War Coffee

War Coffee

  • Social Media
  • -
  • Jul, 03 , 23

“We fired up our little auxiliary power unit to pick up the electrical load and brought the throttles down to idle, because the Blackhawk has transmission-driven alternators that trip off-line if the rotor rpm gets too low. We sat. The little blue icon was now moving south again, which meant we had twenty more minutes to wait in the dark, in the middle of a sleepy flight on what may have been the darkest night of the year. JBAD (Jalalabad) was a blackout airbase as well, so there was not so much as a single ramp light. And we sat.


I had it: “Hey man, you want some coffee?”


“Sure, buddy,” Tommy replied in his typically agreeable way.


“We’re supposed to be ready, but we do have twenty minutes, and the JBAD TOC [tactical operations center] is within 75 yards of where we are sitting,” I justified. “OK, here I go. I’ll be back in a few.”


Out of habit more than anything, I took off my night vision goggles when I got out of the cockpit. That green light shining in my eyes for the last hour hadn’t done anything to help my natural night vision, and I waited a few seconds for my eyes to adjust. The folks at JBAD had dozens of large steel shipping containers littering the ramp from a recent arrival, and I didn’t want to walk into one of them. Why I didn’t think to just put the goggles back on and focus in for walking is a good question, but I opted to Frankenstein my way forward, arms extended as I tried to slink along. It was the darkest ramp on the blackest night, but I didn’t have too much time to waste.


Upon reaching the TOC, I opened the door to what must surely have been the most well-lit, brightest, freshly white-painted TOC in the whole country. Why white? How about something a little subdued? I suppose the supply chain couldn’t bring everything in the Home Depot chip collection, so no one would be enjoying the cuddly named colors of the civilian world, like “Whispering Peach” or “Violet Indulgence.” The logistics machine would have been far more concerned with the right amount of fuel and bullets than considering which glow to bask in when they threw some paint into the shipping container back at Campbell in 5-gallon buckets. So, it wasn’t “Kitten Whispers” or even “Tuscan Sunset” in this TOC, just white. The name on the can could have been “Pinpoint-Pupil White,” or maybe “I-Saw-the-Light White.” The blinding display made me flinch as I stepped in unexpectedly, with each TOC watch stander examining me curiously. I heard one of the younger-looking guys say, “Oh s--t,” as if they had never seen a pilot walk through the door. It could have been the case, because we wear so much survival gear, that I had been mistaken for a swamp creature of some sort.


Shocked I was even standing there, one guy stood up and asked, “Can I help you, sir?”


I said, “I was just wondering if I could get a cup of coffee?”


After a momentary pause of chin tucking and furrowed brows, the TOC burst into a frenzy of action! Every single operator simultaneously abandoned their station, all shouting commands and reports: “I’ll get the coffee!” “I got the water!” “Start the pot! Dude, go clean out that old filter!” This cacophony of urgent response caused the task force XO to emerge from his office, looking confused as

to why there were no operators at their stations.


Responding to his perplexed glance, I sheepishly admitted, “I asked for some coffee.”


The XO’s face lit up before a triumphant proclamation: “I’ve got coffee cups!””



Above is an excerpt from War & Coffee by Joshua Havill.
  • Share this post :

Older Post Newer Post

Translation missing: en.general.search.loading