The Way Back Home…Part 5
Steve “Money Man” C. and I are exactly the same except for a couple of minor details. He is tall, good-looking, funny, smart, and has a talent to build things. I am sarcastic. We are just like brothers from another mother. It didn’t take long for the Money Man and I to bond. Not just in flying by in the tent too. We laughed at the same things, we both like to stir up a little trouble and then see what happens.
Case in point. There was a young Life Support troop, John S. is a young guy in his late teens or very early 20s, trying to get college paid for and a war broke out. He is great dude, funny, always trying to help, and he lives life on the wild side. He came to Tabuk on one of the last flights. I think he was on the airplane that the Money Man was flying over. Apparently, little Johnny’s mom was smoking hot. When we returned, I got to meet her and yes she is a nice looking lady.
If Johnny had a single hot button issue, it was that anytime, anyone said anything about his mom being hot. He became very upset. The Money Man is a deviant when it comes to finding someone’s weakness and exploiting it. He is from a family of 4 or 5 boys, so he is a professional grief giver.
“Hey Johnny, do you have any pictures of your mom?”
Things like that were constantly said. Then the bathroom graffiti started. It began in places that little Johnny would frequent. The restroom in Ops Town near the Life Support tent. Scribbled on the wall, “Ann S. is hot.”
Then it grew and grew. It started showing up in the bathrooms in Baghdad, Balad, Mosul, and Kirkuk. Then it spread to Jordan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. It was written on the airplanes, Control Towers, Army Tanks, and anything else that could be used as graffiti. Then crews transiting our base would hang out in tactics, Intel or the chow hall while they waited their next mission. The Money Man would go over and strike up a conversation. Somehow, he would work in a story about a hot Life Support tech named Ann S. He would guide them to the right place, and set them loose looking for Ann. She was 20,000 miles away but her son would get so ticked off.
Another trick we played, was more spontaneous. There was a new tactics guy briefing us one afternoon. He was the serious type, couldn’t take a joke, wouldn’t crack a smile because in his mind if we didn’t do exactly what he said, we would all die. We were going to Afghanistan and the Air Force had just instituted a new procedure to control traffic flow into the country. Called PIFR or Preferred Instrument Flight Routes. Basically a series of roads were organized in the airspace. North/South PIFRs were numbered 1,3,5,7,9. East/West PIFRs were numbered 2,4,6,8. All aircraft not on a special routing were required to stay on the PIFR but offset 3 to 5 miles to the right of the centerline. It was a simple way to de-conflict all of the traffic.
I used 64 words to describe to you what a PIFR is. Most of you have probably never heard the term and have no idea that it existed. The tactics officer took almost 20 minutes of our time to tell us about these stupid things. Their origin, their importance, and the possible results if we didn’t obey the traffic flow. But we didn’t care, we wanted to jump on a computer to send an e-mail home. Or maybe find a phone to get a quick call home worked in. We had no desire to be in a briefing that lasted more than two minutes.
The Intel guys were great about this. “They would ask when is the last time you flew?”
“No changes. Anything you want to ask?”
If there was something important they would tell us and we wanted to know about it, but we did not care about PIFRs. The tactics briefer had managed to waste our time and even more worse, he would not let the Enlisted guys, Rich and Tracy leave the briefing. They were captives as well, pawns in the hands of the briefer. It was not in their job description and I told them they could leave. He over-ruled me because this was important stuff. They stayed because they are great dudes.
The guy finally finished his brief and asks. “Any Questions?”
Steve raises his hand. “I got the route thing, but I still don’t understand. What is a PIFR?”
In the dark room, we all can see the guys face starting to get red.
I stood up and answered. “I don’t know Steve. But all this sounds hard. It is easier to just go direct.”
The guy literally screamed. “You can’t go direct!”
We are walking out and Steve looks back at him. “Yes we can. We have this thing called SCNS, Self-Contained Navigation System. All you have to do is select Bagram as the destination and push enter. The airplane will go direct. I would have thought that you knew that.” He didn’t wait for the response, we all were laughing as we left the tent.
We went to the Ops tent and I told KK and the other Commanders, what we had just done so that when they heard about it later, they would know. Everyone appreciated the humor and that guy earned a new nickname thanks to Steve, “Captain PIFR.” He was never happy when Steve and I walked in to get a briefing. And yes he was a tattle tale and he did try to get us in trouble.
Until next time, keep rockin.