Monday, January 27, 2014


Our Washington correspondent sent us this today:
A US Air Force C-141 was scheduled to leave Thule Air Base, Greenland , at midnight during a winter month. During the pilot's pre-flight check, he discovers that the latrine holding tank is still full from the last flight. So a message is sent to the base and an airman who was off duty is called out to take care of it. 
The young man finally gets to the air base and makes his way to the aircraft only to find that the latrine pump-truck has been left outdoors and is frozen solid, so he must find another one in the hangar, which takes even more time.He returns to the aircraft and is less than enthusiastic about what he has to do. Nevertheless, he goes about the pumping job deliberately and carefully (and slowly) so as not to risk criticism later.As he's leaving the plane, the pilot stops him and says, "Son, your attitude and performance has caused this flight to be late and I'm going to personally see to it that you are not just reprimanded, but punished." 
Shivering in the cold, his task finished, he takes a deep breath, stands tall and says, "Sir, with all due respect, I'm not your son; I'm an Airman in the United States Air Force. I've been in Thule, Greenland for 11 months without any leave, and reindeer are beginning to look pretty good to me.  I have one stripe, it's 2:30 in the morning, the temperature is 40 degrees below zero, and my job here is to pump shit out of an aircraft." "Now, just exactly what form of punishment did you have in mind?
The major difference between a well-run organization and a half-assed one, is that in a good one, the guy with the duty answers the phone. Many of the places I went on C-141s, nobody bothered to answer the phone. We figured we'd see more of the world traveling on C-141s even though they don't have any windows in  back. They spent longer on the ground. A lot longer on the ground.


  1. I've seen that story around, in places great and small, usually as an object lesson in leadership.

    I kinda liked flying in 141s... they were one helluva lot more comfortable than 130s. :-)

    1. I generally liked C-141s but my favorite was the C5. I could take everything on a single plane and it was usually easier to get one plane then 2 or 3. The 141 was hellishly uncomfortable unless you had a comfort pallet with decent seats loaded. For some reason the loadmasters didn't like us sitting in the cabs of our vehicles.

    2. I never had the opportunity to fly in a C-5. Well, I WAS offered a ride in one from Thailand back to Japan, accompanying a satellite terminal my team and I had just de-installed at Ko Kha. I was more interested in taking a few days R&R in Bangkok than getting back to Japan immediately. I made the right choice. ;-)

  2. You chose wisely. I'd take Bangkok any day over an immediate return to Japan. What's the point of flying if you always just rush home? :)