Reader Brian Smith writes in with a classic war story:
In 1982, I was with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood. I had the worst flight ever on a C-130 coming back from Canada. We were up there doing winter training with the Hussars, at 40 below and six feet of snow, and came home on a Hercules. We had a short-field takeoff from a dirt field that was too short to be legal, so the pilot backs all the way to the end, locks the brakes and goes to full power. It was like getting shot out of a cannon. Then we went vertical at the end of the runway to clear some trees. All while sitting sideways on those dumb benches. Did I mention it was 40 below? The C-130 isn’t heated.
So we start to fly home. Because we were coming in from Canada, we had to stop at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to clear customs. The Canadians had given us these really good box lunches to eat on the way home. We’re sitting on the runway at Wright-Patt and the customs guys come on board. What was the first thing they did? That’s right: took away the food.So here are 30 very hungry guys with no food, still all bundled up because it’s still 40 below inside the plane.
We flew from Ohio to Texas and hit a huge thunderstorm around Dallas. It lasted all the way to central Texas. The plane is bouncing all over the sky, 20- to 30-foot drops and jumps. We’re all buckled in tight, but still getting thrown all over the place. Everyone is airsick, hungry and exhausted. We finally land at Fort Hood after circling for about a half hour because of the high winds. The temperature at Fort Hood is about 80 degrees. So a 120-degree difference in seven hours and we are still in Arctic gear.
We land at the airfield, there is vomit all over the inside of the plane, we are all green with nausea. The back ramp opens, the exhaust smell of JP4 comes flooding inside, and everyone is about to get sick again.
The worst part of the whole deal: the 1st Cavalry Division band is at the airfield, the Commanding General is there, a bunch of dignitaries, all to welcome us home. We came stumbling, falling, crawling off the ramp, the band strikes up, the CG starts to come over and greet us, and we wanted nothing more than to crawl in a hole and die.
Absolutely the worst flying experience of my life, and I’ve been on some bad ones! Twenty-six years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.
Anyone got any more war stories? Send ‘em in!