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Heloise On The Road:

C-2A COD Greyhound

Aboard the Harry S. Truman 

Wow! What else can you say about landing in an airplane on the world’s largest nuclear aircraft carrier? Double wow and then some!

When my husband David and I were invited a while back to spend a day and night aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), a huge ship, we said yes—faster than going from 105 miles per hour to 0 in two seconds. This "deceleration" is exactly what we experienced during the "trap" or "hook" landing in a C-2A COD (carrier on-board delivery) Greyhound. Believe me, it's just like you see in the movies or on a TV show.

Airman Apprentice Andrea Ramirez & Heloise

We hit the ground running and didn't stop until it was time for lunch with the crew—a chow line to rival any cafeteria with everything from hot entrees, soups, a salad bar, fresh fruit, hot dogs, pizza and fresh-baked cookies among the desserts. We spent the rest of the long day visiting The Distance Learning Center, where sailors can take classes on the Internet to get a GED, college degree or a master’s degree. Then is was on to several of the kitchens and mess halls—and the ice cream dessert bar that seemed to be a real favorite.

The massive hanger deck serves many purposes: work is done on airplanes, sailors take breaks, have exercise classes and more. I got to visit (being the only female among 12 visitors) “female berthing” and "heads" where they sleep and use the shower, etc. It reminded me a lot of a college dorm or summer camp.

Late into the night, we watched from Vulture's Row, where all types of planes and helicopters landed and took off in the dark. The work must go on!

On the Fantail with the "Watch Person"

Most memorable to me? Getting the chance to meet and watch the crew do their jobs. The flight deck (the average age is about 20 years old) seemed like rush hour traffic. From planes landing and taking off in a matter of a few minutes and then moving to a parking spot, the flight deck action never seems to stop.

Every job on the ship is important—from the sailor on watch on the fantail of the ship—to the male and female pilots, who land and take off, from this massive floating city.

Boson’s Mate 1 Tony Cochran showed us the 1,000-foot long anchor chain with massive links (365 pound per link) that brings up the two anchors, each weighing 30 tons.

One of my favorite comments—that most of us can relate to—was from one crew member who said, "Oh, I really like being on this ship because it's so new, there isn't as much scraping, painting and repair like on older ships." Gee, just like your house or car!

With 30,000 light fixtures, 2,000 telephones, more than 18,000 meals served daily and a flight deck that’s 4.5 acres large, plus a crew of 3,000-6,000 people, this ship seems to run smoother than some households I know!

ATC Weatherford, PH3 Hursey, & AOC Himes

My compliments and thanks to all who helped us: the two chiefs, ATC Jack Weatherford and AOC Charles Himes, who were our tour guides; photographer PH3 Michael Hursey, who ran up and down all those "ladder-stairs" all day long; Public Affairs Officer Lt. Greg Hicks, and up to the top, Executive Officer Captain John L. Green, who gave us a very thorough safety briefing and Captain David. L Logsdon, commanding officer of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). It was a pleasure being on your ship, and, oh by the way, thanks for the great hat!

 If I were younger, and wanted an exciting challenging career or a chance to "see the world," I would surely give serious thought to joining one of our services. As it is, I'll continue to bring you helpful hints for real life 101.

ATC Weatherford, PH3 Hursey, & AOC Himes

PS: The takeoff in a COD Greyhound is exciting.

We were strapped in our seats facing backward with headgear and life vest on. We were catapulted off this massive ship going from standing perfectly still at 0 miles per hour to 128 miles per hour in 3 seconds! Now, I know how a rag doll feels.

I wouldn't trade this astonishing experience for a million dollars, and would happily "trap" and "cat" again for a chance to meet the people, who do their jobs day-in, day-out and deserve a big thanks from all of us. Soft Landings as we say in hot air ballooning.

   

 

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