Friday, December 27, 2013

Foreign Friday

Betty Moore
Clark AFB
December 1980
Betty and I lived in the same BOQ building, and she is the one who made all the arrangements and moved my belongings onto base while I was on vacation. She was a great friend and a lot of fun.

In 1980, Betty and I planned a Christmas trip to the Philippines and arranged for travel orders (TO). With the TOs we were eligible to travel on military planes on a stand-by basis. We got to Yokota AFB near Tokyo without any problem, but from there to Clark AFB in the Philippines only one seat was available. Betty told me to go on that flight, find a place for us to stay in base billeting and meet her at the airport the next day. It sounded pretty easy, so I flew ahead.

When I tried to arrange for billeting, I was surprised there was nothing available on-base due to a large training exercise and numerous airmen on temporary duty. Plan B was to find a place to stay off-base: that would have worked except, it was quite a distance. Plan C was to cry and beg the billeting officer to give us something (anything) on-base. Another teacher was traveling on to Guam and needed a place as well, so we cajoled the billeting officer in assigning us a trailer in a section of the base where married couples could stay. The trailer was a dump, but it was better than nothing. My "roommate's" plane left early the next morning, so I didn't even have a chance to say good-bye or to thank her for helping me find a place to stay.

I met Betty at the airport, and we settled into the tiny trailer for the week. We shopped off-base and on-base, and Betty found many treasures. The photo at the top of this post show the massive pile of boxes she shipped back to Misawa.

I purchased a double rocker made out of rattan. The shopkeeper assured me it could be disassembled and packaged in a box that could would be allowed on the returning plane.

Note to self: shopkeepers will say anything to make a sale.

When I returned to pick up the packaged rocker, I discovered it was huge! I was wracked with anxiety that the package would NEVER be accepted on the plane. The day of our departure, my fear was confirmed; however, the kind airman told me to ask the flight crew directly because they are allowed larger packages. Soooo, Betty and I schlepped the package (actually an awkward box) to the flight line, and I begged the crew to put the package on board the C-130, which they kindly did.

The C-130 is a massive plane, with a ramp in the back to allow large equipment to be driven on board. Sling or fold-down seats are arranged along the sides of the aircraft. Strips of regular airline seats were bolted in the planes to allow for more comfortable flying. The noise level in the large open aircraft is terrible, and everyone was issued earplugs upon boarding. C-130s were the primary transportation on most of my flights from base to base.

Betty did not like to fly and immediately fell asleep. Mid-flight, one of the kind crew members came and asked if I wanted to sit in the cockpit. What a fabulous experience, and one that I regret not having my camera handy. We were flying above the clouds, and the view was simply that - beautiful, fluffy clouds - it was breath-taking.

I returned to my seat when we began to experience turbulence. The passengers were told we would have to land at Kadena AFB on Okinawa due to high winds. That's when the grumbling began. Cranky, cranky people took their frustration out on the crew when we landed. Everyone was taken to the billet office and given a room for the night. The winds continued into the next day and the grumbling became worse because we could not fly.

Finally, we were given the go-ahead for travel on to Yokota AFB.

All the flights to Misawa were full, so Betty and I spent three additional days as well as Christmas in Yokota billeting.

When we were finally cleared to catch a flight back to Misawa, I had to once again beg a different flight crew to accept my bulky package. This crew was not as eager to transport the package, but they finally relented when I pointed out that the other crew had graciously allowed it onboard; however, my lovely rocker had become a millstone.

Mom and Brenda in the infamous rattan rocker
approx. 1986
I no longer have the rocker because Wyoming's dry climate is not favorable to rattan furniture, but I couldn't help but think about the helpful crew and the beautiful view from the cockpit when I used the rocker in my home for nearly 10 years.


10 comments:

  1. What a great story connected to that rocker!

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  2. A great tale of adventure and misadventure! I never thought about lack of humidity affecting furniture... clearly we don't have to worry about that in Louisiana! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you Nancy!!

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  3. You must have powerful powers of persuasion to get that home. LOL It looks beautiful.

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  4. Such adventures you have experienced! And fun friends to enjoy them with.

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  5. OH my gosh Nancy you sat in the cockpit. YOu have amazing stories..and the rocker story alone is amazing !

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  6. What an awesome experience to ride up in the cockpit and that is a beautiful rocker, it's too bad it couldn't hold up in the weather there.

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  7. Your rocker was beautiful! At least you have a photograph and a great story:)

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  8. Ah the memories you bring back. One Christmas during college I flew from LA to Va where my folks were living and we went MATS to Spain. Flight from Dover to Germany was like a regular comfortable passenger plain. But the flight back! It was a big transport with those web seats against the side of the plane and our feet propped up on cargo. MoM had taken over my winter coat since I didn't need it in Ca. I was in a spring weight coat freezing. By the time I got back to school in California I was sicker than a dog just in time for finals. Great time in Spain but the long flights home ...ugh!

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  9. What a great story about your adventures traveling from base to base and getting your rattan rocker home! Wow. There's where your speech and debate background came in really handy, eh! LOL!

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  10. I love this story and the accompanying photos. It's a treasure.

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