Afghan Dispatch #2: CHOPPA! (Originally sent on May 7th, 2012)

I have a confession: in my 12 years of service, I’d never flown in a Marine Corps helicopter until this morning.  Seen them, sure, all the time.  I even have a special loathing for the CH-53, due to a low altitude flyover a few years ago.  During this little stunt, the cowboy-assed pilot cruised in over our command tent.  The prop wash pick the $30,000 tent up and threw it fifty yards into the woods, taking a marine with it and putting another in the hospital.  I count myself lucky to have only been hurled from my cot.
This morning, we reached our final destination via a Marine Helicopter. It was loud and obnoxious as it taxied to pick us up.  We had ear plugs in, so the crew gave us boarding instuctions via hand signal as we boarded.  Up the ramp we found ourselves in a dark, cramped oven.  It must’ve been about 110 inside the bird.  Our earplugs effectively isolated each man and woman as we began to take off.  I don’t know what thoughts were going through the other folks’ minds, but I was sitting near a ramp that wasn’t closed, so my only thought was to hold on to a strap and hope that the crew chief wouldn’t let me tumble out the back. We cruised over a dark but hot desert, reaching our destination in short order.  After a rollar-coaster like touch down, I disembarked the whistling-shit-can-of-death as fast as I could while maintaining my dignity.    I haven’t slept in over twenty-four hours, and we are already settling in here and learning the ropes, so I’ll leave this one short.  YUT!
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