into a stage and billet at the Hope Inn. When our crew’s number came up we would then operate a C-141C to Mildenhall AB, England and enter another stage. Mildenhall AB is where our maintenance folks were stationed after activation. The aircrews would stay three to a room in Mildenhall billeting and the aircrews would have to stay in an old abandoned dormitory with leaking pipes and water on the floor. The 452nd maintenance folks worked their asses off at Mildenhall and kept the C-141C in the air. They were great to work with.
Mildenhall AB had been upgraded, and it sported a world class chow hall eatery. The food was delicious.
At the beginning of the 2nd Gulf war, the C-141C was tasked with flying war material to Kuwait International. Our first missions would fly cargo for the 3 Corps out of Fort Hood Texas to England and then through loaded to Kuwait. Brodheads fought in Mexico, served with sam Houston in Congress, said yah to the Annexation of Texas , and authored the bill that paid off texas debt after it’s war of independnce with Mexico.
Kuwait International would be a massive staging area for incoming Air Force logistics assets. The ramp and taxiways would be filled with heavy aviation assets from end to end. There were KC-10As, C-130s, C-5Bs, and C-141C models. We would dump our cargo have a subway sandwich and wait to take off again. The sortie from Mildenhall AB, England to Kuwait International was a 9 to 10-hour affair. A normal ground time would be about 2 hours or enough time to gas up and get out of the third world Muslim shithole. On this particular day, a C-5 was broke at the head of the line and kept everyone from leaving. The C-5 piece of leaking shit kept a dozen heavy aviation assets from taking off and returning to Mildenhall AB or Ramstein AB, Germany. So there we sat because nobody could taxi by them. For 5 hours we sat there. Alas after almost a day of sitting, the piece of shit FRED finally took off. By the time we were airborne, we had already completed a 16 hour crew duty day and it was 7.5 hours back to Mildenhall, AB.
When we had a day off, this German FE student dude and I would go to Trafalgar square and James Park. We would drive a rental car to Cambridge and then take the tube to Soho. Along the way, I was disturbed with the graffiti on the stone walls that had lined these British tracks since the invention of the steam engine. While in downtown London, we would cross the Thames and view the Parliment. Our lunch would be at an all you can eat pizza place and cost $60. The pizza sucked.
Brodheads left London in 1664 on British Man-O-wars. My Great Plus Grandfather would be second in command of the Nichols expedition and lead the 400 British troops that forced the surrender of New Amsterdam. He would leave on Man-O-wars only 20 years after Lord Cromwell and decades before to the Battle of Trafalgar. We would establish English speaking rule and rename New Amsterdam to New York. This Brodhead would return on the mighty C-141 and reacquaint himself with his Britsih imperialist bastard core. Unlike many, I am not ashamed of my British or German heritage. Screw that.
Our crew would make several trips from Army bases in the states to Wright-Patterson and Mildenhall hauling the products of war. However, once Franks started his rapid Blitzkrieg offensive, the entire contingent of 32 C-141C models would be shifted to a dedicated air evacuation role. Wright -Patterson would volunteer to do the heavy lifting once again and perform a daily mission from Ramstein to Iraq and back. March, on the other hand, would do a weekly Bravo alert which backed up the Wright-Patterson crews.
During the first part of the war, a mission down to Kuwait or Baghdad was 9 hours down and 7 hours back depending on winds. We had to fly almost the entire length of the Saudi Arabia peninsula and then make a left turn to Kuwait. Once Baghdad was secured, we would then make another left turn overfly Kuwait and land at Baghdad international. We would arrive at night with all the lights and air conditioning systems turned off to reduce heat and light signatures. The infrared missile defense system would be armed as well. Once we landed in the pitch black night, we would sit on the ground for several hours as the Med crews load the aircraft with wounded soldiers. They would pack the airplane with litter patients and walk wounded. The aircrew would do a concurrent refuel as well. Once the plane was loaded to the hilt and gassed up, we would take off before dawn again and fly the 7 hours back to Ramstein AB, Germany. For the hardworking Med crews, a Baghdad trip was close to 26-hour affair. the trip would encompass 3 hours on the ground during preflight, 9 hours down, 4 hours on the ground in Baghdad, 7 hours back and up to 2 hours unloading patients and reconfiguring the aircraft for the next bunch.
When all of Iraq was subdued and secured, the medivac stage in Iraq would be moved to Balad Airbase in Iraq. Then instead of flying the Saudi peninsula, the missions were ragged over the Black sea and turned south over Iraq between Turkey and Iran. This mission routing cut the flying time to 5 down and 4 back. A crew duty day was reduced to a tolerable less than 16 hours. the once slow patient pick-up became a 2-hour event as well.
At Ramstein AB, Germany, we were no longer 3 to a room. We had our own rooms on base or stayed at a nice hotel off base. When I had a day off, I would rent an Audi A$ turbo diesel with a 6-speed transmission and go and see my German Aunts, uncles, and cousins.I would spend the night in the old farmhouse that had been in the German family name for over 300 years. During Hitler’s Third Reich the farm was nationalized by the NAZIs because my German Grandfather would not take the oath to Hitler. As a former conservative senator in the Weimar republic, he was on Hitler’s shitlist. he would go into hiding. Eventually he would be sent to Dachau along with thousands of German veterans that had fought during WWI and supported the Kaiser. My mother remembers the smell from the Dachau smoke stacks when they live in Dachau waiting for Zeppy to be released. On the autobahn, I would coax the Audi up to 230 Kilometers an hour. I would cruise at 145 miles an hour from Ramstein to just outside of Munich and scratch that off the bucket list. .
After several months of being three to a room and working our asses off, we had a day off in Germany. The crew would go out and knock down some German Beers at an Irish pub. We were to enter a Bravo alert to back up the medivac of Jessica Lynch our of Iraq. I was hung-over like a bitch. A C-17 would posture the Jessica Lynch Bravo away from us. We also moved to a different hotel while I was extremely hung-over. I was saved by a co-pilot that had some plop plop fizz fizz in her flight bag.
By this time, the 452nd at March AFB raised the bullshit flag concerning the stage at Wright-Patterson. March crews would fly direct to Ramstein AB and enter the stage there. It was a brutally long mission but not as bad as flying Ramstein AB, Bangor, Maine to Moreno Valley, California.
Ramstein was a blast. The crews would head downtown to have dinner. A good aircraft commander made all the difference. A few of our pilots were quite the host. They would set us up with excellent hotels or take us to the O-club for an all you can eat buffet. They made certain that their enlisted were taken care of in every way. They made certain that the experience in Germany during wartime would be remembered fondly while we were on this earth.
For the most part, everyone got along and were seasoned aviation veterans. The Loadmasters never missed a beat and worked their asses off as well. We all worked together as a crew a well-oiled machine.
I was given the wonderful opportunity to work with a world-class flying unit full of professionals. Everyone knew their place and everyone gave 150%. The 729th and 730th did their absolute best to support our patriots in the field. It was the proudest and most honorable time in my life.
One last thought: George W Busch really never showed up to fly at his Vietnam Avoidance Air Guard unit in Texas. Instead of a list of sorties and Air Guard participation records, Americans were treated to a photo of him on a fighter’s wing and one Air Guard Unit pay stub. That was it. Of course, the Yale silver spoon Cokehead would later deploy millions of people to the Middle East, abuse aircrews, and where out new equipment. The biggest insult to our troops was the constant deployments to a war zone. In fact, some of our Army folks were deployed a dozen times in an 8 year period. Then at 10 years, many of these patriots were released from the service to meet manning reductions. While George Herbert Walker Bush a dedicated fighter pilot during WWII, Gee Dubb didn’t do shit in the military. In fact, the taxpayers paid a huge sum of money to put junior through flight training. After that, he did not even show up. In 2002 he stated no nation building. Then he does the complete opposite and lets his donor list run his shitty foreign policy. Hell, Junior wasn’t even from Texas, Rick Perry, on the other hand, was a Texan true to form, a solid governor and an Air Force Pilot that actually showed up to fly. Rick was not a Bush protege at all. In fact, the comparison is an insult.
Rick Perry would fly the C-130 out of Mildenhall as an officer in the United states Air Force.