Well, I’m finally back home in sunny California. Although coming from being in the mid 80’s in Santiago to overcast and in the low 70’s is a bit hard. But I am very glad to be home. As much fun as I had down there, I do enjoy sleeping in my own bed. Especially after the long flight home. In my last entry, you’ll recall that I flew 10 hours, nonstop, on a KC-135R from Santiago to NAS JRB Fort Worth. Web seating is not my friend. But refueling those 3 F-16’s from the 457th Fighter Squadron made it all worth while. But unfortunately, after we landed late in the afternoon in Texas and checked into the Base Housing, I listened to my voice mail and got a pleasant surprise. My flight on American Airlines from DFW to SJC scheduled for the following afternoon had been canceled. And American had rescheduled me for a flight on Saturday. Not good. So as soon as I got to my room, I called up American. Of course I was on hold for over an hour and got disconnected twice, but eventually I did speak to a nice agent who rescheduled me on the first flight out in the morning at 0945. Which meant that I had to get up super early and catch a cab to the airport, which is approx 30 miles away. Luckily the 1st Lt that was traveling with me also had an early flight, so we split a cab. And we both got on our flights without an issue.
My flight landed at noon, California time, and I went to get some food that I had been craving for 2 weeks….Taco Bell!!! 🙂 Got home, tossed my bags to one side and ate my fine Mexican food. Unfortunately, by 3pm, I was already in bed, sound asleep. I slept till 6am the next morning! Guess I was tired and a bit jet lagged. But I did have a long past two weeks.
So here’s my official summary from my trip:
Total # of photos taken: 8,369 images.
Total space taken by pics on the hard drive: 70.6 GB.
# of hours flying on US Air Force planes: 46.03 hours.
Planes flown on: 161st ARW KC-135R, 70th ARS KC-10, and 79th RSQ HC-130P.
# of planes refueled: 25 Chilean and USAF F-16’s over 4 missions.
# of ParaRescue Jumpers that jumped out of a perfectly good airplane: 13.
# of Lunches at the Lockheed Martin VIP Chalet: 2.
# of Patches given: 14.
# of Coins given: 5.
# of one on one conversations with a Colonel: 1.
# of Signed lithographs given by a Lt. Col: 1.
# of orphans that called me tío: 5.
# of memories that I brought back: millions!
This was truly a memorable trip for so many reasons. But the main reason that this trip was a success in my eyes, was because of the hospitality of the United States Air Force. Each and every person I met, from an Airman to Lt. Gen Seip, treated me kindly and greeted me with a smile and a hearty handshake. Their kindness and generosity is a testament to the hard work that the millions of Air Force personnel do daily across the world.
I wanted to personally thank Lt. Gen Norman Seip, Col Jim Russel, Mr. Bruce Lemkin, Ambassador Paul Simons, Capt Nathan Broshear, 1stLt Candace Cutrufo, MSgt Jason Tudor, 2ndLt Aaron Schuett, Mrs. Veronica Clarke, Capt. Phil “Ritz” Smith, Capt. Ed “Wild” Colfer, Leo Shane, Rick Vasquez, Paul Ridgway, and Grace Jean for all their help, support and company during the last two weeks. If it wasn’t for you guys and gals, I would never have had the adventure of a lifetime. And a special thanks to all the US Air Force personnel that were down in Santiago for letting me be apart of the gang.
Till our next TDY, Ciao and thanks for the Pisco’s!!!!
And here is the complete set of images from the trip.