Getting To Morocco On A Pass

On the road…again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek


Getting To Morocco On A Pass

With a hand-written copy of the Rhein-Main flight schedule in his back pocket, Footloose Forester was not sure where he would end up during his first leave period from his duty post in Germany.  He did know that as a soldier with a military ID, he was entitled to ride space available and free-of-charge on any of the MAC or MATS flights in the European Theatre. 

The US Air Force at one time dubbed their non-combat air operations either MAC for Military Air Command or MATS, for Military Air Transport System.  In any case, Footloose Forester made it his business to know where the planes were going, and how to make connections on the other side.  All you had to do was research the possibilities, make a couple of alternative plans, be patient, act decisively, and be somewhat prepared. On one fine morning at Rhein-Main outside of Frankfurt, he was told that he could either board a plane to Italy or another one to a US Air Force bases in Morocco, via Spain.  He chose the latter. But to be sure to get on, he asked if he could be booked as a courier.  That meant that he would be given a pouch for delivery, and a .45 Caliber Colt automatic to protect the contents.  Done deal.

The pilot of the four-engine C-124 told him that he preferred that the weapon be stored behind the bulkhead while we were in route because guns made him nervous. No problem there.  The Footloose Forester picked up the .45 at landing in Madrid and transferred to a smaller, 2-engine DC-4 for the ongoing flight to the base outside of Casa Blanca. 

Another adventure began while we were airborne.  An Air Force captain with the same idea of flying MATS to Morocco from Wiesbaden, Germany hooked up with the Footloose Forester and we agreed to see a little of Casa Blanca together; and then take another flight to Rabat. We did get to Rabat but it was by bus from Casa Blanca.  Can’t remember why we didn’t fly but Footloose Forester remembers being in the Casa Blanca police station with the captain.



Flag of Morocco

It was our choice to get into the paddy wagon with an obnoxious tour guide who insisted that we owed him money. Two or three times we tried to shake him off but he would not be shaken. Just before the paddy wagon arrived, we thought we would outsmart him by getting into a small boat taxi for a shortcut across a narrow inlet. We paid the taxi man in advance and we thought that he would not be willing to pay out of his own pocket for the fare.  He didn’t pay, but nevertheless got into the boat and insisted that as our guide, we would be responsible for his fare. In and out of the boat three times. That was when captain called a policeman and the cop radioed for the paddy wagon.  No charge on either side, but nobody was happy about the incident.    

On to the beautiful walled city of Marrakech on another plane.  A day later Footloose Forester boarded another DC-3 to fly up to Ben Guerir and Sidi Semaine.  As he boarded he noticed that the Air Force sergeant at the door was handing out parachutes.  Footloose Forester was amused because behind him was a female civilian who was shocked when the sergeant told her to put her parachute on before she got in. He explained that the tiny compartment was not a convenient place in which to strap on a parachute, so he helped her.  The flight was without further incident.  Finally, he remembers another hop on a C-54 that was so smooth that we landed without flaps and at maximum speed on a runway that was 15,000 feet long.  That was the first, but not the last time, that he saw whole squadrons of RB-66 jet fighter bombers lined up along the runways. It was during the Cold War years, after all.    

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