Archive: Preparation for Departure

A Pen Pal's Questions Before Going to Iraq

A Prince George County, Virginia elementary school class has adopted our unit as pen pals. Their first stack of letters arrived a couple of weeks ago, and we each chose our pal by picking randomly from the stack. My pal is a self-described blonde haired, blue eyed, fourth grade girl who's on her school's cheerleading team. Her questions, though simple to ask, have proven difficult to answer. Written in pencil and curly longhand on school notebook paper without a date, her letter begins "Dear Soldier" and asks, "How do you feel about being in the war? Are you scared, or are you excited?"...

By Bert Stover | February 8, 2006; 05:00 AM ET | Comments (78)

Back to Business

First I want to thank Mr. Higginbotham for his time in writing his view of our departure ceremony. Many of us agree with his assessment that our departure is overdue and we'd like to get the show on the road. However, the Army still has some training we need to complete before we leave in a couple of weeks. The Army calls it "validation." Something tells me we are going to make the trip regardless of our "validation," if only because half of our equipment is already halfway around the globe on a ship....

By Bert Stover | January 18, 2006; 12:30 AM ET | Comments (6)

Home for the Holidays... Last Time Until DEC. 2007

Last week we were granted 12 days leave for the holidays, returning via Marine Corps C-130s from Yuma to Richmond. For a couple of weeks the logistics of exactly how we would return to Richmond were in doubt, causing some soldiers to purchase tickets home, guaranteeing their departure (too often some have seen plans fall through). For those that did exercise the cargo plane option, we would like to thank the Marine Corps for the ride. We owe you one....

By Bert Stover | December 28, 2005; 03:10 PM ET | Comments (6)

Arrival at Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma

Due to crew rest, showtime in Phoenix was 12:30 (Mountain Standard Time). My aircraft would lead the company of eight Black Hawks to our home for the next few months, Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma....

By Bert Stover | December 12, 2005; 05:00 AM ET | Comments (24)

Flying into Phoenix

Showtime was 08:00 in El Paso the morning of Nov. 13, and most of us met downstairs in the hotel in the atrium for a complimentary full breakfast. We then left for the airport, and the Pilots in Command began haggling over the best route of flight. 13 NOV 05 - Members of A Co. tie down an aircraft and pack their rental vehicles in preparation for heading to their hotel in Phoenix, AZ. (Bert Stover -- washingtonpost.com) View Enlarged Photo...

By Bert Stover | December 9, 2005; 05:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

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) View More Photos...

By Bert Stover | December 8, 2005; 05:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

A Detour Through Dallas

After seven and a half hours of flight time from Richmond to Little Rock, Capt. Heins gave us until 10:00 hours (Central Standard Time) to get up and check out of our hotel. Our crank time was 12 noon for the flight to Dallas, but after boarding the aircraft with our gear, we noticed that the Captain's aircraft was not loaded and several crew chiefs were standing around chatting about some maintenance issues. Start up was delayed for more than an hour. 11 NOV 05, Love Field (Dallas) from our aircraft at 1500 feet. (Bert Stover -- washingtonpost.com)...

By Bert Stover | December 7, 2005; 05:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

To Little Rock, Ark.

When we arrived at the Richmond airfield on Nov. 10, we learned our next stop on the way to Yuma, Ariz. would be in Little Rock, Ark. We were able to pick up two more aircraft before departing, and took off in two flights of four, spaced 30 minutes apart. I was in the first flight. During the trip to our first fuel stop in Greensboro, N.C., my cockpit was pretty much silent. I'd expected more chatter, but for the most part, the only words spoken came from the radio as flight alerted small airports we planned to over fly. There wasn't much talk on later legs, either, as we made our way from Greensboro to Knoxville, TN (KTYS) to Nashville, TN (KBNA) to Millington, TN (KNQA) to Little Rock. 10 NOV 05, Three of the four aircraft in the first of two flights of A Co 2/224th AVN aircraft,...

By Bert Stover | November 29, 2005; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (7)

Weather Diversion Back to Richmond

We saddled up to depart Ft. Dix, N.J. for Yuma, Ariz. on Nov. 9 in two flights of four Black Hawks each. The departure airfield, Naval Air Engineering Station, Lakehurst, was the scene of the tragic Hindenburg disaster. By the time I arrived, most of our aircraft had been taken out of the station's enormous hangars, built originally to house dirigibles like the Hindenburg. But the ones still inside looked like ants inside the towering hangars. We were two hours behind schedule getting off the ground for the first leg of our trip and were only guaranteed good enough weather to make it to Dover Air Force Base, a long way from Nashville, Tenn., where we'd intended to spend the night. 9 NOV 05, Able to house airships like the German dirigible Hindenburg, the hangars at Naval Air Engineering Station, Lakehurst are the backdrop for the six A Co 2/224th...

By Bert Stover | November 28, 2005; 05:00 PM ET | Comments (2)

The Unit Assembles

I woke up late yesterday. I'd intended an 05:20 wakeup, with an 05:45 departure from my parent's house to Richmond for my official report date. I didn't get out of the house until 06:20. I tore through the house grabbing toiletries and a day bag. I threw everything in my truck (which I have not sold yet), loaded with my duffles and black trunk. I almost started the truck when I realized I had not stopped in to give my mother and father a good-bye hug and kiss, even though they would meet me later in the day in Richmond for the commander's brief about the deployment. I ran upstairs calling "Mom..... Mom you up?" Though my mother would have liked our good-bye to last longer, I had to cut it short in order to get on the road, which turned out to be a good thing since it left...

By Bert Stover | October 19, 2005; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (33)

Fallen Ill and Time is Running Short.....

You may have noticed that I haven't blogged recently. I've been sick (with pneumonia) and lost not only blogging time, but time I'd intended to spend preparing for my departure next week to Fort Dix and training. I noticed that I had a sore throat last Saturday, but thought nothing of it. I continued to pack Monday, and also gave my mom more instructions on how to use e-mail and how to read this blog. (Things are coming along.) Tuesday, I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck....

By Bert Stover | October 14, 2005; 10:06 AM ET | Comments (6)

Coming Home, Leaving Home

I finally made the trip down from D.C. to my parent's house, our home, in the Northern Neck of Virginia earlier this week. My parents were thrilled to have me back home for an extended stay, but we all know the visit means activation is right around the corner. My mom wants to do anything and everything she can to help out, and even asked me what I needed while I was gone. I didn't have an answer at first, but then it came to me. I wanted her to learn to use a computer so we'll be able to communicate via email and IM while I am gone. She was reluctant, but agreed to learn and we had first session Thursday. Of course her biggest interest in using the computer is to read 'Reporting for Duty' -- and yesterday was about the last day I wanted her to read...

By Bert Stover | October 7, 2005; 09:35 AM ET | Comments (44)

 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company