Military stories from past to present, both wars.

The Thin Red Line…

October 2nd, 2006 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Sometimes I have to sit back and chuckle at life, and the folks that surround you on a daily basis. Take last week for instance. I flew a KC-130 over to a local B-52 base not too far from my base in Texas. Yes, it’s in another state east/west of here (all you military hacks out there might know this Buff base, but I’m disguising it here), and we were tasked to pick up a giant B-52 tow bar to bring back for the air show they had this weekend.

Upon landing in the first 500 of this 14,000-foot runway, we turn off and receive instructions to park in front of Base Ops. The parking guide does a nice job of stopping us in the center of a red painted box. Unbeknownst to us, this was part of the red box of death. After shutting down, we stroll the fifty yards into Base Ops to check on the weather and call the “POC” (point of contact) for this tow bar. After killing ten minutes in there and sipping on a nice diet coke, we see the massive equipment loader with the forty-eight foot tow bar on top, moving towards the back of the plane.

As the Load Masters and the ground guys scratched their heads on the best course of action to move this bar inside (this taking about ten minutes), out of the corner of my eye, I see a large SUV pull up outside of our red painted line soon to be known as “The Red Box of Death,” and two Air force police officials, with loaded M4 tactical machine guns at the ready, approach the cab of the loader. The lead MP points at the driver and orders him out of the machine and the other then takes his flight line badge, followed by his Military I.D. card, puts handcuffs on this young lad, who looks nothing like a terrorist I might add!! They take him away to Hanger 54, I guess.

So here you have a giant mover, sitting as the engine idles, and all of us going “Huh????” We approach the lead MP, the question is asked, “Hey Sergeant, why are you arresting this man?” He turns around and says, “Sir, see that red line out there on the ground?” I’m straining my 20/10 vision to pick up on what he’s talking about. The MP points at the one next to my foot, and then points again on the flight line behind some B-52’s, “that driver crossed the Red line there and here; that is a violation of our flight line policy, punishable by arrest.”

Now I’m really confused and ask, “Sgt., if he can’t cross the Red line, then how is he supposed to drive his vehicle from point “A” to our plane’s tail?” The MP points to a small break in the magic box where he was supposed to daftly maneuver his massive vehicle to our plane. You’re talking about going out of your way with a lot of backing up etc. to finally straighten out in back of our plane vice turning left over this painted line on the concrete, and pulling up in back of our plane like he did. Oh, did I forget to tell you that the Air Force takes this “red line of death” thing VERY seriously and you will find yourself face first with an M-16A2 barrel in the back of your neck if you ignore it.

While we are talking, our young navigator is walking back from Base Ops with a couple of burgers he bought. Due to the noise on the flight line, the Engineer is waving his arms to get his attention, and have him stop before he crossed the Red line next to our plane and became victim number two. We moved him around the line until he could walk through this break in the paint.

I say out loud to myself, “Wow!!! Who’s going to drive the loader???” “Man, I always wanted to drive one of these things!” says one of the Air Force ground guys as he jumps up with a big grin. Actually he was the boss and drove it well. Mission completed, we closed up the back of our Herc. But it makes me laugh to think that the reasonable person approach would have told this driver, “Hey buddy, next time you need to drive around this invisible Red Line of Death” but no, sadly our brothers in arms can proudly boost back at the MP shack, “Man, did you see how I put that guy in handcuffs??? Not bad, they should put me on COPS!!”

Anyway, words of advice, the Airfarce spent all their money on the four-mile runways, nice BOQ’s and Officers club next to the golf course, and ran out of money for these nifty Jersey barriers. So mind any Red line on the concrete, they don’t lead to the Wizard of OZ.

Semper Fi,