I served in the U.S. Air Force and the majority of that time I was on flight status with PCS assignments to Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, Kadena Air Base in Okinawa and Offutt AFB near Omigosh, Nebraska.
I have never during or after had a detailed dream such as that which woke me up this morning and which I will narrate here. By way of explanation I’m not sure what triggered the dream but suspect it might have something to do with encountering a new Facebook Group made up of USAF classmates at Syracuse University way way way back in 1969.
Or my recent affiliation with my lodge which includes retired Air Force guys may have also triggered the dream since there’s a sense of camaraderie in the dream not unlike that in the lodge or, for that matter, that which dominated our lives back in the 70’s where we served on active duty as members of air crews.
On this early morn, I’m in the after-dream thrall of some kind of Post Traumatic Dream Syndrome … I was astonished at the subject and the dream and can only say that it must come from brushing up against something newly experienced in my life with ties to the past.
But here goes …
I find myself in an upper floor of what must be some kind of barracks (I dream of multi-roomed-maze-like buildings quite a bit it seems.)
I’m not wearing a flight suit and am carrying my duffel bag. This “barracks” is full of enlisted types in an assortment of dress and activity.
Nobody seems surprised that I am there and as I descend some sort of declining stairs I collide with another guy who drops his duffel and it falls open. A large pair of low-cut basketball shoes – size 15 or larger – tied together with a string tumble out and wind up hanging around my neck for the rest of the dream.
When I get to the ground floor, I am advised that we are doing a mission today and I am missing the briefing.
I rush back up the winding stairs to the highest room which is full of officers (looks like over a hundred of them sitting in rows of chairs and not in flight suits but wearing their khakis.)
Below is an image of enlisted men wearing the “khakis” them there officers in my dream were wearing.
They are talking what seems like the standard SAC preflight talk I used to hear at Kadena and Offutt.
Suddenly they all arise and then kneel in formation facing the door through which I just entered and commence an evangelical Christian pre-flight warrior’s prayer (must have learned to do that at the AF Academy, eh?).
Realizing I’m at the “wrong” briefing, I struggle downstairs still wearing the gym shoes around my neck and looking for the enlisted flight briefing.
I get there just as it is ending and only about half are in flight suits and many of them dressed with individual style like characters in M.A.S.H.
Realizing that I’m not wearing a flight suit, I head back upstairs, where I left my duffel bag to get my flight suit on, telling one or two guys that I haven’t flown since 1972 and in my dream there is nothing unusual enough to bother anybody I tell that to. (Besides, truth is my last flight was 1974 out of Offutt).
Offutt flight line in the old days
On the way upstairs to “find” my flight suit I realize I have not checked in, have only the clothes I’m wearing, am hungry as hell and need to go somewhere to use an ATM to get cash to live on since I’m told the flight is 215 hours long and we are TDY’ing “over there.” Reminiscent of those damn 27-hour flights between Offutt and Mildenhall (my last flight in 1974.)
I start wandering around the lobby or the yard right outside the “barracks/flight meeting building” trying to figure out where my flight suit is and where the damn ATM might be.
For those unfamiliar with what I was looking for in my 1970’s dream:
Thinking I have a few hours before takeoff, I ask someone how soon before we launch …
he says “about 25 minutes.”
I woke up with start.
It sort of felt like Omaha winter weather and my Eilson experience is limited to two overnight stops for repairs. But I remember a feeling of snow in my dream.
The dream seemed vivid, lengthy and somewhat detailed but felt like how it might be imagined if I had never been involved with those flights and constructed a vivid fairy-tale based on someone else’s account.
I thought about checking myself into the VA hospital this morning for prolonged therapy …
but then the coffee was brewed …
the old laptop finished loading …
and I realized I could download my insecurities to an empathetic group of old doofuses like myself right from the warmth of my desk.
There you go …
read it and weep.
And what the hell was with the damn gym shoes hanging around my neck?
One thought on “A Veteran’s Dream”
Do you really fit in size 15s? Or are you hoping to fill someone’s too big to fit in basketball sneakers? Waking up from dreams like that sure make me glad to reach for that morning coffee and realize that I’m not on flying status any longer. Let them keep their khaki uniforms and all. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the experience.