Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Day 193 - Sunny and Hot

We eventually arrived in Florida Saturday, but only after a 3-hour delay on the tarmac at DFW because of starter trouble on the plane.

Periodically, mechanics instructed the pilot to turn off the air conditioner, despite the 90-degree temperatures outside. For the first hour, passengers were calm and patient.

As the time dragged on and temperatures got hotter, children aboard the sold out flight were the first to get restless. Parents stood up with infants, sang with toddlers and read stories to preschoolers. American Airlines flight attendants did their best to reassure the rest of us we would be in the air soon.

After the second hour, everybody was getting thirsty. We had already drunk the one bottle of water we brought on board. When the flight attendants finally served water, everybody was grateful.

The entire three hours and ten minutes in the hot airplane, all I could think was this is nothing compared to what Wayne and his fellow soldiers go through, minute by minute every single day.

Now that we’re here, all I can think is how much I wish he and Lauren were with us, getting ready to play The Golf Club at Amelia Island.
Designed by golf professional Mark McCumber and Gene Littler, The Golf Club of Amelia Island's course is as beautiful as it is challenging. Carved out of the island's lush and undisturbed beachfront, fairways are framed by live oaks and palm trees on the front nine. Pristine sand dunes and coastal marshlands dominate the back nine, while greens offer an extra measure of difficulty with the addition of the cool Atlantic breeze. Located within walking distance of the hotel, the setting is home to native egrets, herons, ospreys and alligators.

The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach also hosted the 1998 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, a SENIOR PGA TOUR Event.

Last night, we had a ball gorging on seafood at Outback Crab Shack, a fish camp style eatery outside St. Augustine, where the motto is “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem.” The menu says platters to serve 3-4. What they mean is serving trays piled with more food than you could possibly eat in one sitting. Owner David Sweat says the eatery serves 2500 pounds of crawfish, plus another 1500 pounds each of shrimp and crabs every week.

Saturday night, we cheerfully slogged through rain and waited an hour under purple and green neon at Gypsy Cab Company for a fabulous meal dubbed by the owners as “world-urban cuisine.”

More on the trip as we go. Hope to hear from Wayne while we’re here. I keep my Palm Treo close enough to check emails regularly.