The Move is Finally Here…Sorta

Since arriving in the U.S. a week ago, I’ve filled almost every waking moment doing something to further this move and it has been exhausting. But before I get into the details, let’s get a little backstory:

I’m in the military and am currently changing assignments…the Air Force is moving me from Osan Air Base in South Korea to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) near Anchorage Alaska. Between these locations, I am spending quite a bit of time in Texas at Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene. This is to pack, prep, and ship my household and family. They had to stay there for the year I was in Korea, but that’s another story.

During the 26 days between the assignments, I have to get the family packed and all of our belongings shipped, the Travel Trailer prepped, and then undertake a 10 drive through Canada into Alaska. My wife and our youngest child will accompany me on the trek…none of us have seen the countryside north of Denver and we are both looking forward to it.

Now that you know the basics, let me break down what’s happened so far: the movers in Korea came to my apartment and packed up the belongings I had taken with me and/or acquired during my year-long tour on May 13th. A large TV, a pile of clothes, and some video games were all I really had with me. Thus the five guys that showed up took care of packing the whole place in about 35 minutes. They then moved to a neighbor down the hall and packed her out in roughly the same time. Including the paperwork, the whole ordeal of packing two apartments took all of 90 minutes, tops.

On May 19th I flew home on what many of us in the military call the “Patriot Express” or “Freedom Bird”. It’s a contracted airline that flies from Seattle, WA to Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, Japan and then on to Osan and Kunsan Air Bases in-turn before returning on the same route. This military shuttle service, brought to us by the lovely folks and shitty airplanes of Omni Air International, makes this trip twice a week, usually on Tuesday and Thursday but sometimes limited by aircraft reliability, each week bringing military members (and sometimes their families) to and from these and nearby locations.

For me to say these airplanes are shitty is not just me transferring my irritation of having to fly for so may hours…these planes are really very poorly kept up. The maintenance is fine (at least I told myself that it was), but the seats are literally as close together as the FAA will allow. And spacing aside, the seats are fucking terrible! Some don’t recline as they should (mine leaned to the left so far that the person seated behind me had to ask me to set it upright so his drink would stop sliding off his tray), the armrests are not particularly padded (anymore), and, as was the case with my neighbor’s seat, shake violently with the lightest turbulence. This is a flying situation I would not wish upon any but my most hated enemies. All that said, however, the crew were very courteous, professional, and accommodating.

After leaving Osan Air Base and a quick 4 hour layover at Yokota Air Base, I arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac) with 15 hours of traveling complete and only 5 more to go…until my flight from SeaTac to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) was delayed enough to cause me to miss my connection into Abilene. An hour later, I was finally though the horrible U.S. Customs experience and in line to attempt to adjust my flights. Another 30 minutes passed by before I was finally told that I had been automatically seated on the next flight out of DFW…they had sent me a text to my phone knowing full well I was on an international flight at the time. The rest of the day’s travels went along without a hitch and I arrived home after a mere 23 hours and 3 minutes of traveling.

And I think that is a great stopping point for this chapter. Tomorrow I’ll detail the amazing process of getting contracted movers on to a military installation.