Sunday, April 13, 2008

#30-Flight



Fear of flying was not yet a novel by Erica Jong when Edmond (Eddie) Oaks was winging his way homeward in the belly of a Hercules C-130. Humorous erotica, which may have held his imagination captive while on the ground, was the last thing on his mind today 30,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean.

Eddie hated to fly. The thought of going up in an airplane would cause days and weeks of trembling anxiety in Eddie. Yet as a Boomer, he was living in the era of unsurpassed air-travel and speedy arrival at destinations was rapidly becoming the norm. One example: Many of LCpl. Oaks Marine Corps buddies had been shipped to Viet Nam on troop ships, taking 30+ days to make the crossing from the west coast of the USA to Viet Nam. Eddie wasn’t sure he’d of liked that either but taking the plane from San Francisco to DaNang, a 17 hour in the air flight, literally caused his mind to enter constant fright mode.

His escape from the reality of the trip was sleep. Yes, He slept for the greater majority of the hours the plane was airborne. Waking, or being awakened to eat was the only time he ventured into the reality of being suspended miles above a huge and treacherous sea. Thoughts of the plane diving into the ocean and plunging miles below the surface were constant reminders of the peril he saw himself in. The thought of the impending exposure to enemy gunfire was seen as a welcome reprieve from his current state of fear. To add fearful imagining to fearful imagining he also knew that after the plane had settled on the bottom of the ocean, the sharks would come in to the plane and shred his body, devouring his flesh while his mind was painfully aware until the shark finally gulped down his head.

Believe me I have given you but a minuscule snapshot of Eddie’s fear of being in a plane.

Despite the fact that he had arrived without mishap, and obviously had done so many times up to that point in his life, his fears remained unabated.

He had been taken to and from numerous battles by Huey helicopter, literally saving his life on a few occasions and still he detested flight.

Eddie was wounded in both Operation Starlight and Harvest Moon, yet any fears engendered by the war never rose to the level of that of flying.

Now here he was, cradled in the webbing seat of the uncomfortable cool cave of the C130’s cargo hold. Looking out at the sunny cumulus cloud filled sky watching the beautiful billowy clouds passing in close proximity to the plane’s window. Eddie was startled by a cloud formation that resembled a person of great stature sitting on a throne. He tried to decide if the cloud sculpture was Odin, or Zeus, or may be Neptune. No not Neptune He’d show up if they crashed in the ocean. No, No it couldn’t be God he thought. Well, He supposed it could be but anyway it was sure a curious apparition. As he continued to stare and conjure imaginings he suddenly heard a voice, a deep baritone voice and there was no mistaking that it was coming from the “God” on the cloud throne. The voice and the words were so clear, he had to look beside him to see if there was someone sitting beside him and talking to him. Nope, he was alone.

The voice said: Don’t come back this way again!

Eddie came home in 1965 and the war continued for another ten years. Interestingly, Eddie refused to watch any newscast or read any media concerning the war because when he did so he would be overcome with a strong to desire to go that way again.

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11 Comments:

Blogger anthonynorth said...

An excellent piece, which, in a way brought back memories. I spent 9 years in the Royal Air Force, and one stark memory was flying with USAF in a Herc.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous gautami tripathy said...

Wonderful post. I can't claim, it brought back memories. However, it taught me much!

children's day out

12:05 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

Amazing post, Rel. I felt for a moment that I was Eddie Oaks - although I don't believe that I would have ever been brave enough to go to war.

1:59 PM  
Blogger tumblewords said...

Wonderful post - this will stick with me...well done!

11:25 PM  
Anonymous keith hillman said...

So well written. I felt I was there

2:09 PM  
Blogger Churlita said...

Very well written and extremely poignant. You are truly gifted.

5:23 PM  
Blogger SweetTalkingGuy said...

That's some flight story, and God sure reveals himself in mysterious ways...

7:55 PM  
Blogger jadey said...

Your post is excellent. Good job Rel. Althought airflight has changed so much through out the years I still won't fly either.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Marcia (MeeAugraphie) said...

I can only say that I know in the recesses of my fears all the other things Eddie thought about on that flight as well as the ones you shared. I can't believe he felt the call to go back, but I have to admire that he did, I think.

11:12 PM  
Blogger paisley said...

i have no fear of flying... that is if i can get myself to leave the house long enough to do so!!!!LOL!!! poor eddie... all that and all he got was a fleeting glimpse of god....

4:19 PM  
Anonymous UL said...

i hate flying ...if only there were other options... loved this take as well.

9:45 PM  

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