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Trips to San Clemente Isle by Air

Story ID:6707
Written by:Monte Leon Manka (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:retired
Story type:Poem
Location:Hemet CA. USA
Year:1970
Person:Terrified Chelsea Kansas Kid-10
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Trips to San Clemente Island.
By Air????

Here I go again
I said I wouldn’t lie
In order to get a paycheck
Again I had to fly.

Work was slow
Engineers were on strike
I had to go to San Clemente Isle.
I had to take the flight.

To the Long Beach Airport
Jim Allen and I were sent
Got on a Catalina Goose
To San Clemente Isle we went.

The Catalina Goose
Was a twin engine plane
That didn’t look safe enough
To stand-alone in the rain.

The planes were old and ugly
I don’t see how they got off the ground
On full throttle they just barely moved
These particular planes shouldn’t have been around.

We took off for San Clemente Isle
Less than a hundred miles away
Flew over Catalina, Island
San Clemente Isle, we’re on our way

Landed on a big U shaped Runway
This was a Navy installation
Taxied for a mile or so
To catch our transportation.

We were taken to our billets
They were built in 1883
Windows wouldn’t stay up
Without a prop you see.

The barge with all our equipment
To the dock they did secure
For Jim and I to offload
And move it off the pier.

When the barge was secured
Jim unloaded the blade and the Cat
I unloaded all the ten wheel trucks
The pickups, and that was that.

We went to our billet
Showered and changed and such
Walked to the mess hall
Wasn’t expecting much.

Loaded our food tray
To the table we went
Sat down to eat
The food was excellent.

On the way back to the shack
On Friday afternoon, I was pondering
When I would have to fly
Got that sinking feeling, just wondering.

Friday after noon came
Went to the air strip
Saw a D C 3, waiting there for us
For the return trip.

Many memories, the D C 3, brought back to me,
Of thirty years previously.
Of that night, and the fright
But, now we had no Chaplains three.

I picked up a form, from the seat in front of me
It told you what to do in case you had to ditch.
I threw it back in the sack
And prayed for the plane to have no glitch.

We landed at Long Beach
No trouble on the flight
Now I had to start worrying
About the flight, starting on Sunday night.

We boarded the goose
There was a full crew
All the seats were filled
One extra man we drew.

The pilot got on board and said
One of you fellows will get a treat
Come and sit next to me
In the co pilot seat.

Don Micu
Volunteered to ride
In the seat
The co pilot did provide.

We took off
And later as we flew
He laid his pocket watch on his leg
I thought what he’s going to do?

As we flew over Catalina
We were so flying low
I could kick the sagebrush
Just outside the door.

As we cleared Catalina Island
Toward the sea we did dive
Through the fog and clouds
Hoped I’d come out alive.

There was a 600-foot ceiling
Just past Catalina Isle
He pulled it back on track, leveled off
We tasted stomach bile.

We landed safely
Much to my relief
Now I had to wait
Till Friday to experience more grief.

Next I will tell
Of the crash landing
We were lucky to
Get off still standing.

But that’s another story. Monte Manka—05-13-06




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