Don't remember a thing.
Stop back tomorrow for more thrilling adventures.
|If you think that E-2 copilot looks like Doug Kirklass, you might be onto something.|
Well, of course that's not exactly true. Close though.
It was the first month of my first deployment and I was a complete noob. I hadn't even found the bowling alley on the boat. I could barely get to chow and back by myself. I was a trained swimmer and aircrewman -- I'd been to and successfully completed the schools -- but I was not yet rated. I was a hospital corpsman and an aviation medicine technician but I wasn't yet even an EMT. My initial medical department job was warming a chair in medical records. I had a lot of training, and it was good training. What I needed was experience, seasoning, more training, and a clue. I was going to get a heaping shitload of all four over the next eight months or so, but I was starting off pretty slow and at this point I knew fuck-all about anything.
I'd met and tried to talk to the HM1 who was the designated medevac dude for the department. He basically told me not to bother him, not to expect to get any medevacs, and not to expect any introductions to the Helo Bubbas.
So I was surprised when the flight surgeon yanked me out of medical records one morning and told me to head up to the helo squadron paraloft to draw some flight gear because there'd be a medevac in a couple of hours and I was it.
I didn't have the faintest idea where the paraloft might be. I still needed an escort to lead me by the hand to my squadron spaces. I fessed up and the flight surgeon took pity on me. He delivered me to the helo squadron ready room and the Crew Chief who would be flying the medevac showed me where the paraloft was, greased the skids for me, and ended up taking me under his wing a bit. He was an ADC -- a Chief Petty Officer -- and a Vietnam guy who'd really been there and done that.
The first thing I found out that day was that I liked the helo squadron a hell of a lot more than medical!
Anyway, We were operating east of Sicily and were quite far out, just about as far as a
Sea King could fly without refueling. The boat was heading that way at a good clip, so after we dropped the patient and refueled returning to the boat would would take 90 minutes less than the trip to Sig -- NAS Sigonella, near Catania.
I don't remember much about the patient, except that he was enlisted and ambulatory, and it seems like he was going to have some kind of surgery that they didn't want to do on the boat. I was really just a hand-holder and paperwork carrier.
The mission itself was pure delight. The whole crew was friendly and welcoming. They started me off on the right foot with my fleet helo training. I learned a hell of a lot that day. I'm afraid I neglected the shit out of the patient.
We landed at Sig and it seems like we left the patient at Air Ops waiting for a ride to show up from the Naval Hospital. As a crew we hit the Air Ops Cafe for real (non-aircraft carrier) cheeseburgers. I hadn't thought to bring money but the Chief paid for my meal. "The first rule of naval aviation," he said, "is always have plenty of cash." I took the lesson to heart and I don't think I ever flew again without at least a c-note in my billfold.
I was starting to get sleepy as we finished our burgers and the Chief recommended (and bought for me) a thing called espresso. A triple espresso to be exact. It was apparently a Sicilian beverage, highly valued by the locals and by the Chief himself. "It'll wake you right up," he said,"and it won't make you piss." The Chief wasn't sleepy, otherwise he'd have ordered one for himself. Or that was the impression I got, although I'm not sure he ever actually said those words.
So the espresso was like hot, burnt mud. I liked coffee, but this was nuclear coffee. It was horrible! But of course I couldn't appear to be ungrateful, or even worse look like a pussy, so I downed it in a couple of swallows. Five minutes later I realized that I really liked the stuff. My eyes were still watering from the incredibly strong taste, but sleepy was a thing of the distant past. I was wired, baby!
When we landed back aboard I was a very different sailor. I'd accomplished some good stuff, met some great folks and learned a lot, and had begun to grow some serious confidence, which was something I'd been struggling to find since reporting aboard. I was still a noob and I knew it, but the day's festivities had opened my eyes and made me realize that I'd be able to hack this fleet shit. As long as I was willing to work hard and persevere. And it wouldn't hurt if there was espresso from time to time.
I was absolutely unable to sleep that night though.
The thing that prompted this post was sharing a triple shot of espresso today with a fellow veteran. Although he was Air Force, the fellow knows his way around the ol' eye-talian coffee, too.
It was a good day.