Creamy Exhales and Blue Skies

(by Oldie and Better, 06 August 2002)


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Creamy exhales and blue skies
By Oldie and Better

(Editor's note: Recently, I think is was Loring who requested something 
about the Air Force. Not being a former Airman, I hope I didn't butcher the 
facts too much in preparing this purely fictional story.)

It wasn't retirement day for Gen. Angela Jett although she was leaving the 
Air Force Base she commanded for more than eight years.
One of the highest woman ranking officers in the Air Force, the 30-year 
veteran was to receive another star and be assigned to the Pentagon. Col. 
Della Ware, one of the highest ranking non-pilots in the Air Force, was to 
take command of her old base. Major Mary Lynne would remain in command of 
the flying school at the base.
Angela was a captain and eight-year veteran of the Air Force when she met 
officer candidates Della and Mary 22 years ago. None of the three smoked at 
the time. There was no regulation against it but the physical conditioning 
required to be an Air Force officer discouraged it.
You ought to see them now as they gathered for the ceremony to add a star to 
Angela's rank and swear Della in as commander of the base. No ceremony would 
be complete without Ari Zona, a Saudi Arabian born airman who gained his 
citizenship and then enlisted in the Air Force.
Two years older than Angela at the time he was the only other regular aboard 
a training flight that was to change all three of the women.
Angela had selected Zona as her enlisted assistant for training classes. He 
was to teach enlisted personal their duties while Angela would teach cockpit 
practices to the officers. She knew enough about navigation to see if Della 
was on track. She knew everything about flying.
In each training, there is a surprise forced landing where the newbies 
experience the thought of having to survive in some desolate area. The real 
plan is to spend a day of worry, followed by a night of fun and then flying 
out the next day.
So, early one morning, the crew embarked on a training flight. Angela 
presented a problem in flight after about an hour and said they could land 
on this emergency field on a island. It was a point, the recruits had 
already learned was a location where searches would start.
So, came the forced landing. The crew got out of the plane and set up chairs 
under a wing. Angela noted that the small ration of food and water was 
accented by a large ration of cigarettes.
Ari spiced the event by telling the crew that all they had until someone 
found them was some rations and these cartons of cigarettes. Della and Mary 
were skeptical. Angela was downright suspicious.
She should have been suspicious. Ari had bragged that his wife had become a 
smoker, despite her country's tradition to the contrary, and that his mother 
even smoked on visits to the U.S.
Instead of a long wait around the plane as usual, Ari suggested the crew 
explore the island for a food supply, etc. The crew had rations for lunch 
and gathered its meager remaining rations, including the cigarettes, and 
backpacked inland.
About 30 minutes into their hike, the "survivors" came upon a large modern 
building. They entered to find male and female barracks, each with six 
comfortable beds, and a large room in the middle.
Food, it seemed, would have to be canned but there were ample cans in the 
kitchen. The stove was fueled by propane and there was no television 
reception, only a VCR with at least 100 movies. Then the island's watch crew 
brought in wash tubs full of beer, a ham and a turkey.
By 1400 hours, the party was on. By dark, Ari convinced Angela to try a 
cigarette. Della and Mary followed suit. Each female officer had several 
that day. They even had breakfast catered the next morning by the watch 
crew, catching the guy's attention by smoking with their morning coffee. The 
watch crew said it would return at 1600 hours to transport the trainees back 
to their aircraft.
Angela stayed off the beer so that she would be in top form to get the big 
plane off the primitive landing strip. Mary and Della followed suit on 
drinking and seemed to pass Capt. Jett on smoking.
When they returned to the base, each of the woman officers had more than 
slightly fouled lungs and a confused outlook on smoking. Angela brought a 
pack home and told her non-military husband about her experience. He had to 
see. Later he had to see again. These days he sees about 40 a day.
Della and Mary were given a surprise weekend leave where they celebrated in 
the nearby city.
"Nobody knows us, let's just smoke like we always did at the bars," reasoned 
Della. Mary went along with the idea. They met men who approved of women 
smoking and never stopped. In fact, the new officers, who dashed from stop 
sign to stop sign in their sporty cars around the base, smoked so heavily 
that Ari soon named them the zero to 60 duo -- a title that fit both their 
smoking and their driving.
All agreed that the time has flown. More than a million cigarettes between 
the trio later, they gather on the eve of this major event to smoke and 
recount their stories in this long lasting bond that started with a 
cigarette.


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