BRO.gif (43736 bytes)NAVY CHRISTMAS '99
b roll online
The TV News Photography Website

last update December 11, 1999


what's new | discussion | tips | jobs | photos | ads | links | resume | contact b roll

USS Bataan (LHD 5) [ENG Cam]

Navy Christmas '99: The USS Bataan Ready Group

The Trip Over (Getting There is Half the Fun)

November 23, 1999
Norfolk, VA

I woke up well rested this morning.  My body lacked a great deal of eagerness to get out of bed though.  It somehow knew this would be the last night in my own bed for a while.  Two weeks will have past before I curl up with my comfortable pillows again.  Fourteen days of strange hotel beds, and ship "racks" lie before me.

Enough whining about sleeping arrangements!  An incredible journey is about to begin.  I'm about to leave for a television documentary project that will take me to four countries, seven time zones, three US Navy ships, and one large sea.

Reporter Joe Flanagan and I are leaving for the 14th Annual installment of "Navy Christmas."  The hour long documentary was the brainchild of WVEC-TV and Newport News Shipbuilding as a way to pay our respects to Navy and Marine personnel who have to be away from their loved ones for the holidays.

The Navy sends out groups of ships for six month deployments all around the globe.  There is always a Carrier Battle Group or Amphibious Ready Group deployed and ready for action.  These deployments unfortunately have to carry over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  Family's have to be separated, gifts have to be given long distance, and parties have to be delayed.  It has been the goal of the show to make this separation a little easier to handle.

Our flight leaves today.  The journey will take us to Frankfurt, Germany, and on to Tel Aviv, Israel.  I've never had any major difficulty traveling internationally with my camera.  But, prospective travel into Israel has the potential to cause problems.  The sensitive political climate in that region gives us reason to seek out a Carnet. 

A Carnet is an official government document similar to a passport for my equipment.  The mountain of paper work to clear this equipment was amazing.  I'm sure I signed away my first born child somewhere in the blizzard of white, blue, and green forms.  Many thanks to Jane Davis our Business Manager who did an express application faster than you can say "sign in triplicate."

All clearances, excess baggage charges, and metal detectors cleared, it was time to sit for a long time.  The flight from Norfolk to Atlanta was easy.  A cute nine month old sitting with her family next to me kept me entertained.   Watching her amazement at the world around her was more interesting than most "single serve" conversations I've had on airplanes. (See the movie Fight Club for the "single serve" reference).

Atlanta, GA

Airports are some of the most interesting "subcultures" on earth.  Everyone is moving.  No one is really "from" there.  The floor moves for you. Stores and restaurants are different.  Where else can you get a table for 2 and need two more seats for your luggage?

We had a small layover in Atlanta.  Just enough to eat and find our next gate.  The flight was delayed leaving, but we were promised we would be on time.

Somewhere over the Atlantic

This is the tricky part.  Do I try to sleep... do I try to stay awake?  Our flight lands in Germany at 8:30am local time.  But it will feel like 2:30am.  I'll be ready for bed when we land, but the day will have just started. This is what they call jet lag.  My body isn't going to know what time it is, and since I forgot my watch, my mind won't know the time either.  This should be fun. 

November 24, 1999
Frankfurt, Germany

I did doze off.  And when I awoke just before landing, I had no feeling in my leg.  One of the major problems of being 6 foot 6 in today's airplane seats, you have to find strange positions to sleep in.  I had found a position in which my leg fell asleep faster than I did.

As the pins and needles went away, the plane lands in Frankfurt, Germany.  It was early in the morning in Germany, so the normally bustling airport was quiet.  It made getting through customs a breeze.  Having the carnet forced me to go through the "something to declare" line at customs, but ironically everyone else had "nothing to declare" and I zipped right past them all!

Our hotel is attached to the airport, so we were able to walk there without going outside and realizing the 32 degree temperature.  It was hard to leave the late Indian summer temperatures in Norfolk around 70 degrees to come to freezing weather, but Israel should be warm again.

In this biz, the equipment has priority when packing.   With 5 large pieces of luggage to carry, my personal effects have to be kept at a minimum.  The laptop has to come along (how else would you be able to read my self important ranting?) and other clothes.  The first thing to be thrown out is the cold weather gear.  It takes up too much space.  So I have to suck it up when we go strolling out in freezing winter weather.  Don't tell my mom I was outside without a coat!

November 25, 1999
Frankfurt, Germany

This is our day to adjust to the time difference.  We go for a stroll downtown, checking out all the shops and dining at Romer, a classic looking German "family restaurant."  After pigging out on "sauerbraten" and dumplings, it was time to stroll some more.

Today was the first day of the "Christmas Market" where locals set up small stands selling goodies in the street.  With the carousel spinning and Christmas carols playing, it's hard to not get in the spirit.  It's not as commercial over here yet; Christmas still feels traditional.

The one thing I did need to buy was a watch.  I was sick of not knowing what time it is, and I thought a watch would be a cooler souvenir than an "I Love Germany" sweatshirt.

I was happy to find out my watch came with a 1 year warranty, so if I have any problems, I can fly back to Frankfurt, Germany and get it replaced!  What a deal!

Well I've found the strangest "cross-cultural" hit.  Monster truck racing translated into German.  It's funny when the only words I recognize are "Big Foot" and "Mud Shark"!

November 26, 1999
Frankfurt, Germany

My body clock is just about ready.  And as would be expected, as soon as I'm comfortable with a time change, I do another one.

Our plane leaves at 10am, from a super security wing of the airport.  I've walked through so many x-ray machines I'm starting to glow.  The 3 hour flight was nothing compared to our transatlantic jaunt.

I was a little leery of flying into Tel Aviv.  With all of the political turmoil, I figured there would be major hassles getting into the country.  Just to show the potential for problems, most Arabic countries won't allow anyone into their country with an Israeli passport stamp.  Because we travel to the Persian Gulf frequently with the Navy, I have to ask for my Israeli stamp to be put on a separate form.

After waiting in line for 15 minutes, I cleared immigration rather easily. I thought.  Until I walked through another gate and asked to "step aside" for some questions.  Another 15-30 minutes of waiting, just to ask two questions.  Who am I, and why am I here.

The Navy had escorts waiting for us in the terminal.   This was the first time I've had someone waiting for me at the airport with my name on a placard.  I briefly felt important.

A 3 hour van ride north over bumpy Israeli highways took us to our new home in Haifa.  The rest of the day would be full of settling in and getting the lay of the land.

Take care and keep in touch.