Archive: February 2007

Home

We woke at 03:45 to prepare to leave Ft. Dix, NJ -- FINALLY. Though there was a winter storm the night before, we rose out of bed, turned in bed linens, received our DD 214's, and cleaned the barracks, determined to go home....

By Bert Stover | February 23, 2007; 7:41 AM ET | Comments (25)

Just Let Us Out

Our stay at Ft. Dix began with the reminder we were still to abide by the first general order -- specifically no alcohol. Even the leadership yearned to let their hair down, as evidenced by its reluctant reminder for compliance. From the beginning the commander worked the issue and brokered a deal allowing us to drink three beers per night at the installation club. The club welcomed the deal as it too suffered under the no alcohol policy - no demand. The deal worked out well for all involved, generating revenue and letting us ease back into civilian life....

By Bert Stover | February 20, 2007; 8:20 AM ET | Comments (12)

On US Soil

Our flight to the US arrived at McGuire AFB, around 05:00, temperatures in the teens, Fahrenheit, and snow was falling. Once in the United States and on the ground I imagined there would be a great relief, but getting off the plane and boarding the buses did not evoke any such feelings or emotions. We were back, but no where near home yet -- we had 10 days worth of demobilization yet to endure....

By Bert Stover | February 16, 2007; 4:43 AM ET | Comments (9)

Recovering in Kuwait

Camp Virginia, Kuwait is where we spent about nine or ten days just relaxing. The flight companies flew the aircraft down to port and waited for a ride to the United States. All of us had plenty of time to decompress, with a schedule that did not have any formal events on it. We went from a million and one things to do, to nothing to do at all -- quite a shock which left everybody weary. We were weary that we forgot to do something, an uneasy feeling, but in reality there was nothing to do-- but wait. Many of us slept in and got some much needed rest, recovering from the chronic fatigue all the aircrew members suffered during this tour....

By Bert Stover | February 15, 2007; 5:26 AM ET | Comments (5)

Out of Iraq

With nothing left to do but get to work by 4 am, review our plan out of Iraq one more time, and suit up, we were on our way. All aircrews broke out of the update briefing for their respective aircraft, like a football team breaking from a huddle. The air was crisp during the cold morning, about four degrees Celsius. I walked around my aircraft one more time, inspecting it for any open latches or damage not noticed during our preflight inspections. I found nothing out of the ordinary, threw on my body armor, latched on my survival vest, and jumped into the cockpit with the company commander as my pilot. We began reading the checklist, which details starting the Auxiliary Power Unit(APU), a smaller engine which provides AC power and pneumatic power to start the two main engines. I read the step as the commander flipped the APU...

By Bert Stover | February 12, 2007; 5:02 AM ET | Comments (26)

Transitions

Lacking necessary experience and training for a tour in Iraq, many pilots and crew chiefs of A 2-224th AVN, came here greener than the spring grass we left behind in the US, one year ago. Only time and events cured our novice ineptitude. The experienced staff wanted to test the freshly molded, challenging us to plan, present, and execute the trip from Iraq to Kuwait....

By Bert Stover | February 9, 2007; 8:16 AM ET | Comments (3)

Not Ours...Please, Not Ours

Through our intelligence channels, we received news of the US Army Black Hawk helicopter crash minutes after it happened, on January 20, 2007. Not much was known about the incident except it was not ours. All Punisher (our call sign) aircraft were safely accounted for and we would be going home soon, if only we could make it out of here without any casualties. Our missions continued at the regular fly, eat, sleep pace maintained the whole time we've been here. Many of us started to review the basics of our flight tactics, a result of the news. Our experienced pilots stood up and gave speeches about "making it to the end" and "don't let complacency come into our operations". Because the incident happened outside of the Marine Corps area of responsibility, our internet access was not turned off. This gave all of us the chance to communicate home, "We...

By Bert Stover | February 5, 2007; 6:25 AM ET | Comments (22)

 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company