The Tradition of THE TREE
In December 1966, a helicopter sat on the deck of an aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam with its crew of five on "stand by." These stand-by assignments were really "sit stills" — you had to be in the chopper and ready to fly a CAP (combat air patrol) at a moment's notice. Many times it was eight hours of sitting and waiting, and not flying.
The pilot of the helicopter was a 24-year old lieutenant fresh from the farm fields of Illinois via flight school in Pensacola. His crewmates, some younger, but none much older, sat and stared out at the pitch black trying to make out the shape of the Navy fueler that had pulled alongside earlier in the day, but which now melted into the blackness of the ocean at night. Occasionally, one of the crew would flip on a red-lensed flashlight to check the time. There was little radio traffic through the headsets and all conversations were conducted at a whisper given the EMCOM (emergency communications only) status — the wind rushing by the open side panel of the chopper the most persistent sound.
About midnight, a lone sailor approached and slid an armful of packages and letters across the floor. "Mail call," he whispered, turned and departed. Under the red glow of a flashlight, the parcels were divvied up to their recipients; the largest of the parcels was passed along to the pilot.
I hope you will stop by and read (it is a true story!!)