Mar 9th, 2018

Tanker Trip to Guam XIII | Tarague Beach and Home

Back in Guam we wanted to experience Tarague Beach to the fullest before we headed home.  We had returned from Clark AB and Operation Cope Thunder (https://www.doctoraviation.com/blog-91-tanker-trip-guam-xii-cope-thunder/).

Tarague Beach is the beach located on the Andersen AFB compound.  It is like something out of a movie.  I will scatter photos throughout this blog.  One will be a couple of crews sitting on a blanket on the beach.  In the background is the cliff upon which lies Runway 24 at Andersen (https://www.doctoraviation.com/tanker-trip-to-guam-flying-at-andersen-afb/).

Along with two other crews we decided to camp for the night on Tarague. We got some tents and sleeping bags from MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation).  I did not need the tent.  With Kevin’s help I put up a hammock between two palm trees.  I had purchased the hammock in the Philippines and this baby was the Cadillac of hammocks.

We also cleverly ran a rope between the two palm trees over the hammock.  Over the strings I hung a plastic tarp.  This would provide shelter for me in the hammock in case of a night time rain (somewhat common in Guam).

We cooked out over a grill.  We played Frisbee and football on the beach, took a swim in the ocean and basically relaxed.  It was one of those times I was thankful that I had endured the hardships of the AF Academy a half a dozen years before.

As the sun was setting we lit the tiki torches (also purchased in the Philippines) and headed out to explore Tarague and adjoining caves by torch.  I ran back to lay something on the hammock before we headed out.  I pulled back the plastic tarp and did not want to take the 10 seconds to put the tarp back.  The crew was heading out and I wanted in on the fun.

While we were out combing Tarague Beach and exploring caves, a rain squall moved in.  It was a warm rain and got us laughing as we ran into a cave for shelter.  The shadows danced off the side of the cave as we talked by torch light.

After the squall moved on we headed back to camp.  It was then that I regretted saving 10 seconds earlier.  My hammock was soaked.  I was undeterred.  I was going to sleep on a hammock, under two palm trees, on a beach in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  I did, but the hammock sank low on my bottom.  My rear end drug on the sand.  I found an extra sleeping bag to put under me and slept under the Pacific moon.  The next morning Mac came out of his tent, “I couldn’t find my sleeping bag last night”.  Oops, I guess that sleeping bag was not extra!

Our crew had been slated fly to Darwin in Australia.  At the last minute the funding was pulled (rumor had it that the Wing Commander needed money to send Andersen AFB personnel to the Bomb Comp exercise around that time).  To this day Australia is the one place on earth I have wanted to go and have never been.  Ironically I currently have a student in my class from Darwin Australia.

One more Guam memory.  There are wild boars in the jungles of Guam.  At the golf course they warned us not to go into the jungle, lining the fairway, if our ball went off into the trees.  The rumor was that the boars could charge and lacerate a golfer.

Kevin was invited to go bow hunting with a permanent party Air Force guy from Andersen AFB.  They hunted near the golf course. Near sunset one of them spotted a boar.  He pulled the bow back and let the arrow fly.  It was a direct hit.  So direct that it went completely through the boar near the neck and out the other side.  The boar headed to the jungle.  Kevin and the fellow hunter ran in pursuit.  The found the arrow and a trail of blood.  But they never did find the boar.  I suspect some wild animal got to feast on pork later that night.

It was time to head back to the United States.  We had been in the Pacific for six weeks.  It was now October.  We checked out of our quarters, and the local unit.  We loaded the plane, and ensured the Big Kahuna (https://www.doctoraviation.com/tanker-trip-to-guam-xi-what-happened-to-clark-air-base/) was secure.

As we headed east we flew by Wake Island near midnight.  We checked in via radio.  We asked how many personnel were there.  I remember the man replying with something like “13”.  We asked if they needed anything.   I am not sure why we asked, we weren’t even landing there.  The man replied, “You have any women”?  I looked back at Dorothy.  She just shook her head.  She had no interest in going to Wake Island.

We passed through Hickman AFB in Hawaii where Dorothy had been recruited six weeks earlier.  Then it was east, northeast towards Spokane.  Something struck me as we neared the Washington coast.  It was land, big land, lots of land.  After being in the Pacific on a small island for six weeks, the continental United States looked enormous.  “Wow, that is a lot of land,” I thought.  It really took me aback, even at night.  I realized that this earth was created to be 71% covered by water.  It is something we don’t think about as we walk around each day.

My trip to Guam gave me a greater appreciation for all of the created world.  It also made me a better aviator.