On this day in 2014 (which I know because we keep a little perpetual calendar, not because I’m that good with dates), we received our first choice assignment out of pilot training: C-21s to Ramstein Air Base, Germany. We blinked, and it’s almost over.
Two children, two houses and twenty countries later, we’re wrapping up our final months here. We’ve been waiting and wondering almost since that amazing night three years ago about what would come after this season. Getting an assignment at the end of pilot training is an anxiety inducing process shrouded in a lot of speculation and hopeful dream sheets and competition and the needs of the Air Force. And for most people, that’s it – on that night, you basically find out what plane (and accompanying mission, bases, lifestyle, etc.) you’ll fly for your Air Force career.
That’s not the case for the C-21. This plane is a “white jet”, not a major weapons system (MWS include tankers and cargo planes). It’s a unique, single tour assignment of flying all over Europe transporting DVs and performing small cargo and aeromedical missions. John has loved it, tiny cockpit and all. He’s flown to 36 countries over the last three years, but he’s also usually home each night. We really don’t even understand how good this season has been because we have not yet seen the other side – namely, longer trips and deployments.
Our hope was for another overseas assignment. We’d been thinking about what it might be like to live near Tokyo or on Okinawa, in England or Alaska or Hawaii. Unfortunately, there were simply no overseas options available to us at this time. Our first stateside choice was to Travis AFB, nestled right between San Francisco and Sacramento, and it’s there we’ll be moving this summer for John to fly the KC-10.
If we’re honest, we are perhaps just as happy and in some ways relieved to be moving back to California. Redwoods! National parks! The ocean! Hikes! Food! We don’t have to think about 8-12 hour time differences or super expensive flights or language barriers. These past few weeks have been filled with a lot of time on googlemaps: distance to Yogurtland, to Trader Joe’s, the beach, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, etc. Our families are excited. We’re excited.
And a little sad. I’m writing on a grey, drizzly day that smells like earth and green and spring. The long, dark winter seems to have passed and our flower beds are about to bloom with tulips and crocuses and daffodils. I’m sitting in front of big windows overlooking a great expanse of nothing—open fields, forests, the occasional deer or children flying a kite. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. We really love it here, and we’re a little apprehensive about all the uprooting and replanting we’ll be doing in the next few months.
We’ll leave Germany for California mid-July. Until then, you’ll find us taking a great, deep breath, savoring the beauty of where we are right now and also thinking about the need to re-home our houseplants.