Saturday morning started out just fine with showtime for my flight back to Afghanistan at noon. No problems that, we made the flight. This is good – we are a class to start teaching at 0800 tomorrow morning.
For the next hour or so we put up with the usual annoyances (stay here, don’t go anywhere) and several repeated roll calls just as I had gotten comfortable in my book. Around 1330 we got to line up, sort out and board buses.
First we drove out to the C-17. And sat in the buses (four of them). Then the buses pulled back around to one of the waiting areas where we hung out. After finally boarding again, driving to the plane and boarding – we sat. And sat, and sat for a couple more hours. Meanwhile, the 1400 show time for the only other plane to Bagram has obviously proceeded without any of us.
Finally, at 1745 they call it quits on whatever mechanical issue was related to this particular C-17; we board the buses and head back to the assembly area. (Did I mention that they brought back the pallets but didn’t want anyone to take back their bags?)
Checking, there is a 2200 roll call. It becomes obvious around 2000 that that flight will leave without us. Another R&R flight is back, plus all those who were already booked. The 45 open seats are quickly filled, leaving the 140+ of us excess to contemplate getting back.
No dummy I, there is a 2330 show time for a flight to Kandahar. There are seats. Long way around but it makes sense. We make the showtime, get manifest for the flight and at 0100 are roll calling and boarding.
Given the flight and the time zone changes, it is after 0700 when we arrive in Kandahar. Just enough time to get some breakfast and head over to the outbound PAX terminal for a 0830 show time for Bagram. Making that flight as well (puddle jumper this time), it is 1330 when we touch down in Bagram, just about 24 hours after we started the process of getting from Ali As Salem (a 4 hour flight). It also means that an arrival prior to the 1245 show time in Kuwait which would have been our only other choice.
After all, it is not like we can back walk or drive.