We were finally told where we were deploying to; Kuwait. This was the army in 2003, and I was deploying as part of Delta 552 Air Defense Artillery. Up until this point, it was a closely guarded secret where we were going. My dad speculated that it would be Turkey.
I was expecting a huge uncomfortable military plane and was surprised to discover that we were going to fly on a commercial airline. Entire rows of seats were partitioned off so that the flight attendants could sleep mid-flight. My battle buddy and I sat in the far back right of the plane. I was happy to have the window seat. We all stuffed our military gear in the overhead bins but I kept my CD player and a large pack of music with me. We travelled in our desert uniforms along with our weapons. I could never understand why but we were required stow our weapons on the floor in front of our seats, facing the exterior of the plane. Our leaders pressed that the weapons MUST be facing outwards. Maybe it makes the flight attendants feel a bit safer I thought.
Somewhere over the Atlantic the pilots and flight attendants announced over the speaker system how proud of us they were and then they sang us the national anthem. It was very sweet. Many years later I found out from a news reporter (video below) that the flight crew that flew us into Kuwait was on a volunteer basis.
Dark Star Landing
We made a short stop in Amsterdam to refuel. We were all excited to get a break and stretch our legs. When I walked off the plane and into the airport we were roped off and not allowed to leave the small area we were given. There were several armed guards posted, I’m not sure if it was for our protection or to keep us from leaving. Our short break was over and before I knew it, we were back in the sky. As the sun began to set I got tired and fell asleep. I finally awoke to a pilot’s announcement.
“We’ll be making a Dark Star landing. We will be turning off all lights in the cabin and we request that everyone closes their windows.”
They didn’t explain why. I later found out from this news report that it was to make the plane a less vulnerable target. Although it was uneventful, that flight was unforgettable.
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