It’s been three months since my decision to join the army also constituted my volunteering for active duty, but in really, it doesn’t seem like it has been that long at all. The next twelve months of active duty will be spent in Afghanistan, that being said, I doubt they will go as quick as the first three. My mind seems to be very relaxed yet thoughtful as I sit here on the bus heading toward the airport. Of course it’s dark, wet, and rainy as one would imagine the setting would be if this were a made up story. It’s four in the morning and our flight will depart at 0600.
We have a four hundred passenger 747 reserved for our trip and only a little more than two hundred militants for the flight, so it sounds like it’s going to be a comfortable one. The spirit and moral is carefree and the guys are in a humorous mood. Up until just a few moments ago there was quite a cackle of humorous comments and joking going around. Right now the only sounds are of the humming diesel engine, the steadily thrashing wind, and the speedier traffic passing to the left. Up until just a few minutes ago, I wasn’t planning on journalizing this deployment. Nothing in the last three months was worth starting something I would inevitably be obligated to finish, but as I sit here and think about this new adventure I am about to explore I just couldn’t help but think of how I would start such an interesting introduction to the first chapter. Thus I begin my writing expedition.
We arrived at the airport and were permitted to exit the bus and wait for the plane to arrive. Upon entering the lobby we were told through an intercom that we would most likely be waiting for three hours. I wasted no time in finding an outlet to plug in my computer. Next to one of the plugs was someone, already plugged in with his DVD player. As I started setting up my computer, I heard him say that he had over a hundred movies. There, lying on the floor was a large CD case. I looked at him and repeated, “a hundred movies?” He replied, “more than a hundred.” He offered to let me borrow one as long as I gave it back before we boarded the plane. I agreed. I looked through about half of them until I saw a movie I hadn’t seen before which I thought would be acceptable. So I snatched it up, inserted it into my laptop’s DVD drive, sat back, and enjoyed. I got about halfway through and was disrupted by an announcement for prayer. Everyone gathered to the front of the building as the Post Chaplain read a devotional and then prayed. Shortly thereafter another announcement was for the 151 battalion to come to the front and get ready to board the plane. “What ever happened to the three hours?” I thought to myself. I wasn’t even finished with my movie! Everyone seemed to have a digital camera, and was ready to take some pictures of the massive aircraft parked outside, filling the entire view through the glass doors. All of us who were in the 151 infantry battalion stood in line, poised to enter the massive jet.
I stared up at this… this huge flying machine and tried to think of a word to properly describe it. I had flown before on smaller planes but not ever on a 747. I thought, flying ship, or winged barge, but the only name that seemed to suffice was already in common use: large aircraft. I walked up the steps and was greeted by volunteer stewardess. First class was already occupied with officers and high ranking NCOs. To the rear of the wing, I found my spot and settled in. About fifteen minutes past before the safety briefing started. Shortly thereafter we were moving. The takeoff was about what I expected but the top speed and altitude boggled my mind. I had experienced this degree of acceleration before but it didn’t last nearly as long. I watched the screen as it showed a GPS map and info about temperature, speed, altitude, and certainly more information than I needed. I watched as both altitude and speed continued to increase, 3000 feet at 400mph, 9000 feet at 550 mph, and continuing.
By this time it was 0830 and up to this point I had been running on a three hour nap from the day before that I took from 1400 to 1730. Although I should’ve probably felt really tired, I didn‘t. I decided that it was probably a good idea to try to take a nap. I put my earplugs in and I put the headphones on and turned it to the classical station. I leaned back, turned my head slightly to the right, and felt unrepentantly sucked into unconsciousness I laughed to myself because I knew it would only be a matter of seconds before I’d fall fast asleep. I woke up at about 1230, just in time for lunch. I looked at the screen as it showed that our speed had topped over 600 mph and our altitude was 35000 feet. Never had I been this high off the ground. As the stewardess walked by, I grabbed a sandwich and a Pepsi. Finally I broke open my laptop and decide to type some more about my trip. My battery said I had three hours left, but I’d be in Germany before then.