Thursday, July 26, 2007

Helicopter Invasion

Fortunately, Taskmaster that I am, one of the PC's chores when she was on-island was to do a little mowing.
Not that there is a whole lot of grass...
However, the South 40 on Loggerhead is the helicopter landing area.
Like I said, it was fortunate that I had her give it a once-over with the John Deere.

We got a call from Garden Key that the Air Force Reserve was on the way-
They would be arriving around 3:00 PM.
Garden Key also sent over a new barbecue grill for them to use, and in our copious free time, could we prep & FOD the Landing Zone, unearth the buried chugs down on the south beach and put together the new BBQ?

The PC already did the work on the LZ, so Ranger Steve Roper, Pete and I put the big dig on the chug closest to the dock.
(Which we found was named, of all things, "Flipper". Go figure.)
We left the grill for the AFR guys to assemble.

"Flipper" was mostly uncovered; Steve and I went to one of the metal Chugs and prepped it to be lifted off the island while Pete continued to dig on Flipper.

That left us with the Dumpster Chug (Blue Burrito) near the dock, Flipper, Caridad, Metal #2, Fiberglass #1, and one more wood chug on the south beach.

With the Landing Pad mowed and checked for FOD, the 301st Air Force Reserve guys arrived around 3:00, Loggerhead Key's population went from 2 to 15 in a matter of minutes.

We burned Flipper down to the sand that afternoon... No reason to try to airlift it off the island...

That night we got an invite to dinner with the guys from the 301st...

Good steak, Omar?

These guys know how to rough it!


The USAF guys lifted the Metal Chug at 2:00 the next day- setting it down on Garden Key at a little after 2pm, just as the ferries were loading up.
Unfortunately, the landing zone was just north of the dock, so everyone on the dock and on the shore watching got a dusting sand as the helicopter came in to drop the chug.
From Loggerhead it looked like they had elected a new Pope over at the Fort.

From Loggerhead

Poor bastards.

The helicopters returned to Loggerhead and commenced Operation Big Blue Burrito...
We had filled an old chug with all kinds of trash, flotsam & jetsam, old chug parts and other garbage and wrapped it up like a big Mexican entree.

Before wrapping

Ready to fly

The ground crew hooked up the Burrito and it was off to Garden Key.

2 down, 3 and a half to go...

There was a storm coming in from the east so they called off operations for the rest of the day.

Of course, the storm never actually got to Loggerhead. They are mocking me, I tells ya.

The guys with the 301st Reserve were great guys. They really helped with getting all the old chugs off the island, and they were genuinely a pleasure to have around...

Even if they did bleed all over my sidewalk...

I didn't ask what happened.
As we say down here, "What happens at DRTO, gets published on 'Listen to Uncle'"

Who's got the fishing pole?

Word has it they are off to Afghanistan soon, so they definitely deserve a little R&R in the Tortugas.

Good Luck, Guys! Safe travels and come home soon.

TBG Out-

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