Posted by Lex, on August 15, 2006
Moving at almost a jog he wove through the stream of people headed toward the base. Going over the bridge, he glanced down at the banka boats patiently holding their places in the shade below. It was 0625 when he came through the gate. A bus was loading at the turnout in the parking lot and he sprinted over and got on just before it pulled away. He was going to make it.
At 0643 he was leaving the barracks dressed in neatly pressed utilities and boots. He jogged down the road toward the chowhall and waved down the squadron pickup as it passed. The bed of the truck was filled with officers dressed loosely in flight suits. He climbed aboard and grabbed the side of the truck as it started off.
“G’morning, sir” He repressed the impulse to salute.
“Good morning, Sergeant. Just coming in?”
“Yes, sir. I missed chow, but I guess if I’m with you I’m not late.”
The truck wound down past mainside to the flightline by the water. The bay shone in the distance, but swimming was only a memory now. As the truck came to a stop in front of Maintenance Control he hopped off and walked into the shop. Radar, Com/Nav and Electric shared a space. Toolboxes, parts, test equipment and embark boxes filled the area. He worked his way over to Radar, sat down on a test equipment box and looked at his watch. 0700.
“Well, look who wandered in.”
“I’m not late.”
“I didn’t say you were late, now did I? But you weren’t at chow and I didn’t think you’d make it when I didn’t see you on the truck when I came down.”
“I rode down with the officers. Some of them look pretty rough this morning. Seat Shop’s going to be swapping out lox bottles before launches again.”
Gunny laughed, “I’ve been told that really works. How about you? How are you this morning, ready to cover launches? All the birds are buttoned and on the schedule. Number 6 is still down, but we closed her up and if they need her, she’ll fly without radar.”
Tom looked at the maintenance board, “We’ve been stealing parts off 6 for two weeks. I thought it was down for a generator, and we were waiting for generators to come in from Hawaii. When did they get the part?”
Gunny nodded toward the flightline, “You haven’t been on the line yet this morning, have you? Look outside.”
Tom went to rollup door and looked down the line. 14 Phantoms stood in two rows of 7 facing one another. He turned back, “Where’d the two Navy birds come from?”
“They bingo’d in off the carrier over the weekend. Since we’re the only F-4 outfit here, they parked them with ours. We’re going to launch them out later this morning back to the ship.”
Tom put it together, “And one of them won’t make it, a generator failure. Damn, Gunny, somebody opened one of those Navy planes and took a generator? They’ll know. There’s a shortage of generators everywhere, from what we were told. And they opened the bird. What about the paperwork, the inspections?”
“You didn’t do it, and neither did I. And it didn’t happen. There’s a generator in that plane, all secured, safety wired, and inspected. It just failed. Too bad for them, and the pilots can stay here at Cubi until the carrier comes in later this week. There’s not going to be a takeoff, it won’t even taxi. And when they get a generator, it will get re-inspected then.” Gunny shifted, looking at the board, “First launches are at 0800. We launch the Navy birds at 9. When our birds come back, if they’re up, they are going to refuel and hot turn. There’s no flights after lunch today, and we’re going to get back on number 6 and see if we can put it back together.”
The Staff Sergeant from Maintenance Control called for FOD walk. Tom got up and looked out into the sunshine. It wasn’t yet seven-thirty, and it was already hot. He picked on his ear muffs and walked out on the flight line. He and the Gunny joined the line of men spread out arm’s length apart across a couple of hundred feet of concrete. They slowly walked forward, looking for any loose material, coins, screws, rocks, anything that could be lifted up by the air rushing into the intakes of the aircraft. Another small task that needed to be done well.
Editor’s Note 08-05-18 – I do not know the identity of the guest blogger, but remember somewhere in the Wayback Machine that he was a Marine Gunnery Sgt.