Saturday, May 15

6 May 2004

D day. Deployment day is here.
06:30 wake-up.
07:30 formation to go over the day's schedule and eat.
09:00 the last of the bags are packed and loaded in a truck. We take them to transportation to have them palletized for military air transport.
11:30 lunch. Most of us went to Cracker Barrell for our last good meal for a while.
13:00 Issue weapons from arms room.
15:00 Go the the manifest site. Weigh-in with full battle rattle and carry-ons. I weighed in at 279 pounds. Then we relaxed with Red Cross refreshments.
17:00 Go to Manhattan airport. Wait in a snack bar that isn't open for business. Ordered pizza delivered. Excitement picked up when our C-17 arrived. Everyone went outside to look at it taxi towards it. The adrenaline was really pumping! VIPs then showed up to see us off. The Kansas Adjutant General, and the PAOs from both Kansas and Oklahoma were there. I went out to watch the cargo handlers load our pallets and to watch the fueling operation.
21:00 Board the plane. The plane is huge and looked funny at such a small airport. We have tons of space. Just three ISU 90s, a pallet of duffles and rucks, and a small pallet of MREs and water.
21:41 Take off. Everyone was talking, laughing, and having a good time as we taxied. We were seated sideways facing the center of the aircraft, with the cargo in the middle. Take off accelleration was pretty strong compared to airline takeoffs.

Well, it's easy to see why people say the army is a bunch of 'hurry and wait'. The airport was 25 minutes from our barracks, but had to get to all these places so early. You can tell they're used to handling much larger units than ours.

Once airborne, people were settling down. Also on board is a Raven team. These are Air Force security police whose job it is to secure and guard an aircraft when it lands in a potentially dangerous place.... I guess Afghanistan qualifies :-)

There are three Load Masters in addition to the flight crew. Much to my surprise, they passed out pillows and blankets! Ya gotta love the Air Force.

The plane is short and fat. Almost as wide as a 747, but much shorter. You could shoot baskets in this airplane if there was no cargo. At the front was a bulkhead. At the center of the bulk head is a 8 foot flight of steep stairs that lead to a large cockpit. To the right of the stairs is the loadmaster's work station. He has a fancy chair that swivels, a desk, computer, and other equipment.

To the left of the stairs is a small passageway leading to a galley-- I wonder if they'll bring us coffee later :-) To the left of the passageway is the lavatory. I'll check that out later.

About 40 minutes after takeoff they tell us we're having engine trouble and we're going to stop in Charleston, SC. Hmmm. That's a two hour flight from where we were. Sure hope it's not a big problem!

The cargo area is completely unfinished. You can see all the wires, pipes, heaters, insulation, cables-- everything. The floor has rollers so the pallets can slide on/off. The walls are semi-finished. They're panelled and have power sockets, first aid kits, oxygen tanks, cargo straps and braces, lights and electronics built in.

Plans to watch DVDs on my laptop computer and listen to music during the flight are aborted-- the background noise is too much.

The C-17 flew from Charleston to Manhattan specifically to get the 105th and take us all the way to Bagram. It really made us proud and honored to think we're considered such a valuable asset to the effort in Afghanistan that they committed this strategic airlift resource to move our little unit. Our expectation was to be crammed in with another unit on a space available basis.

More later......

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