There are plenty of things to complain about on a TDY to the desert. Food, weather, dirt, sand, rocks, non-potable water, laundry, cold showers, and other random nonchalantness that drags out the day. Even the best job I’ve ever had gets taxing with a combined pile of non-constant rest time, bag drags, customs checks, locked doors, dirty gear, small vans, more rocks, no trash bags, demanding flight schedules and beat to bits jets.
It’s no one’s fault when everyone does their best to work them along, but without the luxury of time parked with piles of spare parts, the love is lost. Of course safe to fly, but minor quirks come along for the ride. Pushing the bodies, beans, bullets, and bombs in and out of the ‘box makes the night to day to night cycle strum on with a solid rhythm across all the airframes.
Then a phone rings. A soldier is hurt. A sailor is sick. A Marine is wounded. An airman is burned. A contractor is bleeding. No one wants these calls, but they will come. Centers are alerted, references are run, medics are located, and the big board is looked at. “Where’s the closest bird that isn’t broken?” “There sir.” “You, Reach 456, stop loading now, push what you have out, and ready for immediate departure!” Slammed with a new call sign, new diplomatic clearances, new destination filed, and a weary norm takes a new direction.
I believe the jet knows it too. Com 1 has been scratchy and not transmitting from the copilot's side? Crystal clear. Ramp and door needing a manual override to seat and settle? Locks first time. Number 1 engine lagging on EGT rise after fuel flow? Spools faster off the APU than ever before. Left air conditioning pac discharge temp high? Blows cooler than a Manas Kyrgyzstan winter.
For all the different missions a C-17 can quick turn to perform, I get no greater satisfaction than riding along with a successful medevac run. The sum of all the players is greater than the whole to get care to those who desperately need it.