Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The time isn't always what it seems to be...

So half the group is overnighting on the carrier, while the other half are spending the night in Rio de Jainero. Not bad either way in my book! I'm with the former, on board USS George Washington.

For the evening, the men were put up in staterooms on the 03 level, just below the flight deck. These are two-person rooms for officers located where most air wing officers live. Being just below the flight deck means that you get experience much of the related flight deck activity - jets landing, taking off, etc. In our case, we heard lots of chains and equipment movement as the ship prepared to pull into Rio the next morning. The women were one deck down on the 02 level and I'm told they had a much more quiet evening.

We were ready for reveille at 6 a.m., followed by another busy day. And sure enough, we heard the loud bells and announcements and we were up and running. But it wasn't until many of us were ready to go that we realized the ship moved the "up time" ahead by one hour due to port visit preparations! Yes, it was only 5 a.m.! But that was OK, as we had plenty to do. One of the best things we had access to was a ship full of sailors. Just lots of officers and enlisted personnel to talk with and learn their stories. And much of our talking was done over meals. You certainly will not go hungry in the Navy.

Throughout the ship you could feel the buzz about pulling in to Brazil. As we approached the harbor, the flight deck was flooded with sailors and ourselves taking pictures of the city and surrounding landscape. Corcovado, the Christ statue overlooking the city, was a sight to see. But there was much more for us to do before leaving the ship...

We then resumed our "revised" schedule and had detailed looks at the air operations center, air traffic control and the medical department. We also received additional operations briefs from the ship's commanding officer as well as the strike group admiral. Yes, the ship could not have been more accommodating.

So it was about time for the 19 of us to leave the ship and rejoin the rest of JCOC 75. As the ship was anchored out in the harbor, we needed to take a ferry to shore. It was only about a 15 minute trip. We were met by U.S. Embassy personnel and JCOC staff for loading and a quick van ride back to our C-17 aircraft. Everyone else was already on board for the nearly six-hour flight to Bogota, Colombia.

The JCOCers spent the time sharing stories of the night at sea. We also learned details of the great dinner in Rio with the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil and other officials. We also got the news that crime is indeed everywhere. Unfortunately, one of our participants had his PDA stolen out in town. Luckily, he is just fine, but it does bring home the point that we all must be caeful and use the buddy system! And as he put it to me shortly after the incident, it'll be a story to tell! We also learned that the hotel in Rio gave some unexpected early wake-up calls to a few JCOCers. Some of them were up and about before realizing it was a hour-plus ahead of the planned calls.
It was a quirky similar experience for most of JCOC 75 at the same time, whether at sea or on land - with all of our travels, the time isn't always what it seems to be!

More notes along the way are coming very soon!


No comments: