Forever in Flight
By Norma Rowe, Army
Writing Type: Prose
By Norma Rowe
I’m running late. I can’t believe this! I just know the helicopter is going to leave without me. As I drive up to the helipad I see everyone waiting. Hurriedly I lock up the jeep, and we all run to the helicopter, a Huey. I climb into the gunner’s seat and strap up.
This is great, my first helicopter ride in Korea. As the chopper slowly lifts off the ground, an awesome feeling comes over me. I feel as though I have the wings of a hawk and can soar through the endless skies. Everyone around me fades to the back of my mind, and my thirsty eyes drink in the scene unfolding before me. The sun glistens on the river, winding through Seoul like a silver snake. We follow the river north, using it as a guide.
As we leave the city, mountains close in on us. They get larger, reaching up daringly. I feel the wings in my mind banking right and left with the chopper through the mountains. The wind in my face is exhilarating.
I survey the countryside and see rice patties and villages scattered below. I’m saddened as I see more and more burial plots. I try to imagine, years ago, when the war was here. A Huey like this would have guns mounted on each side, and the joy of this beautiful country would be dampened by desolation.
As my thoughts dwell on times of war, I notice there are no villagers around the village. I am told by the co-pilot that they hide when they hear the chopper approaching. The past war is a constant reminder to never let their guard down. When I gaze on these seemingly deserted villages, an air of peacefulness settles over me. I’m saddened by what the war has done here, but I feel the grace and splendor of Korea overwhelm me at the same time.
The chopper and I have become one, gracefully soaring through mountains, dodging rain clouds and dipping in air pockets. I feel the adrenaline flowing through my veins, freeing my soul with the wind.
As we soar over the still-winding river, rain begins to fall. To the west the sun gleams in the rain, creating a brilliant rainbow. It spreads over the country, promising hope and peace as its treasure. The thrill of the picture causes me to catch my breath in wonder.
I feel as though I’m in a dream. The buildings and vehicles are like toys, so close you can reach down and touch them. With one swoop of your hand you can gather the boats together, creating waves that would flood the fields.
A valley appears on the horizon. Nestled between the mountains is our destination. I know that this flight will be endless for me. I don’t want to tuck in my wings.
Too soon we spot the helipad at Camp Long. The helicopter touches down gracefully, but I find that I still have not touched down. The experience and beauty of the flight will remain locked in my mind forever. Korea is indeed “the best kept secret.” Only now, I know the secret.