The Sailor's Stories

1010 Chapter ten – The Sailor’s Awakening.

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“Ghost 110, cleared for launch, ascend to angels 18 and circle to 5 miles.”

“Copy flight.”

Ghost 110 tested the flaps and surfaces of the grey death machine, as the JBD came up and the “Greeny” signalled clear. With the slight wispy trails of steam, rising lazily out of the deck, the “Yellow Shirt” waved up full power. The afternoon was clear, the sky a gorgeous blue. The squeal of the twin jets was piercing, as it broke through the silence of that crisp afternoon. The pilot cranked the flaps to full elevation and wound the twin engines up to maximum. The Hornet crouched low, in an angry vicious stance, ready to pounce into the sky. Looking out, the Ghost Flight’s pilot signalled the Yellow, giving the thumbs up and salute. The Yellow took one last look around, then leaned forward and down to touch the deck…., the pilot had seconds to grab hold of the Jesus handle, and rest his head against the seat…

I’m getting to old for this…, OH FUCK! …WHAM!

For the fifth time that afternoon, Ghost 110 was shot into the sky. The rush of adrenaline one feels as they strap a $50million jet fighter to their back and get thrown to the heavens is truely something else. As my blood crept back into its proper places, I took control of the machine. Toggling the gear lever, I pulled back on the stick and throttled down a little, don’t want to waste too much fuel. I pulled my bird into a gentle cruising curve, as I circled the carrier. I had nothing to worry about up here, so slipping into the pattern, behind Ghost 107; I let my mind wander…

It had been two weeks since Carl had moved in, and he seemed to be settling nicely. That first week Reggie had been over every day, making him feel welcome. She had tried to talk him through things several times, but had always come away with nothing. Even I had come up short…; I think the only one that could reach him there was Dale. Those two had really gotten close over those two weeks, and their relationship was getting stronger by the day, they were even being affectionate around others. I still wasn’t overly that comfortable with it, but if my boys were happy, then I turned a blind eye.

We hadn’t seen Carl’s dad in all that time, and he had made no effort to contact his son. I tried to call once, but as soon as he heard my voice he clamed up. All I said was that Carl would like to talk to him, after a couple of minutes of silence, he simply said that he knew no one by that name, and to never call that number again, then the line went dead. I just stood there staring at the receiver for several moments. As I hung up the phone, I saw something out of the corner of eye, and turned to see Carl standing there…, tears streaming down his face. I hadn’t even heard him approach, so was the reality of the moment. I looked at him and he looked back, I could see he was about to run…, so I opened my arms, and instead he ran at me. I held him close for a small age, as he sobbed into my chest.

The following Monday, I went back to work. As I sat at my desk I saw the discarded letter. I called out to Daniel to make travel arrangements then I went to see the boss, for our usual Monday morning meeting. I knocked and then waited, as soon as I heard his “Enter”; I opened the door and strode up to his desk, with a crisp salute…

“For god’s sake Cameron, how many times do I have to tell you, you don’t need to do that?”

Captain James Stewart had been my boss since I took this posting five years previous. He was tall and in his early fifties, not to mention going to fat sitting behind a desk. I liked him immensely though, and he and I shared a decent friendship. He was a line officer and had spent most of his career on the water, his last posting that of a Destroyer skipper.

“At least once more skipper…, as always.” I said with a cheesy grin.

“Whatever smartarse…, take a seat and tell me what’s on your mind.”

As I sat I handed him the letter, he raised his glasses to his eyes and took a few moments to read…

“I see…, are we going to lose you, are you going back to the fleet?”

“No sir, I think COMNAVAIRLANT just wants all the pilots in his area to qualify for operations. As my name is on the list, I guess that means me too.”

“Alright well if this is what you want to do, then I am not going to stop you…, how much time will you need?”

“About a week I should think sir.”

“What about the boys have you told them…, they can stay with me and the missus, if you don’t you have anyone else to look after them.”

The skipper’s home was a large one and always open to all his staff on holidays and special weekends. The boys and I had eaten many a burger, and watched several fireworks displays from his back yard. To be honest, the skipper and his lovely wife were almost like a second set of grandparents to the them.

“I think Reggie will look after them…, though it’s getting to the point where they won’t really need anyone…, if you know what I mean?”

“I hear that, the saddest day of my life was when my last one went off to college…, at least you have a few years to go before that happens.”

We sat for about an hour reviewing the new candidates for the next rotation then headed for lunch as we usually did. I took a couple of “Sliders” and some “Bugjuice”, today’s colour was a deep red, while the boss picked out a salad. As we sat at our usual table I eyed him quizzically, he looked hungrily at my plate, then looked at his own in disgust …

“What?” He said.

“I could ask the same skipper…, what’s with the salad?”

“The fucking wife!” He said leaning back in his chair with a hint of defeat. “She has gotten it into her head that I need a change in diet. The fucking quacks told her that my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are too high…, she has even hidden all the salty stuff at home…, can you believe that? The women is a demon when she has a bee in her bonnet!”

“Want some of this then?” I said starting to tear one of the sliders in half.

“You have no idea…, but trust me, she would know.”

I laughed heartily, as I tucked in. The rest of lunch slid past, and then the boss told me I may as well go home. I liked to get things done like lesson plans and the like, between rotations, but that was about all we had to do, so we had a lot of half days. That is if we got all the work done early. It worked out great during the summer, because I got to spend extra time with the boys. On the way home I picked up ice cream, hoping that it would ease the conversation later.

After putting the ice cream in the freezer I went over to Reggie’s, she was happy to look after the place while I was gone. The boys weren’t home when I got there, I didn’t think much of it, as I wasn’t expecting them to be. After I changed I went into the kitchen to grab a beer from the fridge then headed outside to enjoy the afternoon sun. A few hours later the boys came up the path from the beach, looking like drowned rats. Obviously they had been swimming. They went into the house after some greetings then came back out with drinks of their own and another beer for me. We discussed dinner plans then I told them I was going to be away for a week. It didn’t faze the twins, but Carl looked a little concerned until I mentioned Reggie would look after them….

“Ghost 110 descend to angels one five, and rendezvous with tanker.”

“Roger flight…, any reason? I still have plenty of fuel for another trap.”

“CAG has some fun planned Ghost 110, tanker is at bearing 130.”

I pushed the stick forward and broke out of the pattern…, I had no idea what this “Fun” the CAG had planned, but knowing him as I did, it would certainly be interesting. The Commander Air Group, was Captain Jimmy “Buckeye” Sanderson. I was lucky enough to get a temp billet on my old carrier, and Buckeye had been my old squadron commander. The man was a great guy, and an excellent pilot, but he was a maverick…, how he ever managed to get a CAG slot was beyond me. The tanker was right where it was supposed to be and I slid in behind it, I was rusty at this, so it took me two attempts to get the probe in, when the board lit up green…

“Mmm I have a sweet lock on mamma’s gadget boys…, don’t forget to check the oil and the tires.”

“Oh you are a funny fucker aren’t you fighter boy.” Said the Viking pilot, with a hearty chuckle. “Just hold tight and suckle for a while. Old mamma will take good care of you.”

I had been on the carrier for two days, and had already done the requisite five night traps the previous evening. Scored pretty well too, I got four “OK threes, and one fair three, the first one. I was on my home tomorrow, and kinda looking forward to my last trap. My traps that day had been all “OK threes” so far, or so I thought at least. To be honest if I stayed on the carrier any longer I would want to stay, I had forgotten how much I loved this, but I was missing the boys. As the fuel came down, another hornet slid up next to mine. I looked over and instantly recognised the helmet…

“You thirsty CAG, I’m buying?”

“As tempting as that offer is “Slider”, I will have to decline…, I have other pursuits planned for you this afternoon.”

I had earned the callsign “Slider” back when I was a young JG, on my first cruise. It came from my love of the overly greasy burgers that were served in the off duty mess. As my tanks reached full , I signalled the Viking pilot. When he cut the feed, and tripped the locks, I throttled back as he banked off and left us to it.

“Al right then, let’s just see what all that SEAL training has done to your skills.”

Before I could respond, he hit the burners and was gone. I didn’t know what he had planned, but I had an idea, so I throttled forward and went looking for him. I soon figured it out when the shrill screech of the missile lock alarm sounded in my ear. I reacted on instinct, hitting the burners I flipped the machine onto its belly and pulled the stick back turning it into a speed dive. I levelled off at around four thousand, and spotted him high at five o’clock, heading for some clouds. I knew what he was up to, I had seen him do that trick before.

I knew he was looking for me to try and follow, so instead I pulled back on the stick and added about twenty thousand of altitude. Now high above, I caught some glimpses of him through the cover. Pulling the stick over, I eased into a gentle dive that would put me behind him high, now using the cover to my advantage for a text book deflection gunshot. I lined up carefully, and was about to full the trigger on him, when he jinked to the left, He must have gotten my warning. I had tried to do this the old fashioned way until the last moment, not using the targeter.

He added throttle and sped forward before he tipped over and came round for a head on fast shot. It was a ballsy manoeuvre, and we ended up in a game of chicken. Getting a lock was near impossible, as we were both jinking left and right. I thought I had him just as we were about to headbutt each other, but he pulled out at the last second, and I went the other way to spin round and try to get on his tail. I was almost there, sliding over into a half dive and selected sidewinder. I got a good tone, but he was too quick, and I was rusty.

Fuck! He had kicked in the burners again.  At the last second he flipped his machine into a sideways climb, and I lost him in another cloud bank. I was all “Bobble headed” in the cock pit looking this way and that to catch a glimpse. I saw him moments too late as he dropped out of the sun, a steady squeal from the alert board. I did the only thing I could think of…, I did a TopGun. I near punched my fist through the console, as I rammed the throttle forward, while pulling back on the stick The nose of my aircraft went straight up into the air as the tail tried to follow. The desired effect occurred , as “Buckeye’s” machine overshot underneath me.

I throttled back and pushed forward on the stick, coming in behind him selecting guns. The tone was loud, blaring and victorious…

“Satisfied?”

“I never did like you.” He replied, but I could hear the smile in his voice. “Let’s get these plains down so I can get you the fuck off my boat…, I have a reputation to maintain.”

We headed back to the carrier and were informed that we were the last to come in. I slid in behind Buckeye’s machine as he had the lower fuel state, and would need it if he had to wave. No need it turned out as he executed a perfect landing…, my turn, I lined up and prepared to land…

“Ghost 110, cleared for landing…, call the ball!”

“Roger ball…, 4700.” I replied, informing the LSO’s of my fuel state, so they could properly set the wires.

“4700 set, little high, little left, drop power.”

I corrected, and slid a little a little too far right, but I came back on slope before they mentioned it. The ball was on the scope right where it was supposed to be. The afternoon’s activities must have taken a little too much out of me though, as I pushed a little too far forward on the stick…

“Little low Ghost, add power.”

I pulled back on the stick a little and added a bit of throttle, just in time to slam into the deck catching the three wire, as it turned out I earned a “Fair three” for that one. Still ok though, as my marks were enough to qualify.

Walking into pre-flight, I was met by a raucous applause, as I handed in my chits. Even the surly FCO, was all smiles. I didn’t figure out why until later that night in the ready room, as the awards were handed out. As it turned out, the CAG had pulled that same stunt on several of the new pilots and none had bested him. It was a dubious honour I learned, as I was awarded the CAG’s coffee mug, and the room erupted with laughter and claps. Buckeye got up to say a little speech, going over the cruise, and what the new training schedule would be. Then he asked for the lights to be dimmed, and showed the crowd the edited gunsight camera footage of our dogfight. Once the tape had finished he ended his speech with…

“You lot should be ashamed of yourselves….,  this ‘Desk jockey’ managed to almost kill me twice and succeeded once. He hasn’t even been in a fight for years! None of you have been able to pull off what he did, so the training is going to get harder, which means more flight and sim time for all of you!”

Then the LSO’s came in and announced everyone’s score for the past two days. There was some serious ribbing, mostly form the LSO’s but also some from the pilots as well. I really did miss this, but with the boys I knew I couldn’t come back, even when they went to college, by that time I would be too old.

The next day I jumped the COD back to Norfolk, and then caught the redeye home. Reggie and the boys were at the airport to meet me. I stepped into the terminal resplendent in my navy whites. I got a few eyes from the crowd…, from both girls and…,  I noticed guys as well. As I cleared through the gate, the boys ran at me, and I dropped spreading my arms to pull them into a hug…, I was home.

Written by bigct/Octavius

November 21, 2009 at 17:16

5 Responses

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  1. Another great chapter. Keep writing!

    Dawngreeter

    November 23, 2009 at 02:30

  2. Man, I loved this chapter! I spent three years on a carrier and I now fly, so it was all right up my alley! I am seriously hooked on this story now.

    — Jamie

    Jamie

    March 24, 2010 at 20:25

  3. Wow, CT. Not only a Seal, but a fly boy as well. Looks like you have done a bit of everything in Uncle Sam’s Navy.
    Groovy!
    –carlitos

    carlitos

    August 22, 2010 at 16:51

  4. Awesome!! V

    Vern

    July 9, 2011 at 03:48

  5. 😉 🙂
    🙂

    Beach

    May 4, 2012 at 19:41


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