The Steelers' Alejandro Villanueva shares the meaning of Memorial Day


Hall of Fame
Mar 15, 2003
Hooterville, Vir.
I will tell you a little military story.
In 1997, when I deployed to Bosnia for my third tour there, the main body of the unit, with the battalion commander, flew on a USAF C-130 from Stuttgart to Sarajevo. Because the lads were going to starburst from Sarajevo to their operational locations (we had SF teams spread throughout the country), the battalion staff had informed the USAF three months prior that we were flying with live ammo including M67 frag grenades (so we did not have to take time at Sarajevo to issue ammo). Flying with live ammo had been coordinated, and approved through US Air Force Europe and US Transportation Command.
When the lads started loading in Stuttgart, the USAF crew noticed that they had frag grenades in their web gear. (There were grenade pouches in the vests). The load master (a USAF Senior Airman or Spec4 equivalent) declare he "did not feel comfortable with passengers having grenades. This got escalated to my battalion commander. He spoke with the Pilot in Command (USAF Captain). The captain declared that whatever the Sr. Airman said was what he was going to do. "Safety of flight, you know?" The battalion commander phoned Ramstein AFB (home of US Air Force Europe to get them to order the flight to proceed as coordinated. USAFE staff told him, "safety of flight" determinations by the flight crew ruled the day. So, and this is the really stupid part, because the Sr. Airman "did not feel comfortable" with passengers with hand grenades, the supported Army unit had to collect all the hand grenades in a sandbag for the flight and issue them on the ground in Sarajevo. A grenade in a sandbag was much more likely to go off accidentally while jumbled together in a dadgum sandbag, but the USAF crew wanted it that way. Needless to say, the battalion commander was not particularly impressed, but that was the USAF system.
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