Approximate distance from Deer River: 2820 miles.
Crossing the Line
On New Year’s Eve 1998, I had been the duty driver for the duration of the day and stillhad a couple hours to go on my 12-hour shift. One of the jobs as the daytime duty driver was todeliver the flight schedules for the following day to various places around the base. Had I knownwhat a fiasco this simple task would turn into, I may have saved the job for the next on-comingshift.I had just about completed the task and had only a few schedules left to deliver. Since itwas later at night than usual, most people had gotten off work for the ‘holiday,’ and there were noplanes around, I decided to take a slight short cut across the flight line instead of driving all theway around it to the other hangar. Little did I know, I was about to make a terrible mistake.I was cruising along going about my business at a speed probably a tad more than whatwas acceptable on the flight line, and jamming to the only American station that came in. Itdidn’t matter if it was Bayou Frog Leg Jam if it was American. It was in English and I missedEnglish-speaking radio stations.Suddenly, out of nowhere, protruding flashes of red and blue caught my eye in the mirror,rudely breaking my driving trance. Annoyed at the delay, but not overly concerned, I obedientlyslowed the van to a halt. What the hell? Maybe I was going faster than I had originallythought? I began to fumble through my wallet for identification, making sure my seat belt wasstill in place. Perhaps this was a routine check? I couldn’t think of anything I was doing wrong-I wasn’t even speeding. Well, not by too much.Without warning, I suddenly heard muffled shouting at my window. I jumped, and alarminstantly changed to petrified, as I observed an Air Force security guy with an M-16 pointed in adisturbing position towards my truck. “Exit the vehicle immediately! Keep your hands where Ican see them! I need some ID!” The dark figure in camouflage shouted, and I found myselfstaring down the barrel of a rifle. My limbs were paralyzed in fear. I slid off my seat and froze.I couldn’t have moved if I wanted to. It was the Air Force.
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