In the early 80's, six crews (three from Norton and three from Charleston) had the pleasure of spending 11 days in Al Jafre, Jordan as part of a joint operation to teach the Jordanians how to jump out of 141's.
We were warned ahead of time that absolutely no booze or pornography was allowed…don't even think of sneaking any in. This, of course, resulted in the lightest book and helmet bags ever carried by members of MAC.
I should also mention that to supplement the food in the Jordanian chow hall, we were given ample amounts of MRE's.
Our barracks were not air conditioned, nor did they have screens on the windows. So, while it was 115 degrees outside, it was a comfortable 114 in the barracks…with massive amounts of flies. I'm not exactly sure, but the consensus of the loadmasters was that it was the engineers who drew them in.
We quickly found out that the base pool was the way to beat the heat. We'd be done flying everyday around 9 AM, so all the crews would be at the pool by 10.
Late one afternoon, while walking back from the pool to the barracks with the other Load on my crew, a car pulled up next to us and asked if we wanted a ride. Since it felt like 147 degrees out, we gladly accepted.
As soon as we climbed in, the driver (who was an American civilian doing contract work at the base) reached under his seat, pulled out an Amstel Light, and asked if we wanted a beer.
This was Stupid Question Number Two (the first was asking us if we wanted a ride).
Gladly accepting a nectar of the gods from him, we started talking. One thing led to another and he invited us over to his house that evening to BBQ some steaks and drink beer. He said he was desperate for some American company and had plenty of steaks and beer.
I looked at my partner and told him that if he told ANYONE about this I would kill him…slowly and painfully.
So, there we were a few hours later, washing down t-bones with beer, and swearing each other to secrecy. Short of cutting our hands and trading blood, we agreed no one would hear about this.
We should have become blood-brothers, because the secret was short-lived. However, in a way, it wasn't our fault. Then again, maybe it was…
Picture two guys who have just had their fill of steak and beer (a LOT of beer) staggering into an open-bay barracks filled with 46 sober people who have been living on goat meat, rice, and MRE's. Now picture one of the drunks belching and saying that the grilled onions are gonna give him heartburn, and the other one saying that he'd never had grilled mushrooms taste so good. Now, while firmly believing in sharing good fortune with all crew-members, this Card games stopped and books were quickly set down as a deafening silence erupted. Now, while firmly believing in sharing good fortune with all crew-members, this 'YOU BASTARDS ARE DRUNK!' someone yelled. 'Never mind that,' someone else said, 'Where'd you get the booze and food?'
Now, while firmly believing in sharing good fortune with all crew-members, this was one we had to keep close to the vest. Dumping six crews on the hospitality of our host would be, well, unthinkable.
Both of us looked at each other, then at everyone else, and in a drunken stupor said, 'We're…not…tellin'…', and flopped on our bunks.
I felt bad (and still do) for not revealing our secret. But at no time did our host say 'Bring everyone else over.'
During the rest of the mission, the two of us spent many a night wolfing down charred beef and contributing to the financial benefit of Amstel stockholders. Yet, no one ever managed to find our Garden of Eden. For that, a special thanks goes to the E&E training folks at Fairchild.
On a humanitarian note, we did bring along one of the guys who was suffering the DT's BIG TIME. It was amazing how calm he got after one beer. The shaking stopped within minutes.
Somehow our A/C heard about our antics. When it was time to head home, he looked at the two of us, shook his head, and said, 'You know, I should have guessed that if anyone could find beer and good food in this hell-hole, it would be you two. I'm surprised you didn't get laid.'
Damn. I knew we'd forgotten something.