Alaskan Adventure Blog 1
By Airman 1st Class Ashley Ramirez
/ Published June 06, 2011
Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska -- Hello everyone! My blog adventure this year has taken me to the farthest northern part of the United States, to beautiful and snowy Alaska. Technical Sergeant Alex Koenig (our photographer) and I are accompanying members of the 146th Air Terminal Operations, Logistical Readiness Squadron and Security Forces as they perform their Annual Training exercises here. I was so excited to be asked to be on this trip and be able to work with another awesome group from the 146th Airlift Wing as well as learn even more about all the great jobs we have here on base.
The trip for us started bright and early at Aerial Port on Saturday, June 4. Be sure to get there right at 0645, no later, to check in-even though the plane doesn't leave until 0900. When we showed up I almost felt like we were at LAX. LAX, Air Force style. There were Airmen taking our luggage, others checking us in and in the corner I even saw Airmen getting scanned with a metal detector! I guess when you fly with Security Forces you find out that some feel the need to bring a little something extra for the ride over. Weapons, knives, bombs, rocket launchers etc. are still not allowed, even on our own planes, sorry guys.
After everyone was checked in, weighed in, briefed and loaded, we were on the runway ready to go. We were ready... ready... waiting...still waiting. After sitting on the runway, engines running for a solid 45 minutes, the engines surprisingly turned off. Some Airmen came in with a piece of equipment and started getting to work trying to fix whatever was broken. After being unloaded from the plane, we were all told that the de-icing valve was broken on the plane and needed to be fixed. I guess when flying to Alaska, a broken de-icing valve can turn into a big problem.
Eventually we had to change planes altogether so we could get to where we needed to go on time. We finally took off at 1130 and we were on our way north. The plane ride was not as long as I think we all thought it would be, and it was nice to look out the window every once in a while and look down at the snow caps. When we landed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska all the members were told that we are going to be making an ERO. I soon learned that an ERO or Engines Running Offload means that the occupants will be exiting the plane from the rear as the engines are still running. This type of exit needs to be handled carefully especially since the propeller winds, if you're not walking in the right area, can be very strong and even knock a person over. That is the exact point when a visual in my head popped up of me carrying my sleeping bag and blanket, wearing my 30-pound backpack getting blown over by the gusts of our C-130 and me rolling head over feet down the runways as the snowcapped mountains in the background mocked my inability to follow simple directions. After speed walking behind the tallest person I could find on the plane in an attempt to shield me from the wind, I made it to the airport, alive.
After being given another brief on what everyone's assignment would be, all the squadrons went their separate ways to billeting. As we drove from billeting to the dining facility and back again, it was apparent that this base was not only large but extremely beautiful. Everything seemed a little greener and the mountains looked larger than I had ever seen. Although we had been traveling and were in a different time zone, it felt like time was standing still and no one seemed to be feeling the weariness of travel. That may be because the light never changed. Right now it is almost 24 hour sunlight, and even though the hours passed by, the outside areas looked the same from the time we got there at 1700 to the time I went to bed at 2330.
The first day was only a glimpse of what is to come for this Alaskan adventure and I am super excited to see what is in store for us and all of our amazing squadrons from the 146th.