JOYEUX NOEL. — Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone! I am settling down and getting comfortable after a long holiday weekend. Much adventure was had in the outdoors, including a Christmas beach party and snorkeling.
SCUBA SENSE. — Last weekend, I began my scuba certification classes. It consisted of an entire day of classes beginning at 0800. I had to return to base by 1600 to change for a dinner with the commander and many from our squadron. The scuba classes were great fun, and I beat five grown men in the “swimming competency” portion of the dive; second place. Sure, it wasn’t a competition, but anything that makes me feel more relevant, the better. So, for my first time diving, I buddied up with Devin to accomplish the course. I think the coolest thing I learned to do was clear my mask of water while deep in water. It’s a simple trick, and by the end of the day I was clearing my mask for all kinds of reasons, like when it was fogged up. Good one!
However, I couldn’t finish the last class because of the time constraint, but I only have a couple hours of class before I am certified.
LINEBACKER II. — Last Friday I took part in a heritage ceremony commemorating Operation Linebacker II. If you’re not familiar, it was a U.S. Seventh Air Force and US Navy Task Force 77 aerial bombing campaign, conducted by B-52 Stratofortress bombers against targets in North Vietnam during the war of the same name. The operation was conducted from 18–29 December 1972, leading to several of informal names such as “The December Raids” and “The Christmas Bombings”. It saw the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the US Air Force since the end of World War II. So what do I have to do with all this? As the ceremony here drew to a close (Linebacker II launched the B-52s here, out of Guam), there was a moment of silence, and two B-52s screamed 500′ overhead. I was the navigator on the lead jet, with a General aboard. You know, no big deal… If you want to see my flyover action, it’s towards the end of this video.
I also got a hair cut; I got some serious layers put in. Maybe people will stop saying I look six years older than I am. It’s really both scary and insulting. But one of the housekeepers here said I looked six years younger the other day, so I guess this magical haircut of rendering is working its magic. You can be the judge here.
BEACH PARTY USA. — For Christmas Day, the entire squadron drove down to the base’s beach, Tarague Beach. It’s where I took the lovely sunset photos last entry. I helped organize the party’s food and music, so I arrived early to set up and get cracking on my rum & cokes before everyone showed up. Because there were general rumblings of the amount of Astrud Gilberto and other Bossa Nova I included in the playlist, I yanked a few and put them on my “set up” play list instead. I swear, people will throw away culture and new things with both hands before they’d give it a chance. So me and ol’ Elis Regina whistled while we worked before it kicked off. It was a nice party, with plenty of corny Christmas t-shirts and a general overload of clashing tropical prints (‘could barely hear the music over them). Folks were saying how strange it was for it to be so warm on Christmas, but I’m used to it, having grown up in Cocoa Beach, Florida. This is more Christmas to me than snow.
Stay tuned: My “2011 In Review” entry will be coming up soon!