It’s the last day of this alert tour. For over a hundred Airmen, tomorrow will be change- over and we’ll get to leave the alert facility at the end of the runway. We’ve been here for six days; it’s our second time in the last 35 days. Our routine is predictable: the first day we come on duty, attend a formal assumption-of- alert brief, check out our airplane and all our mission paperwork, move into our rooms, and begin the routine for the next seven days. Each morning we get up, eat, attend a brief, and head out to run checks on our plane. Today it’s a grey New England day and a damp chill penetrates everything. While the pilot and crew chief walk around the outside, the other crewmembers check out their crew stations to make sure we’re ready to take our aircraft out and fly our wartime mission.
Some days everything is in perfect order and back to the alert facility we go. On others, we stay with the plane and maintenance comes out to fix our problem. Aircraft on alert have the priority for repairs. For the rest of the day there are hearty meals for us fixed by the cooks assigned at the alert facility. If you’re not careful you can gain a lot of weight during an alert tour. Between meals there are ground training events for us or squadron additional duties to perform. No matter where you go on base, you’ll be carrying a radio so you can response back to the airplane in your crew’s alert pick-up. While on alert you have traffic and parking priority all over the base. There are even special routes to get from wherever you are to return to the plane as quickly as possible. Sometimes you’re restricted snows here and driving gets very tough.