Friday, March 27, 2009

Midway Madness

It had been nearly a year in the planning (Thank you Marie Weir!), but the day had finally come - the Cub Scout "camp-out" on the U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier.

Whoa. This ship had seen action in Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf War, and boatloads (pun intended) of missions without public name. A serious boat which, when fully loaded, had more than 4,500 soldiers on board. The boat that help evacuate Saigon. The boat that fired the first missile on Baghdad. The boat that took on Pack 621 (and survived!). Now those are some impressive credentials. ;-)

We stepped on to the decks (they call it "mustering") about 4:45 on a Friday. Pack 621 fielded nearly 40 souls. Giddy kids and giddy adults. Once on board the hanger deck with our gear, there was an orientation talk by the docents and then bunk assignments before dinner.


Bunks were 3-high, but we were only allowed in the bottom two (wise rule for us old guys). The kids were loving it, but all I could think about was (a) how narrow the height and (b) how the h*ll I was going to squeeze into the middle bunk! It's harder than it looks, though with practice...

Yummy... generic food served by the hands of those who shall remain nameless!

Eating in the galley was a big thing for me; I dunno why. There was just something wicked cool about having a steel tray with slop on it, slopped on by unseen men with their sloppy gloved hands. Food never tasted so good, despite the mechanical smell all about. I'm told the room we ate in used to be a weapons assembly room.

During the first night, we were able to fly simulators, tour the ship in a neat scavenger hunt which included the "crypto" room, visit the Admiral's planning room and visit both the flight deck control tower and the ship control tower. One dealt with the planes; the other with all other matters of ship & fleet.

The Crypto Room w/ pneumatic pipes carrying messages of import

Map of Baghdad - looking at first strike targets, Day One of Desert Storm

Overnight was a late one. The boys were so stoked about chatting with one another and cruising around the dark ship with their flashlights ("but we were only going to the head!"), that when I finally fell asleep at 1am (lightweight), many were still up. And... there's rumors about some dads exploring some places that I can't and won't retell on the open Internet! ;-)

The next morning we got up early, mustered with all our gear to the hanger desk again, ate heartily, heard stories of the Midway's role in the evacuation of Saigon, cruised around on the flight deck, and then "drove" some more simulators. The boys were ecstatic as near as I could tell.

All told, I would heartily recommend the Midway, both as a tour and as an overnight destination. At $85/camper it wasn't cheap, but how many of us can say we've slept on a freakin' aircraft carrier!!

1 comment:

Jody said...

Gosh Kev that sounds amazing. I would love to do that. All the different missions that ship has been involved in was great to read about. Love you big brother.