Post Your: "Experience of a Lifetime"

Post Your: "Experience of a Lifetime"

This is a discussion on Post Your: "Experience of a Lifetime" within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; The F16 vs C130 thread brought this one to mind. Figured it would be an interesting thread to start. Post your most memorable, exciting, frightening, ...

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Thread: Post Your: "Experience of a Lifetime"

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array First Sgt's Avatar
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    Post Your: "Experience of a Lifetime"

    The F16 vs C130 thread brought this one to mind. Figured it would be an interesting thread to start. Post your most memorable, exciting, frightening, adrenaline rush, etc experience. ONE experience that stands out in your mind/lifetime that you will never forget.

    Here's mine. I am retired Air Force and have traveled to many places around the world. I was one of the "lucky" ones that returned from Vietnam in one piece. With that being said, while in the Air Force, I always wanted a ride in an F-4 (that was my era). Because of regulations etc., I was never in the right place at the right time to have an opportunity. My last duty station was Homestead AFB, FL prior to Andrew destroying/leveling it. While there myself and five others on base got qualified thru the Florida High School Athletic Association to call High School football and basketball. One of the guys I called ball with was a Squadron Commander and Instructor Pilot in F-4's. He knew of my desire but never offered nor indicated it was possible, and I didn't ask. I dropped my retirement papers and was on my last week of active duty. My secretary received a call from his secretary requesting I report to his office immediately. Needless to say, as a First Sergeant, in a totally different organization, the "order to report" was quite unusual. However, I did as commanded. I reported in and he had this stern look on his face for about 30 seconds and stayed totally silent. Well, he couldn't hold it in and started laughing, told me to "stand at ease" and hollered for someone outside his office. In walks the folks that took care of fitting folks with helmet, g-suit, etc as well as egress training (how to get out of the aircraft in an emergency) and quickly ushered me out of the office and down to their work area. I began to get excited. The Colonel came down about 15 minutes later, and informed me, that as long as I passed a "mini flight physical", that he was going to take me up in an F-4 for a checkride. five days later, I was back to dress out and get my pre-flight briefing. Off we go to the flightline. My heart was about to beat out of my chest. The crew chief got me settled into the "backseat" of the F-4 and refreshed my memory on what "not to touch except in an emergency". They cinched me in tight, the Colonel climbed in and got settled, and the next thing I know we are beginning to taxi. I knew it was gonna be a go when he lowered the cockpit and made it to the end of the runway for hold. Within about five minutes we were rolling. He hit the "burners" and we lifted off and began a pretty steep climb. Holy Cow!! I got a FOUR HOUR checkride that day. We did combat manuevers, broke the sound barrier, did touch and goes at Key West Naval Air Station , simulated bomb runs over the Dry Tortugas, and best of all, I got to fly the bird for about 30 minutes. I won't say that my stomach stayed calm. As a matter of fact, I used my "barf bag" and pretty much stayed on 100% oxygen the whole flight to keep the nausea down. When we touched down, my wife and several of my squadron workmates, my commander, and a photographer were there. I had pictures taken, they framed my flight log, etc. Overall, it is the most memorable experience of my life.
    Sometimes in life you have to stand your ground. It's a hard lesson to learn and even most adults don't get it, but in the end only I can be responsible for my life. If faced with any type of adversity, only I can overcome it. Waiting for someone else to take responsibility is a long fruitless wait.

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    The birth of my son.

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    Mine weren't as much fun as yours First Sgt. I can think of 2 and they both relate back to the same time frame. They both took place back in "73" during Operation Nickel Grass (resupply of Israel during the Yom Kippur War).

    All flights were restricted in the route they could fly, from the states to Lajes Field in the Azores, then shoot the straights of Gibraltar and fly the Mediterranean Sea to Tel Aviv, roughly 15-16 hours flying time, could not fly through any countries air space. I was flying as a crew chief on C-5A cargo aircraft. My aircraft was the second aircraft into Tel Aviv, about 30-45 minutes out we saw 2 fighter aircraft come up on the wing tip of our aircraft then peel off (one going high and one going low). They were not there long enough to recognize or see of markings on them. Talk about the "pucker factor" kicking in. After about 5 minutes and we we're still flying we figured they must be friendly. Later found out they were Israeli flown, French Mirages. They were a fighter escort we picked up on the way in.

    The second happened near the end of the airlift operation. The aircraft had developed a fluid leak on one of the engines. All flights were restricted to hours of darkness. After discussing it with the crew and higher headquarters the pilot decided to fly it out, rather than being stuck on the ground for 2 days while we awaited parts and fixing it. As soon as we were airborne pilot shut down the engine with the leak, no problem, 4 engine aircraft and completely air worthy on 3 engines. Flight was uneventful until we were about an hour from Lajes Field. Developed a fuel leak on one of the other engines, opposite side as the shut down engine. Pilot was forced to shut down a second engine. Weather conditions sucked, heavy rain and heavy cross winds blowing across the runway. Options were declare an in flight emergency and try and get permission to divert to Torrejon AB Spain or continue to Lajes. Decision was made to give Lajes 1 attempt then divert if we couldn't get in. Aircraft was buffeted all over the place, at the last minute the pilot announced we were going in and brace for an emergency landing. Was a lot of praying going on in those last few minute. Aircraft touched down, pilot deployed thrust reversers and locked down the brakes. We still had about 2/3 of the runway left when we came to a stop. We were one happy crew when we finally set foot on that piece of rock!
    Last edited by archer51; January 30th, 2009 at 05:21 PM. Reason: correct spelling

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    Member Array smotta's Avatar
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    My college graduation day...if it ever gets here! (crazy double major who wants to add more, plus full-time job and research assistant).

    "In God we trust, as for the rest of you... keep your hands where I can see them" - Unknown

  6. #5
    Distinguished Member Array pcon's Avatar
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    Mine isn't even gun related. When I was a senior in HS (2000, I'm a younging) I had a chance to go to Thailand to help a village there install a water system. After flying from PHX to LA then to Bangkok then to Chang Mai, we were on the ground. We did some sight-seeing around Chang Mai, Bangkok and Chang Rai for a bit. To get to our village, we had a 2 hr boat ride up a river and then a 3 mile hike inland to a remote village (I've forgotten the name). In this village, we spent 10 days hand digging a 1' ditch for about a mile and a half with hand-made hoes. We laid PVC pipe from a spring in the mountain down to the village. I saw my first tarantula in the wild. We took river water and rocks and mixed those with cement powder. We bent rebar by hand. We poured a 10' diameter cistern about 20' tall and also poured a filter. We had used rocks, sand, charcoal and fabric to make the filter. Once this was done, we laid a network of piping and spigots all throughout the village and turned the water on. We did this as a church mission trip and the village we went to was a Christian village. I saw many things in Thailand. Witchcraft, Bangkok's Red Light District, frogs bigger than American rabbits and even an elephant training camp. What stands out most in my mind, though, is a villager asking me about the "village" I came from. How could I describe Phoenix in terms he'd understand????

    It was a great trip. Much more valuable than being in class. When I got back, I had been gone long enough to be kicked out of school (audited is what they called it). I was let back in ok, but not before I told the principal and my teachers about my experiences.

    That was one experience I'll never forget...and one I'd desperately LOVE to have again.
    Μολὼν λαβέ

    memento mori

  7. #6
    Senior Member Array gilraen's Avatar
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    The birth of my twin sons, almost 22 years ago.

    Full-term twin pregnancy, becoming toxemic (preeclamptic).
    Did not go into labor, had to be induced.
    31 hours of labor over a 2-day period.
    Finally had them by cesarean, as I couldn't push them out.
    (Boys were 6-1/2 and 7-1/2 pounds.)
    2 days later my lungs filled up 80% with water, heart started failing.
    Started turning blue and gasping for breath. Pulmonologist and cardiologist came and stood over me, looking worried, saying little. I shouted "I can't catch my breath!"
    Finally they rushed to intensive care. I was put on a respirator, and promptly passed out for want of air.

    Woke up a while later with a surgeon inserting a Swan Ganz catheter into my heart through an aorta. The nurse walked by the end of my bed, tweaked my toes, and said "You're a fighter." They had had to sedate me when they put me on the respirator, because I was fighting it -- trying to live.

    The cardiologist said that was the closest he'd seen anyone come to dying, and still not die.

    The pulmonologist, who was a christian, told me later "You went up and peaked through the pearly gates and came back down."

    They called it "idiopathic cardiomyopathy", which is a fancy way of saying "something wrong with the heart muscle, and we don't know what caused it."

    I'm very thankful to the hospital, the doctors and nurses, everyone who kept me from dying.
    "I pledge allegiance to the war banner of the united states of Totalitaria. And to the Republic, which no longer stands, several bankers, who are now god, indivisible, with Bernanke bucks and credit for all."

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    Senior Member Array ErikGr7's Avatar
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    These are great! Lets keep them coming

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    Member Array draco1's Avatar
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    My Kids

  10. #9
    Distinguished Member Array morintp's Avatar
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    Thinking about it, I've had a few "Experiences of a Lifetime" and it was hard to pick the best one.

    In Palma de Mallorca I met this Swedish girl named Katrina at a discotheque named Alexandria's II. Well, this story probably shouldn't be told here.

    I had an amazing day and night in Rome where I met Pope John Paul II. Hung out on the Spanish Steps, stayed in the Cavalieri Hilton, and so much more.

    Of course, the birth of my daughters was incredible, and each one was unique.

    But to me, probably the one that will stick with me the longest was the night I spent with my neighbor Stan. We moved to Hyde Park, NY in 2002. Across the street from Stan and his wife Gerry (short for Geraldine). Stan turned 80 a couple of weeks after we moved in. He was retired, Gerry was disabled and had trouble getting around so Stan did everything around the house. My family grew very close to Stan and Gerry. My daughters adored them. After Stan had a bout with cancer, I started mowing his lawn, shoveling his driveway, and other things around the house for him. Every time we made something nice for dinner, we'd fix them each a plate and bring it over. Just little things like that.

    Two years ago this June, we looked out our front window and saw a police car pull up followed by another and an ambulance. I rushed over and the officer asked me to leave, but Stan saw me and had me come in. Gerry had passed away. She went to take a nap and never woke up.

    To understand his grief, Stan hadn't spent more than a few hours away from Gerry since they married in 1946. Never even an entire day. His and her relatives came over and spent some time with Stan, but then everyone left him alone in that empty house. My wife, kids and I went over and after spending some time with him, I told Stan I wanted to spend the night and keep him company.

    I brought over one our DVD players and a bunch of movies, and we were just going to hang out until we got tired and watch movies. We only ended up watching one movie the entire night. The rest of the night was spent with Stan regaling me with stories of his time in Africa, Italy and France during WWII. Stories of his and Gerry's life together. Basically, letting him grieve and remember all he wanted. We never slept for one minute all night. I left the next day when his sister in law came over to bring him to the funeral parlor.

    That night will stay with me forever.

    As a sad footnote. We moved back to Vermont last year. I kept in touch with Stan, calling him every few months. We got our Christmas card to him returned with a note letting us know that Stan had passed away. I couldn't believe it, because I had just spoken with him a few months ago. But he had died a few days after I last called.
    64,999,987 firearms owners killed no one yesterday.

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    Senior Member Array Cthulhu's Avatar
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    Every time my daughter laughs.


  12. #11
    Member Array WarHorse1961's Avatar
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    Similar to you, First Sgt. I received an incentive flight in an F-4E.

    I was a Crew Chief stationed at Ramstein AB, GE in 1985, but we were TDY to Decimomannu, Sardinia. I was performing End-Of-Runway duties (check the aircraft one last time before it takes off) and caught a downlock on the nose gear that should have been removed by the Crew Chief on the flightline. I removed it and showed it to the flight crew and they continued on with their flight. When they got back they called me into the squadron, got me all set up, and took me for a check ride the next day.

    A max climb in an F-4 isn't like an F-16. You have to get some speed up before you stand it on it's tail. But it's still pretty awesome. We were up for an hour and a half and I got about an hour and fifteen minutes of stick time. I made sure the pilot knew I had a weak stomach, so he took it easy on me. I'm guessing that's why he let me have so much stick time; it removed his temptation. At one time, the pilot had me go vertical, do a roll, then push over the top. I was completely disoriented and had him take back the controls. About five minutes later he let me take control again and I flew the rest of the flight; to the point that when he said "I have control", it was about 2 seconds and we were on the ground. The only problem the pilot had with my flying is that when we were flying along the beaches, I kept getting lower and lower. He finally had to tell me to pull up before we started hitting seagulls.

  13. #12
    Member Array Derrin33's Avatar
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    Bartlesville, Oklahoma
    I got to be launched of an aircraft carrier in a COD. Of course the fact I got this ride because I had a horribly broken foot does not matter. Every second of the friendships I made in the Navy. The day I got married. Standing on the beach in Rhodes, Greece watching the sunset. Spending 2 weeks in Guam partying because the boat was broke. The sandstorms that come over the water in the Gulf. Seeing water so calm it makes glass look like it moves.
    God Bless America!!

  14. #13
    Senior Member Array PointnClick's Avatar
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    These are all so awesome... I've had a few serious adrenaline dumps. Since it's already typed out, let me repost this... original thread is here- Ever been shot...?

    OK... here's my story...

    I used to be a photographer, back before digital cameras came along. I was doing some work at the beach and when the shoot was over, I went to the snack bar to get a cheeseburger. I struck up a conversation with a girl in line and I told her that being a bachelor, this qualified as "dinner out", since I just nuked frozen stuff at home and hadn't had a home-cooked meal in a long time. She was cute, we had a little spark of chemistry there, I dropped the hint that I was single, and I gave her my business card. A week later she calls me and invites me over to her home for a home-cooked meal...

    I drove to her place, a quiet little neighborhood in a sleepy little Florida town... on a typical Saturday nite, the cops are rousting teenagers making out on the beach and maybe writing up the not-too-frequent DUI on Highway 41. She looks cute, she's flirting pretty hard, she's got candlelight and smooth jazz, she's got cold St Pauli Girls for me and Pinot Grigio for herself... things are looking up, and my guard is way, way down.

    So we sit down to a delightful dinner of shrimp jambalaya and interesting conversation. I am sitting with my back to an open sliding glass door leading out to her screened porch.

    Yes, as a matter of fact, I HAVE seen a western movie before... but I wasn't thinking about that at all.

    She gets up from the table to clear our dishes, and suddenly, I see her eyes go wide and I detect movement behind me in my peripheral vision. A man is walking in the back door with ( I later learned ) a Ruger .357 revolver... to me, it looked like a small bazooka. This man is very drunk and seething with anger, and in direct violation of his restraining orders, he is here to finalize his divorce.

    Now bear in mind, I'm not sure at this point if I even knew this girl's last name. I said I was single, she said she was single, and we had not discussed ex's or past relationships. This was our first date. I had no idea this was even a remote possibility.

    My instinct was to immediately distance myself from this man, so I just turned and backed up and moved into the kitchen (mistake #2). Unfamiliar with my surroundings, I had just cornered myself.

    My date says, "Oh my Gawd, what are you doing here???" and she turns to me and says "Call 911!"

    By all means, my good lady...

    I pick up her kitchen wall phone and start to dial, and she turns back to Mr Wonderful. Her ex is six or eight feet away, holding the revolver at waist level and waving it all around, not really aiming it. I dialed 911 and just as I was raising the handset to my head, he fired. The first round hit my date right in the stomach, passed through her body and hit the lower cabinets. The second round struck her in the shoulder and the bullet fragmented, with most of the round striking my left forearm as it held the phone to my head, blowing the phone out of my hand. The third round went low and "winged me", striking the very inside edge of my right kneecap and blowing a big chunk of knee meat off the inside of my leg. My surgeon said that had the shot been one inch to the right, the bullet would have literally amputated my leg at the knee.

    Wrong place, wrong time, wrong girl. Total elapsed time from the moment I noticed him till the first shot: no more than 10 seconds, probably closer to 8.

    So, my date and I are lying on her kitchen floor... my ears are ringing bad... 15 seconds ago, I was listening to soft acoustic guitar, and I just got to hear three almost point-blank .357 rounds without ear protection. I see his shoes just inches from my face; he is standing over me. I say, "Hey! I don't know this girl and I don't know you... I just met her..."

    And he says, "Get out now..." For a moment I considered trying to talk him into letting me help this girl, but I knew I couldn't do anything to help her here, so I dragged myself up and staggered for the door.

    Let me tell you about adrenaline. Not that "Regular Unleaded" rollercoaster or paintball adrenaline, but the 96 Octane Hi-test stuff. Everything slows down, kinda like "bullet time" in The Matrix. When you get a taste of this stuff, you never forget it. You get to spend a lot of time thinking, in the blink of an eye, and you can completely ignore 8 or 10 ounces of flesh missing from your body. My doctor was dumfounded that I could get up and make it outside with the injury to my leg. I get outside to my car ( a very plush Buick Riviera ), and the thought actually occurs to me that if I get in my car, all this blood will surely ruin the upholstery... really... that's what I'm thinking. But I gotta get help, so I stagger across the street to the only house with a light on.

    I knock on the door and I see two figures through the mottled glass in their door. A man yells out, "What do you want...?"

    I tell them that there has been a shooting, they need to call the police, and could they maybe give me a rag for all this blood...?

    I could hear my date screaming in pain. I looked back at the house, sort of around the corner of this neighbor's garage, behind cover. I see my white car in the driveway with a broad blood smear down the side where I dragged myself along it, and then the ex walks out the front door. It's hard to get into someone else's head, but I think he realized, "well, that was dumb... I let that guy go..."

    He looked up and down the street but didn't see me, so he pointed the gun at my car and blew out the front tire, and then went back in the house.

    Just then, the neighbor's door behind me whipped open, a towel flew out, and the door slammed, with the clicks of numerous locks and deadbolts being thrown. I took the towel and tried to mop up some of this blood, but I was really a mess. I was wearing some spiffy cowboy boots, and I could feel my sock squishing from all the blood filling up my boot.

    I heard my date scream again, and I thought to myself that if I don't go back in there and get that gun away from him, that girl is gonna die. I'm still running on uncut adrenaline... no fear, no pain, I just made a decision that I had to try to sneak back in, try to get him from behind or something...

    I have no training in this sort of activity... I'm calling on every Rambo movie, every Miami Vice rerun, and every episode of SWAT I saw in the seventies that I still have in my head. So I went back across the street... I was looking in the front screen door, maybe 4 feet away from the door, and his back was to me and he was on the phone....

    I didn't know it then, but my 911 call went through, and all this was recorded. He was on the phone with the 911 operator. I made the decision to get to him as fast as I could, to grab a glass candle or some other object off her coffee table and bludgeon this guy over the head with everything I had left. I was ready... I was going in. I'm kinda proud to say that I had a "let's roll" moment and was "heading for the cockpit"...

    And then, the cops came... Hallelujah... I staggered over to them, explained what was up, and let the professionals ( who WEREN'T bleeding ) deal with this guy.

    The ambulance came and the paramedics led me back there... only now did I have any pain, and trust me, it was significant. The cops were advancing on the house when another shot rang out. The ex hung up the phone, sat down in a chair, and ate the barrel of his revolver.

    My date survived... she was helicoptered out and spent 2 months in the hospital recovering. She lost a great deal of her intestines... we were both extremely lucky.

    Now that I have typed this out, it seems REALLY long... but all this happened in the span of 3 or 4 minutes... the response time from the local SO was pretty damn good.

    So anyways, this is the kinda random stuff that can happen in this world... many times, violence can break out with little or no warning, and it can have absolutely nothing to do with you personally. You can just "be there" when it breaks out. With years of exercise and self-inflicted physical therapy, I walk just fine. It coulda gone differently, though... my situational awareness is much different now, but even so, sometimes it is easy to get complacent and let your guard down.

    So, if I can offer a lesson to anyone here, it would be to remember that a Columbine or a VA Tech or a Luby's or just a crazy drunken stranger with a revolver can pop up at any moment. You CAN be the victim of random violence, and it can be a total stranger that suddenly appears before you with a weapon.

    I recommend that you do anything you can to prepare for that remote but very possible eventuality.
    "Who is to say that I am not an instrument of karma? Indeed, who is to say that I am not the very hand of God himself, dispatched by the Almighty to smite the Philistines and hypocrites, to lay low the dishonest and corrupt, and to bust the jawbone of some jackass that so desperately deserves it?"

  15. #14
    VIP Member Array ron8903's Avatar
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    Besides the birth of my two sons and 4 G/ kids

    Skydiving, I love it and try to jump every month or so.
    "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
    - Sir Winston Churchill

  16. #15
    Member Array carver's Avatar
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    East TX
    I suppose that mine would have to be a motorcycle tour of the Western U.S., back in '99. We pulled a trailer, and camped out mostly. We would get a room every three or four days at a motel, so we could wash clothes and stay in contact with the family, although we had a cell phone (no reception just about anywhere). The first three days were spent riding in the rain. We made it to the Four Corners area and got a camp site at the base of Pike's Peak, at KOA, just over 10,000 feet up. We spent a week climbing into the cliff houses, touring the Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, the Royal Gorge, and so much more. Then we headed north to Yellow Stone, and stayed there for almost a week. You need more than a week to see this place! Headed north out of the park, into Montana, and the Bear Claw, then west into Idaho, and on into Oregon. I wanted to ride up thru Washington and take the ferry over to B.C., but it was raining again, and cold, so we headed west into Oregon. We camped out at Crater State Park, and I fell in love with Oregon! South on Hwy 1 into CA, where I used to live. Down thru the Red Wood forest, and along the coast, with a stop at Lake Shasta, and a ferry ride across to the caverns. On down Hwy 1 to San Francisco, and across the Golden Bate Bridge, into down town. Over to Stockton, and across the state to Yosemite Valley. Out of the Valley of Yosemite, into Death Valley. Las Vegas was our next stop, and then across to the Northern side of the Grand Canyon (we had already been to the south side). Headed home now we made stops at the usual tourist traps, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and the Crater. Five weeks on the road, and over seven thousand miles! Sure would love to do the Eastern side of the U.S. some day!
    Y'all be safe now, ya hear!

    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
    Thomas Jefferson

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