You all remember the mix-and-match system. It was a lottery of sorts that
drew from a pool of crew members from your squadron. Some fellows you knew,
some you did not. We were all in the same boat, doing our best in the C-141. If
there was a way to control the mix I never got into that. Some trips were
uneventful with no special memories, yet others I will never forget-ever!
Often times the crew was larger because of accompanying check personnel. It seemed like someone was always getting checked in the back or on the flight deck. Even so, we often 'connected' and it became a great trip and is remembered that way even though the names and faces have long since faded. On this one particular trip from McGuire AFB with this very congenial bunch, we made it around the system to the barbershops of Bangkok (but that's another story).
After that we proceeded on for a shopping spree. Off to James Jewelers, the temple bell store, and the rural fruit stands, maybe stopping to get your picture taken with the 15 foot python over your shoulder. At the fruit stands you viewed lots of strange stuff. One of the less formidable items was a kiwi-sized fruit that, when opened, it was segmented like a tangerine. But on the outside it looked like and tasted like a banana! Those little things were 25 cents each, but so was the price of the largest pineapples that I had ever seen.
Pineapples we know, little segmented bananas we know not. Pineapples bigger 'n footballs. We bought a LOT of pineapples that day because we knew pineapples! Not your little Hawaiian pineapples for $4.00 stateside. These were huge 25-cent pineapples! 'We'll have 'em on the trip.' 'We know you can't get 'em back through Elmendorf!'
Next with much sportsman-like bartering, I bought a really big chrome plated 'Bowie ' knife for a buck fifty. A worthy 'pineapple slicer'. Pineapples and People (Crew)! Who would have guessed it?
A wildly festive nature prevailed on the flight from Bangkok. Had we collectively cracked? You have to picture 8-10 frisky cavorting crew members on the flight deck ready to sacrifice the pineapples to the god of flight examiners. Temple bells were hung with care overhead - and everywhere.
Suddenly, cheese and crackers appeared, pastrami, homemade cookies, candy and other fruits, and things my mushy old brain doesn't even remember. I don't ever recall as many sober men having as good a time much less at 31,000 feet. over a war zone!
Well remember, this was going to be an apology too; and it is. Because you KNOW how sticky pineapple residue can be. And sticky it was. Hey, pineapple juice was everywhere! On all the knobs, on the deck, on the controls, on the walls, and; Oh my gosh, even the navigator's table……
We left the knife and some more pineapples for the next crew to make peace over the sticky airplane.
I just knew this C-141 would be infamous as 'The Sticky One'.
Richard (Dick) Reichelt firstname.lastname@example.org
5690 Schaefer Ave. Suite H