"We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." James Madison

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A typical day on the ‘Rock’.

As some of you may recall, during my days, months and years of active duty, my duty station was Command Fleet Activities Okinawa (CFAO) Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) located on Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa Japan. This story is about one aspect of life on ‘The Rock’; the weather.

The weather on Okinawa is tropical with monsoons moving across the island like cars on an L.A. freeway. It may be sunny and 80 degrees, and without warning, a monsoon sets in and dumps about 6 inches of rain in a matter of a few minutes. Then back to warm and muggy sunshine.

My job while serving in the United States Navy was to trouble shoot, disassemble and rebuild T56-14 jet engines found on P-3 Orions. After the engine was rebuilt and passed several thorough inspections, an operational prop would be mounted on the engine and we’d tow it to our test cell where we’d load the engine, and run it as if it were in flight. We would put it through its paces running all matter of operational tests, before we would issue it to the Squadron that happened to be stationed with us.

We had a 20,000 fork lift with a special adaptor to lift and install the rebuilt engine and prop onto the test cell, but this activity would require a ground man to ‘tail’ the prop so as to insure it wouldn’t spin and collide with the fork lift or test cell structure.

On a particular day, yours truly was aboard the fork lift preparing to load an engine when I noticed coming from my back right side a very dark set of clouds bearing down hard and fast. My ground man that day happened to be a Petty Officer 2nd Class female whose name has long since left my grey matter, but for the sake of the story we’ll call her ‘Gert’.

Now Gert was a nice enough gal, but didn’t have a lot of experience with jets and none with fork lifts, and well, she really wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, so I saw a unique opportunity for a little entertainment.

Knowing that in just a few seconds we were going to get very wet if we didn’t get under cover, I lowered the engine so the prop blades were about 6 inches from the ground, secured the fork lift, jumped down and told Gert to stand fast holding the blades so they wouldn’t spin from the wind, and then ran for shelter in our small shop near by. What happened next was quite entertaining, but nearly earned me a Captain’s Mast (Non judicial punishment).

Seems Gert didn’t like being nearly drowned by one of the worst monsoons I’ve seen, and was a bit angered that she had to provide me and my cohorts an impromptu ‘wet tee-Shirt’ show. The storm past in about seven minutes, and the sun came out once again, but my stomach hurt for a couple of days from the laughter. I suppose a Captain’s Mast was appropriate even though I did apologize for not utilizing the sand bags we had stored a few feet away for the purpose of resting the prop blades on, but then I wouldn’t have had this story to tell.