Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Memory

In 1986 I was at my first duty station after technical training. It was at San Vito AS, Italy. For those that may not know where that is, if you think of Italy as a boot, then San Vito is where th heel of the boot ends. We had a saying there - "San Vito, it's not the end of the world, but you can see it from here."
While waiting to get my top secret clearance I was working as an augumentee at the base post office. We were told by the postmaster that Christmas Eve was going to be a busy day. The Italians couldn't guarantee that all our mail was going to get to us on time. The Air Force dispatched some C-130s to make sure that all mail available made it from Rome to us.
On that Christmas Eve, the first of the mail pallets arrived at about 1300 (that's 1pm for civilians) and they continued through out the day. We had volunteers from every unit on base helping us to sort the packages, stage them, writing out the notices, and posting them in the boxes for pickup.
We received the last pallets at about 1600 and commenced to sorting them with all the volunteers scurrying about. At 1630 retreat sounded for the base. It was an impressive site to see everyone stop instantly, put down whatever they had in hand, face the music, salute, and render the honors for the end of the official duty day and the lowering of the flag.
As the last note of the Star Spangled Banner echoed, salutes were smartly dropped, packages picked up, and the work commenced once again. It was a moment and memory frozen it time.