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Posts tagged ‘Air Force Veteran’

22
Nov

1st Lt Don Ho US Air Force (Served 1954-1959)

17493127_1449913598384293_7398363703609314598_oView the service history of entertainer

1st Lt Don Ho

US Air Force

(Served 1954-1959)

View his service story on TogetherWeServed.com

http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/210749

Short Bio: In 1954 Ho entered the United States Air Force doing his basic training at Keesler AFB, Mississippi and spent time flying fighter jets in both Texas and Hawaii. Transferred to Travis AFB, California he went to the local city of Concord and bought an electronic keyboard from a music store, and recalls, “That’s when it all started.”

17
May

CMSgt Katherine Burcio-Marple US Air Force (Ret) (Served 1969-1995)

Katherine

RECORD YOUR OWN SERVICE MEMORIES

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 Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Profile Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.

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Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Air Force?

2017-05-14_15-50-52As Memorial Day approaches I can’t help but reflect on why I joined the Air Force. My father was my hero, he serviced in the Army Air Force during World War II. I grew-up listening to his “war stories” and seeing how proud he was to service his country. He taught me that there was no greater honor than to defend and even give your life for our country. I decided that I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and service my country. Little did I realize what an adventure it would be!

Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?

2017-05-14_15-51-58When I joined I wanted to fight and defend my country. I wanted to go to Vietnam to do this, but that never happened. I would go to CBPO once a week and try to volunteer to go. Week after week they would tell me I was wasting their time and mine and to stop coming over. I felt that I needed to fight side by side with the guys to feel like I truly contributed to defending my country.

My chance came 21 years later. I was deployed to Desert Storm. I was so excited to think I would finally be able to actually serve my country just like the men. That excitement quickly turned to sadness once I met the brave B-52 crew members that I would be sending off on missions. I suddenly realized that they may not all come back! I watched and listened to them joke and brag about who was the better pilot or how they were looking forward to getting into the fight. I envied them, they were so brave. But when the time came and they were off to war I didn’t want any of them to go.

I had so many mixed feelings that I had a hard time functioning in my job. I questioned why we were fighting and after 21 years did I make a huge mistake! I knew I had to get a reality check or I would fall apart even more. So I called the one person I knew who fought in a war, lost close friends and survived! I called my dad. He listened to me talk about my feelings, fears, and doubts than in his soft matter-of-fact way said, “There is nothing good about war, but someone has to fight, someone has to die, someone gets to come home, but no one really wins. You chose to be one of them, now do your job.” That was my dad’s way of telling me to stop whining and get my butt in gear. That was all I needed to get my act together and realize I had a job to do. I got through it, along with my crews and we all came home safe and sound.

This was one of the many memories that I had in my long and wonderful Air Force career.

From your entire service, including combat, describe the personal memories which have impacted you most?

The one memory that stood out throughout my career was when I reported in to my first duty station.

I arrived at Travis AFB feeling like I finally made it. I finally can do a job that meant something for my country. I will be treated equal and like an adult. I was dressed in my blues and ready to face the challenges. But the challenges I had to face that day totally took me by surprise. When I reported in at the orderly room, the Sergeant told me I needed to go to the WAF Squadron first.

I got to the WAF squadron and I was told I needed to go to CBPO first.

When I got to CBPO they told me to sit and wait until my name got called. Everyone seemed to be treating me like I was a bother to them all! I sat for two hours and waited. Finally an Airman called me in and took some information, then sent me to the Wing Administration office to get assigned a job.

Luckily the Wing building was across the street. When I reported to the Sergeant in the Admin office the Sergeant told me that he called around and no one wanted a WAF! He said there were two more offices he could try, but he wasn’t sure if they would take me either.

He took me to the first office and asked a Major if he wanted me. The Major took a long look and asked me my age. He commented that I looked like I was 12 years old! He then reached in his pocket, took out some money, and handed it to me. He patted me on the head, told me to go to the bowling alley and get an ice cream. He asked me to come back in an hour and they would figure out what to do with me. I left feeling like a reject.

It was true, no one wanted a WAF because all we do is find a guy, get married, and get out. They felt like they were wasting their time training us!

When I got to the bowling alley I called my mom. I asked her to come get me because no one wanted me. I explained what happened and I wanted to come home! My mom told me to get tough, go back to that office and tell that Major I was there to work and serve my country. I was not to leave until they gave me a job!

So I when back to the office, found the Major and said, “My mother told me to tell you to give me a job and I am not to leave until you do!” Everyone in that office busted out laughing and the Major said he thought he had the perfect job for me. He took me down to the training office and handed me over to them. He wished them luck and left. I wondered what he meant by that!

The Colonel took me into his office and told me he would give me a chance to prove myself. For the next three years, I had to prove myself over and over again, but I did!

Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or any other memorabilia, please describe those which are the most meaningful to you and why?

The one badge that stood out the most to me was my Marksman badge. I am an anti-gun person and always have been. When I got orders for Korea I had to qualify on the M16. At first I refused to take the training but was told I could not go to Korea without the training. I wanted the assignment, so I decided to take the training under protest!

When I got to the training I felt completely out of place. I knew the instructor could tell I knew nothing about guns. The first thing they asked us to do is to take the magazine out of the desk we were sitting at. I opened the desk and was looking for a Field and Stream magazine or something like that. I pulled out a big metal object and told the instructor there was no magazine in the desk, just some metal thing. He asked me why I was there at the training and if this was a joke! I told him I had to qualify on the gun to go to Korea. He quickly corrected me on the term “gun”; he told me it was a rifle! He also informed me that the metal thing I was holding is the magazine. He asked me if I was afraid of messing up my manicure! After that, it was downhill!

He continued to make jokes about me to the other students and gave me a hard time. By the time we got out to the firing range, I was angry and determined to prove him wrong about me. I fired expert the first time and the instructor did not think I did it. For some reason he thought someone else fired into my target. This was impossible to do, but he could not believe I could fire that well. He made me do it again with him standing by me. I fired expert again. After that he eased off me and changed his attitude. I left there feeling like I really accomplished something. Not that I fired expert, but I proved women, even petite ones, could do as well as men in one more area.

Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?

There are so many individuals that stood out and made a big impact on me. But there was only one that gave me the challenge to continue past my first enlistment, CMSgt Sizemore.

2017-05-14_15-55-44My career started at Travis AFB and 26 years later ended there! I will never forget CMSgt Sizemore at 22 AF. As an Airman, I worked in the Flight Training at the 60th MAW. One of my duties was to compile the Aircrew data from the squadrons and send it to the Chief every Friday. On one of those Fridays, I was having a very bad day and was not sure if I wanted to stay in the Air Force. I went over to the Chief’s office to give him the Aircrew Training Report and he noticed I was upset. He sat me down and said, “I am sure that one day you will be sitting in my chair, at this desk, doing my job..” I left his office knowing that I had to accomplish this goal that he set for me. And I did!!! My last assignment in the Air Force was with 15AF. The unit got reassigned to Travis AFB from March AFB. I was assigned to the Director of Training office and one of my duties was to collect Aircrew Training information on the units and build a briefing for the General. The same type of job CMSgt Sizemore had. When we arrived at Travis I went into my new office, which was the same office the Chief was in 23 years earlier. In fact, I think it was the same chair and desk he sat in!

Can you recount a particular incident from your service which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?

One incident that I often think about and it still makes me laugh happened during my first enlistment. My roommate and I entered our dorm room in the “Best Dorm Room” contest. My mother made red, white and blue bedding for our bunks, and curtains for our windows. We painted our walls red, white and blue and put little American Flags on our lockers. But we had our one big wall that we painted blue that looked empty. It needed something to dress it up. We couldn’t figure out what to do with it.

2017-05-14_15-57-12On Sunday we went to Mass on base, all of the sudden it came to us, we can “borrow” the big American Flag in the Chapel and hang it on our wall! We decided to pray and ask if it would be alright. We both decided since the idea came to us in church, it must be OK! Later that day we “borrowed” the flag.

On the day of the judging, we were so excited. We figured we had to win because of how patriotic our room was. We got 2nd place! Another room, that was painted and decorated in black and red, beat us! We were in shock!

We both got called into our WAF Commanders office the next day. We thought it was to get our award for our room. But that wasn’t why! The First Sergeant and the Base Chaplin were with the Commander in her office. When we saw all three of them, we knew what it was about. We were asked where we got the American Flag. I calmly replied that we “borrowed” it from the Chapel and that we asked God and He gave us permission.

What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?

2017-05-14_15-59-12My last year in the Air Force I had to decide what to do with the rest of my life. I decided I wanted to be a Correctional Officer or a teacher. I applied for both. I went through the hiring process for both and waited. My dad told me to take the first one that offered me a job. I knew he did not want me to be a Correctional Officer. That was the job I really wanted. The teaching job came through first, so I took it. I became an AFJROTC Instructor at Hemet High School in California. It was as if I never left the Air Force. I still wore my uniform, had to answer to an Officer and taught young people.

I taught at Hemet for 1 year, then transferred to Canyon Springs High School. I was there for 5 years. After 6 years of teaching in a High School setting, I decided I needed a change. I got my multiple subjects teaching credentials, and I changed to teaching Elementary students. I was hired to teach 2nd grade at Monterey Elementary in San Bernardino, California. I have been there ever since. I also taught 4th, 5th, and now I am teaching 6th grade there. I enjoy teaching and I’m glad I took my dad’s advice.

In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career?

My life had been influenced by the military long before I joined the Air Force. My father filled my head with all his stories about the Army Air Corps, and I dreamed of following in his footsteps. I decided at an early age I would prepare myself for the military. I read all I could find about the military services. I went to sleep dreaming about being in the military. Plus I went to a Catholic School, which is almost like being in the military!

After joining the Air Force I learned more about self-discipline, respect for life, ethics, and the importance of camaraderie. I try to live my life governed by these four acts. Without them, I would not have reached my goals to date. Without them, I would not be the person I am.

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Air Force?

The advice I would give to those that are still serving is to never lose focus on the MISSION. The MISSION is to protect and defend our country and all that it stands for. This is a huge responsibility for anyone to do, but only a chosen few can do it well. Be one of those few and stay focused. There is no greater honor than to serve your country by dedicating yourself to the MISSION.

In what ways has TogetherWeServed.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.

2017-05-14_16-00-57Togetherweserved.com has allowed me to find old “war buddies” that I thought I’d never hear from again. It has given me the opportunity to reconnect and share my life with dear friends that were a big part of my life in the military. This may not have happened if not for Togetherweserved.com.

26
Apr

MSgt John Ogden U.S. Air Force (Ret) (1953-1974)

ogieView the service reflections of

MSgt John Ogden

U.S. Air Force (Ret)

(1953-1974)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/114547

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE AIR FORCE?

I lived my entire life in the shadow of my older brother Joe who had served in both the AAF and Navy during WWII, which I avidly followed in my young years. I remember a popular chant of youths my age after the D Day invasion. It went ” Step on the starter, step on the gas, here comes Hitler sliding on his ass”. Followed by much gleeful laughter.

Brother Joe had just completed serving in his second war as a Marine in Korea. Because of this I had followed this conflict since it’s inception and remember reading of the invasion of North Korea into South Korea in early 1950, the fall of Seoul, the surprise US landing at In’chon in late 1950, the recapture of Seoul, the headlong battles up the peninsula to the Chosin Reservoir When the Peoples Volunteer Army of China entered the conflict at the close of 1950 and completely encircled the X Corps. However the X corps fought valiantly, was able to breakout and were successfully evacuated at Hungnam Harbor on Christmas Eve the very date that Supreme Commander, General McArthur felt he would be able to have the troops back home. Unfortunately the war dragged on for another two and a half years. After several see-saw battles over the the 38th Parallel an Armistice was arranged in July 1953, An actual Peace Treaty between The North Korea, China and the United States, or the United Nations, has ever been signed. Legally, I guess you could actually say we are at war in this region until an actual Peace Treaty between the warring nations is signed.

Although we had just missed all the action in Korea, my best buddy Tom Poston and I decided to enlist. His brother was In the Navy, with mine in the Marine Corps we couldn’t settle on either of our brothers services so we compromised and joined the young US Air Force which then gained two bright and handsome young men. While attending Basic Training at Lackland AFB, TX Tom was made Squad Leader and got to wear deuce strips, while I being scrawny and 5’1″, was made right guide, marched at the head of the flight and wore three stripes. Later I learned that this dubious honor was always given to the smallest man in the flight so the whole flight would have to guide on and match the stride of all to that of the right guide. At least the stripes kept us both out of pulling KP, barracks and latrine guard. Prior to graduating, we were promoted to A/3C I was sent to Keesler AFB, MS for Basic Electronics Training at Keesler AFB and Tom left to attend Aircraft Mechanics Training at Chanute AFB, where tragically he was killed an an automobile accident while on week-end pass.

I would say that I grew up wanting to be in the military and be trained in some useful skill. I completed both during my first two years of service. After working in the field for two more years, I decided I’d found my home and re-enlisted at Hurlburt Field, FL. I have since traced my ancestry back to 1640 and found that we have had family members that have served in every war from the Revolutionary War through the current wars in the middle east conflict. Perhaps military life is in our blood. I enjoy and am proud and honored to live among Veterans from WW11 through the present here at the Trinka Davi Veterans Village.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

1954: I was assigned to the 3392 Instructor Sqn at Keesler AFB, MS and attended the Technical Instructor Course to enable me to teach the AC&W Radar Apprentice Repairman Course I had just completed. I taught the smaller gap filler radar, range and height finding radars and Identification Friend orFoe (IFF) Mark 10 System.

1955: I was pulled for training into Course 32170F Bomb Systems Technician consisting of the APS-23 Search Radar and APA-44 Bombing and Navigation Computer. Upon completion I was re- assigned to the 3535 A&E Maintenance Sqn at Mather AFB, CA to maintain the Bomb/Nav Systems installed on T-29 Samaritans, configured to train Bomb/NAV Officer Students. Here I received the AOM Award and was subsequently promoted to A1C.

1956: I was re-assigned to a Tac Recon Sqd at Hurlburt Field, FL to maintain the Bomb/Nav Systems installed on the RB-66 Destroyers there. I was an unhappy camper as the maintenance shop was overstaffed and there wasn’t enough work to go around. When someone came around asking for volunteers, I was first in line and wound up being re-assigned to Shaw AFB, SC for cross training into the new TRC-24 Radio Relay Equipment Repairman AFSC 30450. I maintained a TRC-24 Radio System at the Radio Relay Site at Eastover, SC. I met and married my wife Margaret on Dec. 29, 1956.

1957: I was re-assigned to the 585 C&G Sqn at Bitburg, AFB, Germany. I was deployed to Libya where we set up Radio Relay sites from Wheelus AFB, Tripoli to the Radar Guidance site at Garian. where Matador TM-61A missiles were guided to the bomb rage. Upon return, I was promoted to SSgt. My daughter Rhonda was born on Dec. 17, 1957 and shortly thereafter, I was deployed to and assigned NCOIC of of a Radio Relay site at Delmenhorst, Germany in the British Sector, and set up the site on a British Army Base.. After training my team, they improved the site operation to the extent that they were awarded Radio Relay Site of the Year. On several occasions, a black sedan on the Eastern side of the of the border would stop, men in civvies would get out, watch us through binoculars, and take pictures of the site. We felt that they also zeroed in on individual team members. Upon reporting this to our British buddies we were told not to worry as they were probably APN agents and only doing their job.

1959: I was re-assigned to a SAC unit at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. I cross trained into AFSC 30552 VHF Mobile Radio Equipment Repairman, AFSC 30453 Ground to Air UHF Communication Equipment and 30454 Ground (Heavy) Radio Equipment Repairman. My team and I installed and maintained the SAC Commanders Net and I had the additional duty as NCOIC of the MARS Station. I was authorized to remove electronics equipment from any aircraft in the bone yard scheduled for demolition. I attended an ADT Bomb Storage Alarm System training program and upon completion set up a training program to train other repairmen. It was a busy year and I learned a lot about the entire Ground Radio Communications Equipment Career Field.

1960: I was re-assigned to the 1st RBS Sqn Det 1 ,UT. I supervised 1 repairman and help maintain 1 UHF Ground to Air Radio Set and 1 ground to Air back up. I was not a happy camper and let it be known by requesting re-assignment. Shortly thereafter, I was re-assigned to the 33 Comm Sqn at March AFB, CA. I was immediately a happy camper. Five of us were assigned to assist the Collins Radio Engineers in installing a vast array of High Power HF SSB Transmitters used in the SAC Short Order System which would maintain 24/7/365 Communications between SAC Hq, Looking Glass the Airborne Command Center and all the B52 Bombers en-route to all strategic points of the Soviet Bloc during th Cold War.

1962: I was assigned to NATO 6th ATAF Izmir, Turkey. Here, I worked as Ground HF Radio Repairmen. I made time to study hard and finally obtained my 3047X skill level and was qualified to work on or teach any equipment in the 4 AFSC’s Ground Radio Career field held a T30332 primary and a additional 32170F in BOM/NAV Systems which made a total of 6 AFSC’s I had acquired and a well rounded knowledge of the electronics career ladder. I was now ready to tackle the Liberal Arts Evening. Courses offered through the University of Maryland European Extension.

1965: I was assigned to the 3413 Instructor Sqn Keesler AFB, MS. I taught the Ground Radio Apprentice Repairman Course in Jones Hall and the Officers Basic Electronics Course at Gulf Park Annex. I attended the Instructor Supervisor Course, was promoted to TSgt and completed the Ground Radio Superintendent Course 30490.

1968: I was assigned to Eglin AFB, FL Air Research and Development Command and managed the daily Inventory and Status Reporting of all Mission Essential Equipment to Dept of the AF. I continued my off duty education at Okaloosa-Walton Community College.

monkey island1969: I was re-assigned to the 620 Tac Con Sqn at Son Tra, RVN. I was a refugee from Dong Ha which had been wiped out by a typhoon and was assigned to get the MARS station atop Monkey Mountain up and running again. I spent the entire year in this cushy assignment as Honcho and Chief bottle washer. During the year my team increased the traffic count ten fold. I provided supervision, engineering and operation assistance and training. My team manned the nets 24/7/365 and provided the labor, know how and initiative to build a new radio hooch complete with cooking and sleeping facilities. When Senator Goldwater visited us, He was very impressed with what the team had accomplished.

1970: I was re-assigned to the USAF GEEIA Unit at Keesler AFB and was promoted. I was a very happy camper and hoped to finish my career with this Unit.

1971: I was again assigned to the 3413 Instructor Sqn for an Instructional Systems Development Project. Previously I had a chance meeting in the BX with my former Chief when we were teaching the Officers Electronics Course at the Annex during my previous Instructor tour and this I suspect is how I got pulled back. I was promoted to MSgt and for the next two years and a half years I was the Instructional Systems Development Team monitor. We completed the project on schedule, implemented the new system and completed the validation testing 2 months before my retirement date. I was allowed transitional absence to work at the Litton Industries automated shipyard. I completed the subjects required for a BS of Technical Education at USM and received my sheepskin. I retired on 1 Jul 1974.

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

I saw no combat during my entire career. I enlisted during the Korean War and retired just prior to the end of the Vietnam War. I was boots on ground in Vietnam 1969-1970. I arrived in time to participate in the Summer Fall 9 June 1969 – 31 October 1969campaign. I was assigned duty as a shift leader and volunteered to be NCOIC,and maintain and operate radios during my off duty hours.

On several occasions I volunteered to accompany the Marine EOD team to downed Aircraft Sites and other sites that had been attacked by enemy forces to salvage electronics equipment that could be used for MARS and other operations. Needless to say I obtained very little sleep during this assignment.

The second campaign I was in occurred during Winter Spring 1 November 1969 – 30 April 1970. One day I was was installing radio antennas at the MARS station and watched several Providers spray all around Monkey Mountain and surrounding areas. My eyes, sinus,trachea, skin and esophagus were all burning before I realized that it was was no smoke screen those babies were laying down for the Marines out in the bush. I grabbed my ditty bag and hiked down the Monkey to our base camp at Son Tra. I took a long hot shower before I got all the grease out of my scalp and off my skin. Then I went over to the club and tossed down a few stiff ones to wash out the internal plumbing. I got to feeling pretty good but that didn’t stop the burning inside. By the grace of God I’ve survived this long and intend to keep kicking for at least 21 more years if I have anything to say about it. So far I have survived Prostate Cancer and I’m working on Diabetes I I with diet and exercise.

My third campaign was the Sanctuary Counter Offensive of 1 May 1970 – 30 Jun 1970. I from AI8AM Monkey Mountain and a buddy from AI8AD Da Nang attended a MARS conference at Ton Son Nhut Air Base. The evening before, we decided to look for entertainment in Saigon. After an evening on the town we decided it would be best to spend the rest of the evening in a hotel near the base. We arose early the next morning and headed for the base. We passed a ’59 Chevy with a man in the drivers seat wearing a floppy field hat. He looked like a Latino which shouldn’t have caused us any alarm except for the Chevy and the field hat. We continued down the street until we heard him open the door. He proceeded to the rear door and removed a weapon. Luckily we were at the end of a block wall which we both ducked behind as we heard the bolt drawn back Alpha Delta had drawn his four inch pocket knife and I had picked up a broken cinder block. At that time a large group of RVN Airman rounded the corner on motorbikes, the Latino ducked into an apartment building, alpha delta and alpha mike ran the remainder of the way to Ton Son Nhut.

My fourth and last campaign was Southwest Monsoon 1 July 1970 – 30 November 1970. It is called such because of the muggy, rain and drizzle that made land operations difficult.I was preparing and looking forward to returning to my family in the sates.

The photo below is one of two F-8 Crusaders that pranged into the Monkey. The Marine F-8 went in just outside the gate to the Radar Site. I could see it from the MARS station. The one shown below was on the other side of the Monkey.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

My assignments to Keesler, AFB MS. I served three tours there, I first arrived there in Dec. 1953 where I was to be trained into the Electronics Systems career ladder. I received as a Electronics Systems Helper, AC&W Equipment Apprentice, Technical Instructor, OJT and Bombing/Navigation Systems Technician. I became thoroughly acquainted with the Gulf Coast. I was converted, baptized and ordained an elder in the priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which has effected the direction my life has taken over the years. I made many friends while there and regretted leaving in Aug. 1955.

I was again assigned to Keesler in Apr 1965 with duty as instructor in the Ground Radio Maintenance Apprentice Course. I was promoted to TSGT. We built and lived in our first house and enjoyed the good fishing and seafood found along the Gulf Coast. I was selected to attend the 30490 Ground Radio Superintendent Course.

After returning from Vietnam in Sep. 1970 I was assigned to GEEIA and spent several happy months modifying or installing electronics systems at several installations. However I was transferred back to the 3413 Instructor Squadron and promoted to MSgt. For the remaining years of my career I supervised an Instructional Program writing team until my retirement on 1 Jul 1974

My least favorite was my assignment to Hurlburt Field because there was only one B-66 Destroyer for about 20 32150F Bombing/Navigation Maintenance Mechanics. Work was scarce. I volunteered for another assignment and left a few weeks later.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

The bond that formed between the MARS Men, MARS Volunteers and the Operators of the two radar sites and the Gatr site was outstanding. They were all intent on seeing that the MARS operation was manned 24/7. I am deeply indebted to Gene Dixon from the GATR site who helpedme maintain the radio equipment and antenna farm during his off duty time. It seemed that all those who were assigned to the Monkey were determined to do whatever was required of them and were willing to pitch in where ever needed.

The day Senator Barry Goldwater visited the MARS Men stands out above the rest. He was an avid MARS Man and if I’m not mistaken, he visited with most if not all of the MARS stations in Southeast Asia at one time or another. The day he visited us on the Monkey, you’d never have thought him to be a U.S. Senator, a presidential nominee or a Reserve USAF Major General. He was very congenial, chatted with all and swapped several war stories. He even took his turn at operating on one of the Nets. He had his own MARS station that was staffed by volunteers. A MARS station lucky enough to make contact with his station received phone patches for their clients at no charge. Barry footed the Bell charges from his station to wherever the patch was made.

To the Men of MARS who have never received medals or accolades for their service, I salute you. A lot of you worked 24/7/365 to provide back-up communications, obtained radio contact with AARS, ran phone patch traffic, relayed MARS Grams for the guys in the remote areas and trenches of Vietnam and maintained the equipment required to do so. I doubt if your story will ever be told. But that is neither here nor there. You also served proudly.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS OR QUALIFICATION BADGES FOR SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT OR VALOR, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.
I received no medals for valor. How ever I did receive the Air Force Commendation Medal. The citation that accompanied the award reads:

“Master Sergeant John R. Ogden distinguished himself by meritorious service as Instructor and Instructional Systems Development Monitor, Course 3ABR30434, Ground Radio Branch, Communications Systems Department, Headquarters, United States School of Applied Aerospace Sciences, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, from 15 July 1971 to 30 June 1974, During this period Sergeant Ogden demonstrated superior qualities of leadership,dedication, and technical knowledge which resulted in a significant improvement in our training program. His excellent executive ability, coupled with his management of resources, contributed immeasurably to our training mission. The distinctive accomplishments culminate a distinguished career in the service of his country, and reflect credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

The Vietnam Service Medal because it represents a brotherhood of warriors who put their lives on the line for their country, many fought bravely many died bravely and gave their lives willingly in the hope that the entire world will one day enjoy peace, justice, liberty and freedom.

Senator Barry Goldwater championed those who served in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.He made several fact finding tours over there and strongly opposed the rules of engagement set forth by LBJ and his cohorts. He felt that the toll in military lives was deplorable and fought for more drastic measures against the enemy. He was quoted as saying:

“If I had inherited the mess that Johnson got into, I would have said to North Vietnam, by dropping leaflets out of B-52s, ‘You quit the war in three days or the next time these babies come over, they’re going to drop some big bombs on you. And I’d make a swamp out of North Vietnam. I’d rather kill a hell of a lot of North Vietnamese than one American and we’ve lost enough of them,”.

He favored the use of Nuclear Artillery that was and is part of the U.S. Arsenal. This scared a lot of liberals and needless to say he was never elected president.

The photo seen here was taken during his visit to the Monkey Mountain MARS Station in December 1969. He was an avid MARS Man and ran many a phone patch for those serving in Vietnam and Southeast Asia and picked up the tab from his station to it’s final destination. The awe struck Tech Sergeant standing on his left is your own Ogie Doggie. The other three team members are on my left and the rest were volunteer operators. Jack Webb, my wingman, who replaced me as Honcho when my DEROS arrived is looking over my right shoulder.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
My second Instructor Supervisor 1965-66, Marvin Claytor GS-11 and former AF SSgt who took me under his wing, became my best friend, confidant and fishing buddy. However I fear I’ve lost him. I tried to call him after Katrina hit and got no answer. I’ve tried since and have been told that he no longer has that number.

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

My wife was still a victim of culture shock when we left Turkey. When ever we went out she was always rubber necking to make sure that no Turk had his eye on Rhonda, our six year old, platinum blond, blue eyed beautiful daughter who would have been a prized possession in any rich Turk’s harem irregardless of her tender youth. I have no idea what the Turks fed their horses that they hitched to the Phaetons that constantly roved every street of Izmir picking up passengers at Ecke Pachuk (25 lira or $.25 US) each head not including babes in arms. The horses didn’t drop road apples as those here do. They dropped cow dabs but much juicier. With all her rubber necking, Margaret would inevitably step right in the middle of one and start to slip.

Someone had to be there to catch her or she would have done the splits. She would release an epithet like you never heard come from a sweet lady’s mouth. She would immediately turn tail and make a bee line for the apartment post haste, grab a jug of Clorox, run water into the tub and soak her foot for an hour or two.before she would sally forth again. The worst of these occasions occurred one evening when we and the neighbors went to the movies. Archie pulled up next to the movie house and parked in the alley. Flo pulled the front seat forward so Margaret could exit. It was a ’63 Chevy SS and as with all coupes, it was hard to get out of the rear seat. She managed to get her foot out and when she began to put her weight down she let out the most chilling blood curdling scream I’d ever heard. I ran around the car to see what had happened.

She was up above her ankle in the most ancient watering hole in ancient Smyrna aka Izmir. Jonah had probably used this one when he came forth from the belly of the whale, Alexander the Great probably used it on a foray through Smyrna, after that came the Roman Legions. St. Paul probably used it as boy roaming the streets of Smyrna, after that came the crusaders. Once she begin to stir it up by removing her foot, you wouldn’t believe the stench that emanated from it. She pulled her foot out leaving her right shoe buried in the muck. When Margaret got her first whiff, she commenced to upchuck and continued till she got the dry heaves. Finally she sat down in the front seat, poked the putrefied foot out the window and muttered weakly, “Please take me home.” I think she meant back to the land of the big BX but I had to complete my tour. When we got her back to the apartment she went through her usual ritual only she used a whole jug of Clorox. Her right shoe is probably still buried in the muck of the ancient watering hole of Izmir.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?

In 1978 after teaching Electronics Courses in Higher Education for four years, I was employed as an Electro-Mechanical Process Engineer by the Cooper Group-Weller Plant in the Electrical/Electronics Manufacturing Industry for twelve more years. During this period, two books I read changed my life. The two books were written by Benjamin Graham and titled “The Intelligent Investor” and “Security Analysis”. I read, re-read then diligently studied them. In 1989 I said to myself, “I can do this.” So I quit working for the man and using our savings and retirement accounts, I started to work for myself and have done so until the present. Now I work when the need arises or the spirit moves.

I spent much of my time looking after my ailing wife before she passed on 28 Mar 2011, visiting on AFTWS and working with Grass Roots movements that are working to get the nation to return to the tenets established by our founding fathers.

At present I reside at the Trinka Davis Veterans Village in Carrolton GA where we receive outstanding care and treatment. I can’t say the same about the County Probate Courts though. I was declared a Ward of the State even though I scored in the 85th percentile on a competency examination, declared competent by four psychologists and two psychiatrists. Now my estate is controlled by a Conservator, Jerry A. Landers Jr., Attorney, Guardian ad Litem, Dawn R. Levine, Attorney and Kelli L. Wolk Probate Judge. Since 09/26/2013, $109,438.37 have been received into my estate. $81,894.17 were dispersed. As of 05/21/15 only $25,214.07 remained in my estate. Mr. Landers claimed disbursements were made to me in the amount of $9,182.81 during this period, I only received a total of $7,896,24. At present I am allowed $500/month of a monthly total income of $3,743/month. The powers that be dispose of the rest in any way they see fit. How many others who have been caught up in the Probate Courts of the nation have their estates wrested from them by the court officers who are supposed to be protecting them? New laws must be passed to protect those who are incapacitated or aged from being exploited at the hands of unscrupulous court officers of the Probate Courts. There are millions upon millions in Federal benefits available to those who are capable of manipulating the present laws.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
The Disabled American Veterans have always been there to run interference for me when I was processing disability claims through the VA bureaucracy. I would never have made it to first base without them. They also keep me well informed on programs and benefits available to disabled veterans.

The picture you see here reflects how I felt after a day of being hassled at a VA Hospital. All I wanted to do is sit down with my feet up and stare off blankly into space. The DAV helps me survive this. The little blond haired, blue eyed darling is the reason my better half and I, Margaret were so over protective of her during our stay in Turkey. Siamese Sam helped watch over Rhonda too. He was every bit as over protective as Margaret and me.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

I was a kid who skated through school with a B+ average and never cracked a book other than those pertaining to social studies or history as they were subjects I loved. It was this immature kid who enlisted and wanted to jump right into the middle of the KoreanWar and single-handedly win it. But my Guidance Counselor was very wise and turned turned down every item on my wish list. I finally gave up and stated that I might like working on rockets, and he informed me that it was a very hard field to get into. He shook his head and told me that I would have to go though several courses of electronics training first. I was tired of batting out on everything I suggested so I reluctantly said ” Sign me up”. Without realizing it, I had just learned the rules of how to get along in life.

1) Look before you leap.
2) Thoroughly discuss all the ramifications with someone in the know.
3) Always take the path that offers the best opportunities .

I have since followed these these rules and they have served me well in life.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE AIR FORCE?

If you don’t have a better half, look the field over and choose wisely. If the Air Force is not for you, wait until you have you have completed at least 4 years of college before you tie the knot. Always agree with your better half. Always watch your six. Never leave a buddy behind. Follow the three rules for getting along in life. Take advantage of every available opportunity. Do what’s right. Always give God the glory for your accomplishments.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

It has served as a gathering place, town hall, education center and forum, chat room and family reunion. I have been able to contact veterans of all the branches of our Armed Services and learn what their views are on national and world events. I now have contact a vastnew family that I was unaware of less than a year ago.

I am a lifetime member and have seldom missed a daily visit except when I was on the road or had no access to a computer. It enhances my esprit d’ corps. It has provide me with the means of joining with brothers on the the other branches of TWS and I have enlisted their help in seeking information about my Brother Joe’s experiences in the three other branches of service prior to getting smart enough to join me in USAF, from which we both finally retired. He started in the Army Air Force and strayed to the Navy and the Marine Corps. He’s the only one I know who has served in four of the five branches. I enjoy the camaraderie that I had when I was on active duty.

I love discussing topics of interest on the Forums and swapping e-mails with my Wingmen. I’ve made more friends than I’ve ever made in private life. Most of the ones I made there were the ones who like all here have been there and done that. I will love swapping photos of my family with those aboard who engage in such activities. Before starting this project, I had never edited a photo. I have to give myself an” A” for effort.

22
Mar

SSgt Walter Madden U.S. Air Force (1958-1966)

profile1Read the service reflections of

SSgt Walter Madden

U.S. Air Force

(1958-1966)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/164873

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE AIR FORCE?

The decision was made while I was still in high school. During my junior year, the Air Force invited our Scout Troop to Dover Air Force Base (AFB), Md. We were taken on a tour of the base and fed in the mess hall. But the biggest thrill of the entire trip was when they flew us around in a C-130, allowing each of us on the flight deck where we could ask questions. When we landed, I was hooked! I wanted to fly! I set my mind on getting good grades, going to college during my junior and senior years of high school, all to qualify for pilot/navigator training.

Most of my senior class had plans of going to college, but I couldn’t afford to go. So certain of my plan, in the middle of my senior year, I went to Philadelphia’s All Services Induction and Physical Center and signed up for the Air Force program of induction right after high school graduation. I even took the tests and physical so I could go straight to training.

That is when the first setback occurred. The doctor noted that I had asked for pilot/navigator training and said that I had failed the physical. My two right shoulder operations (one while an infant, the other at three years old from a car accident) had left me with an inability to turn my head to the right far enough to look over my right shoulder, a necessary requirement for flight training. I still wanted to fly, so I went ahead with my enlistment. I graduated high school on June 10, 1958 and within two days, I was in Lackland AFB, Tx. to start Basic Military Training.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

During my little over eight years in the Air Force, I had many jobs, some better than others. Of course, my training began with basic training. As we rolled off the bus for our first day on the base, I found that the Training Instructor (TI) was yelling at everyone but me. This was because of my years in the Boy Scouts, I knew what was meant by hurry, fall in line and stand at attention, stop looking around and so forth. I also already knew most of the marching and parade commands since I had instructed other scouts in these same things.

The TI asked the group, “Any of you had any college?” There were only two of us who had, one tall young man who looked older than the rest of us and myself. He made us the Flight Leader and Assistant Flight Leader, respectively.

Most of the young men in my training flight were Southern farm boys who struggled with learning the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the chain of command. I’d been ordered to teach those in my bay in the barracks. However, they had very little trouble with the physical and marching part of the training except with the sweltering heat, which bothered all of us. It was so hot on the day we were at the rifle range, the TI’s took each of us off of the range as soon as we’d qualified. Only the those going into the Air Police (AP) were required to remain for Marksman, Sharpshooter, and pistol qualifications.

We were given a battery of tests at the Philadelphia Induction Center. I did well with the electronics test with a score of 80. I figured if even if I couldn’t go to flight training, I would qualify for a flying job in Electronics. But I was wrong again. I was told that Electronics was not what the Air Force needed. I was also given the Radio Operator Code Test but I purposely did poorly so I would not be forced into a job listening to code all day long. Eventually, I was assigned to “General” which gave me a choice of Air Police, cook, or medical. Since I was always good at first aid in Boy Scouts, I took medical.

After Basic Military Training I was sent to Basic Medical School (on the ‘other side’) of Lackland. The 8-week course was exceptional and I learned a lot. I had made a good career choice. After graduation and a week on casual status, I was assigned to the Air Force Headquarters Hospital at Andrews AFB, Md.

My first assignment was as a Psychiatric Technician with Medical Air Evacuation Unit. I was given the responsibility for moving patients from incoming aircraft to the hospital or from the hospital to outgoing aircraft. Apparently the reason I was assigned to this unit was to be available to help with any incoming or outgoing patient showing signs of psychiatric issues.

My shift was 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off. On my days off, I mostly spent taking classes at the University of Maryland. I used the time between flights coming and going to study my college course home work. The great thing about the job, however, was I got to fly some of the patients to their new hospital or from their old hospital back to Andrews. Shortly after I got married and about eight months into this assignment, I was transferred to the Hospital Psychiatric Ward, where I found I enjoyed working with the patients.

While I enjoyed my work, I came to realize promotion possibilities were slow in the medical field. That’s when I started looking around for a career field that had higher visibility for promotion. I discovered the Air Force was looking for Manpower Engineering people so before reenlisting for my second tour, I switched to the Manpower Management Technician career field.

I was sent to Rock Island, Ill for Engineering School and soon got overseas orders for either Lakenheath AFB , United Kingdom or Bitburg AFB, Germany. I took Germany. The three year tour requirement for a married airman forced me to extend my current enlistment beyond eight years.

My assignment at the 36th Air Base Wing was that of an instructor for the 50 hour Air Force Leadership Course. The students in my class were senior NCOs and officers through the rank of Lt. Col. What amazes me about the whole experience is, I was only a Senior Airman (E-4) and yet all those high ranking students respected me because they knew I knew what I was doing. Later I was transferred to manpower management at the 7101st Air Base Wing for the United States Air Force Europe out of Wiesbaden, Germany. I also made Staff Sgt.

I was still in Germany when it became apparent I needed to leave the Air Force. My wife at the time hated the Air Force and hated Germany even more. Also, I was having severe problems with one of the officers I worked for in the Manpower Detachment. So with eight years, one month, and seventeen days, I came back to McGuire AFB to be discharged, which was maybe the biggest mistake I have ever made.

After my discharge, a friend of my wife, offered me a stripe in the Army Reserves. But when my wife found out that I was considering joining the Army Reserves she threw a real fit! Looking back, however, the marriage only lasted 5 more years and then I met the love of my life and at this writing my second marriage has lasted 40 years. I do not think if I had remained in the AF I would have met my wife. God works in mysterious way–and always for what best.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

The three years I was stationed at Bitburg were by far the best of my career. The winters were mighty cold there, however. Teaching the Air Force Leadership course gave me the confidence that carried throughout my entire career and the rest of my life. Even some of the best working conditions I had at my civilian jobs do not compare to this experience. The people I met there were the best (and the worst) of any place I was stationed. They all taught me how to deal with and react around people so that you get the best outcome.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

The first outstanding memory was when I was on Andrews AFB, Md. I was befriended by the commanding officer of the Marine Corps Detachment on the base. He invited me to ride along on a post-maintenance test flight. The flight took us over Eastern Maryland and before he turned back, he had the co-pilot come get me and had me sit in the co-pilot’s seat. He instructed me to turn the plane around (same plane as an AF C-124) and gave me all the altitude and headings needed to get us back. I flew it with only the altimeter and compass headings and never looked out the window. After some time he firmly said, “I got it!” I released the wheel and pulled my feet off of the peddles. I looked up and out the front windshield and we were several hundred feet off the end of the runway in perfect alignment to land. What happened next was enough to give you a required underwear change.

A few seconds after the Marine Major took control, we hit a crosswind and were headed down between the runway and the taxi way. The major corrected and put the plane down right on the runway. After we landed the major said that the only trouble I exhibited during the flight was that I did not keep the nose down. He kept rolling the nose wheel down during the entire time I was at the controls, but I was flying the plane. What a great experience!

While hardly a fond memory, I must mention what happen at Bitburg, Germany. My wife and I had been there about two and a half months and had just gotten settled into our in-town apartment. While moving stuff in, an airman from down the street came to our home. He asked if I had heard that President Kennedy had been shot. I was totally shocked and somewhat in the dark. We went back to his home and listened to the radio for a few minutes and then realized that we had better get into uniform and get back to base. We were on alert with the base on lock down for over three weeks. What a time, with little news, and no one really knowing what was going on back in the U.S.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award given to Andrews AFB Hospital in 1961. I was proud to be a part of that group. I also thought it was neat that the my first Good Conduct Medal was an Army Medal; I later received the Air Force version.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

Anyone in the military for any length of time are impacted by others. But the first one I can recall is Tech Sgt. Clayton Riegel at Andrews AFB Hospital. He taught me the skills necessary to be a good Corpsman and how to care for the people with whom we were charged. They were all hurting, although not by something you could see externally, but mentally.

The second was Airman Alvin (I do not remember his last name) who ended up in our Psychiatric Ward after he had been thrown off of a high voltage utility pole after his Sgt had told him the power was off. He was in a near vegetative state when he arrived. Doctors and nurses told him he would never walk or talk again. Everyone working in the ward thought differently. Day and night, we all took turns caring and feeding him. Most of us being about this Airman’s age, we interacted with him to encourage him to do more and more. Long story short and against all odds and many long months, Airman Alvin walked out of the hospital talking to his parents. I have never seen the courage and determination that Airman Alvin displayed by anyone before or since.

Finally, there was Master Sgt. Jim Bratton. A practical man, he made sure the first things I did arriving overseas was to get my family there and settled. He rightly figured I would learn my new job more completely and quickly if I knew my family was settled. He helped me to understand what was important for both the Air Force and my personal life.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?

I had rich and varied career after leaving the Air Force, beginning as an management engineer for United Parcel Service (until the Teamsters Union went out on strike and closed down Eastern Pennsylvania).

Other jobs I held was an engineer for ACME Markets (American Stores) and in retail as an Operations Manager for J. C. Penney Company where I was in charge of all the credit, accounting, receiving, cashiers and both internal and external security. This was a lot of responsibility for a young man of 27 years of age. It is doubtful that without the experience the Air Force had given me, the success I enjoyed would not have been mine.

I returned to engineering at The Hartford Insurance Group in both the Claim Department and as a project manager in the Operations Department. I was responsible for seven to fourteen projects at the same time, making sure the design, testing, and installation at each regional office in the system. My Air Force engineering training and the experience of handling a class room full of people who all out ranked me was what had given me what I needed to succeed.

Over the years there were many times I would be called into a corporate officer’s office to explain where a project was or what had gone wrong to cause the project to be delayed. These officers were pussy cats compared to the officers I had to deal with in the Air Force. This lasted over 22 years. It is also where I met the woman I have been married to for over 40 years. She and I both worked for The Hartford and both retired early at age 50 and 52 respectively.

In all of these positions the impact of my service training and my experience of interacting with people (both good and bad) has taught me some very great lessons. The most significant of which was how to handle people with whom you do not agree. It helped me work toward the position of disagreeing without being disagreeable or coming to a mutual position of “agreeing to disagree.”

After retiring from the civilian working world, I have since become a real estate broker, real estate instructor, and Real Estate School administrator after having held a real estate license in three states with lots of experience in real estate investments.

But my military training was not only helpful in my work world, it also helped me succeed as ‘Guardian ad Litem’ (GAL) for the children caught up in the Florida family court system. We represent one or more children before the family court, making sure the court makes the right decision is in the best interest of the child while the system works with parents to overcome their substance abuse or child abuse issues. This has been some of the most rewarding work I have done since I have left the service!

Much of what the military taught me in organizing and sticking with the details has helped me handle as many as seven cases at a time and still keep on top of all the issues the children are having.

Though most of the Guardian ad Litem (GALs) are woman the need for some men in the program is constant. Many times you are dealing with unruly fathers who try to bully the woman GALs, so men work out better those cases. The program phrase is It take a special man to be a GAL. I also like to remember that a man never stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

As a young man straight out of high school the Air Force not only set me on the right path but gave me the training and the discipline to be successful. In the military I learned how to respect other people and how to act to be respected, especially in the medical career field where compassion and caring are critical for our patients at what may well be the most difficult time in their lives. Also, the engineer training I received showed up in every work situation I’ve been in as a civilian.

What I learned in the service about dealing with difficult people and problem situation has served me very well in my civilian careers. The foundation of military training such as attention to detail, doing things the right way the first time, and being satisfied when you know you have done your very best has been the guiding principle throughout my work and family life.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE AIR FORCE?

Try to find the part of the job you enjoy and capitalize on that area. Do not be afraid to change career fields if you find something more interesting and enjoyable. Strive to be the best in your duties, your job, and your career field. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. If you really enjoy a career in the military, find ways to overcome any distraction or interference with that desire. My biggest mistake in life was not staying in the Air Force.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

I have not been a member very long, which is not surprising then that I have not yet found anyone I served with through the site. Still, I know if I keep looking and use the many search capabilities of TWS, I will find old friends. I have however made friends of other service members of Together We Served and enjoy the interaction with them. Reading other members reflections, especially those with totally different experience in both war and peace, had made me appreciate their service and the things that they have been through.

7
Dec

CMSgt Gary Hull U.S. Air Force (Ret) (1967-2008)

Read the service reflections of US Air Force Veteran:

profileCMSgt Gary Hull

U.S. Air Force (Ret)

(1967-2008)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/bio/Gary.Hull

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE AIR FORCE?

hull3I was a college freshman at a time in my life when I was not mature enough to be a college student. My decision to enlist was spurned on when I was jilted by my first love during our second semester freshman year. She told me she was not ready to settle down with just one guy and wanted to date other guys. My heart was broken and I finished my freshman year with a GPA that would not have kept me out of the Vietnam draft. I knew one way or the other I’d be in basic training by the fall and decided to enlist thinking if I did not return to college after active duty, I might be able to learn a trade that I could carry into my civilian life. I wanted and was selected for electronics communications training. I chose the Air Force because I did not like the Navy uniforms.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

I served 3 years, 9 months, 27 days active duty as a Ground Navigational Aids Electronics Equipment repairman (304×1). I elected to get out to return to college but soon missed the camaraderie I had experienced in the USAF. In an attempt to recover it, I enlisted into the MN ANG and pretty much stayed in for more than 38 years. I was forced to retire in July 2008 when I turned 60 years of age but would have stayed in and would probably still be in today.

During my career I have served in many diverse assignments including: Maintenance Technician as a Ground Navigational Aids Flight Facilities Electronics Repairman; Ground Electronics Engineering Installation Agency (GEEIA) Navigational Aids Team Chief while serving in Southeast Asia (Thailand), Key punch and Computer Operator, Social Actions Counselor and office Manager, Quality Assurance Technician, Wideband and Satellite Communications Supervisor, and Information Operations Analyst and Communications Superintendent. My military service included duty in direct support of the Vietnam War, the Global War on Terrorism, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

Many of the missions I was assigned to supported combat operations, but I never once felt my life was in danger. The closest I came to actually being involved in combat was when I served in Thailand from July 1969 to July 1970. One of the US Air bases within
Thailand I was TDY to was attacked twice by the NVA. Being with GEEIA, I was staying off base in hotels and I never was present when shots rang out. I was later escorted back to base under SP protection so the unit I was TDY to could account for my presence.

The first time this happened and I reported to the Communications Squadron at Ubon RTAFB, I was handed an M-16 with an empty clip and ordered to guard the squadron perimeter. I was astonished and asked if I saw anyone suspicious was I supposed to hit them over the head with the empty weapon. The Commander told me the shooting action was over but I had to do something since I was called in. Instead I volunteered to report to the TACAN facility to begin my day of work to which the Commander agreed since it was probably a better use of my time.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

I regard the year I spent in Thailand as the best year of my life. I was young, impressionable and not at all worldly. Enlisting in the USAF changed all of that for me! Being on active duty was an exciting period of my life and it was punctuated bythe year I spent in Thailand. 1969-1970 represented my coming-of-age year. In that one short and very fast year, I experienced what many guys my age took years to experience. I have nothing but fond memories of serving in Thailand! I went over there as a boy and came home as a man simply because after several months in country during which I continued to save myself for my college girlfriend, I could no longer resist the temptations of young girls who just wanted to sleep with a blonde haired, blue eyed man and offered themselves to me for free.

Saving myself for my college girlfriend went out the window to Alice (she told me I could not pronounce her Thai name and suggested I just call her Alice). We stayed together for a short week while I was sent to Udorn, Thailand, for an emergency fix of a critical communications site. I returned a couple of months later for another job and when I saw her, she was beaming when she announced she was pregnant”. I asked her if she knew who the father was and she just smiled saying yes, but did not offer the father’s name and I was afraid to ask. What she did say however scared the daylights out of me, “I know my son will be as suimoch (beautiful) as you”. Believe it or not, I saw her at the BX during my last year in the USAF while stationed at Kelly AFB, in San Antonio. She had married another GI and moved to the states with him. Her son had blonde hair and blue eyes. She saw me and smiled back, winking. I was newly married to my first wife who caught Alice’s wink and asked if I knew her. I had already told her about Alice and our history and simply answered her, “that was Alice, from Thailand”. Her response was, “Oh, I didn’t think she would be that pretty”.

During my one-year tour, I learned a lot about life from the Thai people I became friends with. They were always laughing and finding something good in their lives. I grew up relatively poor but I knew after being there for only a short time, I had more tangible wealth then did the average Thai. Still they were happy and their positive outlook on life was infectious. I made many friends during that year and will never forget what they all taught me about life in general and growing up to become a man.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the sense of accomplishment and pride bestowed me by the USAF while serving in Thailand. I was a first term Airman who because of my apparent good reputation for fixing communication sites, was made a Team Chief and Supervisor. Iwas the first and as far as I know the only first term Airman to be made a Team Chief. I supervised career Air Force troops who outranked me by 2 and 3 stripes. The amount of responsibility was tremendous and I was in charge of millions of dollars of equipment at the age of 21-22. I know the work I did saved the lives of many pilots and I took great pride in always doing my best job. I was also volunteered for a mission that included humping into Laos.

I was “escorted” by an Army Green Beret Lt and 20 Thai Special Forces whose job it was to protect me. We saw no combat but it was quite scary. I could not stop wondering if attacked, would the Thai army troops run or fight. I did not carry a weapon either. The Green Beret Lt told me I was USAF and did not need one because I probably did not know how to use one anyway! I fixed the site and we humped back, all quite an uneventful but long day. Air America, a CIA owned/run US organization with HDQTRS in Udorn, Thailand tried to recruit me in April of 1970. They told me I was what they were looking for and they guaranteed me an Honorable Discharge after only serving 3 years of my 4 year enlistment and $22,000 tax free/year to continue doing what I had done for the USAF. I turned them down because I wanted to go home to see my college girlfriend.

I was TDY to Udorn RTAFB when a damaged F-4 crashed into the Armed Forces Radio Station building killing 9 personnel. The site I was working on was on the other side of the runway and I exited the shelter to see the fire. The SSgt with me and I jumped into our jeep and headed over to help. When we got to the sight, I was handed a rake and told to look for evidence. Within minutes I found a boot with a foot still in it. Although I was at Ubon RTAFB twice when NVA sappers attacked it, this incident drove home to me how fragile life is during war. Had the F-4 dipped left rather than right, it would more than likely have crashed into the site I was working in. I will never forget that day for as long as I live.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER?

I am most proud of my last 10 years service while with the DC ANG. In 1998 I was transferred from Combat Communications to a Joint Services Mission named the Joint Web Risk Assessment Cell (JWRAC). Our mission was to identify information contained on military web sites that singularly orin aggregate could divulge mission capabilities to the enemy. I was awarded the Meritorious Service medal twice for what was described as; “positively impacting DOD’s operational security posture by providing Open Source Assessment reports that directly reduced the Department of Defense OPSEC exposure. He initiated, researched and developed customized reports that identified Information Assurance and Operational Security vulnerabilities for the National Command Authority, Combatant Commands, the National Guard Bureau and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. During this period Chief Hull’s outstanding professionalism and exemplary technical skills significantly enhanced national security by creating a more secure operational environment for the entire DOD. Immediately following September 11, 2001, Chief Hull provided daily web OPSEC briefings to the Commander of the Global Network Operations Security Center at the Defense Information Systems Agency on major and critical web OPSEC discrepancies. CMS Hull provided continuous support to OPERATIONS Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom without regard to duty status. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Chief Hull reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force”.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

My first Meritorious Service Medal is the one I am most proud of. It was awarded for exemplary service to the District of Columbia Air National Guard, the National Guard Bureau, the Defense Information Systems Agency, the National Command Authority and Combatant Commands throughout the United States and its territories
from 1 September 2001 to 30 October 2004. The award states “CMSgt Hull’s exceptional technical competence and analytical insight conceptualized the Department of Defense abstract Operational Security battle space and developed comprehensive Information Assurance products in support of national security. His initiative and personal drive elevated the Joint Web Risk Assessment Cell level of support to the Department of Defense beyond expectations. CMSgt Hull’s combined knowledge of Information Security and military objectives in support of the warfighter focused the JWRAC to report on mission, force protection, infrastructure protection both physical, communications and weapons of mass destruction, and logistics.

Immediately upon the events of September 11, 2001, CMSgt Hull transitioned to a wartime operations tempo in support of both OPERATIONS Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom without regard to his duty status. Chief Master Sergeant Hull has lead the JWRAC into a new analytical direction by providing unprecedented information security awareness in support of the heighten OPSEC posture of the Department of Defense. His knowledge of web site security has allowed him significant contributions to improving the DoD Internet OPSEC posture by incorporating aggressive risk analysis methodology which identify known vulnerabilities that if exploited, could pose a risk to national security.” I am quite proud of having been recognized in this way.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

TSgt Robert Coleman, my first Nav Aids NCOIC while stationed at McChord AFB, 1905 Communications Squadron probably influenced me the most. We called him CC because his favorite adult beverage included Canadian Club. CC also enjoyed mentoring young troops like me and he gave me the confidence to succeed as a newly graduated nav aids repairman. CC impressed upon me that the most critical period for becoming a good electronics maintenance technician are the experiences and OJT following graduation from tech school. In my case, CC gave me the responsibility with every opportunity to succeed. Under his direction and confidence in me, I believe I grew into a pretty good technician which later influenced my career path when I arrived in Thailand.

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

During the Christmas and New Year holiday of 1968-1969 at McChord AFB, our NavAids shop decided to split the on-call responsibility. We had 4 maintenance men in our duty section and we decided two of us would share all of the on-call responsibility during one week while the other team had the entire week off and then during the second week, which was New Year’s week, the other team would have maintenance responsibility while the first team had that week off. I was on the team that worked Christmas week with New Years week off. I decided to submit leave papers for my week off so I could go home to visit my family and friends and CC told me he’d approve it.

When my week came I reported to the orderly room to sign out and CC told me it wasn’t necessary to “burn” leave time to go home since the week off was already approved so I did not sign out. I did enjoy my week off at home but when I returned to McChord, I was told I had been AWOL because I did not sign out and would be given an article 15. Both CC and our Communications Officer, a Captain, went to bat for me and the incident went away. I was terrified when first told I was recorded as AWOL and would have to pay the consequences. As I think back I now can laugh at the entire event which probably would never have occurred had I not filed leave papers, but at the time, I could only see Leavenworth in my future.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?

I used my military electronics experience to get into computers and today I am an IT Security person with 37 years experience and the President and CTO of Insure IT Security. I provide client consulting services using industry best IT security practices in the areas of architecture, strategic systems design, network assessments for security and policy compliance, penetration and vulnerability testing, and disaster recovery planning for several agencies of the United States Government to include NASIRC, ASSIST, AFCERT, DoD, NSA, DOE, SSA, US Dept of Education and the AFOSI as well as for large and small businesses in the private sector. I have also authored several security software tools and security bulletins published by CERT and NASIRC and several articles focusing on both Computer Security and Mass Storage research for NASA. I am a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Superior having earned a B.S. degree in Liberal Arts and an M.S. in Psychology. I still work full time for the FDIC and in my spare time I pursue my hobby as a fly fishermen.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

Air Force Sergeants Association and Air Force Memorial.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

I enlisted in the United States Air Force in June of 1967. I did so not out of a great sense of patriotism but because after my freshmen year in college I had to. I discovered a social life to include girls and my grades were not what Uncle Sam
and the Army expected in order to keep me out of the draft. It was the Vietnam era and I knew if I waited until the Army called me, I’d be a grunt humping the boonies in Vietnam. So I enlisted in the Air Force thinking if I didn’t return to college, at least I may learn a trade at the expense of the US taxpayers. I wasn’t afraid of going to “war” at least I didn’t think I was. I just felt the war experience would not provide me with the life skills I would need to become a productive and successful citizen when I returned. I never once thought if I ended up in Vietnam that I would not return home either.

Many of my friends either enlisted to go to war, or were drafted and forced to war. Some came back to start their lives over, others came back and never had the “coping” skills to start over and still others never did return having given their lives in Vietnam. I felt if I went to war, I’d come home and fall into the first group of returnees. When I enlisted I had no grandiose visions of making the military my career. Instead, I rationalized it as something I had to do in order to acquire skills that would allow me to move through life and become a productive member of society. The USAF grew me up, taught me confidence and most importantly, showed me how to be the man I was capable of becoming. My successes in my chosen civilian career were in great part directly related to what the military taught me as an individual and a team player.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE AIR FORCE?

I am honored to have served our nation as a 38.5 year member of the USAF/ANG and would do it all over again. The greatness of a nation is punctuated by the sacrifices of those who serve to protect and guarantee our freedoms. I have no advice but rather a thank you for those still serving as well as for those who have served.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

Everyone of us have sacrificed something to continue our service and even now, TWS members will not let each other down. There is a camaraderie amongst those who have served that continues on TWS.

14
Nov

Profile in Courage: Col James Kasler

James Helms Kasler was born on May 2, 1926 in South Bend, Indiana and following 30-years of distinguished military service, retired as a U.S. Air Force Colonel. Three times he went off to war and three times returned home. During his career, he is the only person to be awarded three Air Force Crosses. He also was awarded two Silver Stars, Legion of Merit, nine Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Purple Hearts, eleven Air Medals and Bronze Star with V for valor. Setting aside recipients of the Medal of Honor, he is the 10th most decorated serviceman in U.S. history. For some, he is known as Indiana’s Sgt. Alvin York, the famous hero of World War I.

Shortly after graduating from Shortridge High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in May 1944. He spent his two-year enlistment flying combat missions over Japan as a B-29 Superfortress tail gunner.

Following the war, Kasler attended Butler University in Indianapolis for three years before entering the U.S. Air Force pilot training program in January 1950 and received his wings on March 24, 1951 at Williams AFB, Arizona. Following a brief assignment to Presque Isle, Maine, in November 1951 he was sent to Korea and assigned to the 335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group.

Flying the F-86 Sabrejet, Kasler was credited with his first aerial victory on April 1, 1952, downing one MiG-15 near Wongsong-dong and damaging a second east of Sinuiju. He shot down another MiG near Okkang-dong on April 21. Action picked up in May, and he was credited with four more MiG-15s – one on the 4th, two on the 15th. It was on April 25 when he got his 6th in MiG Alley.

He and his wingman, 1st Lt. Albert Smiley, caught several MiGs just as they were returning to their Communist air base. Kasler got behind the lead MiG, chasing it for about 50 miles on the deck, refusing flight commander Phil “Casey” Colman’s request to call it a day. On the MiGs tail, Kasler opened up, and his gunfire tore it apart. Its canopy gone, its pilot engulfed in fire, the MiG arched down in a flaming trail before it splattered in the mud flats just below. Kasler pulled back on the stick mightily, to avoid sharing his victim’s fate. He cleared and called triumphantly to Colman, “Casey, I’m an ace.”

MiGs were routinely piloted by Chinese and Soviet pilots and a U.S. intelligence officer later informed Kasler that the three MiGs he and Smiley killed were the only ones recorded that day.

The officer had another bit of information: One of those three planes had been piloted by the son of Mao Zedong, father of the Chinese revolution and principal founder of the People’s Republic of China.

Kasler returned to the United States in July 1952 and during the next 11 years served in Canada, Turner AFB, Georgia, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, and Breitburg Air Base, Germany, flying a variety of jet fighters. In 1963 he received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska.

In February 1966 he went to Tahkli Air Base, Thailand as the operations officer for the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 355th Wing. While mission were flying daily over both South and North Vietnam, Hanoi was at that time off-limits to U.S. warplanes. Fearing a wider conflict, Robert McNamara, secretary of defense during the Kennedy and Johnson presidential administrations, drew a 50-mile circle around it and a 30-mile ring around the principal harbor.

That restriction was eliminated in June 1966 as American defense chiefs were slowly escalating the war, and had recently decided to broaden the bombing of North Vietnam to include industrial targets like the Hanoi POL (petroleum, oil, & lubricant) facility.

On June 21, Kasler learned of the impending strike and began to select pilots, draw up the precise navigation plans, and studying Hanoi’s formidable aerial defenses. North Vietnam had the strongest anti-aircraft defenses in history: over 7,000 AA guns of 37mm or larger, and batteries of radar-controlled SAM’s ringing Hanoi.

By midnight on the 28th, their plans were complete, down to detailed route charts, folded accordion-style. Minutes before the 0830 mission briefing, Kasler was invited to lead the mission, much to his surprise, and to the discomfort of Col. Holt, who otherwise would have led the large raid. The briefing focused on weather (clear) and winds (light and variable) – both perfect for fighter operations. Both wings, the 355th and the 388th, would approach the target from the south, to minimize the chances of a bomb ending up in the city of Hanoi. Each Republic F-105 Thunderchief carried eight 750-pound bombs.

Kasler rolled down the runway and lifted off at 235 knots. Airborne, he headed north for the rendezvous with the aerial tankers. They refueled uneventfully and were three minutes ahead of schedule. Kasler led the Thuds in a circle to kill the 180 seconds. Twenty minutes later, they were over the Red River and Kasler began to lose altitude, until they were 300 feet off the ground, at the base of “Thud Ridge,” the landmark mountain range that ran east-west across North Vietnam’s mid-section.

As they dropped tanks, they could see smoke rising up from the POL tanks, already hit by Navy jets. Flak blossomed all around them, even at 300 feet. The NVA gunners must have had their 85mm and 100mm pieces at zero elevation. Amidst the smoke from the target and puffs of anti-aircraft fire, Kasler called for afterburners and went into his bomb run. Big fat oil tanks filled his view; he dropped his bombs and rolled away to the right. Turning back, he saw the fuel tanks erupting into huge billowing fireballs, thousands of feet high.

His flight crossed the Red River and the flak gunners switched to fighter-bombers behind him. Flying west, looking for targets of opportunity, he found a convoy of twenty-five trucks. The Thuds blasted them with 20mm cannon fire, destroying at least half of them. He glanced back at Hanoi, now 35 miles behind. A pillar of black smoke towered up, over six miles high.

The Hanoi POL strike was very successful. Over 90 percent of the facility was destroyed and the Vietnamese abandoned it altogether.

On August 8, 1966, on his 91st combat mission, he was leading the formation when his wingman, Fred Flom was shot down. Kasler dropped down and flew low-level cover while awaiting the arrival of a combat rescue patrol. Running low on fuel with just enough to return to base, he instead hooked up with a KC-135 midair refueler and return to look for Flom.

Kasler’s F-105 was also shot down over North Vietnam that same day and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a POW until 4 March 1973. So began six years and seven months of imprisonment by an enemy who knew exactly who he was and why to hate him.

Oddly, it was Kasler’s notoriety that saved his life, but it also exposed him to unspeakable torture. His captors gloated. They singled him out. They almost immediately put Kasler on television, so they couldn’t kill him without losing face, but they were particularly eager to force a confession or any capitulation, so great would have been its propaganda value.

It was testimony to the ferocity of the air war that another of Kasler’s closest friends, Lewis Shattuck, was shot down and rescued on Aug 1st and was shot down again, and this time captured, on Aug 11th. And that his friend John Brodak went down Aug 14th.

That’s three buddies down within 35 days of one another and serving as POWs from 1966 until 1973.

At one point, during the fall of 1967, Kasler’s captors took his clothes and his mosquito net. For three days, they denied him food and water and they beat his back and buttocks with a truck fan belt, every hour on the hour, 6 a.m. until 10 or 11 p.m.

He was tortured repeatedly by his Communist captors, in an effort to get him to cooperate with their propaganda claims. In the early years, the prisoners were kept in isolation and rarely let out of their cells. The Vietnamese used isolation, sleep deprivation, starvation, as well as physical pain to try to break Kasler down. His worst session came in June 1968:

“The Vietnamese were attempting to force me to meet a delegation and appear before TV cameras on the occasion of the supposed 30000th American airplane ever North Vietnam. I couldn’t say the things they were trying to force me to say. I was tortured for six weeks. I went through the ropes and irons ten times. I was denied sleep for five days and during three of these was beaten every hour on the hour with a fan belt. During the entire period I was on a starvation diet. I was very sick during this period. I had contacted osteomyelitis in early 1967 and had a massive bone infection in my right leg.

“They would wrap my leg before each torture session so I wouldn’t get pus or blood all over the floor of the interrogation room. During this time they beat my face to a pulp. I couldn’t get my teeth apart for five days. My ear drum was ruptured, one of my ribs broken and the pin in my right leg was broken loose and driven up into my hip.”

“I lay in agony for six months until I was given an operation in January of 1969.”
[Excerpted from pownetwork.org]

Kasler shared the infamous Room 7 of the “Hanoi Hilton” with other great heroes like Robinson Risner, James Stockdale, Bud Day, John McCain, Larry Guarino, and Jeremiah Denton. He never cooperated with the North Vietnamese and survived to return home in March, 1973, after six and one-half years in captivity.

For seven long years, his wife Martha, daughter Suzanne and twins Jim and Nanette awaited Kasler’s return from Vietnam. It came, joyfully and tearfully, on March 8, 1973 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

The twins were 12 when their father left for Vietnam. They were 19 when the family was reunited. Kasler momentarily mistook his son Jim for Suzanne’s husband, John Morris.

The confusion was understandable but short-lived. It is testimony to Kasler’s enormous strength, and that of Martha and the kids, that normalcy was incredibly, and almost immediately, restored.

In July 1974 Kasler was assigned as vice commander of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho and remained in that capacity until his retirement as aColonel on 1 May 1975, in spite of him being in line for an Air Wing command and a brigadier general’s star.

He spent the last 39 years of his life as a resident of Momence, an Illinois-Indiana border town where he owned South Shore Golf Course and had interests in banking and real estate, served on a number of boards and received a variety of civic and service awards.

He died on April 24, 2014, at the age of 87, in West Palm Beach, Florida. One obituary read, he joined what Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg called ‘our honored dead.’

Kasler’s former cell-mates at Hanoi Hilton, Lewis Shattuck and John Brodak, were in Indianapolis for the May 16, 2014 memorial service at Crown Hill Cemetery that saluted Kasler in death. It was a grim, gray day, but the rain eased and the sky brightened a bit for the F-15 Eagle flyover, when there was a lump in every throat and a tear in almost every eye. Kasler was more than a hero. He was a husband to Martha for 65 years, a father and grandfather.

At his funeral, John Brodak, his voice flush with feeling, said, ‘The colonel was my mentor and my hero, the most courageous man I’ve ever known. He was a fierce warriors and a patriot and I’m proud he called me his friend.’

Brodak is a retired Air Force colonel who flew with Kasler. And for 15 months of the six and a half years both were North Vietnamese prisoners of war, he was Kasler’s cellmate at ‘The Zoo’ and the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton.’

Kasler’s happiest occupation was Grandpa. His six grandchildren served as greeters at his Crown Hill memorial celebration. Each spoke.

One, Ashley Hurley, recalled grandpa’s infectious sense of humor and how, when she was little, he would get down on the floor with her and laugh and laugh.

James Kasler was nicknamed “Stoneface” by his Air Force peers, testimony to his toughness, his seriousness of purpose and his mission commitment. But men like Brodak and Shattuck, his wife Martha, kids and grandkids

15
Jun

TSgt Francis L. McMillian U.S. Air Force (1966-1986)

mcmillianPersonal Service Reflections of USAF Airman:

TSgt Francis L. McMillian

U.S. Air Force (Ret)

(1966-1986)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/bio/Francis.McMillian

(Veterans – record and share your own service story with friends and family by joining www.togetherweserved.com. This is a free service)
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE AIR FORCE?

The decision was mine. Although my father and my oldest step-brother had joined the Army, they did not influence my decision. Originally there were five of us boys and two older sisters and a female cousin. The oldest boy was twelve years older than I and had joined the Army. The four boys that were left made our decisions at a young age. We lived way out in the country and we played cowboys and Indians and war. My older brother, by two years, joined the Marines. My younger brother, by two years, decided to join the Navy but he had a bad heart so he couldn’t join. My youngest brother by three years joined the Army.

I joined the Air Force since I had a fascination with airplanes.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK.

During BMT I heard of a career called “The Combat Control Team.” Checking it out, I discovered that I had to pass a physical Stamina Performance Test (SPT) to qualify. Having been in wrestling for four years in high school, I figured that it was a no brainer. I knew I was in top physical shape. While in high school PE I did 20 chin ups–the SPTA series called for only six. In PE and wrestling training I did 100 deep knee bends in less than two minutes–SPTA calls for only 80. I could also do 100 pushups. SPTA required only 20. SPTA called for a one mile endurance run in 8 1/2 minutes yet I did better than that in PE and wrestling running around the gym and up and down the bleachers. While all PTSA events were scheduled in rapid succession with 2 to 3 minutes intervening breathing periods, I did not need the breathing periods.

There was an aptitude test for mental qualifications: I scored 75% for Mechanical, 75% for Administrative, 80% for General, and 85% for Electronics. I qualified to enter the CCT program.

I graduated the airborne class at Fort Benning and went on to the electronics class at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi for Electronics Ground Communications Repairman. At that time we only had colored coded resistors and not computer chips. Unfortunately, I did not qualify for this segment of the CCT training. I was then given the choice of becoming a cook or a Security Policeman. I was not about to learn how to cook for several thousand military. So I became a Security Policeman.

DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?

I was assigned to the 37th S.P.S. at Phu Cat AB, RVN from March 15th to July 15th 1968. During my stay there my duties were 3 swing shifts: 1500 to 2300 Hrs. with a 24 hour turn around; 3 midnight shifts, 2300 to 0700 Hrs with a 24 hour turn around; then 3 day shifts, 0700 to 1500 Hrs. Then I would get 3 days off.

Occasionally one of the days off was a training day. This was the same schedule that my last stateside base had, so it was almost with the exception of the occasional incoming mortar fire, like being stateside. I got used to the mortar fire and would sleep through some of them instead of going to the assigned bunker. The days off were used as I saw fit, and the majority of time was laying in the yard tanning or going to the club. At one time, we were allowed to load a bus, everyone armed, then be taken to Qui Nhon to the Red China Sea for a swim. At night we could see Pleiku being rocketed up in the Central mountains and thanking God that we were not there.

On July 15th 1968 I was totally introduced to the Vietnam War. I got assigned to the 633rd S.P.S. at Pleiku AB, RVN until March 1969. My first night there, even before officially signing in, and be indoctrinated to the area, I was sound asleep when I heard a very loud explosion from somewhere on the base.

Fortunately we were briefed on what to do in the event of an attack of any kind. I jumped out of bed, went to the weapons storage connex box, was issued an M-16 and ammo then hid behind the sandbag bunker that was 3/4 the height of the first floor of the barracks. I stood behind the bunker waiting for anything to move so I could shoot it. I am not to proud to admit that I was scared stiff of actually hearing the rockets going off. All of a sudden I saw movement coming from around the corner of an adjoining barracks and held my breath, placed my finger on the trigger, and began to aim at the movement. Then a figure of a man, too big to be Vietnamese, came out into the open, but in a shadow, and began to speak. He identified himself as the First Sergeant and told us to relax that the base is not being overran. I breathed a big sigh of relief and removed my finger from the trigger.

During my stay there these major events took place on the base:

1. The fuel storage area consisted of an area fenced off with an ECP and two tall towers in the back. The fuel bladders were below ground level with dirt berms all around them. During one of the rocket attacks, one hit a fuel bladder sending flames high into the night sky. The attacks were always between midnight and 0300 Hrs. The ECP was burned, both towers were scorched but no one was injured. My wife and her sister were driving from West Virginia to Florida when they heard on the car radio that Pleiku AB had been blown up. My wife naturally went into hysteria. They stopped at the nearest military installation to discover what really happened.

2. An Officer running from his hooch to his assigned bunker ran into a 122mm rocket.

3. Part of the Airman’s/NCO Club across the street from my barracks was blown up.

4. Part of the barracks next to mine was blown up.

5. The outdoor theater stage was blown up.

6. A plane that I was guarding was blown up.

7. The South Vietnamese munitions storage area, just off the end of our runway, outside our perimeter, had three storage bunkers blown up and all assigned personnel killed.

And that was just the tip of the iceberg…

Read more »

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