This was Taylor's last day and it started out rough. She was up the whole night before until 4 a.m. with her stomach and then had to get up at 6:30 a.m. to say her good byes to the Maxwell children. This was hard for her as she bonded with them.
She got to do some exciting things today and even though she was exhausted, there was no way she was going to miss out on any of it. Taylor was taken to the Air Station and they had pulled out a 53 and an Osprey just for her! These things are HUGE. She learned all about them and got to tour them, however the cockpit of the Osprey scared her on what she shouldn't touch and she opted to just 'look' instead of sit up there. All the time we were out there, 53's and Osprey's were coming and going and it was loud, but simply amazing to watch. For those of you that don't know what an Osprey is, it can have it's props down and fly like a plane or they can tilt up and fly like a helicopter.
As with everyone she came in contact with, these guys were the best. They took their time in explaining things to her and showing her things. They even took her into the gear room and she saw stuff the pilots wear and just how heavy they are (she could barely lift up the vest). She got to look through the night vision goggles they wear, only Taylor knows the funny faces we were all doing at her!
She then went off to look at the Hueys and Cobras that just came back from Iraq. The lure of sitting in the cockpit of these were just to much for her and she couldn't help herself, she jumped right in. I have to say, she looked pretty darn tough in that Cobra! Once again, these guys were awesome with her!
She got loaded down with tons of patches, shirts and other special gifts, including her own name tags and a flight bag with her call sign on it, MIGHTY MITE. They had embroidered it all up for her on the flight bag, her name, and her call name in bright pink on the Marine green bag....way to cool!
She then had the special treat of flying the sims of the 53 and Osprey. Words do no justice to just how cool these things are and just how real they are. Taylor did an amazing job in the Osprey, she in fact handled it like a pro. She got to refuel with a C 130 and land on a ship out in the ocean as a helicopter then take off from it as a plane. She then got to fly over the MOUT where she had been just a few days earlier and land in a soccer field right next to it. Everyone had a great time with this. The 53 was way harder for her to handle and master and there were several times I literally had to cover my eyes and I am not kidding! The instructors were great, but I know the one for the 53 was thanking his lucky stars it was just a sim!!!
One of the people who helped get this going for Taylor was Crystal. As we were walking from one sim to another, we happened to walk by a Mustang. Taylor told everyone that was her all time favorite car and Crystal said 'hang on' She went inside and came back out carrying keys. She informed Taylor that the Mustang was hers and that the 'girls' were going for a ride to the other sim. Girls with no fear + Mustang = VERY FAST! I do believe we might have even heard a YAH HOO as they took off!
Taylor was getting tired, but she fought on. All this was so special and never in a million years would I think that she could go on 2 hours sleep like she did and keep smiling and wanting to do more. She knew this was her last day and she wanted to soak it all in.