Heading for El Paso

We gathered in the hotel lobby on Nov. 12, then headed for the airport in a short, unofficial motorcade of minivans.

Somehow, all eight of our aircraft had forgotten to pay for fuel in Little Rock the day before, so Capt. Heins lectured the crews about the need to pay for our gas and assigned a fuel officer for each flight of four aircraft. We then loaded the aircraft, cranked the engines and made our way out of Dallas/Ft. Worth to our first stop in San Angelo, Tex. (KSJT), where we all noticed the incredible drop in humidity. The flatlands also provided a good breeze in the 23 degree Celsius weather.

12 NOV 05 - Two A Company Black Hawks cast shadows on the water just before landing at the San Angelo airport. (Bert Stover -- washingtonpost.com)
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San Angelo was where the vegetation ended on our maps and, true to form, it ended in actuality. Our next stop, in Peco, Tex., was even more in the middle of nowhere. The airfield was a three room building with a couple of bathrooms, much smaller than the facilities we'd been used to in larger cities. But the people were as nice as could be. While the aircraft were being fueled, they served burritos to all 40 of us.

Our stop for the night was El Paso, Tex. (KELP), only meters away from the Mexican border. We made it into the airport before nightfall, but the sun had set by the time we drove to our hotel and we could see across the border into Mexico, filled with lights.

Capt. Heins let us know that our plans for the next day had changed, so that instead of flying through to our training destination of Yuma, Ariz., we'd only be going as far as Phoenix. This would put A Company's arrival into Yuma a bit closer to the expected arrival of Bravo Company, whose trip had been delayed by two days by maintenance issues and weather issues.

By Bert Stover |  December 8, 2005; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Enroute to Yuma, AZ , Ft. Dix Mobilization , Preparation for Departure
Previous: A Detour Through Dallas | Next: Break for Thanksgiving


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Again, while stuff happens, remember you are projecting an image of your unit, an unofficial ambassador if you will. Forgetting to pay for fuel is not something that the whole world really needs to know about. That is a story best left for later over a beer in the club.

Posted by: | December 8, 2005 10:30 AM

Maybe some readers should stick to reading White House press releases and avoid thruth, however humorous or minor it may be.

Posted by: | December 8, 2005 10:50 AM

No, I'm definitely not one of those, but I wouod be a little upset over being made to look so foolish in front of the whole world. This guy doens't write well enough to portray it as humor, even though those of us that have been there done that, got the t-shirt and stories can relate. Think of it from soemone else'e perspective. Get some non-military friends, supporting or not, to read it and ask them their opinions.

I'm also not going to get into a written pissing contest over this like one of the previous entries.

Posted by: | December 8, 2005 11:05 AM

Which by the way, was NOT me.

Posted by: | December 8, 2005 11:06 AM

I have never been in the military and I have opposed US action in Iraq from the beginning and I find the entire Blog to be interesting. It's not Tom Clancy but it's warm and insightful and I appreciate what the guy is doing. It takes some stones to put your thoughts out on the www for the entire world to peruse.

Posted by: JRW | December 8, 2005 01:02 PM

To Bert Stover: frequent lurker, I appreciate your posts.

To anon: I'm sure the rest of the world can find plenty more to criticize the U.S. for than the very human forgetting to pay the gas bill. To steal a line from Stripes, "Lighten up, Francis."

Posted by: Ben | December 8, 2005 01:11 PM

I have to admit that the insight into the process is fascinating. It, quite frankly, never occurred to me to even think about that detail and all of the other "minutiae" of service.

If you only share stories that your unit portray in a "good light," then you feed into the conspiratorial view that all mistakes are actually deliberate and evilly motivated misdeeds. And frankly, this is more like the case of a bunch of guys at a bar assuming that someone else has covered the tab.

Posted by: KKG | December 8, 2005 01:14 PM

Bert, Ben, & KKG,
This post and the follow-up comments remind me of a cross country flight my dad made with the Tennessee Air Guard unit some years ago. He was an Active Navy Reserve Officer and needed to get to a west coast base. He was able to arrange to ride out on a TennAirGuard unit flight.

It was a hot summer day as they approached the west coast air-base. The cargo doors were open. After landing, but while taxiing(sp?) dad stood in the open door trying to cool down. He looked out and saw a NASA craft piggy-backed on a military 747. He craned his neck out the door to get a betteer view. His plane hit a bump/crack in the taxi-way and he fell out.

He caught a lot of ribbing and had to have his broken arm set at the local Naval Hospital. His arm healed a bit crooked. A surgeon at home looked at it and volunteered he could fix it. Dad said NO, somehow it had taked two strokes off his golf game.

Funny things do happen in the air and on the ground. Thank you Bert for your stories. Get home safely and lets go snow-boarding again.

Posted by: Alex J | December 9, 2005 08:52 AM

Can someone please explain how and why the training officers and their crew have to pay for the fuel! Doesnt the gov or military pay for it ? Does each pilot have a type of military credit card or do they pay and wait to be reimbursed.

Posted by: T-Wolf/69 | December 12, 2005 01:45 PM

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