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Feature Story June 12, 2003
Gilligan's Gulf
Page 5 of 5
As the Seals caught their helo back to the carrier, I managed to interview the paint monkey as he woke up. That meant I had one story and that was enough to return to Bahrain and not be called a shithead. I checked with the flight ops Lieutenant and found out my flight wasn't leaving for another 8 hours, so I went for the only thing you can count on in the Navy: a hot shower and a bed. I hadn't slept more than 5 hours since I'd landed on the Thach and I was uncertain whether that smell I was emanating was from my ass or my pits.

2 hours later, I heard a voice calling, "JO2 Wright, call 4-2. JO2 Wright..." Wright? I know that guy. FUCK! That's me." It was the flight ops guy telling me I had 15 minutes until the helo came to take me away. I was too dazed to remember that nothing in the Navy happens in less than 15 minutes (including rectal exams), so I scurried to get my desert cammies on, gathered up my stuff and headed to the flight deck.

The deck was completely covered with food. The Thach was getting its supplies. Men were moving cargo, separating this and that, breaking down boxes, trying to get it all in the hangars before there was no room on the flight deck. While they were trying to find places to put it all, the replenishment helo was buzzing back and forth from the supply ship to the Thach dumping more stuff. It was at least 100 degrees, but the black non-skid deck was pushing it closer to 130. Above all the commotion, I could see my helo circling among the few clouds. The XO was helping the resupply effort along by yelling. When he saw me with all my gear he asked where I was going. I said the LT told me to get on the flight. "Oh, no. I have you for four more days!" He hurried me back to his office to show me an email from LT Charlie Brown on the carrier, saying I was supposed to be on the Thach four more days. I said I had never seen Charlie, except in his cartoons, and I needed to leave. The joke didn't help oil up the XO. Finally after more of my whimpering he decided to let me go. I kind of felt sorry for him. His empire had just shrunk by one person.

Eventually, the flight deck got cleared and my beautiful duck landed, still spitting hydraulic fluid. The flight crew got a hot plate from the ship with the usual chicken nuggets, boiled corn and white rice. One of the flight crew looked at me with disgust. I told him that pretty much summed up my experience on the ship too. For some weird reason I also felt a little hurt that I didn't get some cold chicken nuggets.

A few weeks later the Thach pulled into port. In my sleepy escape, I had left a piece of gear on the boat and went to get it. I tried to avoid the XO, but he was there on the flight deck. He told me how he enjoyed having me on the ship and other bullshit, because he wanted me to send him all the pictures I had taken. I told him I would, but somehow I forgot.

I didn't turn in a single story from that boat. About a month later some Arabs flew three airplanes into a couple of buildings back in America, and that kind of made what I was supposed to be doing with those pictures a bit insignificant. I didn't even ask about the MV Queen. The important thing was, I was off the boat.

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