The Chap Rap

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I’m now at Travis Air Force Base following officer training in May and June and chaplain college in August and September. I’m looking forward to my first real weekend off since May, with Cindy, soon. In my first four months of Air Force life I’ve been away three.

At Travis I’ve been assigned to the 60th Air Mobility Wing’s Maintenance Group, partly because I’m a former maintainer myself (aircraft inspection). There were two assumptions made in this assignment. First, that my old (very very old) maintenance badge gives me street cred with my five squadrons. This is totally true. This badge has a 75 percent success rate in opening up conversations. Second, that I’m good at fixing stuff. Because my training 20 years ago inspecting aircraft bits and pieces makes me a mechanic. Well, not so much, but we’ll roll with it. This second assumption led to my spending the weekend fixing the “Chap Rap” cart used for unit engagement along the two-mile flight line. We have C5s and C17s, so the ramp is HUGE.

I wish I could take a picture of the view from the garage. Lined up into the distant are the largest and most agile superheavy transports in the world.

The Chap Rap has been sitting in a bay for five years unused. How do I know this? Because the Little Debbie snack cakes in the back are dated “fresh until December 2013.” I’m here to say that Little Debbies are still yummy after five years on the shelf. Anyhow… I digress.

So here I am with this cart loaded with eight batteries completely melted together into one battery-acid fused mess. No, motor pool cannot help here. This is an “unassigned” asset or some such thing that means “fix it yourself chaps.”

Apparently, no chaplain in the last five years has been able to do so. Theological superpowers do not seem to be effective on exploded batteries.

14 hours later, new batteries installed, battery acid cleaned out, and the Chap Rap is ready for the new wiring harness that I’m ordering next week. Stay tuned for photos from the Chap Rap.

I should also share what I’m going to DO with the Chap Rap. Basically, drive around the flight line looking for maintenance personnel (since I am the MX chaplain). If I were the hospital/support/ops chaplain I’d, like, not do any of this and be boring. Anyhow, I drive up, offer some Little Debbies, Gatorade, Otterpops (really appreciated this time of year), coffee, whatever’s been donated, get a brief on what they’re doing (“so, tell me what you’re doing to that widget there”). See… here’s the deal. The chaplain drives up, it’s a free break. The commander wants me to do this stuff so when the $%!# hits the fan his/her folks know where to turn. Personnel want me to do this stuff because they get free breaks and goodies. (One never knows what’s going to be in the trunk of a Chap Rap, so it damn well better be good stuff.) Chaps love this stuff because we get to talk about airplanes and get to know the Airmen.

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