Reporters' Notebook: SpongeBob, friends help keep copters flying
Just as most foot soldiers carry small good-luck charms on their dog tags or in their pockets, aircrews have their own talisman.
The air evacuation crew of the 45th Medical Company Air Ambulance, out of Ansbach, Germany, has a regular menagerie on board when they fly from their “Desert Dust Off” air base at Tallil, Iraq.
The pilot in charge, Capt. Gerald Bonner, has a SpongeBob Squarepants that his daughter Sara bought for him four years ago, when she was 12.
SpongeBob took his maiden flight with Bonner when the officer was assigned to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. Then came a tour in South Korea, and now SpongeBob is seeing action in Iraq, Bonner said.
Also sitting in the cockpit of the crew’s Black Hawk is 1st Lt. Jerry Murphy’s Goofy doll, which his father, Jerry Murphy Sr., gave him with strict instructions to log flight hours and missions before sending Goofy home.
And finally, poking his head out from medic Sgt. Reginald Jones’ personal crew bag, is a small stuffed tiger.
The adorable, if dusty, toys seem surprising companions for battle-hardened air team. But whenever that Black Hawk goes wheels-up, SpongeBob, Goofy, and Tiger are present and ready for duty.
Hazards of smoking
Smoking can be dangerous, as one hapless soldier found out recently at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.
The soldier was standing next to a portable toilet enjoying a cigarette when he was rudely interrupted by a flying soccer ball.
He had not noticed that the portable toilet formed part of a goal being used by a group of soldiers playing soccer.
One of the players executed a perfectly timed strike between the portable toilet and a box of water bottles serving as the other goalpost.
The ball sailed through the middle of the goal and struck the smoker square in the torso, sending the glowing ember he had been drawing on spiraling away into the night.
A little closer to home
Soldiers in the 299th Forward Support Battalion at Camp Anaconda, Iraq, now can look forward to breakfast, lunch and dinner.
In October, the soldiers will no longer need to take the mile-long walk to eat at a chow hall. That’s when Dining Facility Five will open up, much to the relief of troops who before could have walked up to six miles a day to and from the chow hall.
According to a 1st Infantry Division news release, the DFAC is the fifth on the base.