Stuffed 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+