Monday, October 1, 2007

Air Travel

Throughout the years I had the opportunity to fly commercial a number of times for military duty. If the group was small enough, we would usually go in civilian attire, and pack everything else under the cabin. Always seemed to be interesting when the NCOIC (Non commissioned Officer in Charge) would explain to the airline person(s) that yes, we did arrange to stash 20 rifles, 5 pistols, 4 mortar systems, 2 240Gs, various compasses, binos, and a partridge in a pear tree etc. under the plane. Once the paperwork was done, as far as the airlines were concerned, we were civilians taking a civilian flight, so bring on the long lines, x-ray machines, and all those hot TSA chicks! Paperwork always seemed to be MIA.

Me, I think Murphy has a cousin in the airline industry.

Hell, I'm sure of it.

Flying into San Diego one time, my Gunny realized that being as we were all spread out throughout the plane with even a few guys having managed to finagle their way into first class to hit on the stewardesses & college chickadees, he needed a means to ensure that all Marines would wait up for him upon debarking, as he was stuck in the very back, right up against the on-board shitters. He called for the stewardess. He got the only available one, the steward with the lisp, wrist, and frosted tips in his hair. Conversation went something like this:

Steward - Yes, sweetie?
Gunny - (mumblegrumble), I need a PA for my Marines.
Steward - Ok sugar, what would you like to have me say?
Gunny - (more mumblings & grumblings) All Marines for the weapons competition need to-
Steward - Sorry hon, can't say 'weapons' on this flight's PA.
Gunny - (sigh) Ok, how about all Mortarmen wait for -
Steward - Nope...
Gunny - All Marines wait for the Gunny at the -
Steward - Sorry...
Gunny - Fuck!
Steward - (Hand on own chest, eyes wide) Sir!

On another flight, after getting to the airport roughly 3 hours early, ensuring that all weapons were safely stashed in the belly, and finally getting on board the plane, it turned out that there was actually about 2 full rows of Marines seated together (cue mayhem music here). About 2 hours into the flight, the 'meals' and beverages already served, one guy kind of jumped in his seat. I figured it was a bad slice of ham, but it turned out that he had forgotten to stash something in the weapons containers back at the base.

See, when we were issued all of our personal weapons, the individual Marine signed out for his own rifle, pistol (if applicable) and bayonet. Once everyone ensured that he had his own items, serial numbers double checked, receipts issued, and regular threats on life, liberty, first borne etc in the event of misplaced weaponry, all our stuff was placed in large containers for the flight over. This Marine had forgotten to put his bayonet in the storage container. He proceeded to reach down under his seat, open up his carry on, and pull out the bayonet for all to see. We quickly suggested that putting it back in his carry-on sounded like a great idea.

More rare was the occasion that the entire company would buy the seats for a commercial flight, but there were some advantages. We would dress in cammies and, as there were no civilian passengers aboard the plane, we could carry our weapons up into the cabin. The only stipulation was that we had to have our weapons inspected for lack of ammo and to remove the bolt while the flight was in progress. It was on one of these flights that I heard the best public announcement, ever. After all Marines were seated, and roughly half of the company had verified that this was not a flight with complimentary alcoholic beverage service, smoking section, or dancing girls, the pilot got on the horn.

*ding* "Good afternoon, Marines! My name is Captain John Schmukatellie and I would like to welcome y'all aboard flight 1313 to sunny Panama. Temperature there is a warm 92 degrees, and of course the humidity is about 150 percent."

His only response was groans and a request for a beer.

"On our flight down South I would like to remind you to have all K-Bars, bayonets, and personal knives, daggers, spears and any implements of spearing, stabbing, or slashing safely sheathed. No poking anybody 'till y'all get on libo. Any pistols on board my plane also need to be holstered for the duration of the flight. Please make sure that any personal rifles and machine guns are safely stored in the overhead compartments or underneath the seats, making sure that the muzzles are not protruding into the aisle. Shouldn't be any grenades or other stuff that goes boom on board, so that's easy enough. I also want to say thank you for your service, and thank you for choosing this airline... Dang, I always wanted to say that kind of stuff, but never could!"

Now that's something that you don't hear everyday...


Kaerius said...

That is one awesome announcement.

I wish I could do one of those, I'm not a pilot though. That must've been one surreal moment.

Old NFO said...

LOL- I heard that announcement about three months ago... On a Reserve 737 enroute from one location to another location with a Seal Team aboard; except it was a crusty old Chief flying as the LM.

Abby said...

My favorite priceless part is when, although you're a large group of military people boarding a plane with all sort of implements of destruction, they shake you down for your *lighters.*

Murphy said...

I kind of like the... oh, is it Continental? SW? Dunno, it's been a while. Whatever civi airline it is, they sometimes will get a wild hair and make an interesting PA at the beginning of the flight, including noting that the smoking section is located outside the cabin on each wing, movies for the smokers will be 'Blown Away & Gone w/ the Wind.

They also recommend fitting oneself with the O2 system in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, before assisting a child. Then they recommend that if one is traveling with more than one kid to decide which one you love more...