Daily Archives: November 7, 2009

Night Flight

in a 53Stuffed into a Crowded MH-53E in Iraq

I slept through most of my flight in the steerage section of my United Express CRJ-7 taking advantage of the open seat next to me to stretch out since in the last row the seat will not recline.  The flight from Norfolk to Chicago was uneventful, good weather all the way across ensured a good flight.

I still am not a fan of flying or crowded airports.  Thankfully due to the lateness of my flight I did  not have to deal with lots of people, I cruised through the security point manned by our local branch of the Federal Sicherheitsdienst.  I am very good at getting through these checkpoints quickly, the key is to go through the checkpoint as close to naked as you can get without causing yourself too much trouble and ensuring that anything unusual that could cause a Sicherheitsdienst officer to search your bags and do an body cavity search placed in your checked baggage.  I remember once after 9-11 when travelling through San Fransisco in uniform being nearly strip searched while obvious foreigners, to include those of the ethic group that had crashed into the twin towers go straight through. Thankfully as a  Kriegsmarine Officer my ausweiss gets me through our local checkpoint without too much trouble.

I slept through much of the flight, aided by the 2 pints of Sam Adams (Patriot, Brewer and Friend) Boston Lager that I had while waiting for my flight.  I do hope that the 2 pints of Goose Island Honker’s Ale that I am finishing off in Chicago has the same effect, beats the hell out of Xanax if you ask me.

I was awakened as the aircraft decelerated and began its descent into Chicago.  I looked out the window to my left and saw a panoply of lights in the distance with a dark void which happens to be Lake Michigan.  I have not flown commercial at night  in a long time and the last time I did took me over no major metro areas.  Seeing the lights I was instantly taken back to flying over Ramadi at night, which I did on a fairly frequent basis while in Iraq.  Usually those flights were uneventful except the one time when the Army MH-47 lifted off popped flares and the tail gunner started shooting at something on the ground. I was sitting just across from the tail gunner and knew that this was not a negligent discharge of a weapon.  The Army denied that anything happened on the flight when I asked about it two days later, but still, it was a bit sporty.

So flying at night, seeing the lights takes me back to Iraq.  I did feel some sense of anxiety that I had not felt earlier as we descended into the airport and when I got off the aircraft was able to start deescalating my stress level.  I find it interesting to see how almost “hard wired” that reposes to danger in combat situations can become.

It is time to finish my beer and start heading down the way to the boarding gate. About 2330 Pacific time I should be on the ground and with any luck by 0100 be safely at my parents home.

Peace, Padre Steve+



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Filed under Loose thoughts and musings

Getting ready to Fly and Fort Hood Update IV

042My Buddy Elliott the Usher

I’m getting packed for my trip out to California, need to get some things together and leave in a couple of hours.  I saw Elliott the Usher and a couple other friends from Harbor Park at  Baseball Card show not far from my home. It was my first time to go and I was blow away by the stuff there.  It took me down memory lane.

Emotionally I’m still trying to sort out the Fort Hood attack and pray that the shooter, Major Hasan will cooperate with investigators.  I am hoping and praying it was an isolated incident and not something more insidious.  However, it makes me wonder about safety on bases if someone like Major Hasan, or heck, someone just pissed at the military or the medical system after returning from war goes off.  There are a good number of people that I have had to deal with who not only have had suicidal thoughts and plans, but also homicidal ones, and none of them are Moslem.  Almost all had access to means to accomplish their plans and were suffering from severe PTSD or other trauma.  A few years ago while at Camp Lejuene as the duty Chaplain I was called to a house on base where a Staff NCO was threatening to kill himself and his wife.  The MPs had the place surrounded.  The individual would only talk to a chaplain so I got to go in and talk him down.  He had a Glock which he surrendered to me and then let EMS take him to the ER for a psychological evaluation.  The guy was  a mess from deployment after deployment and this was just as the present war was beginning.  We have a decent number of folks who are on the edge, and I’m sure there are others like Major Hasan who may have religious and ideological motives for what they do.

Anyway, pray for all concerned and for our Nation and its leaders.


Padre Steve+


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Filed under Baseball, PTSD, traumatic national events