So, there I was. No shit. Middle of an ORE at Shaw, first of three sorties for the day turning ACT x ACT x RED. I was a brand new CMR #2, all thrust, no vector; I'm a pitbull on a fvcking leash. Brief and ground ops were uneventful, up to the point where PFL (wussy flight lead) calls Ops and tries to cancel due to isolated VCTS. Fvcking FAIPs. Ops recommended he grow a pair so we took off and headed west. After precisely 69% of the vul covered, with a clean picture and most of my missiles expended, the SOF calls on AUX - mushroom cloud overhead; we need to divert to WRB. PFL quibbles, something about it being his turn to cook dinner that night. Those of you who know MatMac are aware: this is no joke. Anyway, Georgia is a state where (up to that point) I had yet to slay so I tactically declared BINGO and reached back with my right hand to make sure my helmet bag contained my trusty mark-1 divert kit: deodorant, toothbrush and a box of rubbers. On vectors to WRB I've got snowplow called up and I wisely aimed for every rainshower I could...
On the ground, we talk to TA about turning our jets. Well, I talked to TA. PFL was on the horn with his wife and then PF Chang's ordering food so he didn't get in trouble. Turns out TA will take 3 hrs to turn the 8 jets so we go to the bowling alley to get lunch. This is where the fun starts. It's summertime, so school is out. I spy a group of four lovely ladies (who were looking for heroes) on lanes 6-9. I give PFL a 5-spot and directions to order a burger, then I go anchor by the ladies. Turns out the outgoing blonde is the wing king's daughter and the others are her friends from the nursing program who happen to be visiting during the summer. Shitty food is consumed. Numbers are exchanged. I depart for Base Ops with digits and the hope of a road trip some upcoming weekend.
I proceeded to do the most thorough pre-flight inspection of my life. Low and behold, I find an EMS bit ball had popped after landing! Sure, if I had noticed it on my post-flight then maybe they would have had time to send dudes from Shaw to fix it that day. Not likely though. Now, everyone knows that flight through precip is likely to trip one without any real problems, so PFL comes over to survey the situation. He closes the panel and asks what I'm gonna do. I give my best pep talk about how happiness comes in small doses and opportunities to be true heroes are rare. His response: "I know dude, that's why I need to get home. I'm only allowed two TDYs a year, I don't want to burn one in WRB." SQ policy was to divert as two-ships but I sit idly by with a shit-eating grin on my face as 7 jets blast for home and I walk off to the Qs, helmet bag thrown over my shoulder.
Aftermath: he told me the lettuce wraps were particularly good at home that night. Me, on the other hand - I got back the following afternoon and was completely spent. 4 nursing students not worth burning one of your allocated TDYs on? For me it was, and all it cost me was a phone call to my neighbors to take care of my dog. Well, that and I did have to replenish one divert kit.