My First Flight: 'My Orders Were to Go to Saigon, Vietnam'
Everybody has a story about their first time. The anticipation, the nerves, the worry...but then the pure wonder when you finally take off. Of course we're talking about your first flightthe first time you boarded an airplane and discovered the skyways. We're telling those stories in a new series simply called "My First Flight." Want to share your first flight story? We've love to have it! Send it along to us here.
This story comes from a close friend and reader of Jaunted. Enjoy!
My first flight was from Toledo, Ohio to Oakland, California via United Airways in January 1970. I was a Private First Class in the Army and reporting for my next duty assignment overseas, which would either be Thailand or Vietnam (I'd eventually make it to Staff Sergeant). Thus, my first flight wasn't really my choice and I hopped on multiple planes just to reach my destination. I got one small meal, served by a stewardess, before setting foot into a war zone.
At that time, Oakland California Overseas Terminal was called the "Gateway to the Pacific" for the military and it may still be. It was after that United flight that I learned my final destination. My orders were to go to Saigon, Vietnam.
I then boarded a Trans World Airlines (TWA) flight to Honolulu. During a brief layover on the last bit of US land I'd see for some time, I walked around the Honolulu airport and even now I remember just gazing into the aquariums they have on display. I then re-boarded the same TWA plane and continued onward to Wake Island for a re-fueling stop.
After that very long, very nervous first flight, I landed in Saigon around 2am local time. It was very frightening, coming in for landing during a war, with the ground beneath lit by illumination flares. We were hustled off the plane and to a waiting bus, which went directly to base where the last thing a jet-lagged, first-time flyer would want to happen, happened. The base had an alert right then, and our bus emptied and we all ran to dive behind a wall of sandbags. It was scary then, but after sunrise, it wasn't so scary. At least I had survived that flight.
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