Posted by asm826 on September 14, 2006
The roar of the last Phantom taking off faded out as the aircraft disappeared into the dark clouds that hung over the mountains in the distance. The flightline was empty. The fourteen members of the rear party walked back into the hanger.
Gunny Ceisak assembled the group, “Alright, they made it. We are going to stay here a couple of hours to make sure they don’t have to turn back. I want the rest of the equipment loaded on that last pallet, do a walk though of the shops, and sweep the hanger. After that, we can secure. You get one more day of liberty. Everyone meets at the terminal tomorrow at 0800 in uniform. Questions?”
The shop areas had already been emptied and swept before the main body of the squadron had flown out. There was nothing much to do but secure the last toolboxes and put the netting over the pallet. A diesel forklift showed up and took the pallet away. They swept the hanger, cleaned the head, and sat to wait, looking out the open hanger door.
The cloud ceiling dropped so that the mountains disappeared, and it began to rain.
Water poured off the roof of the hanger, overwhelming the downspouts. It came down so hard that there was nearly a foot of water on the flightline. It flowed into the hanger, finding the low spots and swirling into drains cut in the floor along the back wall.
The water drove them back into where Maintenance Control had been. The battered chairs and desks still set facing out on the runways. Tom took a desk, laid down, and fell asleep, using his camera bag for a pillow.
“Harrelson, wake up. We’re secured.”
Tom sat up and looked outside. The rain had quit for the moment, but the clouds still moved low over the bay. They piled into the back of the truck and headed up the hill to the barracks. The temperature had dropped, and the air was heavy with moisture. Cold water dripped from the trees as they rode.
“Hey Bill, how are you feeling?”
“Better, I ate breakfast today,” Bill grinned, “Yesterday morning was rough. Did you get pictures of the squadron party?”
Tom shook his head, and pointed at the cab of the truck, “Just group shots at the beginning. Gunny told me no pictures unless I wanted to eat the camera. I got a great shot of you at formation yesterday, though. You looked like a blivit.”
“I felt like a blivit. I didn’t think San Miguel could hurt me like that.”
The truck dropped them off, and they went to change out of the wet uniforms, leaving them for the houseboys. The empty racks and wall lockers stood silent, swept of any traces of the Marines that had recently occupied them. Tom dug into his seabag, pulling out blue jeans and a long sleeved shirt. After the heat of the last couple of months, it felt almost chilly.
He dressed, and along with the rest of them, headed down to the bus stop for one last ride into the ‘ville.