This is not the Navy related story I expected to write. But, as always, real life changed my plans.
More than many, the MUDGE household has been observing this past week’s American Airlines MD-80 debacle with more than passing interest.
There have been myriad news stories, in print and on line, much television (I’m told – I never watch TV news). It’s a topic that anyone who flies can relate to.
As it happens, we’re headed off on a much needed vacation next week to see the grandMUDGElets in L.A., and, as American most frequently protects that route with this disappointingly tiny (in the context of: traversing 2/3 of the continent), not to speak of disappointingly elderly (in the context of: acquired cheaply when American absorbed what was left of the once proud TWA many years ago), sardine can (in the context of: so small, there’s never been audio entertainment available, much less an in-flight movie. Not that this is much of a hardship, but, it is a 4-hour flight). It’s an awful flight, in the best of circumstances, especially for a somewhat larger than life person such as yr (justifiably) humble svt. You guessed it: we’ve got tickets on an MD-80 flight.
Q: What’s worse than flying an American Airlines MD-80 to Los Angeles?
A: NOT flying an American Airlines MD-80 to Los Angeles because the flight’s among 1,000 that they’ve been forced to cancel due to inadequate maintenance procedures finally catching up to them.
Among the plethora of stories, though, one struck me due to its Navy hook (need I remind faithful reader of my lifelong interest, much less my former Navy lieutenant son and daughter-in-law?).
Navy Recruits Face a Hardship Test at the Airport
By JEFF BAILEY and MARINA TRAHAN MARTINEZ | Published: April 11, 2008
DALLAS — On Monday, Karin Peyregne was in Mobile, Ala., kissing her husband and two young sons goodbye, on her way to a base near Chicago for basic training in the Navy.
Unfortunately, she was flying on American Airlines, and connecting through the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. She joined thousands of other travelers here, and in other cities like Chicago, who were stranded as American canceled more than 3,000 flights through Friday because of maintenance inspections ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration.
As of Thursday night, Ms. Peyregne (pronounced PURR-in), 25, and a group of six young male Navy recruits she was traveling with to the Great Lakes Naval Station, were still stuck in and around the airport here.
So a couple of recruits heading to basic training were delayed for an extensive period, as were many, with few resources and little money. This rings true: my kids were directed, on their way to the Naval Academy all those years ago, only to bring the clothes on their back — the Navy would provision them with uniforms and everything else they’d need from underwear to covers (hats, to civilians).
The recruits profiled in this story actually made out better than many of American’s strandees considering the hardships (they received help from the USO and other civilian military assistance organizations), But that isn’t really why I’m asking you to read this story through.
[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]
What strikes me about this story is the economic hardship that is explicitly portrayed.
Ms. Peyregne is leaving her husband to take care of her one- and three-year-old children because her prospects, as a raw recruit, even as one due for some difficult days as a relatively elderly 25-year-old, are apparently better than his.
The truck driver whose loads are drying up is heading off for what will be a more dependable, if initially minute, paycheck, but hopefully better prospects.
Those at the fringe of economic stability are society’s canaries in the mineshaft. Can anyone doubt that recession is upon us?
We’ve been here many times lately. It’s impossible to ignore.
The U.S. military has always represented a path toward a better life (if survived sufficiently whole, or at all!) for millions of its economically impaired recruits. In service training, and education benefits for afterward, can make the difference between a life serving french fries and one supervising aircraft mechanics.
I’m thinking that for the Navy and Air Force, both mainly out of the line of fire in our deadly entanglements in Afghanistan and Iraq, recruiting will not be a problem.
Should the R-word turn into the D-word, even the Army and Marines should be able to staff up, God help them.
It’s it for now. Thanks,
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