Deep Thoughts - the Military, Dreams, and my Senior Prom Deep Thoughts on the Military, Dreams, and my Senior Prom
by Mark Wang
The night started uneventfully. I walked into Paul's room for 2:42. My group was getting together with Eddie's group.
Anyways, Keith, being the assiduous follower of current events he is, was surfing the CNN web site when I walked in, and he came across a story about hazing in the Marines, complete with Quicktime movie.
It's messed up stuff, dude. Basically, the veteran Marines take the paratrooper pins of the newly graduated troops, and sticking them into flesh and scraping, stirring, twisting, (or whatever twisted verb you want to use to describe it) them around. OUCH. We could hear the shouts of agony in full vibrant stereo being carried forth through Keith's $200 Altec-Lansing multimedia speakers.
It was quite disturbing, and that's not a bold claim. Then as more people of the two 2:42 groups came filtering in, we replayed that video multiple times more. Everyone was sobered. The military is kinda messed these days, Paul pondered, and I agree, I must say. But that got me thinking about what it would be like if people like me were in the military.
Anyways, after 2:42, I dashed off to Schiff for Becca Chang's surprise birthday party. I thought it would just be a small thing - boy was I wrong.
I think about half of IV was there, and a smattering of miscellaneous FiCSters, Crusaders, AACFers, and a bunch of other random people. Anyways, it was really cool, and I'm sure Becca will remember it for quite a while. But this isn't the point of this Deep Thought.
Afterwards, I stopped by the Schiff computer cluster to catch up on my email. I hadn't read it for over *three whole hours* and I was kinda getting antsy. I bumped into Edster and Jelinyen there, and I remarked that I needed some fresh stuff to write about them for my homepage. We then all proceeded to surf random homepages, reaching that of a certain Andrew Wong.
I also read Andrew Wong's page. I met Andrew through Henry at the recent interfellowship retreat held in Camp Hammer. He's a junior in Crusade, and he's Dave Hong's ex-roommate. Apparently, he was also Eric Yang's big sib last year too. So I guess those are the ways how we're connected.
I thought Danny Chai, Clara Kim, Val Hsieh, Henry Hsu and Dave Hong wrote cool stuff. (They are some of the people whom I admire the most when it comes to web page content. See, just because you're a CS/Math major doesn't mean you automatically have cool stuff to read on your web page. But these people do. They rock.) Well, then I read Andrew's stuff and I was just totally dumbfounded.
The feeling was exactly like the first time I played Nintendo 64, after having being used to PC, SNES, and Playstation games. I was just blown away. I never knew quality like that was even possible. Anyways, that was how Andrew's writings struck me. Anyways, check out his writings, especially his dreams. Maybe he can make a movie about them, just like the great Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa did, about his dreams, and just title it "Dreams." It would rack up the Academy Awards, baby. I mean, have you ever seen prime-rib flavored ice cream in any flick you remember?
I shall never emulate Andrew. Depressing but I guess I'll just have to live with it... Anyways, what struck me was that I've had some weird dreams in the past as well, and some of them might be even worth sharing.
I know I've had my share of them in the past. Here's one from around the end of the senior year in high school:
First let me tell you about one of my friends from high school: Joan Cheng Hwang, Monta Vista Class of 1995, Princeton Class of 1999. She's Chem E and premed, just like Andy Hsiao. She also sings alto in Kindred Spirit, their Christian a capella group, the equivalent of our Testimony. (Side note: She isn't really web-surfing type, and I'll bet she never ever reads this page. If she ever does: Hi Joan! Long time no hear... hint hint! Princeton sucks! Email me! =) )
Now, our high school senior prom is held on a boat that actually cruises around the San Francisco Bay. The boat is almost like a mini-cruise ship, it's got three decks, a restautrant, a deck for dancing, etc. Anyways, my prom (my real-life prom) was quite enjoyable, and I think the idea of it on a boat is da bomb.
Well, in my dream, the prom was also being held on a boat. But this "boat" was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy. It was a Nimitz class boat. They're nuclear powered, displacing about 80,000 tons each. The hangar deck made an awesome dance floor, by the way. I forgot the exact ship that our prom was held on, but it was most likely based at Alameda Naval Station. Or maybe not... Anyways... My prom date in the dream was Joan Hwang.
Anyways, we end up in a trouble spot in the world somewhere. Persian Gulf seems reasonable enough. The place was pretty screwed up back then, and it still is. (I'm not trying to be discrimintory, or racist, or whatever, just naming a military trouble place.) I have no recollection of how we actually SAILED from the Bay Area to the Persian Gulf in the time my senior prom lasted. Maybe the carrier was beamed over. Or, more likely, our prom was actually a graduation "trip" for the entire class that lasted several weeks. Anyways, I never dreamt any of that coherently, so I can't explain that. But, we find outselves in the Gulf.
OK, so we're dancing away in the middle of the Gulf, to Boyz II Men and various other secular artists in vogue during mid-1995. Suddenly, over the intercom we hear the ominious General Quarters alarm, followed by a piercing cry of battle stations, battle stations, battle stations...
Terror. Pandemonium. Apparently, the carrier is without escort, and all the highly-trained Navy pilots of the carrier are nowhere to be seen for some inexplicable reason!
Anyways, Joan and I just stand there, dumbfounded. Then Joan turned to me, and I turned to her, and I knew that look she gave me and what she was thinking even without speaking, and I just thought....
well, now all these computer games will pay off!
We dash into the pilot's briefing room. An officer is there and he briefs us that several unknown bogies (unidentified aircraft) have just taken off from bases in Iraq and are moving at high speed towards our carrier. They appear to be on an attack profile. We obviously didn't want to wait till we found out the hard way. Anyways, our orders were clear: eliminate them.
Joan and I dash to a F-14 Tomcat sitting on the flight deck. Now for those of you who aren't into military hardware, the Tomcat is a two-seat fighter plane. The pilot sits in the front, and the radar person (who actually fires the missiles) sits in the back. I forgot who was in the front or not.
Anyways, we don helmets (but I don't believe flight suits - ie, the Tomcat was being flown by a couple in a tux and prom dress - no, I have no idea how we handled the G-forces), check flap settings, get the 100% oxygen going, start up the engines and light up the burners. The catapult launches us off with teh adrenaline feel that invariably comes from being accelerated from 0 to over 160 mph in under 2 seconds.
Our F-14 carried a full intercept armament package of 6 AIM-54 Phoenixes, and two AIM-9 Sidewinders. The 'Winders are heat seeking missiles used for close-in combat. The Phoenixes are long range intercept missiles, with a range of over 150 miles. Basically, if you see a plane on radar miles and miles away, you can blow it away with a Phoenix, and never visually see any of it with your eyes, just the fact that the plane has disappeared from your radar screen tells you that you've killed it. Spicy.
The Sidewinders are short range, close-in missiles that home in on the heat of aircraft exhaust. Nice for those tight situations.
The enemy appeared. MiG-29s I believe. Nasty stuff. Or Backfire bombers. Those babies can carry anti-ship missiles, each armed with about a ton of high explosive... or a nuclear warhead. Very non-phat.
We close in on them, the dots flashing ominously on the AWG-9 radar unit.
Suddenly the seductive sound of the targeting unit, indicating radar lock comes on.
"Phoenix one away!...
...Splash one MiG."
The rest of the aircraft keep coming. We fight it out with them, racing along at Mach 2, and our Phoenixes wiping them off as they enter our zone of death.
Uh oh. One last plane. We close at an ominous speed. Zoom - we pass each other just like that. We're still not out of the water yet. That plane is converging towards the carrier still, and potentially able to turn a $2 billion piece of military hardware, plus over 400 members of Monta Vista's Class of 1995 into radioactive fallout. We pull an 8-G turn. My vision begins to falter as the blood is pulled right from my brain by the G force, and my appendages are like as if they were made of lead. After what seems to be an unbearable eternity, we're heading in pursuit of that plane. Joan or I, whoever was flying, kicks in max afterburners, pushing us against our seats with the acceleration.
It was harrowing. At maximum speed, we were closing, but too slow. If we saw the flash of a missile being launched from the Iraqi aircraft, it could very well be the end. An eternity passes. Then the targeting display starts flashing, slowly at first, and then faster, faster, until it's rapidly blinking, and we get the "grrrrrr..." tone of Sidewinder lock.
The trigger is squeezed. Oh what a feeling it was. I shouted something unbecoming of a Christian. The plane turns into an incandescent ball of gas before our very eyes.
Now we had to get back. "We're bingo fuel, Joan. Time to land this puppy." That meant that we just had enough fuel to land. If we ran out, we would have to eject. I mean, getting blown away by a missile is one thing, but I don't think we wanted to ruin our expensive tux and dress by the seawater - yikes, that would be unthinkable!
The familiar structure of the carrier appears in the distance, and grows larger. Reduce power. Gear down. Arrestor hook down. We're coming in, guys!
How relieved I felt when the wheels slammed down on the carrier, the hook caught the number three wire, and we were jerked to a stop.
After, I think we made headlines, and met President Clinton. Wait - meeting President Clinton? I thought we were supposed to be rewarded for heavens sake...!
Deep Thought of February 4, 1997.