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Dave

Carrier Life

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Our very own Southernap is out on the USS Nimitz for a long cruise. He sent me this update to his trip with lots of photos of what is going on around the ship. He promises to send more later. He also found the Combatace official CD.

Dave,

 

 

Here are some pictures of a no fly day out to sea near the sandwich islands. A couple of these shots are of my rack and my berthing compartment. The shots labeled "insidemyrackXXX" are shots of all the storage space I have. This storage is all under my rack, called a coffin locker since it opens like a coffin. There is a sun down shot of the fighter line on the bow of the ship with a E-2. Finally there a couple shots of aircraft, including one from my squadron with its engine out. Then I got a shot of some blue mk82 death built up with JDAM packages. Oh and the meet the eels album to share with C5 and the rest of the CA staff. We have been out doing a number of time changes, I can tell you as I write this it is 0900 back home with my wife and it is 0500 where I am in the world. Somewhere down the path we are going to do a time change that will include jumping a whole day. We were out near the end of July doing Carrier Qualification (aka CQ) and then pulled back into to San Diego on the 29th if July thru the 31st of July. It was fun and exciting, because in the middle of the CQ we received a message that downed all our jets for an immediate inspection of some certain fuel lines. Then to top that day off one of our aircraft took what is called Foreign Object Damage hit to its engine. So we went from having four up jets to qualify twenty four aircrew down to zero and after a twelve hour shift we were back up to only two because of some supply issues. Thankfully, we had qualified all but two crew teams the previous couple of days. We pulled out of North Island on the 31st July for cruise and did the whole manning the rails in whites thing. I didn't do it because I am too senior, I have done it in the past just standing there at attention till you get far enough away from land for anyone to care. Since pulling out we have been doing just some basic currency flight ops. That is about it to report right now.

 

 

Charles

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Nice pix! Now a more curious question... Would it even be possible for naval aviators to enjoy a cruise at sea aboard an ocean liner (you know, one of those big ships with just about every amenity one could think of except a fixed-wing take-off deck), or is a carrier the only way to go?

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I would think after 7 months on a boat I wouldnt want to go near one.

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nothing beats flying off and on the boat.

 

but I wouldn't mind going out and trying a luxury cruise with the Mrs with all the amenities - purely in the line of data collection, mind you.....

 

:biggrin:

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tours in iraq and afghanistan and my wife was talking about moving to arizona when i get out next year. as this is a family site i'll leave my reply to the imagination. so yea i also see the logic in the cruise bit there.

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Typhoid,you're right about flying off and on the boat. As someone once said "One of the most exciting things you can do with your clothes on."

 

However,after spending several months as a guest of the Alligator Navy(Amphibious Warfare Ships)

as a Marine FAC with BLT 2/9(Battalion Landing Team 2/9) in 1972,I see that the amount of room that is allotted to a person aboard ship hasn't changed any.

Being on the Nimitz would be really Cool A@@ Sh$$,though.

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Dave,

 

So it is another Sunday out here. It is another weekday, Monday style for us in the air wing. Meanwhile the ship's company get a chance to sleep in a little bit (at least until 0800) for what is called holiday routine. I really don't have a weekend out here. The only time I have anytime to sleep in is when I hit a port and don't draw the duty. Every day is a work day out here. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for as many weeks until we get home. My work hours run from 0530 until 1830 every day. It makes for a long day, then I usually try to get back to my berthing compartment, grab a hot shower, and crawl into the rack. Read a book while listening to my Zune. The biggest thing I miss right away being out here is privacy, the other thing I really miss is sitting down to read Sunday funnies. My last couple of deployments I tried to have subscriptions to a couple of my local papers, I tried that this time only to see getting the Sunday paper for the next 13 weeks would of set me back about $150. I don't think so! So I will have to depend on the wife to send me them from time to time.

 

We are still outside Hawaii. Getting bounced around because of a hurricane near the islands. It is making for fun flying. We had an open NJP out here a couple of nights ago. A couple of our power line guys, we call them Plane Captains (they wear brown shirts on the flight deck) were busted using some sort of drug called "Salvia Divinorum" on the smoke deck. I guess it is made from something similar to the spice cloves and it smells just like cloves when it is burned. It causes a high like marijuana. Anyhow, this drug is legal (for right now ) in the states but illegal for the US Military to use. One of the Quality Assurance Representatives' was telling me the day they got busted smoking up was the same day we suffered a FOD hit to a jet engine. Though we can't prove it, it is a very interesting coincidence that the FOD was missed by both of these PC's and only noticed because a CDQAR [collateral duty quality assurance rep] thought something looked funny about one of the first stage blade. He dove the duct and found a few bent blades, when we bore scoped it there was nicks going all the way back as far as we could see. The better part was at the mast the one these jokers requested to stay in the navy because he didn't want to go back home as a failure to his parents. I guess he didn't understand the part at boot camp and later on at the command which stated the Navy's drug use policy is zero tolerance. Then he had the gall to state that he did it to "relieve stress" as an answer to violation of the drug policy. After that comment I honestly though the CO was going to throw the podium at this pinhead. The skipper's head contracted, turned bright red, his knuckles turned white as he gripped the podium. Then the skipper shouted, "Relieve stress?!?! You could of killed Me, your Division officer, the MO, a slew of others onboard this ship. You could of made orphans of a number of children." He imposed the sentence of 45/45 and lost of half a months pay times two with an admin sep as soon as possible. The other guy just kind of hung his head and answered in a series of "Yes, Sirs" and "No, Sirs" to all the questions asked. Same sentence imposed on the other one.

 

When I get a chance I will try and get some more pictures of things going on around the ship.

 

Charles

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Dave,

 

The hardest thing about being on cruise is not letting yourself get into that groundhog day mentality. It is very hard to let that mind set slide in on you. It is very much wake up, get some water on your face, go grab breakfast, attended the morning maintenance meeting, go to pass down to your work center, work till lunch, eat lunch, work till shift change, give pass down and do tool checks, then progress to dinner. After shift it is go to the gym, go to a college class if your enrolled (I am not because I am that point with my college to start taking advance classes towards my major of aircraft maintenance), go study for a qual, or just grab a shower and head to bed. Rinse and repeat for the next one-hundred and eighty plus days. It sounds silly, but one has to work hard on preventing a dull mind set from getting in place. So that is where pranks and humor see to arise. What I have always noticed on the previous four deployments that I have completed is how much longer a deployment goes the cruder the humor goes. Since this is a family site, I won't go completely into the rudeness, but you have been there you know. To give you an example of a prank that was pulled recently. One of the guys in my berthing compartment always talks through every movie that we are trying to watch. Whether that movie is on the TV channels or someone's borrowed DVD. It is incredibly annoying and this joker has been doing this since workups. He makes stupid jokes or comments about the character. It wouldn't be so bad if it was every so often, but it is ever frigging moment. So a couple of guys went out and bought some water pistols while we were San Diego and snuck them onboard. Last night once of the guys had broken out his DVD of Iron Man. We were sitting around the TV trying to listening to the movie when the talker walked in. The guys with the water pistols were ready when he started to make comments during the movie, first was the verbal warning and then the talker started again. BAM! Three people turned and hosed the talker with ice cold water all over. To top it off our A/C works really well in the berthing. So he was starting to freeze a little bit. One of the guys told him that was his first and only lesson, he was going to train him like he trains his hunting dog. Every time the talker made a comment during a movie he was going to get a shot in the face with the water. Later on in the night after I got tired of watching the movie I went back to the rack only to see the three guys with the water pistols chase each other around the berthing playing tag with the water. Had to put a quick stop to it and had them mop up the water, safety reasons. Sometimes it is the simple things that keep us entertained for a while.

 

We spent the last couple of days hanging out just south of the Hawaiian islands. Waiting for Hurricane Felicia to dissipate from around the region. Wait before you readers ask, the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon is which side of the International Date line the storm forms on. On the Eastern Side of the date line (i.e. the side that North America is) all the storms are called Hurricanes. Once you cross the international date line heading to Guam, Taiwan, Philippines, etc it becomes a Typhoon. Typhoon's are just as dangerous if not more so then Hurricanes. The biggest reason is that Typhoon's have a whole bunch of open water to gather steam and quickly transition from a simple tropical depressions to a full bore category 3 or higher storm because of all the warm water they are born in. On top of that take a quick look at the Pacific Ocean. Where are the major Land Masses that can suck up that energy? That is right, there aren't any until you get over to Japan, China coast, and South China Seas area. They take a serious toll to the nations in their path. These nations civil defense for weather like this is very good. I had a chance to experience the edges of a Typhoon back in 2006. I was visiting MCAS Iwakuni with a previous squadron and we were secured in our barracks, planted sand bags around the doors. Most of the locals moved further inland and up into the hills out of predicted flooding zones. I sat in my barracks room with my radio turned to the local AFRTS station and batteries installed. Waiting to see what would happen. I remember falling asleep later that night to the wind howling and rain just coming down in buckets. I woke up the next morning and watched outside the gate as local police were escorting power crews around to check on lines and poles. Other police were checking doors to make sure that everyone was okay. The only downside for me in the whole experience is that once the bases in Japan set a certain typhoon condition all the forces on the base are placed in a duty status. I am so use to living in Virginia or the Gulf Coast and doing Hurricane parties that it was a bummer when I couldn't buy any booze at the mini-mart to mix up some drinks while waiting for the storm to pass. Oh well. Getting back to the here and now, the ship found some calm water a couple of days ago away from the path of the storm and we just have been hanging out there to make sure Felicia doesn't zig or zag back into our path. We took a no fly day, yesterday and now back into the business of flying. I spent yesterday knee deep in planning meetings and preparing training lectures for later in the month.

 

Today we have a no fly day because of transit time and we are also doing an underway replenishment or RAS. Basically we maneuver the carrier to come along a specific style of ship that is like a big cargo ship it is called a supply ship. Except it has bombs, toilet paper, toothbrushes, square turkeys, and fuel on the cargo ship. The only thing that seriously sucks about RAS days is the hangar bay is completely closed off due to large cargo being moved all over the place. We started early in the morning, around 0700, and probably won't break away till about 1100. Usually at break away we play some sort of song. Watching a RAS go down it kind of cool. Because we are connected via high tension lines, fuel lines and cargo lines you see all sorts of things moving back and forth. Also we have flight ops going on where we have helicopters flying back and forth between the carrier and the supply ship. There is gear slung under the helos as they go motoring around. Usually the Helo's are delivering bulky or awkward cargo containers over to the flight deck and then these are struck below on the aircraft elevators.

 

Time changes out here are a killer right now. I am four hours behind Pacific and eight behind Eastern. I was jokingly telling my wife that soon I will fall so far behind her that I will eventually be ahead of her. Some time in the next couple of weeks we will cross the international date line and actually lose a day. Which reminds me of a old school Navy joke. It seems this destroyer was pulling out of Pearl Harbor for a deployment and they had a Captain's Mast after getting out in the deep blue water. This E-3, Seaman, had committed a couple of liberty policy infractions. So the skipper busted him down to E-2 and put him on restriction for 45 days with forty five days extra duty, finally took half a month's pay for one month. As part of his extra duty this now E-2 had to go and scrub dishes in the galley. His CPO checked up on him and every day this kid was caught singing a little song to himself, smiling as he was doing work, "They can take my rank , they can take my pay, they can take my liberty, but they can't take my birthday away." It seems that his birthday was near the end of the month. For the next few days this kid was spotted scrubbing away and singing his song. Up until the day before his birth which just happen to be the day the ship was going across the international date line. This E-2 showed up down on the mess decks and asked the cook for a slice of cake, as was tradition on one's birthday with this ship. The cook looked up at him and said nope. The Cook then explained to this poor guy, whose face got sadder and sadder, that it was now the day after his birthday cause the ship crossed the international date line.

 

When I get a chance to sit down and download pictures I will. I have a few of the egg soup they served for breakfast, the triangle fish, and the square turkey's we have been getting for meals. Hope things are going good with the forums.

 

Charles

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Dave,

 

How are things in the past? We just crossed that imaginary line on the global and fell so far behind the west coast time that we actually jumped ahead to the 19th. I could explain how, but it would require a ton of math and physics explanations that would just confuse everyone. Actually, it comes from the fact that we crossed the international date line and in turn skipped a whole day around 0100. So we did experience Wednesday, but only for an hour.

 

One of the more interesting issues we have to deal with from time to time out here is Laundry. Laundry onboard any US Naval vessel is a very industrialized process. In every berthing (or just out side) there are a series of lockers which are split into two, one for darks and one for whites. At the top of the lockers are a door that pulls down towards you and at the bottom is a door that is usually locked up. They are supposed to be rigged in such a way to hold up large canvas bags. However, that doesn't always happen so instead people just dump their clothes in these bins. They will at times use what is called a ditty bag. Which is a mesh bag that has a tag where your supposed to put your name, command, berthing, and last four (for all those Jones and Skippy's out there to tell their laundry apart). The bag is supposed to be tied up and usually put a large laundry pin it in to secure it close. What is supposed to go in these ditty bags are things like socks and underclothing (also called skivvies). When it is timed for Laundry to go down the off-going shift the night before prepares it by emptying the bins into these canvas bags. The canvas bags are usually stenciled with the command, berthing compartment bulls eye, contact number (telephone), and now a days whether it is male or female laundry (note this is important). The bags are filled up and tied off with rope. Then are then taken down to ship's laundry. Laundry goes down twice a week, I think my berthing's schedule is every Wednesday and every Saturday. It is also supposed to come back that same day usually eight to ten hours later. Then the other off going shift goes down to pick up the laundry and pass it out. It should come back dry and clean. Once there the bags are emptied out into large industrial sized washers. Then they are moved to dryers and once it is all done the canvas bags are restuffed and put in a corner awaiting pick up. In an ideal world it works like that. Now for some of the issues. A couple of times we haven't gotten clean clothes back, rather it was the same stuff that was turned in that morning. Other times it was still soaking wet. Even better was last night we got back a bag that was stenciled as VAQ-135 men's whites laundry. Upon opening it up we found all sorts of women's skivvies, what was even funnier is that they weren't our women's stuff. So we ended up having to rebag that gear up and go back down to Laundry (which is always on the third deck of every carrier I have been on) to hunt for our own stuff. When we finally found our own gear it ended up still needing to be washed. Much teeth-gnashing and angry shouting at we got our stuff with in the hour. When we opened up our darks bag we just might as well had not. It was all still sopping wet. So more angry shouting and explanations to people about their jobs and even later into the night we got our stuff back. I wonder if the officers have to deal with wet laundry or misplaced laundry.

 

That is about it for right now to report out here. I have some pictures of the last couple no-fly days around. Just need to find time to download the suckers and transfer them

 

Charles

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Thanks for sharing all this with us.

It's most interesting indeed!

 

Best regards to Southernap, and thanks for the pics, the story, also thank you Dave for posting it.

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"I wonder if the officers have to deal with wet laundry or misplaced laundry."

 

yep.

 

tended to be resolved a little quicker................

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I can totally see this guys daily life. I did two deployments on the Nimitz during 2007-2008 while I was assigned to VFA-81. No love loss for the idiots that got sent to NJP. Lots of friends still out there. Got to love Nimitz and team "Barbwire".

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The Nimitz?

 

Gonna be in Japan soon, I hear.

 

A buddy of mine, HeavyDelta, is on the same pleasure cruise.

 

If you wander by the CIC, tell HD Spectre said "Howdy."

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Dave,

 

 

Just finished up a four day visit to Yokosuka and Japan. Lots if interesting things to do, food to try, and I was able to knock out a whole bunch of Christmas shopping while in town as well.

 

 

To start with we pulled in on a Monday, and I had to work as standby duty until about 5pm. Standby duty is where your not really in a duty status, just working to help the duty section get ahead of the work schedule. After I got off, it was too late for me to hook up with anybody and head into town. Instead I went over to the Navy Exchange on base and bought nearly all of my Christmas gifts for the upcoming holiday season there. The one thing that I wanted to get but didn't think the wife would have approved was a replica full size samurai armor set with swords for about five grand. Instead I did the usual of buying some cotton kimono style robes for my in-laws, a couple small curio's for the wife, and some decorated chop sticks. After bringing my treasures back to the ship I went to the base club and grabbed a bite to eat followed up by gong to do my laundry. That was about it for my first day.

 

 

Second day went out with a bunch of guys to downtown Tokyo. The first thing to do when traveling in Japan is head to your local train station. From there you stand in line trying to figure out where you want to go. At each automated ticket center there is a sign above you telling of all the stops from the lines serviced by that station. You just need to find your destination and next to that is a price. Pick what type of ticket you want and then put in the right amout money. Trying to figure that out and get to some of our locations was an adventure in itself. I am positive that are some people out there that has some words of advice on how to travel by train in the Tokyo area. After arriving in Tokyo we navigated around the Ginza district to start with which is one of the primary shopping districts in Tokyo. All upscale and out of my price range, waist line, and coolness factor. When ever you see the classic shot of the lighted signs, that is part of the Ginza district. After realizing that we couldn't afford anything in Ginza we got on the subway over to Roppongi district and tried to find the Tokyo Tower. It isn't that hard to find as much as hard to navigate to. On the way over there we ran across the Zojo Buddhist shrine. This is a shrine built and financed by the Tokaguawa shogun about five hundred years ago. After the Tokaguawa shogun fell out of favor in the region the shrine became a national park. It is still an active shrine and there are Buddhist monks there and people still come to pray. All around the walls of the shrine were these little stone statues. These are called Jinzo statues and they are basically the Buddhist saint that protects children and helps them navigate through the demon world to heaven. People put clothing and stones in front of these little statutes as a way to pray for their children who have passed away. Passing on through the shrine we also saw the monks come out for a photograph while chanting. It was very interesting to watch. A number of us foreigners were obviously unsure of what to do, but watched as thirty or so monks came out stood on the steps; then the head monk in orange came out sat down had a couple of photos taken and the whole thing broke up.

 

 

We then walked over to the Tokyo tower. This is a combination observation and broadcast tower. I forget how tall it is, but the observation deck is up there and you can navigate around it pretty good to get a decent view of the city. At night the place is really light up nice. For dinner that night we came off the Tokyo tower and went into Roppongi to find a place to eat. We found a little restaurant kind of back in a corner with no body really in it. We couldn't read the menu, but it did have pictures so we picked a couple of things. I picked this item, can't even tell you its name, but it was composed of a hot plate with cabbage and onions in it, had a plate of bacon meat cut like prosciutto bacon, and a bowl filled with what tasted like miso soup broth. Basically you dropped a couple of pieces of bacon in the onion broth let it boil and then taking that out you dipped it real quick in the miso broth and ate it. It was great. Thinking about eating all over the place in Japan there are drink vending machines. What is really cool about them is that in the same machine you can buy a hot can of coffee or a cold soda pop. Most of the drinks weren't much more then 150 yen. Part of me wants to figure out how they are able to pull off cooking the cans of coffee so it is scalding hot when it comes out and yet able to keep a soda ice cold.

 

 

My third day in town went over to Obadio island. It is a man-made island has a bunch of shopping malls on it, the home of one of the national broadcast stations (Fuji TV), a few museums and a couple of parks. When we got there they were in the process of tearing down a full size replicate of a cartoon robot called Gundum. It was built as part of their bid for the summer Olympics in 2016 and to talk about how it has been thirty years since Gundum came out in Japan. All that was left as I walked around was the feet. Walking around on Obadio island we went to a shopping mall that also had a Toyota museum attached to it. On one level was what Toyota is doing with car technology. Things like small one person automated people movers, to small four people cars that rolls the door up and swings your seat out to the curb. On another level was the history of Toyota racing and finally a level talking about how Toyota is leading the way with hybrid cars in all sorts of categories (like racing, passenger, suv). Really interesting stuff. After that we checked out the Tokyo Maritime Science museum which talks about ships from the earliest tied reed boats to the latest supertankers. Then got on this Ferris wheel that hello kitty themed. After spending time on the Ferris wheel. Myself and a few others went to a sushi place and ate a large platter of sushi while drinking down a bottle of Sake having a good time.

 

 

The only thing that really marred our trip was in Yokosuka was at the train station every day till about three you had to navigate past the anti-nuclear carrier crowds. They had a boat escorting us in with a large electronic billboard in both English and Japanese expressing their displeasure and then there was a street protest. The only thing in my mind was how these street protests were very civil and except for a guy with a megaphone very quiet. Petition takers asking real respectfully for signatures and people passing out pamphlets. For sure a change from other places that I have been and there have been protests (both in Europe and the states)

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Charles

 

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My sister went to Japan a few months ago. Funny to see they had quite the same feelings!

 

Thanks again for sharing, Dave.

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Dave,

 

 

So I just finished up a few days in the fun port of Singapore and am now in the Indian Ocean on our way to Gonzo Station. We just heard today that we are being extended. Since this deployment started the scuttlebutt (rumor mill, gossip) has been running hard and heavy about being extended. Well it is now official, or at least publically official. We are going to be gone from our families for eight fun filled months. There are a slew of emotions churning through everyone right now. Everything from the "Que Sera Sera" thoughts, to how one can make their bank accounts fat, to will they or not serve divorce paperwork. This just adds to deployment stress. I can't even get a hold of my wife right now to tell her the good news because she is in the middle of the 3-Day cancer hike near our hometown. She is going to hike 60 miles after raising a bunch of money for breast cancer research. I will let her know later this weekend about it all. I am of the opinion that what was going to happen was going to happen. There is nothing that I can do to change it, just grin and take it. The only thing I can really hope for is additional and fun port visits, because of this. I was talking to some family back at the beach and a couple of them reminded me it can't always be all that bad. One of my relatives left for cruise on the 2nd of January and returned on Christmas Eve that same year. Another left on a cruise and didn't make it back to the states for eighteen months. So life isn't that bad. This is just one of the joys of my job. I am just glad that I was able to bring a large enough book collection that I should be able to get through a large amount of it (or hopefully all) before I get home.

 

 

Deployment Stress. We [us in the military] aren’t aliens or oddities that don’t deal with some of the same things the rest of the civilian populace deals with. Rather our stress is even more complex and convoluted the normal. Most people are able to come home and work through the stress every day. Being in the military sometimes means being deployed and trying to have to deal with this stress from the end of email/postal link or the ever so infrequent phone call link. Both sides deal with stress and the military is working hard to have pre-deployment classes so everyone realizes the stress and can work through it. They tell us not to leave with fights our heads. Try to get things resolved as soon as possible before a deployment happens or see if an issue can be tabled until everyone is home and able to talk about it. It is accepted that everyone will be angry and say some things that aren’t nice on the ramp up to the deployment. Working through that before deployment is always stressed as well. All sorts of coping strategies are introduced by the staff of the pre-deployment classes.

 

 

All of us who have deployed know the stress that I will be talking about. It is where something happens at home and you as the deployed member can’t deal with it. Having to only send word home via email, letter, or twenty minute phone call via a Sailor Phone. The stress where you hear from the Spousal unit things like: “The car is broke and the mechanic is asking XYZ for repairs….”; “Johnny is becoming a terror at the house and starting to do poorly at school…”; “Yeller took sick a couple of days ago, I took him to the vet…”. You get letters like this and it tears you up inside. You know how to deal with it if your home, but out here away from it all, some of us are at a loss to deal with the feelings or emotions. Part of it comes from the fact that you want to someone for a shoulder, but your loved one isn’t there immediately. Even worst is the feeling that you know others onboard are probably going through the same sort of stress, but still feel like your alone in the water. Combine this with the regular work stress of trying to maintain a work center, a workload, and keep out of the negative spotlight in maintenance control; we have a storm brewing inside everyone.

 

 

There are a number of ways we seem to deal with it. Some folks write out long flowing emails/letters describing how they are feeling, telling their spouses how to deal with it down to the tiniest detail, and in general trying to offload some of this stress. Others will spend every off-shift hour making phone calls via the sailor phones trying to get help going where they can or work through the problem. Others still will try and turn to supervisors and leadership for direction. We in turn help point them to such people as the chaplains or even the ship’s psychologists as people to talk to. Some of us will compartmentalize the information and off load it while in port some place or they will go to the gym and work out the stress that way. Some will just take a day and everything that goes wrong will explode against people about little things, after a day of just venting they will feel better. The final is the worst way and I personally have only seen it done once on a deployment years ago. That is through hurting themselves. As someone in leadership, having to attend training trying to recognize this stress and intercede before the final option is exercised has emphasized constantly during workups in most of my cruises. The ones that usually go the final route are those in the first term/first deployment cycle.

 

 

Most of our first cruise folks are dealing with being away from home and again those feelings of being alone, even though they are around five thousand other people. It gets even harder when they are TAD to some place on the ship and only feel more and more alienated. This isn’t what they were expecting from the TV shows, the recruiter, the instructors at the various schools were telling them what the fleet was like. When you add to that a letter that begins “It isn’t you it is me…” from a girlfriend/wife, that usually seems to be the straw that breaks the back for a large number of our first cruise folks. It is hard work to bounce back from something like that, as supervisors we work very hard to pay attention to mood changes. Sometimes all it takes is some engagement, opening up a chance for someone to vent. Sometimes you need to be the initial contact and then refer them to other people who are better trained and prepared to help work through the issue. Engagement is always the word of the day for some of this stress.

 

 

I am going through my own deployment stress. Being a newlywed is hard, even more so when you were only home for two months before starting the in/out of the deployment cycle. I was smart and loaded up with nearly all the cards for the birthday and anniversary that I could get while in San Diego and Japan when I could. Every place I hit for a port visit I try and remember to hunt for some little curio to send home and share my trip with her. Even more then that though is just the thought that I really want to just spend time at home getting use to living the married life. We were dating while I was in work ups for my 2007-2008 deployment. Trying to get personal time in-between duty weekends, training detachments, etc. Nov 2008 and changed commands that winter, only to start the whole cycle again. I have a slew of things to figure out beyond finishing up this deployment. The biggest tickler in the back of my head is finding a house where the two of us can live together, but the other thing fighting that is I am expected to rotated in January of 2011 (basically a year and four months from now) to another duty assignment. So even if I found a good house at a decent price could if I did have to move could I make a profit on it? Family is also a big stressor right now. My last deployment, some very close family members passed away, they weren’t in my immediate nuclear family, so I couldn’t take leave. The most that I could do was shoulder the news, compartmentalize it and move on. There wasn’t the time nor the money to make a transit from the Gulf all the way back to the US to make the funerals. When the deployment ended is when the emotional release happened, still very hard for me to deal with even now some of these thoughts. I am really in the mood for a break from this sea duty and want some nice shore duty place where I don’t have to see a ship for a while.

 

 

Oh, and the home front goes through deployment stress as well. It is even harder for them since most of the time they are in the middle of the storm that started the letter or email. It is really helpful if friends or neighbors are able to help out from time to time. Even something simple as helping to cook a meal because of a hectic week is appreciated from time to time.

 

 

Well that is it for deep thoughts from out here. I hope this little glimpse in to some of the other things that make up our lives beyond fun port calls and living out the dream of being Top Gun has been enlightening for your readers .

 

 

Charles

 

 

 

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It's too bad that the average citizen can't read these letters. Those of us that have "been there-done that" know exactly how he feels. "Living the Dream" was never what it was supposed to be. However,Our life today is great because of wonderful young people who have been doing these very things for the last 200 years. I am very thankful that the tradition,as hard as it is,goes on. :salute:

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Dave,

 

 

I know I haven't written you that much in the last couple of days. We arrived on station in the Northern portion of the Indian Ocean and flying missions in support of the guys on the ground in Afghanistan. It is hot, sweaty work out here but for the most part we are keeping on top of what is going on with the ground events. Not as much bomb dropping as people back home hear on the news. Rather it is a lot of putting airplanes in the air over a spot and having them loiter in a zone where a bunch of ops are going on. When the guys on the ground need help, the E-3 or E-2's or even the regional commander calls out to the assets in the zone and has the closes aircraft fly in, talk to the FAC on the ground, bombs go down range and shooting stops. If the guys on the ground don't have contact then the planes hit the tankers and come home. The F-18's are hitting the tankers something like six or seven times while doing their mission. Our guys are hitting the tankers are hitting about three or four times and flying for something close to 6.5 hours. For those on the CA board who like to do things in real time imagine taking a cat shot and then sitting in the same gear, same seat for two hours to Afghanistan and then loiter for two hours, hitting a tanker in that time frame, then flying home for two hours to find the ship and land. Then getting out the plane, spend an hour in debrief before your finally allowed to grab some shut eye. No getting up to use the bathroom and eating a brown bag that is usually composed of a sandwich, juice box, and some chips. The bathroom in our jet is basically a funnel that the guys are able to maneuver kind of sort off near themselves and piss into. The women have to wear diapers or do something called tactical dehydration, which is where they don't drink a whole bunch before manning up and only take small sips from a bottle while flying. Just recently one of our jets almost had a mission abort because one of our male crew members couldn't aim down the funnel and ended up shorting out some of the electronics on his side which control our weapon system. Luckily the guy in the other seat was able to pick up the slack. This NFO has a running contest on a new name, it is either going to be whiz or bladder. Kids can be so cruel can't they. :) A large number of the crew fly a mission and then have a day off and then fly a mission. They also try and rotate it so not the same guys are flying the same days. So today you might fly the day hop and then two days later your flying the night hop.

 

 

The hardest part out here as well has been our mail situation. Due to issues with our C-2's they are having to surface ship us our mail. SO that means about once every two weeks we have a massive mail call because our supply ships bring out the mail when they come out to replenish us. So I haven't seen your package yet. I am sure it is some where in the mail warehouse in Bahrain, but where it is I don't know. Don't worry, a package my wife sent me early on back in early august hasn't arrived yet either, but on the other hand a package she sent out around the 11th arrive to me yesterday. God, military postal system is so confusing.

 

 

For the most part we have set ourselves into a routine out here and gotten a schedule down for most of us. It is pretty easy as you know to regiment your life. Get up at x time, go to breakfast at y time, meeting at z time, etc, etc, etc. That seems to be the only way to keep sane out here for us. Break your day down into easy segments that you can handle and then take a break either by getting up to go to the store, go to the head, heck even sneak back to the berthing and sit watch about ten to fifteen minutes of the TV or slide over to your rack just try to enjoy some quick personal time. For the smokers they have the smoke pit, for the non-smokers they have to make up the time some how some way so they find ways to look busy without being real busy. It is even harder on us Airdales to do stuff like that because of trying to support the flight schedule and other maintenance on jets. After hours we go back to our berthing, grab a shower and either settle down to our racks with a book or a portable game box. Others will stay up and watch a movie or get involved with finding a corner to watch a movie on either their personal DVD player or PC. A few others will start card games like Hearts, Spades, Cribbage, Euchre, etc. Something to take your mind of the boredom. Others will find time to go and work out after work come back all hot and sweaty again but feeling better cause they just did 15 miles on a treadmill or was able to beat level 9 on an elliptical or stationary bike.

 

 

I have my own schedule which is going to the gym on M/W/F and Saturday's if needed. I usually do about an hour on the elliptical machine followed by a quick fifteen minute brisk walk on the treadmills. Then it is shower, in to my sleeping gear and in bed with a book. On the rest of the week it is usually off from work and either working on some side projects that I brought out with me, playing a couple of video games that I have loaded on my laptop (one of which you might like called Modern Air Power Series: Air War Over Vietnam published by HPS Simulations), or just getting a shower and heading straight to bed. I brought a slew of books like I mentioned a couple of letters ago out with me. What is even worst is that I have picked up a couple more books while I was in Singapore. I am a pretty voracious reader so at times I have been able to finish a large Tom Clancy sized book in about a week at other times it takes me a couple of weeks to read a book because I want to read it more for comprehension and a deeper understanding of the topic.

 

 

Other then that things are going well as they can on the home front. I just can't wait to get home for a while

 

 

Charlie

 

 

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"This NFO has a running contest on a new name, it is either going to be whiz or bladder. Kids can be so cruel can't they. :) "

 

:rofl:

 

oh man, does that ever bring some memories (of other not so fortuneate aircrew!!)

 

call sign assignments are an art form

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Dave,

 

 

Big red would work. Thanks in advance for the package. I will let you know if I am in the mood for anything else. I just got a package from my folks for Halloween. My mom bless her soul, threw in about four different dollar store toys. Really funny thing is that we were entertained by them for about three hours after work. Two of them were wind up toys, a pumpkin that walked and jumped, a glow in the dark skeleton that hobbled and a Frankenstein that hobbled with arms that went up and down. Final toy was a silly putty soccer game. Just a net with a paper goalie and silly putty that you used as a ball. You know it is strange to see some thirty something year old men trying to figure out how to make a better game out of just some silly putty and a plastic net that probably was worth more to ship then buy.

 

On a separate topic how are things over at CA? Just a thought to throw out there for some of the realism junkies. We had a F-18 take a cat stroke and on rotation all the weapon stations fired and everything went into the water. Can we say mission kill against the airplane. Upon landing they found there was a short in a thirty cent piece of wire in the store jettison command switches. Ahh, what can you say. I doubt any of our simulations feature an error like that because it wouldn't be fun.

 

 

Charlie

 

 

-----Original Message-----

 

From: Slavens, David J TSgt USAF AFRC 445 AW/CP

 

Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 3:56

 

To: Berlemann, Charles H AT1 (VAQ 135)

 

Subject: RE: Cookies

 

 

Like Big Red?

 

 

-----Original Message-----

 

From: Berlemann, Charles H AT1 (VAQ 135)

 

Sent: Saturday, October 10, 2009 10:18 AM

 

To: Slavens, David J TSgt USAF AFRC 445 AW/CP

 

Subject: RE: Cookies

 

 

Dave,

 

 

Chewing gum. Any flavor but cinnamon would be awesome. I don't smoke, but do chew a bunch of gum while I am in high stress.

 

 

-----Original Message-----

 

From: Slavens, David J TSgt USAF AFRC 445 AW/CP

 

Sent: Friday, October 09, 2009 5:18

 

To: Berlemann, Charles H AT1 (VAQ 135)

 

Subject: Cookies

 

 

Sheila finally sent them out Wednesday. She had them at work and forgot them. Sorry. Anything else you want though?

 

 

Dave

 

 

 

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adding a random malfunction generator would make the sims more "interesting" and realistic......

 

it used to be that USN formation flying was essential in FAA controlled airspace, because amoung all of the planes in formation there would be enough operable equipment in the section to make the flight possible.....

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Good read Dave. If you think it wise, send him a BIG NO on this, or a caution.

 

Charles::

So even if I found a good house at a decent price could if I did have to move could I make a profit on it? Family is also a big stressor right now.

 

I've heard some can still "profit" from home buying but it takes being there full time and knowing the currently rigged markets, or so I've gathered. If you think its a good idea, suggest the average guy rent and try to save money for family back home, or stay with relatives and save money for now.

 

Bad time to sign into debt. Major family stressor. I think, when he finds where he would love to live for a few decades, and raise a family there, then buy, but never for "profit."

 

 

thanks!!

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I got these from Charles and forgot to post them. It is when he stopped in Singapore.

1903buildingmodernbackground.JPG

buddastoothtemple.JPG

changimemorialchapel.JPG

chinadistrict.JPG

chinadistrict1.JPG

comingintochinadistrict.JPG

expatshouse3.JPG

Johurisland.JPG

johurisland2.JPG

lambroginioutsidehiltonsingapore.JPG

lunchthesecondday.JPG

mcdonaldscoffee.JPG

mebuddatoothtemple.JPG

modelofchangichapel.JPG

mrtstation.JPG

mrtstationtickets.JPG

mrttrain.JPG

myselfontrain2.JPG

orchardparkrd.JPG

orchardparkrd1.JPG

orchardrdmrtstationandmall.JPG

outsidebuddastoothtemple.JPG

outsidethaiembassyorchardpkrd.JPG

ritzmallorchardparkrd.JPG

shipfromsingarmedyahctclub.JPG

shoppingarcade.JPG

shoppingarcade1.JPG

wholecookduck.JPG

wholecookedduck2.JPG

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