Japan’s nice but with the holidays approaching, the I Corps folks from Fort Lewis were more than ready to head for home Monday after Yama Sakura. Most were there a couple weeks.
For what it’s worth, a slice of Army life on the trip home: Movement control chartered several buses and trucks to get the hundreds of exercise participants and all their gear from Camp Sendai to Nariita International Airport. Offhand I’d put it at about a 140-mile trip.
Whether it went smoothly depends on your definition of military precision. First, the bus departures were moved up three hours because supposedly the Japanese government employees who work at U.S. military bases in Japan were going to strike. So buses that were going to leave at 7 a.m. Japan time instead were rescheduled to 4 a.m., and the ones to leave at 8 a.m. were moved up to 5 a.m.
As it turned out the workers didn’t strike. But that’s OK, because the buses didn’t leave on time either.
After long lines and some confusion over where the bags were supposed to go, and which bus you were supposed to be on, and assorted other issues, 37 of us were on Bus No. 6 by 5 a.m.
We would sit there, with the engine idling, and sit there. And sit there. And sit there.
Perhaps it was the early hour, or the snug and cozy circumstances, or the carbon monoxide, but it all proved too much for one officer who shall be known only as “Spaceman.”
His head fell back against the head rest, his mouth dropped open, and for the better part of the next hour he snored like thunder – blubbering, wheezing, cartoon-quality snoring. (At least as bad as this guy, this guy and this guy.)
The thing is, as annoying as it was, and as miserable and bitchy as everyone was just on general principles, nobody nudged Spaceman, or pinched his nose, or shot video of him for posting on YouTube, or anything. Such nice people. Clearly this was not the infantry.
Instead they swapped stories of other Charlie Foxtrot bag-and-drag operations.
Meantime, we noticed that the next bus over, the Air Force bus, had like 10 guys on it, with all their stuff stashed in the cargo hold underneath, instead of piled on the trucks with the great unwashed Army bags. Air Force. I bet nobody on their bus was snoring, either.
Finally, just after 6 a.m., the buses roll.
We head out through Sendai, a city of 1 million, past the pachinko parlors and the curbside vending machines that all have Tommy Lee Jones‘ picture on them, with the word BOSS in all capital letters like that, and eventually make it out onto the toll highway.
The countryside is beautiful. There’s snow on the mountains. Here and there, Spaceman stops snoring. And in six short hours, we pull in at Nariita.
Life is good.