Julia A. Maki – Book Excerpt – Crossing the Line

Julia A. Maki, Navy Veteran & Author

Keflavik, Iceland.

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 still
had a couple hours to go on my 12-hour shift. One of the jobs as the daytime duty driver was to
deliver the flight schedules for the following day to various places around the base. Had I known
what a fiasco this simple task would turn into, I may have saved the job for the next on-coming
I had just about completed the task and had only a few schedules left to deliver. Since it
was later at night than usual, most people had gotten off work for the ‘holiday,’ and there were no
planes around, I decided to take a slight short cut across the flight line instead of driving all the
way 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 what
was acceptable on the flight line, and jamming to the only American station that came in. It
didn’t matter if it was Bayou Frog Leg Jam if it was American. It was in English and I missed
English-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 obediently
slowed the van to a halt. What the hell? Maybe I was going faster than I had originally
thought? I began to fumble through my wallet for identification, making sure my seat belt was
still 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 alarm
instantly changed to petrified, as I observed an Air Force security guy with an M-16 pointed in a
disturbing position towards my truck. “Exit the vehicle immediately! Keep your hands where I
can see them! I need some ID!” The dark figure in camouflage shouted, and I found myself
staring 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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