Thursday, September 18, 2008

Made it to Hawaii

We've made it to Hawaii. We left Wake Island on the morning of 17 Sept and landed at MCB Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay on the evening 16 Sept. That International Date Line will get you every time. It definitely got the person who made our hotel reservations because they were not expecting us for another day. But they had the rooms available so it didn't matter all that much. We travel to MCAS Miramar in San Diego, CA tomorrow morning. This is the longest leg of the trip. It will take us about 6 hours to fly towards San Fransisco (closest piece of land from Hawaii) then head south to San Diego. We have to head towards San Fran since if we hit the half way point and have an issue with our jet and can no longer take fuel from the tanker then we can just make it to a suitable runway.

Here are some pictures from Wake Island. I got to do a little deep sea fishing the day we arrived. We caught a yellow tail tuna and an ono. We ate the tuna mostly raw (sushi style) and the ono as bbq steaks. They were both awesome! Nothing like fresh tuna.

Rolling out on final for Wake Island.

The was on the top of the Marine Corps memorial honoring the Marines who served on Wake Island during WWII.

Photo of me launching out of Wake Island on our way to Hawaii.

A picture of two of our aircraft over Wake Island after we circled around the island to join with the tankers that have just taken off.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Paintball - Marine Corps Style

The squadron entered into a paintball tournament this weekend. It had been planned for the past 4 weeks. When the call came out for those that wanted to go at it you know who was one of the first to answer that call. The Hawks had four teams. The tournament was supposed to be base wide. Key word was supposed to.

What ended up happening was 8 Officers from the Hawks against 6 Marines I would classify as "paintball regulars." So, it was three hours of paintball action with just the two teams. The two extra players on our side made the engagement somewhat fair. Eventually we gave up one of ours to make the teams even. The battle finally ended with 4 of us Hawks remaining after the teams began to erode away. The last engagements were 2 v 2 and then finally a 1 v 1 v1 v 1 (aka all out brawl).

It was a blast, literally! I think I lost about 15 pounds in sweat and have about 15 purple-ish welts from the hard fought battles. I've not done too much paintball but it did remind me of all the times I played laser tag when I was younger. However, this time it was a little more painful when I got shot. Fortunately, I shot others more than they shot me.

Back in the Kuni

I made it back to Iwakuni about a week ago. The flights are slowing down and the focus of effort is getting ready to fly home. The jets are getting prepared for our Trans-Pacific flights' the aircrew are gearing up for the long, seemingly endless inflight refueling missions, and everyone is packing their gear.

This is my second deployment to the Western Pacific theater. However, this trip home will be different. Now that I am one of the more senior guys I will be flying every leg of the trip home. As an added bonus, we will not be flying to Guam as we usually do. This time we get to fly instead to Wake Island. There isn't much there, but as with most of the islands in the Pacific, it has historical significance. We usually fly over Wake and I have pictures of it from 25,000 feet up but have never stopped there. Not only is it exciting to see this new place, and to walk with the ghosts of the heroes of the past, it will also shorten the overall time it will take to get to Hawaii and thus allowing the blood to return to my rear end faster. The leg to and from Guam takes us out of the way and Wake is more of a direct route.

The squadron that will replace us on station is arriving shortly. They will assume our mission and we will stand relieve. Then, a little over a week, we will suit up and begin the voyage home. This is always the best part of deployments; heading home knowing that we have completed our mission and will soon be reunited with our families. Plus, getting to spend a couple days in Hawaii on the way back is not too bad either.