Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A nothing hill

One day in the recent past, SPC C and I readied ourselves to drive to a place we visit from time to time, figuring that since it was such a gray and snowy day, we wouldn't be able to fly up there. Much to our surprise, we got a call that we were expected at the Flight Line in about 30 minutes' time.

I grew to love flying (most of the time) when then-SFC McG and I were in Iraq, and whereas he and I had more than thirteen dozen missions via air Down Range, I'll be lucky to complete thirteen *flights* total, here. At least we're able to fly from time to time!

It's a lot easier on SPC C, since he usually does the driving, and it gives me a lot more time to spend with my Soldiers at our destination, since it takes about twenty-five minutes, versus two (or more) hours in our vehicle. Were we to go in a tactical vehicle convoy (Humvees), it would take even longer.

We'd had a fair amount of snow overnight, though as I've written elsewhere, winter here has been surprisingly mild, and snow-free (for here). I'm told that much of Western Europe has had a brutal winter, but for some reason we escaped that fate. The landscape below us was covered in snow for about two-thirds of the distance we had to traverse.

In the photo above, one can see the power plant responsible for most of the electricity in our region -- and for a significant percentage of the air pollution, I suspect. One of the helicopter's rotors can be seen at the top of the photo, as well.

Remarkably, just a few minutes' flight from the power plant there was almost no snow. Seemed rather odd at the time, actually. Situated atop the lower of the two hills are the ruins of a castle which must have had quite a view in its day -- and must have been a pain to reach! There's a large flag, representing one of the dominant ethnic groups present in multi-ethnic Kosovo, planted at the top of the other hill in the picture. I suspect those who put it there did so to annoy others...

The helicopter threaded its way through some very hilly terrain as we approached our destination, which is located on top of a small hill which is surrounded by much higher peaks. It's pretty much of a nothing hill, but that's where my guys were, so that's where we went.

It was great to spend time with them, and then fun to fly 'home'. By the time we touched down after our mission, much of the previous night's snow had disappeared.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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