Friday, August 22, 2014

"Welcome to Oregon. We hope you brought a fire extinguisher."

Sorry for the lousy shot.  It's hard to snap a picture at 75mph.  I had to blow it up to display it here.

Oregon used to take a little heat from their old border sign stating "Welcome to Oregon.  We hope you enjoy your visit" which was a subtle way of saying please visit, but just don't stay. Now it's the more inviting "Oregon Welcomes You."  I recently returned from a quick trip up there to visit family on the occasion of the wife's little sis #1 turning 40.  When my father retired from the Navy, we moved from San Diego to a piece of property in Selma Oregon.  I’m using the term “property” vice “home” because we were moving to 5 acres of unimproved land that my father had purchased while on leave from the Navy.  He was stationed at Alameda Naval Air Station in the Bay Area and decided to take a drive up the 101, eventually finding his way up the Redwood Highway into Southern Oregon.  He fell in love with the beautiful green tree-filled landscape of the Pacific Northwest and wanted to have a share in it.

Ye Olde Oregon Homestead.  My father and grandfather built this.

What you see in that picture is a lot of green surrounding the home in the previous photo.  That’s how I remember Oregon, thick green woods filled with pine trees and former logging roads.  Except now, as you can see in the intro picture, it’s not all that green.  Sure, the trees are all still there (Environmentalists saving the Spotted Owl have pretty much killed the timber industry in the area), but the hillsides not covered in trees are all dry and brown.  Years of drought have led to the driest countryside ever seen in the PacNorwest.  And that means perfect fire conditions.

It seems like the entire state is on fire.  Not quite, but close.  So close that my brother, an Oregon Army National Guardsman was busy driving a water tanker truck into the area near this fire:
Old Blue Mountain Fire in Southern Oregon
This is the "Old Blue Mountain Fire", but  there are several others.  As I researched this post, the websites couldn't even keep up with the news reports as new fires were popping up as old ones like this were being contained.  Many due to lightning, some to unknown causes, still under investigation, which unfortunately means arson for a couple of them.

It's a little disconcerting that at least for my family, they’ve gotten very used to the smoky air, the fire reports, and the sound of the firefighting aircraft flying over.  That last one surprised me.  Due to my aviation background, I almost ALWAYS look up when I hear aircraft fly over, but it didn’t even faze them.  During dinner in the backyard of my sister-in-law’s place, both an Ericson AirCrane (formerly the Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe) and a Bell 412 (UH-1 Huey) flew overhead, probably on their way to Lake Selmac to pick up another load of water.

My original intent for this post was to discuss the military aircraft that have gone onto civilian use in various roles, or to other militaries.  My inspiration for this idea came from my last post about the S-3's heading for Korea.  I got to thinking about the S-2 Tracker and how the Navy sold them to many other countries, of which some are still in use.   However, in the middle of my effort to gather pictures of those second-life aircraft, I drove into Oregon and realized there was another story to tell. 

The S-2T barely resembles its Stoof/Tracker roots, with new turboprop engines and a nosejob.
CAL-Fire, or the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has a fleet of 23 S-2T 1200 gallon airtankers.  My wife's uncle flew S-2s for the Navy, then later for CAL-Fire.  These Trackers aren't operating in Oregon, but they do great work in also-fire-ravaged California.  There are quite a few former Navy aircraft in the firefighting biz as they are well qualified for the rigors of the job.

"After World War II ended, an abundance of surplus military aircraft found their way into the fledgling aerial firefighting industry.  The combination of a large payload and the high performance of many bombers, attack aircraft, and transports allowed enterprising companies to modify airframes with large tanks for carrying borate and water for dousing wildfires.  Some of these modifications were straightforward; large tanks were inserted into existing bomb bays and after the bomb bay doors were opened, the payload was released by opening valves.  Other aircraft were fitted with tanks within the fuselage, with plumbing inserted through the floor to allow for the release of the fire suppressant underneath the aircraft."

The Tracker and a buddy

The Tracker is obviously not alone.  The P-2V Neptune, P-3 Orion, and even my beloved PBY Catalina have been put to use fighting fires.

Aircraft* attacking the Rogue River Drive fire in Southern Oregon last week.
(Photo by Jamie Lusch, Medford Mail-Tribune)

These airplanes have gone from dropping torpedoes to dropping water or fire retardant on their enemy.  There are several others in the game, not just the bombers.  Tankers obviously have a role as well. 

DC-10 operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier, on deck in Medford Oregon 

10 Tanker Air Carrier on the job
Coulson C-130 Air Tanker

They've followed other aircraft such as the B-17, B-25, DC-3, PB4Y Privateer, F7F Tigercat and Grumman TBM Avenger.  Some of these aircraft didn't wait to be civilianized before joining the fight.  The C-130, UH-1, MH-60S, CH-46, CH-47, CH-53, (and probably others) have played a role in firefighting while still on active duty.

An Oregon Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter returns to the Madras Airport after successfully dumping water on a target area in the Logging Unit Fire.

Video Links here and here.  Turn your volume down for the second one.

These aircraft need some airborne command and control and fire-spotting to aid in their fight.  The AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter and the OV-10A Bronco assist in that role.  You probably noticed the Bronco earlier in this post.  Here's another shot.

The AH-1 surprised me.  I had no idea these had transitioned to a firefighting role.  More specifically, a fire-scouting role. 

These were being preflighted at the Weed Airport (no, not that kind of weed) in Northern California.  Probably heading for one or more of several wildfires raging in the region.  The US Forest Service has two dozen in their livery, which are used around the country.  With multiple sensors onboard, their mission is primarily Firefighter Support using an infrared thermal imager.
With the FLIR System IR camera's ability to see even the smallest of surface temperature change, areas of concern that are hidden due to smoke are now visible from the air. Using an air-to-ground frequency, the FireWatch Cobra can have a 'bird's eye view' of the fire below while the firefighters on the ground can be directed to areas of concern.
While the air attack capability is awesome and an outstanding force-multiplier, these battles can't be won from the air alone.  It takes a ton of courageous men and women on the ground to clear brush, create firebreaks, and cool down hot-spots.  In fact the young man that grew up in my room after my family sold it to his father, stood on those fire lines for a few summers while going to college;  Later graduating to become a member of the thin blue line in Benton County Oregon.

As for the fire closest to home?  My brother was still on the job, but not nearly as busy as he had been.

Thousands of gallons of helicopter-borne water was poured on the Old Blue Mountain Fire Tuesday, significantly knocking out numerous hot spots within the 99-acre blaze that broke out late Monday during a thunderstorm. Early this morning, Incident Commander Steve Wetmore (ODF) reported “Old Blue is one hundred percent lined and one hundred percent plumbed,” meaning the fire line was completed overnight and a system of fire hoses now encircles the burned area. The fire is 30 percent contained. The firefighters’ objective today is to mop-up hot spots 300 feet inside the fire line and patrol outside of the fire line to watch for spot fires. Helicopters and air tankers are available, if necessary.
 I'm sure glad they're available and I'm thankful for all the firefighters.  I know they've given my Oregon family some peace of mind.  They don't even look up anymore.

*Can anyone help with the make and model of this one?  Lockheed Electra?  P-3A? C-118 Liftmaster?  I'm stumped.
Authors Note:  Confirmed by Uncle Skip in the comments- DC-7 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Can Relate

Anna Nalick
by MBTrama on Flickr
 Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The first time I heard this song, it was played for me by one of my daughters. (Can't remember which one, I'll ask. The memory, the second thing to go.)

I liked it from that first piano chord.

The lady can sing.

Oh my word, can she sing.

Enjoy. I'll be hanging with The Nuke, The WSO and Little Bit for a few days. Posting could be sparse. We shall see. No promises. No regrets.

Just breathe folks.

Just breathe...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Witness to History

The Blue House (청와대 - Cheongwadae)
by somedragon2000 -
Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
I came out of a very deep sleep, slowly, ever so slowly. Seems that The Missus Herself was trying to wake me up.



You need to wake up...

"Um, huh, what is it? What's wrong?"

The President has been assassinated...

Sitting up quickly, "Who's President?"

The Korean President, Park Chung-Hee...

Ah crap!

With that bit of knowledge, a number of things went through my head, should I shave before I go to work? Do I need to go to work? What the Hell is going on and what happens next?

It was a Saturday morning in October in the Land of the Morning Calm. Truth be told, things were anything but calm on that particular morning.

It was 1979. I had been stationed in Korea since September of the previous year. We had a two month old baby (our first child who would grow up to be The Naviguesser) and we were living in Kunsan City (군산시), "on the economy," as they say. I was a young (26) Weapons System Control (WCS) mechanic at nearby Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea and life was good.

Though I had a line number for promotion to Staff Sergeant, I was still a three-stripe member of the E-4 Mafia. At the time I was called an E-4 Sergeant as opposed to an E-4 Senior Airman. Said lofty position being attained only just before leaving Okinawa back in '78. (E-4s nowadays are just Senior Airmen, they eliminated the E-4 Sergeant position a while back, I think while I was in Germany. I don't rightly recall as I was not asked to chime in on that idea. It made sense to me at the time to get rid of that title for an E-4.)

Now I had been looking forward to this assignment for quite some time. I'd been trying to get assigned to Korea since 1976. In fact, I had extended my 18-month tour on Okinawa twice, six months each time, in order to get this assignment.

Of course, there's that old saying "Be careful what you wish for..."

So there I was*, something like 15 minutes flying time south of the 38th Parallel, a member of one of the finest fighter wings to ever take to the skies, awakened from my normal Saturday rack time and faced with the distinct possibility that I might be about to partake of an actual shooting war.


This had occurred earlier in my Air Force career while assigned to the second best fighter wing to ever take to the skies on the fair isle of Okinawa (沖縄県). That "almost got to take part in a shooting war" was in August of 1976. I'd been in the Air Force all of fifteen months and on Okinawa for all of seven months. I was still fairly inexperienced at my chosen profession when we were recalled to duty in the wee hours of Thursday, August 19th.

Upon reporting for duty, we were informed that two U.S. Army officers had been murdered by the North Korean Army in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ, roughly the 38th Parallel). I always remember this as the Tree Cutting Incident which you can read about here. I won't go into the details.

After hearing one of our superiors telling us why we were recalled, one of the E-4 Sergeants in the room stated, "Oh boy, we're going to war!", in a rather jocular tone. The rest of us all turned and stared at him. I heard at least one reference to fire trucks and idiots (or something to that effect). When we faced front once more, our Tech Sergeant (Billy, a great leader, smoked unfiltered Pall Malls, uniform was starched to the point that if he ever died on duty, it would be a few days before he would actually fall over) had this look like Death come to dinner on his face, staring at the fool who offered up the "Oh boy."

"Do you understand what happens in a war, you asshole? People die. Their people, our people. They die. Do you understand that? Asshole. Now get the eff outta my briefing!"

Said idiot departed.

Within two days the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing had deployed two full squadrons of F-4 Phantoms up north to Korea.

That's right 48** F-4 Phantom II fighter bombers, each capable of carrying up to 18,650 pounds of weapons on nine external hard points.

Within a few more days we could have had another squadron's worth of old Double-Ugly on station and ready to kick some serious butt. Not to mention the multitude of Phantoms stationed in Korea and what the Navy always brings to the party in terms of aircraft carriers and such (back then we had battleships boys and girls, battleships!)

In the face of such force, the NORKs backed down, war was averted and life returned to "normal" on the Air Force's unsinkable aircraft carrier, Kadena Air Base.

To return to our story, there I was, three years and change later, on the brink of war. Again.

So, The Missus Herself had awakened me and brought me up to speed as regards current events. Not good. Not good at all. What better time for the NORKs to make trouble and perhaps launch themselves on their oft stated mission of reuniting the Korean peninsula?

With the government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in disarray, it might be the break the a-holes to the north of the DMZ were looking for.

Later, we found out that a number of ROK army units had actually pulled out of their positions on the DMZ and moved south to the capital of Seoul, ya know, just in case. It looked and smelled like a coup was in progress. Who could blame them?

Excepting of course the guys left behind who had to hastily fill those vacated gaps. Because...

NORK1: "Hey Comrade Chong!"

NORK2: "What is it Comrade Kim?"

NORK1: "You know those running dog lackies of the Imperialist Westerners who normally man that outpost across the way?"

NORK2: "What about those capitalist stooges and enemies of the Proletariat?"

NORK1: "Well, they've boogied, pissed off, headed South."

NORK2: "Seriously, Comrade Chong?"

NORK1: "Seriously, Comrade Kim?"

NORK2: "Say let's ask Commissar Moon what we should do. Now might be a good time to liberate the oppressed members of the working classes down in the South!"

Of course, that last bit was all artistic license. In real life there would have been invocations of how wonderful the North was, yada, yada.

Bottom line though is that nothing happened.

I did get dressed in full Air Force battle rattle (think steel pot and flak vest, nothing to menace the enemy with other than grimaces and fist shaking) and headed on into work.

A large number of Korean soldiery were present on the streets of our fair city. Mostly manning sand-bagged machine gun emplacements presenting very war-like faces at the passers-by. (And trust me, no one can make a war face better than a Korean. Ask the Viet Cong, they were terrified of the Koreans. Hell, I'm married to one, I'm terrified of angry Koreans.)

I also noted a larger police presence than I was used to. Every intersection had a policeman. Armed with a submachine gun. Again, sporting a look suggesting that trouble would be met with deadly force. So move along, nothing to see here!

We spent the day in our shop, wondering what was going to happen next. We had no aircraft in our hangar with a radar requiring calibration, nor did the flightline weenies require our assistance in getting our jets ready to go anywhere.

So yes, the pinochle deck came out. (Don't tell the lieutenant!)

During our "vigil" (war or no war) one of our number mentioned, "Jeepers, isn't Dave up in Seoul this weekend, getting married?"

Sure enough, Dave was in the capital for his nuptials.

When he returned (once travel was again permitted) he told us of his honeymoon.

There were tanks in the streets.


Along with the ubiquitous machine gun emplacements. Can't have a coup without tanks and machine guns can you?

Things settled down. Life returned to "normal" at Kunsan Air Base, home of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, the mighty Wolf Pack.***

Though I never saw a shooting war, the VFW says that I'm a "war veteran" based on my assignment to Korea. (There was never a peace treaty after the events of 1950 to 1953, just an armistice. Technically the two Korea's remain "at war.")

The state of Rhode Island also says that I'm a "war veteran." My license plate says so, therefore it must be true. Right?

Not hardly. I was on active duty for Grenada, Desert Storm and that whole Balkans thing. Closest I got to any of it was Germany.

But I was never really in harm's way. Though two of our guys from the 8th were gunned down by some kind of Filipino commie in Angeles City, the Phillipines, I have never heard a shot fired in anger myself.

So I don't consider myself a war veteran.

Just a witness to history.

As it were...

*Check any of Juvat's posts for an explanation of what that phrase implies.
**Until 1992, the Air Force predominantly organized its active fighter aircraft in wings of three squadrons, with 24 combat aircraft in each squadron. (Source)
***That would be the best fighter wing to ever take to the skies. Others might disagree. But bear in mind, the 8th was once commanded by Robin Olds. 'Nuff said.

NORK is, of course, an acronym for NORth Korean.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rain, Rain...

It’s been an interesting week, still no rain around here, but evidently it’s still available in other areas of the country.  Sarge saw fit to give Rain a duet of posts complete with photos (to which he owns the copyright).  Meanwhile, Aaron has a bit of an issue with some flooding to which Proud Hillbilly provided some additional photographic proof (She also owns the copyright).  So, given the circumstances, and to follow up last week’s weather related tale, I shall relate another “adventure” in aviation weather.

By Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Allen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It’s a few years after the W0X0F episode, and I am now flying an F-15, (The finest fighter ever made, thank you very much), have been promoted to Major and commensurate with that promotion is the requirement to check out as a Supervisor of Flying.  The SOF is the person who makes the decision whether the weather is good enough to fly at all, on restricted missions, with a higher fuel reserve or unrestricted.  He coordinates with base agencies in case of emergencies. Since he holds the Wing Commander’s future stars in his hand, he is frequently second guessed while things are happening and is always included in any accident board investigation. Fortunately, at this time, the Wing Commander is a very talented leader and Fighter Pilot.  Went on to retire with Three Stars and deserved each one.  He didn’t tend to get into his people’s business.

Typically, a SOF tour was about 4 hours and would start about an hour and a half prior to the first briefing.  This would allow the SOF to make an informed decision about the weather and every so often issue the beloved “Roll Over” call to pilots in the first go.  “Flying is cancelled, go back to sleep.”  The Wing’s flying schedule was staggered throughout the day, so one squadron would launch their sorties and as they were recovering to the base, the next squadron would launch, then the third, then the first, second…

So, There I was…..* Last SOF of the day.  The tour started with Base Operations, where you would speak to the various agencies to find out if there were any potential problems, a barrier down, broken fire equipment, whatever.  Rarely was this a factor, but you never knew.  The final place you visited was Weather.  Flying from an island where the usual divert base was 8 miles away and the next closest was 400 miles north, meant paying attention to the weather.  I’m talking to the weather NCOIC, an E-7 (Buck and Sarge know what that is) and, having dealt with him before, I’m comfortable in his competence.  The forecast for  my flying period is VFR with short periods of intense showers.  I ask him how intense and how short.  He says, very and no more than ten minutes with intervals of 30 minutes to an hour between.  Not good, but good enough to fly.  I set a high Bingo, Not high enough to divert 400 miles, but high enough to hold for a while until the weather improves. 

As I’m sure, you, the reader is picking up, this turns out to have been a mistake.  But Hindsight is 20-20.

So, we launch my squadron’s 12 sorties, all two ships, so 6 flights.  The other squadron’s flights are starting home and I am settling in as SOF having done the handover brief with my predecessor.

 A short pause, to describe the settings.  Kadena’s tower is exceptionally high, perhaps 150’ or so.  I was sitting in a glass room and can see the entire base.  It’s a pretty exceptional view. I’m joined in this setting by the tower crew.  4 people, all enlisted, The Ground Controller, The Tower Controller, The Tower Supervisor and another person, an E-3 who’s probably in training.  Served several tours with this particular team, and the Supervisor is one of sharpest I've seen. (E-7 also.  I don’t think they hand those stripes out in Cereal boxes.)

So, I’m settling in, and give a quick 360 look around to see what there is to see. To the south off the approach end of the runway, I see a rain squall.  Looks pretty heavy to me, but there’s nobody in the pattern and the closest flight is still 10 to 15 minutes away.  I call them on their secondary radio and tell them about the squall and advise them they may want to slow down a bit and stay high.  I’ll call them when it passes through.  The squall hits and my understanding of the word “intense” changes.  It is raining so hard that I can’t see anything outside the tower, no buildings, lights, not anything.  The island could have sank leaving only the control tower , but I’d never have known it.  Sure enough, it blows through and although the runway is wet, the field is clear, I tell Approach to get the returning flights headed inbound.  One flight comes in and lands, and I see another squall approaching.  Hoo Boy! Hold High and wait for my call.  It passes,  I get the second flight on the ground when Tower Supervisor tells me that the winds have changed and are now coming in consistently from the south.

 She recommends changing the runway.  My call. However, there is that thing about ALWAYS being part of the Accident Investigation. Not taking the advice of the Tower Supervisor would probably not reflect well in that case.  The problem is, landing to the north, there are instrument approaches for both runways.  Landing to the south, there’s only one for the western runway. Changing runways effectively turns the field into a single runway airport. Since the weather system is approaching from the south, we change runways.  About this time, I get a call from the Weather Man who says, the system is intensifying and will be more intense with longer duration and shorter interval.  I get on Guard and have all flights contact me on the SOF freq.  They all check in.  I explain the situation and have them all RTB at max endurance.  I get a fuel check from each and pass a holding stack  plan to Approach.  Our plan is nobody leaves holding until the previous flight is on the ground.  That way if they miss approach, RAPCON can vector them around without having to worry about spacing. 

This works quite well, we have a couple of jets who have to go missed approach, but in general we are getting folks down without too many problems.  Except it’s now dark.  I’ve got my last two aircraft starting the approach.  It’s a 1LT on his Element Lead Check Ride and my Operations Officer as his wingman in Radar Trail.  On Rollout, the previous flight had reported that getting the jet stopped was becoming difficult because of the volume of standing water  on the runway

I called the Barrier Crew and told them I wanted them to head out to the runway and not wait in their office.  My last two jets had been up for a couple of hours and were getting low on gas.  They’re on 10 mile final when the storm blows through the base, they run into it on about 3 mile final, come out of it and report runway in sight.  I watch the 1LT touch down and realize he had done a normal F-15 landing, flared the jet into a soft touchdown. In order to avoid hydroplaning and potentially running off the runway, he should have had minimal flare and a firm touchdown (AKA a standard run of the mill Navy landing) to break the surface tension of the water and get the wheels in contact with the runway.  Sure enough, he’s not slowing down very fast.

It was a bit unusual but time seemed to slow and while I’m watching him roll further down the runway, I think back to a Mentor telling me that in an emergency you have to plan your words, so that if any of them are blocked, your message will still be understood.   So, I key the mike on SOF and Guard frequencies and say “PUT YOUR HOOK DOWN”.  I’m watching and don't see anything happening.  However, the E-3 who’s watching through Binoculars, says “Hook’s Down”.  I see it engage the barrier and stop the jet.

I pick up the phone and call RAPCON and tell them the runway is closed and to vector the last jet around.  I ask the Ops Officer how much gas he's got left. He’s got enough for one pattern. But….

This wouldn’t be a problem on an Aircraft Carrier, they get guys out of the barrier on every landing.  However, PACAF regulations say that the aircraft must be shut down and towed free of the barrier and runway, then the barrier restrung before the runway can be reopened. 30 minutes minimum.

 #2 doesn’t have that much gas.  

I call the Weatherman and ask about Naha, the close divert.  Weather is below minimums and that’s headed our way.  I make my decision.

 I contact the Barrier crew and tell them we’re going to slingshot the jet out of the barrier.  He starts to balk and bay.  I finally tell him that this is the only way we’re going to get the runway open before #2 flames out and unless he’s got a faster way of opening the runway, that’s what we’re going to do.  He asks for my name, I give it to him. 

About this time, my phone rings, I glance down at it.  It's got buttons to connect me to or be contacted by almost any flying related agency on base.  The top left button is the hot line to the Wing Commander.  It's lit. I'd spoken to him earlier when I'd recalled the jets and had them hold, he was ok with that.

"Shogun Six, Major Juvat speaking Sir".  "Major, what's the plan?"  He'd been listening to the radio and so knew about the barrier engagement.  I explained the fuel situation and my plan to slingshot the aircraft out and the impending radio call to the 1LT on procedures.  He agrees with me.  I've got top cover!

 I get on the radio and talk to the 1LT, and in very plain English, tell him that the Ops Officer’s life rests on him, that slingshotting the aircraft will seem unnatural, as the aircraft will begin rolling backwards and that the absolute worst thing he can do is use the brakes.  If he uses the brakes, the aircraft momentum will force the tail of the aircraft down and potentially standing it on its tail.  At that point, the runway will be closed for a very long time.  I tell him to put his feet on the floor and control the rollback with small power advances.  We’re all ready, the barrier chief tightens the tension, the 1LT adds power, then cuts it, the aircraft rolls back , the hook clears the barrier.  The chief gives him the hook up signal and he taxies across the barrier,  The barrier chief restrings a few doughnuts and retensions the barrier and as the Ops Officer calls runway in sight, the runway is opened.  The Ops Officer lands, HARD, gets the jet slowed to taxi speed before the barrier and taxi’s clear.

I clean up my station, and get ready to call it a day.  Went to the Tower Crew, shook their hand and told them great job.  (I also called their commander the next day and told him the same thing, the Tower Supervisor had a big grin on her face the next time I saw her.)

Headed back to the Squadron, checked the schedule and saw I had an early flight, so I left.

Got home…

Evidently, there had been just over 7 inches of rain in the 6 hour tour I was SOF.  My wife, 5 year old son and most of the people from my wife’s office, were building a sandbag wall to try and keep the water running through the drainage ditch behind our house from running through our house.  The day ain’t over, til it’s over.
The foundation of Chateau Juvat is all that remains.

As I looked for pictures for this post, I realized there was a bit more to the story than I thought.  The battle to keep the water out of the house was lost as was carpeting and assorted furniture.  When I filed my claim for reimbursement, the housing office disapproved it, saying that the flooding was a normal occurrence.  I countered with “If flooding is a normal occurrence, then the house is uninhabitable, and you should move us to a different house”.  They paid.  However, as I looked on Google Earth at Kadena and did some reminiscing, I noticed that the house we’d lived in had been demolished and not replaced.  Guess my words were heeded.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

He's Right You Know...

The National Flower of Korea.
We know it as the Rose of Sharon.
There are more smiles than there are tears.
Someone has left on a  journey without us.
We'll join them later.
Our adventures here are to continue.
It is what it is.
Skip O'Brien

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday Stuff

Big Time and Little Bit watch the sunset over the Pacific
I'm going to take it easy today. It's been a long week with a lot of stuff going on.

The WSO is back from RIMPAC and she and Little Bit are coming back East for some home cooking and some good times.

Rumor has it that The Nuke, her man and our grand-dogs (Bear and Kodi) may be motoring on up from Virginia as well.

To say I'm excited about this week is a bit of an understatement.

It's a shame that Big Time can't make it, he's down in Key West teaching the fledglings how to make war in the Rhino. Doing his duty for God and Country.

He's a good man.

So while I have a couple of stories percolating, nothing is ready for Prime Time just yet. But to tide you over, here's a few pics from one of The WSO's squadron mates, Danica. (Yup, that's a call sign, she too is a Bullet WSO. She graciously gave me permission to share these with y'all.)

Marine Osprey onboard USS RONALD REAGAN, CVN-76. RIMPAC 2014 (Might be from VMM-161. I'm not sure.)

To say I love this photo would be an understatement.
Great shot Danica!

One of those "Wish you were here" photos.

Danica took these next few photos while looking out of her office window.

Yeah, I so want that view!

Okay, all you single seat types, look away, especially you Big Time, I know you got to do this while deployed. And you Aluminum Overcast-types, keep the rude noises and guffaws to a minimum, m'kay?

An F/A-18E of the Kestrels (VFA-137) provides "go juice" for a Bullet F/A-18F (VFA-2, Bounty Hunters, callsign "Bullet").

Thanks again for letting me use the photos Danica!

Greetings go out to CAG-2, ship's company of the USS RONALD REAGAN and all the men and women who were out there for RIMPAC this year.

Welcome Home!

VFA-2's CAG Bird (Double Nuts)

America's Flag Ship, the USS RONALD REAGAN, CVN-76. Back home in Sandy Eggo. (Hey, I've been there!) (CC)