The aft pylon of a CH-47 Chinook rides high above us in the front of the C-17. Aft, chained to the floor, rides the rest of the Chinook, filling the vast majority of the cargo bay. We consume the space in between the pylon and Chinook’s fuselage with our own bodies. Bedrolls, like OD green tootsie-rolls wound tightly around lean bodies, fill the floor, some curled into balls, others stretched out in thin lines on the cold steel floor with yellow, green or orange foam earplugs stuffed tightly into our ears. Like green cocoons in a transport pod, we gather what rest we can as we orbit the earth at 35,000’ – headed home.
Sleep does not endure so we turn to technology. I read a digital copy of Pressfield’s Afghan Campaign, and contrast our experience to Alexander’s. The environment, the terrain – the toughest on earth – the tribes have not changed. The complexity remains. Only the implements of war have evolved. To my right my command sergeant major watches TED – ideas worth sharing. Tom Burke reads the battle of Wanat on his iPad. He will soon assume responsibility of that area and wants to know everything possible before beginning operations.
We are somewhere out over the Atlantic. From the small round window at the door water can be observed as far as the eye can see. The dark blue water meets white haze at the horizon and then turns to blue again as space infinite begins – growing ever darker the further removed from earth it travels.
We seem so insignificant – tiny specs in the vastness of eternity, yet so important in the eyes and hearts of some. A crewmember stirs in the floor; a call on his headset. We’ll be landing soon – returning to earth and one step closer to our loved ones, until next time. This is our chosen profession. It’s what we do. It’s work.DSCN0391

One thought on “

  1. Nothing like flying military air!
    I learned in the Marines that chase crew was the place to be. Fewer bodies=more room. I’ve slept many a mile on an embark box.
    At least they don’t strip search you before boarding.

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