Saturday, September 14, 2013
Cheyenne! I haven't been there for a week and a half. I don't miss it very much but, now that I'm headed back there, I realize I have no negative feelings for it. If I were going back to Columbus I would be accompanied by a feeling of dread and negative anticipation.
I'm on my way back from Pensacola, FL, where I had water survival training with the Air Force. Just like it sounds like, they trained us to survive in the water should we have to bail out over the ocean. It included parachute training (via parasailing!), rafting skills (how to float good), what to eat (fish (but not the spiky ones)) and what to drink (not the ocean (however, it did come up that, in a pinch, you could use a rubber tube and a very, very, very good friend (or perhaps someone you hope to never see again) and filter saltwater through an orifice other than your mouth)). Mostly we waited our turn to do the next thing.
Everyone in the military is very good at waiting and, incidentally, very good at complaining about waiting. You could say we are professional waiters (not to be confused with anyone in the food industry). We wait for food, we wait for jobs, we wait for flights, we wait to be shot at. And any training event, alongside with the actual "training objectives" (which never officially includes waiting) is especially good at making you wait for hours for a 30 second training drill, thrill or beating, thus preparing you to wait for an official drill, thrill or beating. Each training event has a special irritant to make the waiting even less enjoyable. In land survival it was being cold, in water survival it was having to wear a parachute harness the entire time that was especially snug in all the wrong places.
Besides the waiting, the training was fun. The highlight was definitely parasailing. We sailed 500-700 feet above the ocean before pulling releases and floating down into the water. The emphasis on the way down was running through a checklist to ensure we are prepared to land. The emphasis on landing was to not drown and release your parachute. Would love to do that again sometime. Wish I had pictures but we weren't allowed to bring any phones or cameras.
The last day we spent about 1 1/2 hours in a one man life raft in the middle of the ocean. Just floating, and I guess surviving. There were no special requirements or checklists to run through, just floating. So I brought a powerade and granola bars, consumed those, then took a nap. And that was the last day. Lessons I learned from that week: a tight, wet harness next to wet, salty clothes will likely end in chaffing.