17 May 2014

Army Travel Is So Much Fun

Getting to KAF was quite an adventure. And a test of our best virtues.

Our scheduled departure time was at 0100 on a Thursday morning. Of course that meant we had to be ready the prior afternoon.

The Army was kind enough to put a shipping container right outside our door so that each of us could put our three bags inside and not have to walk to wherever the postal unit we were joining was located. We loaded the truck by 1700 and at 1900 hopped onto the bus to drive over to meet our travel partners.

It was a 100-meter drive. Unloading our container and reloading the other container took much longer than it would have to walk over there in the first place. All warm and fuzzy, we piled back onto the bus and headed off to the Philadelphia airport.

Approximately an hour later the bus arrived at a small private "Executive" terminal airport and we were all told to unload the bus and wait inside for further instruction. The inside of the terminal was outfitted with comfortable couches and wooden furniture. We all nestled in for our five-hour wait and I was very satisfied with how our night was going. I should have known better…If you are traveling with the military and you feel “satisfied” there is definitely something wrong.

The announcement came down: get back on the bus to head to the main airport terminal to get weighed. We all waited in line with our bags glued to the front of our chests and individually stepped onto the airport scales for our final weight.

We then reloaded the bus and drove back to the previous terminal. As soon as we arrived back and started unloading we were immediately told to reload the bus.

Our time had come! The buses wound their way onto the flight line, where our chartered 777 awaited us. A quick fuel up and we'd be on our way. Four hundred Marines were warming our seats. There was just one hitch. The baggage handlers hadn't shown up, and Soldiers had to load the 60-pound duffles into the belly of the plane.

Soldiers loading bags is nothing new, but spare us the, "oh, someone didn't show up" routine. And by the way, we could have waited for them to show up, because we were on that bus, on the flight line, staring at the airplane, for about two hours.

Eventually, of course, we boarded and experienced the coldest flight of our lives, with a two-hour stop in Bangor, Maine.

The important thing is that we arrived in Romania safely, early in the evening. The Army made sure we got a hot meal immediately. By immediately I mean after we unloaded our baggage from the plane, loaded it onto trucks, unloaded it and organized it by unit, received a brief about what to expect in Romania, and my favorite part: removing our ESAPI plates from within our vests at the bottom of our duffles for inspection.

If I ever get shot and my front or back plates save my life, I'll be very thankful for that minor inconvenience, since my plates failed and I had to exchange them. In any other event, I'll hail it as a monumental waste of time.

Before loading the bags again, we took possession of our weapons and packed a 36-hour bag, and finally got to eat at around midnight. It was exceedingly yummy.

Two sleeps later we were boarding a C-17 for a  loud, cold (not as cold as the one to Bangor) flight. And not even a direct one. We dropped off the flock of Marines at Camp Bastion in Helmand.

One might say that the whole point was to make us grateful to arrive in Afghanistan.

But if it was a test, we must be virtuous beyond measure.


  1. Nice post, Lindsey. It would have made a big difference if the crew chief of that Air Force cargo plane would have just given us some peanuts or something.

  2. Glad you guys arrived safely! Lynsey, great post. It's nice to hear another voice with similar frustrations. :)

  3. Sounds like you got the bargain flight to KAF...the drawdown is in effect. Stay safe and aware.