Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Air Travel

The day came, I was packed and ready, and headed off to the airport at the brisk & chilly time of 4:30 am. Being January – it was cold walking from the parking lot to the airport – the last time I’d see Peoria for a while.

The guys arrived in good order, and their families, and as we were lining up to get our boarding passes, we had to open our gun cases to show the agents so they could be loaded up on the airplane. Our locks wouldn’t open. We just got them, in our BAMS gear – but they would not open. So we had to send back to base to get a lock cutter and remove them. There were 2 of us this happened to – which meant it wasn’t just me. Anyway – after that, got through security, got on the plane, and flew towards Atlanta.

Atlanta was unremarkable. We were only at the airport for about an hour or so, and then on to what is commonly referred to BWI – Baltimore Washington International Airport. It is ‘The’ airport for the folks going ‘over there’.

The airport has many amenities – among them the USO office. Since we were going to be there for an extended amount of time – which was extended even beyond that – we checked out the USO; Food, a wide screen TV, comfortable chairs, free wifi (my personal favorite) and a storage location for all our gear and our guns, so we could try the local cuisine while we waited. We were originally scheduled to leave the airport at 9:30pm. This is after arriving at about noon. The flight was pushed back, first to 10:30, then midnight, then – when we were finally told that there were some maintenance issues with the plane, 20 minutes after our flight was supposed to leave – we ended up leaving at 2:30am.

This was a very long flight. We were originally scheduled to go to Ireland – which I was personally excited about – but we ended up going to Germany. I thought Germany was going to be great. But, alas, we ended up staying in the airport – sampling the USO free wifi again (my favorite) and leaving after about an hour. The line for security here was very long. All the folks on the DC-10 I was on had to go back through security. There were about 250 folks. From Germany, we were on to Italy! Another great country! When we landed – it was pouring rain, they ushered us into a hanger – where some very nice folks fed us snacks & coffee – and after about an hour and a half – we loaded up on another plane, on our way to Al Udeid, Qatar.

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