THANKSGIVING COMES - AND GOES
On 17 November, Lt. Col. Rackley
announced that Gen. Horner would be arriving at Al Minhad later in the afternoon to meet with Col. Navarro and his staff. Word of Horner's visit spread quickly, and everyone hoped he would meet with the pilots to relay information and answer questions. We had been here for more than ten weeks, and, so far, we had only had one commander's call - when Col. Navarro told us we could not go off base.
As soon as dinner was over, everyone headed for the beer tent, anticipating the
CENTAF (CENTCOM's air force component) commander's arrival. Some of the LANTIRN guys were flying, but most of the guys from the 4th were there, along with half the 421st. The music was loud, and everyone seemed to be in a festive mood. Opie, Ark, Senseless, and I sat at one of the tables near the bar as Gen. Horner finally arrived. Making a beeline for the bar, he bought a couple of beers, then looked around for a place to sit.
"There's a chair for you here, sir," Opie offered.
As the general approached, the rest of us stood up and introduced ourselves.
"How was dinner?" Ark asked.
"Not bad," Horner answered. "It was a lot better than some of the MREs I've been eating."
"We've been hearing rumors that Moody is going to send a couple of squadrons over to replace us soon. Is that true sir?" Opie asked.
By now, other pilots in the room had gathered around
the table, and everyone was anxious to hear Gen. Horner's response. He took a drink from his bottle, then set it on the table.
"You guys better enjoy your Thanksgiving and Christmas here," he replied. "You guys aren't going anywhere. Secretary Cheney
just announced there would be no rotations. We tried that during Vietnam, and it just doesn't work. All forces in theater will be here for the duration. As a matter of fact, I need to bring in more fighters. You can count on another squadron joining you here at Al Minhad sometime during the next month or two."