This is Part III of a multi-part series on Navy’s SERE school. You can read Part I here and Part II here. Stay tuned for the next installment. 

Approaching Brunswick NAS we passed numerous small islands and slim peninsulas that extended like the fingers of a hand into Casco Bay. From the air, all airports look similar but as you get close to a Naval Air Station its unique features begin to stand out. Neatly laid out rows of uniform buildings, a web of ring-like cul-de-sacs that lead to underground munitions bunkers and large hangers.

Brunswick had been an important patrol base for Navy bombers during WWII covering convoys and hunting German U-boats off the coast. It had been deactivated for about a decade after the war until the emerging threat of Soviet submarines off the U.S. coast became apparent and the base had been reopened and expanded. The base had two parallel, 8,000 ft runways and a couple of P-3 Squadrons based there. When combined with the P-3s deployed overseas to Iceland and the U.K., the P-3 Orion could cover the whole North Atlantic Ocean.

Coming in low I realized how much snow was on the ground and my heart sank. There was snow everywhere and I suddenly remembered that I was nearly 700 miles north of Norfolk where it was already pretty damned cold. The Orion touched down easily on the runway which was clear of snow and ice. We taxied over to a spot near the tower where another small group of uniformed passengers was waiting to board near a couple of carts full of canvas bags. A large fuel truck arrived to top off the plane’s tanks. Grabbing my bag I made a point of thanking the petty officer who had hooked me up with a crew seat on the plane and asked if they were staying in Brunswick. “Nope,” he replied. “We’re going to Kay-Vic.”