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Posts tagged ‘Air Force Veteran’s Story’

17
May

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

Katherine

RECORD YOUR OWN SERVICE MEMORIES

By Completing Your Reflections!
 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.

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.

26
Aug

MSgt Everett Squires U.S. Air Force (Ret) (1970-1991)

profile1PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE AIR FORCE?

My father Cpl Everett A. Squires who served in the Army Air Force during WW II as a mechanic on B-17 and B-24 bombers. He was assigned to the 493rd and 447th Bomb Wings while stationed in England. While there he met a lady who he would 2634marry after waiting 5 years, she was able to come to the United States in 1950. He and my mother told stories all the time to me and my brother and sister about their experiences during WWII. That is the reason there was never any doubt as to which service I would join, it was going to be the Air Force. When he passed in 2005 I saw on his DD214 that he had been separated on Oct 7 1945, exactly 25 years to the day that I enlisted on Oct, 7 1970.

I was a civilian printer for the Department of Navy, working in the Pentagon and various other Navy buildings in the Washington, DC metro area. When the draft lottery was held, my birthday came up with a somewhat low number. That is when I decided on the Air Force, hoping I could continue in my chosen trade as a printer. My Agency Director, even requested that I be assigned to the print shop of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff in the Pentagon. I took the bypass test for being a printer in the AF and I never got any results back. I knew I had passed because all the question were about duties I had been performing every day. I asked to see the Squadron Commander and he listened to me, but I never got an answer or even allowed to retest. Like the saying goes “The needs of the Air Force come first”, so I became a Security Policeman.

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 attended basic training at Lackland, AFB beginning in October 1970, and the Air Force picked me to be the only member of my flight to be a Security Policeman. Technical school for Security Police was across the base at Lackland. My class was accelerated so we could
complete the class before New Years. This was the last class that taught both Law Enforcement and Security. The career field was than split into two AFSC’s. I ended up getting my first choice of bases out of Tech School. There was only one opening from the class at Dover, AFB DE. It was the closest to my home.

I arrived at Dover on Super Bowl Sunday in 1971 with the Baltimore Colts and the Dallas Cowboys, playing. I watched the game from the transient barracks. I was assigned to Security since I had completed SP tech school, while the other guys I processed in with had been washed out of their tech schools and they all got Law Enforcement. I was only at Dover a couple of months when I got orders for South East Asia (SEA). After TDY back at Lackland for AZR Combat Training, I returned back to Dover for only a couple of weeks. I arrived at Ubon RTAFB in late June of 1971. I was assigned to what was called Shadow flight, the largest flight that worked the high threat hours at night.

I performed various assignments before I was selected to train as a 81 mm mortar gunner I never did get to go to a formal mortar school, I was transferred to the Heavy Weapons section when it was first formed and I spent most of my time working the mortar pit with an occasional assignment on a Quick reaction Team as either a M-60 or 50-cal machine gunner. The base was attacked two times, while I was there. One was a single sapper who was killed before he could do any damage. Two of my friends would receive Bronze Stars for their actions that night. The other was a stand off mortar attack, which targeted the AC-130 parking area. I extended my tour twice during the Spring Offensive of 1972 and left Ubon just after Linebacker II started and was actually home for Christmas. My next assignment was to Malmstrom, AFB, MT. I was trained to work as a Flight Security Controller and was assigned to a 10th Missile Security Flight. While there I was promoted to E-5 SSgt with less than 4 years in service and had 11 months Time In Grade when I was discharged.

During that time I was given the opportunity to attend project transition. I approached the MSgt who was in charge of the base print shop and I proceeded to tell him that I was capable of operating all the equipment in the shop and he would not need to training me at all. His shop was short one billet so he agreed. I worked there for about six weeks and I had to go back to being a cop for the remainder of my enlistment. This time it was with the 490th Missile Security Flight, where I worked at the farthest site from the base, 150 miles and a three hour drive. I always wondered if it was because I took that transition assignment.

I was discharged in October 1974 and my brother flew out to Montana and we drove home to Virginia together and we got to see some of the country. I went back to work at my old job as a printer for the Department of the Navy .After being out of the Air Force a few months I started to miss being a part of it. I still had my 2 year reserve obligation and I figured I would use it as an active reservist. I contacted an AF Reserve recruiter and I enlisted in the Air Force Reserve as a veterinary technician in the 22 Medical Services Squadron at Andrews AFB. This unit was a part of the 459th Airlift Wing.
It was the only position available that I could keep my SSgt rank. I never really got any training as a Vet tech and after a few months the veterinary positions were all turned over to the Army so I had to find a new slot. My only Annual training with this unit was helping do physicals for dependent children for the upcoming school year. Basically helping get the children rom one station to another. I tried to transfer to the 459th Security Police Squadron but they had no slots for an E-5 at that time and could not take me as an overage. I went down the road to the District of Columbia Air National Guard and enlisted there for a 3 year term as a Security Policeman.

I had to enlist for three years, and when that was up, I made up my mind to make it a career. I am very glad I did. I retired there after a total of 21 years. During my time as a member of the 113th Weapons System Security Flight and the 113th Security Police Squadron, I participated in three Presidential Inaugurations, Jimmy Carter, first one for Ronald Reagan, second one was canceled due to extreme cold, and George H. W. Bush. Carters we work as additional members on patrol with the DC Metro Police. The one for Bush we worked traffic control. During Ronald Reagans, we worked with the DC Army National Guard MPs as part of the riot control team. When the Army Commanding general decided that we should be deployed, he left the Army MPs at the DC Armory and took just the Air Force Security Police. Nothing happened so we just stood by at the parade route. I also went to two overseas deployments; RAF Station Finningley, and NAS Keflevik. Other Annual Training was held in Savannah GA, Alpena MI, Langley, AFB and Key West, NAS, FL. During Desert Shield/Storm I volunteered for additional active duty. One night after the call for members to report, I went straight to Andrews and was assigned to provide security for the aircraft of the 113 TFW. I did this for several months and continued to also work additional Anti Drug missions as well as our regular monthly drills. Plus working at my civilian job in the Pentagon. I also got to visit a few other ANG units, including those in Virginia, West Virginia, and Nebraska. Myself and two other Security Policeman went TDY for a few days to learn from our counterparts at our Advisor base at Seymour Johnson AFB. NC. We did not get much accomplished as our host unit the 4th SPS, got put on alert as the Grenada Operation started that day. My last day in the DCANG was performing a Light All mission on Halloween night October 1991.

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 was assigned to the 8th Security Police Squadron at Ubon, RTAFB which was a vital part of the USAF effort in the Vietnam War. Due to its location we were never in normal security. We had many Yellow alerts and two actual Red Alerts as we were attacked

two times during my time there. I was never actually involved in any combat operations myself. After being at Ubon for about six months, in early January 1971, I was awakened one morning after working all night and told to report to the 1st Sgt.

When I got there I was told that the Red Cross had contacted the Air Force and that my mother had passed away. Of course I ended up taking emergency leave to attend her funeral. My family wanted me to apply for a humanitarian reassignment, which I did. But the Air Force said no. So back to Thailand I went, which took me a while because I was on stand by all the way. From Travis, AFB I was on a C-5A and got put off at Hickam, AFB, because of Special Cargo. I then boarded a C-141 which blew an engine getting ready for take off. I ended up three days later on the same aircraft and finally got back to my base. Not only did I finish my tour, but I did two three month extensions due to the increased efforts of the enemy in Vietnam.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
It was my deployment as a member of the DCANG to Royal Air Force Station Finningley. My mother was from London, and she and my father met during WW II while he was part of the 8th Air Force. While there I was able to travel to London. Here I met up with a cousin and her husband and took the train to their home. The next day we traveled out to the coast to visit her mother where I also got to meet another Aunt. My least favorite memories were at Dover, AFB, DE working in the Weapons Storage Area (WSA) having to walk on top of the mounds during hours of darkness. Day shift was fine as we got to patrol in a vehicle.

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

My time as a mortar gunner while a member of the 8th SPS, Ubon, RTAFB. I really looked forward to having nightly fire missions. We just about always had a fire mission shooting illumination rounds to light up the perimeter at night. I hated it when a round did not go off and we had to clear the mortar tube by disconnecting it from the base and turning it upside down with one person catching the round and making it safe.

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

The Air Force Achievement Medal. I received it for performing addition duties while supporting the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department and DC National Guard Anti-Drug Program. We performed Light All missions. We would go to street corners and set up lights to deter the efforts of drug dealers and give the local residents an opportunity to feel safe in the neighborhoods. As well as Light All missions, we also worked other events. Two of those were at RFK Stadium. They were concerts by The Who and The Rolling Stones. I got to go to the front of the stage for a while and got to see Mick Jagger up close. What more can you ask for , getting paid and seeing Rock Stars for free. Supporting the Anti-Drug program was probably the most important thing I did during my service as a member of the Air National Guard.

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 Vietnam Service Medal, and Vietnam Campaign Medal are very important to me because they allow me to be part of the Vietnam Brotherhood for which I am so proud of. I have become friends with some of the finest people around, the members of the Vietnam Security Police Association (VSPA). I was chosen to carry the flag of Thailand as a member of the color guard of the VSPA. at the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Wall in 2007 held in Washington, DC. That Veterans Day will be the one I remember the most. I was proud to march with heroes.

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

SSGT Lindsay Hall. He was the Assistant Flight Chief of the Heavy Weapons Section at Ubon, RTAFB. He came to Ubon from a base in Vietnam that was closing, I do not remember which one. We were so lucky to have him and the others who came with him as we learned a lot from their experiences. He did so much to establish the section and make us proud to be part of it. We even got to wear distinctive head gear, the Aussie Bush hat.

PLEASE RECOUNT THE NAMES OF FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATION, AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.

One of my best friends was James Wilson, a roommate of mine at Ubon, RTAFB and fellow member of the Heavy Weapons Section. He and I both had follow on assignments to Malmstrom, AFB working Missile Security. We worked different shifts and different flights. After many years I found out where he lived and sent a letter. We have talked on the phone but have never gotten back together. But of course I will remember him as a brother forever.

James Mahaffey who was also a member of the Heavy Weapons section and I connected and communicated for several years and he visited my wife and I while traveling around the country. We visited the Air Force Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial Wall. He passed away a few years ago from Agent Orange related illness. His profile is one of my remembered Airmen. Rest In Peace “Wolf Pack Defender”.

I stay in touch with several of my friends from my time in the DC Air National Guard. We keep talking about getting together again, but it never seems to happen. Maybe some day.

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?

It was the night we “sank” an M113 track, I mostly worked the mortar pit, but that night I was on the Quick Reaction Team (QRT). The driver was an A1C, whose name I don’t remember, and pretty new to the squadron. I thought he knew what he was
doing. He decided to drive through a pond and the tracks must have got stuck on a log or something and we could not move it in any direction. I think the drain plugs were not put in and the water started entering the inside . I called Central Security Control (CSC) many times asking for assistance from the other track to pull us out as the water kept filling in. Believe me I tried real hard not to sound desperate. The other track was busy pulling out a stuck 2 1/2.ton truck. Finally the Thai Guards all got on the top. By the time we got help the whole thing was filled with water. We carried everything out including the machine guns (50 Cal) and all the ammo in water up to my arm pits.

I was “asked” to report to maintenance first thing the next morning and clean up the mess. I don’t remember what happened the with the rest of the shift, but I know that we did not get the rest of the night off. Early the next morning I reported in my stateside fatigues all set to go, but was told not to worry about it that it had already been taken care of. Our maintenance section was great as it was back in service just a few days later. I figured I would be working without a paycheck for the rest of my enlistment. But nothing was ever said about it. I kept my stripes and I even made E-5 when I got back stateside. It was a while before I went back on a QRT, It was either the mortar pit or Fire Direction Control (FDC), which I never had any real training on. Than again I never got to go to mortar school either. Just a day working with our training section, running up and down a filed setting up the mortar including the aiming stakes and setting coordinates on the sight. But I really did like the mortar pit when we finally got to fire live missions every night. Back then during a war I suppose things were different. Not funny then, but I can laugh about it now.

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

After discharge from the Air Force, I went back to my job as a printer for the Navy. The Agency later became part of the Defense Logistics Agency. I transferred to the Government Printing Office and retired after 42 years of Federal Service in July of 2010. I am a Life member of the Alexandria Volunteer FD and still participate. I am going into my 45th year as a member and serve as the Department Treasurer.

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

I am a Life member of many military associations. I am proudest of the Vietnam Security Police Association. We have experienced a lot of the same things, both in South East Asia and stateside assignments. I have met very few people who I actually served with, but have become friends forever with all of them. I participate with my Vietnam Veterans Association Chapter 641 and with Eagle Chapter of the USAF Security Forces Association in washing the Vietnam Memorial Wall. We do this once a month during the period of April -October and sometimes twice a month when both associations have a scheduled date. There is no better satisfaction than having the privilege of washing “Our Wall”.

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

I think that my core values were reinforced by my military service along with working as a civilian for the Department of Defense. I learned a lot about leadership, as even when you are not a high rank, you still are given a lot of responsibility. This helped me not only as I progressed in my Air Force career, but also helped me in being a good supervisor in my civilian career. The thing I remember most from the Air force was they stressed to always treat the people that work for you as your greatest asset. Without them nothing gets done.

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

Being a Vietnam War veteran, I am part of a brotherhood who believes that no generation of veterans shall ever be forgotten. No matter which service or where you have served, you should be proud of what you have done. My hope is that those now serving will continue to feel the same way. Be proud of the uniform you wear as it reflects not only on you, but of all those who have worn it before you. You would be wise to pay attention and listen to those who have served longer than you and pass that information on as you advance in your career.

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

Just like most of the military associations I belong to I have not made contact with many people who I served with. I have made friends with lots of new people with whom I can share the Air Force experience. It has been wonderful to get together with people who only have the Air Force in common and feel like you have known them forever the first time you meet face to face. On several occasions I have had mini reunions with people I have initially met here at TWS, traveling to events and actually meeting others who are traveling and meeting up with them, beginning with our 1st get together in Frederick, MD.

8
Jul

MSgt Scott Rogers US Air Force (Ret) (1970-1990)

profile_sMSgt Scott Rogers

US Air Force (Ret)

(1970-1990)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/196740

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

Two things actually; I was going to a Junior College at the time. One evening, the discussion at the dinner table got some of my wheels turning. First my girl friends Father (who later became my Father In Law) recommended the Air Force to me, since He was C-5 at Sunsetin the Army Air Corps. And secondly, in 1969 I registered for the draft, which was a requirement. I had a student deferment, however, I also had a very low lottery number. There was a draft for military service, and at the same time, there was a new lottery system in place. Not having any idea how this system worked, but being able to determine that I had a very low number, it was inevitable that I would be going into the military soon. Since the Vietnam War was in full swing, and not wanting to go into the Army I decided to enlist in the Air Force. I would pursue my college later, which I did. And believe it or not, I actually had a very honest recruiter. He helped me prepare for the entrance exam. I scored well enough and I was able to get my first choice of Aircraft Maintenance. I was originally going to be assigned to Norton AFB in Southern California to work on C-141s. A couple weeks before I was to leave Chanute AFB, I received an amendment to my original orders, now sending me to Travis AFB, California to work on C-5’s. That one particular evening discussion was one of the best things that has ever happened in my life. Looking back, any member of my family that could serve, did serve, dating back to the Revolutionary War. It was my duty, and it was an honor.

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 started out as a Aircraft Maintenance Specialist, Jet over 2 Engines. This training was at Chanute AFB, IL. After completion of this training, I was assigned to the C-5 Galaxy, 60th OMS at Travis AFB. This was the most beautiful Aircraft I have ever seen. I knew that one day I would become a flight engineer on this aircraft. So after about 6 years, I had an opportunity to fly as a crew chief. After a year of flying I applied to retrain as a Flight Engineer. And this is where my Air Force career progressed. After flying for about 3 years, in the 22 MAS, I applied for instructor duty for the 56th MAS, at Altus AFB, OK. This is where I really learned a lot about the C-5, the systems, and teaching people. I was stationed at Altus just short of 4 years. While at Altus I was able to further my education by attending the local college in town, in addition to attending the education program on base with Southern Illinois University. While considering a PCS move back to Travis, I flew the first C-5 B Model, 83-1285. It was at this time I had my choice of assignments, to go anywhere, on any aircraft. I decided that my loyalty should remain with the C-5. Returning to the 22 MAS at Travis, I was given the task of being the Chief of Flight Engineer Training. pathI was in this position for 4 years. As I was approaching 20 years of service, and having some discussions with my family I decided to retire based on my age at the time. I thought I’d have a better chance starting a new career at age 38/39 versus 45/48.

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

It was 1974; I received the Humanitarian Service Medal for participation in Operation Baby Lift. This involved evacuating people from Vietnam. We lost one of our C-5’s during this operation, C-5A 68-218, however, I think overall, it was a success. 68218 was originally assigned to Dover, AFB Delaware. combatHowever, someone made a suggestion, or decision to trade 68218 for C-5A 69021 in 1972/1973. I was an Aircraft Maintenance Specialist during this time. I was assigned to 021. 69021 was a flyer and a real clean Airplane. It was well taken care of. When the trade went down, and 68218 arrived on station, it was a mess. And that’s an understatement. So I was now assigned to 218. In the early days of the C-5’s, there was not a refurb group/team at Travis AFB. So 218 went into an immediate refurb. This task was completed by our small team of about 5 people. I was assigned to 218 for about 1 1/2 to 2 years. When I became a flying crew chief, I flew with some of the crew members from the Saigon Crash. As a flight engineer, when I transferred to Altus AFB, I flew with the Co-Pilot from 218. He was our Operations Officer. I flew all over the World. It always gave me great pleasure and honor to help people in need. It just made me a better person.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
favoriteAltus AFB, Oklahoma was my favorite.This is where I developed into a very good Instructor Flight Engineer. The resources were in place as far as having very experienced Instructor’s. I could talk to people either at TTU, Technical Training Unit, basically the classroom environment, (CMSgt Buck Buchannon) or anyone in our flying squadron. CMSgt Ron Snyder, CMSgt Jim Eakins, CMSgt Charlie Andersen. There was never any pressure from anyone for needing a little remedial training. I don’t have a least favorite. I was only stationed at Travis, & Altus. But I flew all over the World. Almost every place I flew into was a challenge, because they were all different, and each an every airlift mission was different.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?
My Leadership School, & NCO Academy Training. My Leadership School was at Norton AFB, CA, while my NCO Academy was at Lackland AFB TX. These two courses gave me some extremely good people skills. Both oral and written communication. Outstanding Instructors and group workshops. These schools helped develop me for the future. With the foundation being poured for me, memoriesI was able to transition successfully from the Air Force after 20 years when I went to work for Chevron USA for 14 years, and later Union Pacific Railroad for 10 years. I trained many people with Chevron. I wrote and up-dated plant procedures for the 2 refineries I was assigned, Richmond, CA & El Paso, TX. When I went to work for UP, I became an Instructor for HR. I instructed Locomotive Engineers, Conductors, & Brakemen in the classroom as well as the field. I traveled & trained all over the United States.

 

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

Receiving my Meritorious Service Medal. I was Chief of Flight Engineer training in the 22 MAS for 4 years. My goal was; I wanted to prepare my student’s for the day when they would be on their own. We were also starting to receive the new C-5 Galaxy B models. valorWith that there seemed to be more focus on the new airplanes. So I was able to coordinate and schedule my students with C-5A training classes at the FTD School on Travis. When I wasn’t flying, I would take a group of students to each shop on base. They were able to see first hand the many components that they would interact with, discuss the parameters with each specialist, and have a better understanding how it all fit together and worked. We also would go to the ISO Docks and see the airplane in its skeleton form as most of the panels were removed. After each field trip so to speak, the students light bulbs would shine brighter. The Chief Trainer from the 75th MAS and myself combined our resources and were able to schedule an Airplane each week from maintenance with live systems. Short of starting engines, this was a huge success. In a nut shell, this decoration was for all of my training efforts with my students.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE ONE(S) MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

All of my awards & decorations mean a lot to me. Some stand above others. I am very proud/honored to have received my Meritorious Service Medal. This was in recognition for all of my training accomplishments. medalsI am also very proud of my Chief Aircrew Member Badge, and I am equally as proud of my Senior Maintenance Badge. Originally, there was no type of Badge for maintenance people. If memory serves me correctly, these Badge’s did not come out until the late ’80’s. I am also proud of my Marksmanship Ribbon. I shot expert with both the long rifle and pistol.

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

Dennis Riehl, CMSgt Retired, Calvin Takenaka, MSgt Retired, Ron Bretherick, MSgt Retired. These three were part of the original 28 C-5A Test Team Crew Chiefs. They were on the C-5A Test Team at Edwards AFB. They would be assigned to the 60th OMS. I later flew with Ron while we were stationed at Altus AFB. And from time to time, I would see both Dennis & Calvin out in the system. It was very reassuring to see them with the Aircraft that I was scheduled to fly on. Calvin Takenaka gave me one of his Test Team Patches. The other was the original 60 OMS patch. personCMSgt Art Kaveck; When I applied to retrain to become a flight engineer, I was interviewed by Chief Kaveck. He didn’t sugar coat the career field. He explained all of the worst things that could happen. This was a unique approach. After I retired, Art called me up at home and asked if I would be interested in teaching part time in the simulator.

I said, “absolutely”. CMSgt Ken Brooks. He was my first Branch Chief, Superintendent, when I was assigned to the 22 MAS. We flew together one time, and I will always remember that trip. CMSgt Jim Eakins. My first Branch Chief, Superintendent, when I was assigned to the 56 MAS, Altus AFB, OK. After retraining as a flight engineer, I had gone TDY to Altus for inflight refueling training. I met CMSgt Eakins on several occasions. Ultimately, it was his decision enabling me to be assigned to Altus. Additional People-Darrell Sandlin, David Kline, John Moran, Bill Duvall, Don Hoyer, Bill Mattingly, Dan Heffron, & Jim Hollis-These are all C-5A Test Team Crew Chiefs. Senior NCO’s, Paul Thomas, Oliver Merrill, (Ollie) Leon Rode, Jerry Campbell, Ron Snyder, Steve Jarnigan, Mike O’Neil, & Paul Feuz. Bob Starchman, Jim Stockley, two great Engine Mechanics & Flight Engineers.

Each one of these individuals had the knowledge and experience, and by working along side them, talking to them, this helped me out tremendously. They payed if forward to me, and I did the same as well. I may have missed some people, with this I apologize.

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?

Part of the Aircrew Training requirement was to have altitude chamber training, initially & then every three years. This training focuses on the physiological aspect of the human body. One area is to learn your Hypoxia symptoms. While on a particular mission, with C-5A 68228, we were just a basic funnycrew, meaning there were just two flight engineer’s assigned. During one leg, I was the scanner, & during climb out, I was performing my duties when I noticed one of the oxygen doors in the troop compartment lavatory had fell open. Thinking this to be very unusual and the door possibly having a bad latch, I closed the oxygen mask door. Several minutes later when I was about to go back to the flight deck, the door opened again. I again reached over to close the door, and started on my way back. As I turned around, I saw all 25 mask door’s open, started to feel my hypoxia symptoms, and knew this was for real. I calmly picked up a portable oxygen bottle, and checked in with the flight deck. Once I arrived on the flight deck, I was able to troubleshoot our problem, correct the situation, check our remaining fuel and determine with the Aircraft Commander that we would be able to make it to our next station without having to make an emergency landing. The local Center was working with us and in any minute would have given us a direct flight path to any field for an emergency landing. Training can sometimes get in the way of your daily routine, but to stay sharp in any job, training is essential. I am thankful for all of those chamber rides, including those hours in the classroom learning the physiological aspects of the human body. This still makes me laugh to this day.

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?

jobAs I may have mentioned earlier, I would have loved to stay in the Air Force forever, if it were possible. In my opinion, my age was starting to become a factor for me to start another career. So I decided to leave the Air Force. My initial plan was to continue flying for a major airline. I had many interviews and was just waiting for the phone to ring. Then the first Gulf War started. With this, all airline hiring was frozen. So my wife had noticed an advertisement in our local paper for refinery operators. So I applied to Chevron, in Richmond, California. I went to work for Chevron USA at the Richmond Refinery. I was an operator, both inside & outside. I was an integral part in manufacturing motor oil at the Richmond Refinery. After about 7 years, I transferred to El Paso,Texas. I went from a huge refinery, to a small Asphalt Plant. I worked for Chevron for 14 years, and then went to work for Union Pacific Railroad. I was a licensed conductor, remote control operator, & locomotive engineer for the first few years, and later became an Instructor. I traveled all over to different terminals teaching rules, and procedures. I am now retired.

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

AFSA, Air Force Sergeants Association. Keeping up with current events for military members. Always looking forward to my monthly news letter. Air Force Together We Served. This is very new to me. However, it has allowed me to re-connect with past service members. And it has given me a proud reflection of my career.

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

Many ways; time management, discipline, being a good planner, interaction with other people. All of these skills have helped me both in my career’s after the Air Force, and at home as a husband, father, & family man. There were extremely long days/nights/shifts/flights while in the Air Force. When I went to work for Chevron and Union Pacific, it was one thing that I did not have to get use to. Long days/nights were not new to me. Accomplishing the near impossible; My photo here in 1977 shows 668306 with only 3 engines. This C-5 was damaged in November of 1976 by a Pylon Fire. It was temporarily repaired and cleared for a 1 time flight to Marietta, Georgia, to be completely repaired by Lockheed. Point being, you can accomplish anything. Stay focused, and never quit.

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

Respect your superior’s, respect each individual, follow orders & direction well. Help the weak or slow persons. Don’t look the other way by ignoring them. Don’t take any shortcuts & don’t ever be afraid to ask a question. Serving in the military is a good foundation builder for life in the future. It will make you a better person. I know it can be difficult for some people to look ahead 20 or more years. Try to have those short and long term goals. Where you start out in the military may not be where you want to finish. You can always retrain, but try to put yourself in a position for an easy transition from the military to civilian life. You can do anything if you put your mind in to it. If you’re told you can’t, don’t stop. Pursue it.

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

First let me say that until late 2014 I was not aware of TWS. My former companies frowned upon its employees searching any type of social media or internet site while at work. I can respect that, since I have learned several people from various companies, organizations have either been disciplined or fired from inappropriate comments. This is one area that I always touched on with my students at Union Pacific. So after finally retiring altogether, I discovered TWS from a flight engineer on Facebook. So I joined. This has allowed me to record many things electronically, which I am proud of, and get in touch with former people that I worked with, and flew with. It ‘s a work in progress. I have also enjoyed recruiting several people, which gives me a great deal of satisfaction. With that said, I hope my career will have an impact on current military members in the future. Best of luck with all of your aspirations and travels.

Scott Rogers Jr. (Scotty)

18
Apr

MSgt David M Cummings U.S. Air Force (Ret) (1962-1983)

cummingsRead the service reflections of

MSgt David M Cummings

U.S. Air Force (Ret)

(1962-1983)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/rsbv/MSgt.D.Cummings

If you served in any branch of the U.S. Military, record your own military service story you can share with your family on TogetherWeServed.com.
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE AIR FORCE?

When I was young I was making aircraft from wood I found on our farm in Vermont. As far back as I can remember I have always been interested in aircraft so it stands to reason that the Air Force would be my choice. The Navy was also a choice but I don’t swim well. So the Air Force won out.

My Dad was the reason that I decided to make the Air Force a career choice. The year was about 1964 and I was very interested in my Dad’s occupation with J&L located in Springfield VT. He showed me his pay stub and I was amazed as to the monthly dollar amount. He followed up by saying that he had been on strike and out of work about 3 months every 1 to 2 years and explained that if staying in the Air Force was up to him, and if he had that choice, he would stayed in for 20 years.

June 1966 I went from the 18th TFW, Kadena Okinawa to the 388 TFW, Korat, Thailand where I decided to re-enlist. This decision was based on the conversation I had with my Dad back in the early years of my first enlistment.

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?

When I re-enlisted in 1966, I made the determination at that point to stay for the full 20 years. I was given the chance to receive my variable re-enlistment bonus tax free by flying in a C-130A aircraft over South Vietnam to Misawa AB, Japan delivering communications equipment.

I have never been sorry for the decision I made based on my Dad’s input. My career spanned 20+ years with the shortest assignment of a year while at Osan AB, Korea and the longest of 3.5 years while assigned to FTD 908, Lakenheath AB, England. I averaged a move about every two years.

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

Yes, if this question also includes combat support while I was stationed with the 388 TFW, Korat Thailand from June 1966 to June 1967.

For humanitarian operations I was involved in the clean up of the Gulf Coast after it was decimated by Hurricane Camille.

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

Some of my finest memories are of the six years as a Nav-Aides System Instructor which started in 1969 and lasted until 1975. That teaching path continued after retiring while I was employed by Telemedia in support of technical training of the TNI-Au, Indonesian Air Force from October 1983 to October 1986. On return from Indonesia in August of the following year I was employed by Raytheon Marine Company as Senior Instructor for Shipboard Surface Search Radar and Automatic Radar Plotting Aides (ARPA).

Of all 15 assignments, probably my best memories are while stationed at FTD 908, RAF Lakenheath, England (longest assignment) as the Navigation Aids Instructor. This detachment comprised a very close knit group of professionals that while on duty performed the training requirement for the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing and when tasked, the training requirement of United States Air force Europe (USAFE).

My least favorite and also my first and shortest assignment was of Lackland AFB, TX. I grew up on a farm in Vermont and this was my first time to be away from home and my family. Needless to say this was a culture shock plus an eye opener as to what the military was all about: discipline, following orders without question, discipline, discipline and even more discipline.

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

In August 1969, Hurricane Camille, the third and strongest tropical cyclone and second hurricane during the 1969 Atlantic hurricane season, made landfall at Waveland, Mississippi, causing massive damage and destruction across much of the Gulf Coast of the United States. There was additional flooding and deaths inland while crossing the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. It was the second of three catastrophic Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall in the United States during the 20th century.

The Coast Guard, Air Force, Army, Army Corps of Engineers, Navy, and Marine Corps all helped with evacuations, search and rescue, clearing debris, and distribution of food. I was stationed at Kessler AFB, Mississippi at the time and we were sent in to help clear fallen trees in the Biloxi, Mississippi area. I was in charge of one of the many chainsaw details charged with this mission. This was a very demanding as well as rewarding detail and I still remember as if it was yesterday.

In total, Camille killed 259 people and caused $1.42 billion (equivalent to $9.13 billion in 2014 dollars) in damages.

In August 2005, thirty six years after Camille, Hurricane Katrina’s winds and storm surge reached the Mississippi coastline killing 234 people.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS FOR VALOR OR OTHER SIGNIFICANT AWARDS, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.

Air Force Commendation Medal (1st Award). Order G333, 14 July 1967 – By direction of the Secretary of the Air Force, the AF Commendation Medal was awarded for meritorious service during 15 June 1966 to 11 June 1967 while assigned to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base Thailand.

Air Force Commendation Medal (2nd Award) Order G56, 23 Oct 1969 – By direction of the Secretary of the Air Force, the AF Commendation Medal was awarded for outstanding achievement during 17 Aug 1969 to 1 Sept 1969 while assigned to Keesler A FB MS for exemplary ability, diligence and devotion duty during the clean-up after Hurricane Camille.

Air Force Commendation Medal (3rd Award) Order GA-0112, 15 Sep 1978 – By direction of the Secretary of the Air Force, the AF Commendation Medal was awarded for outstanding achievement during 23 Mar 1977 to 21 Sept 1978 while assigned to 6100 LSS, Kadena AB Japan.

Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding service as NCOIC, Navigation Section and Communication-Navigation Branch NCOIC, 62d Avionics Maintenance Squadron, McChord AFB, Washington from 2 August 1982 to 30 June 1983.

Read more »

11
Jan

Maj Leon T. Meek U.S. Air Force (Ret) (1969-1990)

Read the service story of US Airman:

meekMaj Leon T. Meek

U.S. Air Force (Ret)

(1969-1990)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/rsbv/Leon.Meek

If you served in any branch of the U.S. Military, join your brothers and sisters in arms at TogetherWeServed.com

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

My older brother was in the Air Force and I always looked to him. In 1969 Maj Leon T. MeekVietnam was still going on and I had left college. I knew I would soon be drafted. I tried joining the Coast Guard, but they had a 2 year waiting list. I then  tried the Navy, but they had a 9 month waiting list. I next tried the Army because I wanted to be a Military Policeman. They said I was too short, but wanted me to sign up as a Helicopter Door Gunner. That did not appeal to me. I next tried the Air Force and after a struggle with the Recruiter, I was able to enlist. My original AFSC was a Fire Fighter, which I didn’t know until later. I wanted to be is some form of police work or law enforcement. After about a week in basic, my brother, who was a Drill Instructor at the time, knowing my desire, came and got me out of my barracks, took me to personnel and my AFSC was changed to Security Police. Many years later my brother told me “Rocky, they were going to make you a fireman.” I said, “Well I didn’t want to be a glorified truck washer.”

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 remained on active duty for 6 years, 9 months, and 7 days. At that time I held the rank of E-5/SSgt. During those years I transferred several times with two overseas deployments. One to Vietnam and one to Goose Bay Labrador, Canada. At the time I was stationed at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, and had been there only 10 months when I got orders again for overseas. I was tired of moving so often so I decided to get out of the service and attend college. I had gotten accepted at Ricks College (Now BYU Idaho). I didn’t want to completely end all of my military service so I went to the Air National Guard base in Cheyenne, WY. I went to the Recruiters office and asked where was the nearest Air National Guard Base in Idaho. Their response was, “Why do you want to go to Idaho. We have a full time job for you right here.” The Chief of Security Police was looking for a Security Police Supervisor to assist him in supervising and managing a full time Security Police force of 9 individuals. He interviewed me and hired me on the spot.

This was in March 1976. I explained I still had approximately 3 1/2 to go until my enlistment was completed and he said, “I’ll hold the position for you.” I was discharged from active duty on 30 June 1976 and on 1 July 1976 I enlisted in the Wyoming Air National Guard. I was a State of Wyoming employee for the next four years, but had to wear the military uniform and be a member of the Air Guard. At the end of the four years, The Chief of Security Police transferred to Adjutant Generals Office and I was hired as a Federal Technician and replaced him. A year after that I received a direct commission to Captain and was both the Commander and Chief of Security Police. In March of 1990 I retired and received a job in Gillette, Wyoming as a Deputy Sheriff.

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.

In 1970 – 1971 I served at Phu Cat Air Base, South Vietnam. My first 8 months I was assigned to the 1st Tiger Division, Republic of South Korea as an Intelligence Liaison Officer. My last four months in country, I worked in law enforcement. During my 12 month tour, I experienced 11 rocket attacks, My life was threatened by two intoxicated Korean soldiers and by some American soldiers when I had apprehended one of their members for being intoxicated and fighting with one of my subordinates. In addition, two members of our squadron were killed in Feb 1971 when the jeep they were patrolling in ran over a land mine (IED as they call it today) and killed them both.

On 29 July 81, Cheyenne experienced a destructive tornado. The Air National Guard facilities and six of our 8 aircraft were heavily damaged.

Nine other members of Security Police and myself, received the Humanitarian Award for Disaster Relief Operations. 1 Aug 1985, Cheyenne experienced a deadly flood which killed 12 and injured approximately 50 individuals. Myself and several of my subordinates were called upon to search and retrieve several flood victims and again were awarded the Humanitarian Award for Disaster Relief Operations.

On 5 March 1986, I received a Letter of Appreciation for assisting the Secret Service Team in coordinating and managing Security for then Vice President Bush when he visited Cheyenne, Wyoming.

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

Travis AFB because it was very close to my home town of Monterey California.

Kingsley Field, Oregon because it was Air Defense Command and was where I met my future wife.

Hated Goose Bay, Labrador. Too much snow and very little to do off duty.

Wyoming Air National Guard.

Served 14 years as a full time guardsmen and many outstanding subordinates who were very instrumental in our OUTSTANDING rating in Aug of 1989 during an ORI/MEI. Plus I received a commission to the officer ranks.

At Travis AFB I worked as a Security Alert Team Leader and eventually as a Complotter. My Flight Chief was TSgt Thompson. I really enjoyed working for him. Sometimes on our last day shift I would ask him if I could get off a few hours early because I would either travel to Monterey or Klamath Falls. He would express his worry and concerns asking me, “What if something happens to you before your actually suppose to be off duty?” I would always tell him he didn’t have to give the time off, but he always did.

It was also at Travis AFB that Jane Fonda showed up with other protesters. I was on duty at the time and was one of the Security Alert Team Leaders. We were patrolling the C-5 and C-141 Ramp and the commander announced on the radio that Jane Fonda was, “Giving Us The Finger!”

I was selected as an Outstanding First Term Enlistee at Travis. Wow, that suckered me in, but I figured I didn’t have anything else to do and if I got out I wouldn’t have a job. Plus they gave me a bonus, ($1,100.00) and my base of choice, which of course was Kingsley Field, Oregon.

I PCS’d from Travis AFB to Kingsley Field, Oregon in Aug 72. While stationed there, I had taken a part time job at a gas station and on day when I was working, a Volkswagen pulled up and this girl gets out and my mouth dropped. We dated for about 18 months until I got transferred to Goose Bay, Labrador in April 75. On her birthday in May’ 75 she broke up with me which really devastated me. We both went our separate ways and married other people. Her marriage failed and my two marriages failed as well. After 24 years we got back together and were married in 1998. I hated Goose Bay cause there basically was nothing to do. Especially since I worked the swing shift and when we got off there was no place to go. There was way to much snow. There was TV, but a person can only watch so much Hawkeye.

In April 75, I was transferred to Francis E. Warren AFB where I worked as Flight Control Facility Supervisor, Complotter and Assistant Flight Chief. I didn’t care for the missile field so much. I was there only 10 months when I got orders for England which would have been a two year assignment. I was tired of being moved around and I wanted to go to school, so I decided to get out of the service.

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

Rocket Attacks, death threats, tornado, and flood. Receiving an OUTSTANDING in Aug 1989. Inspectors said: “Your Security Police Unit is rated Outstanding, One of the best Security Police Units we’ve observed in the last three years.” Receiving many, many, Letters of Appreciation, Commendations, and Superior Performance Ratings. Receiving a direct commission in 1981. My tour in Vietnam, I experienced 12 Rocket attacks which cause much damage and several injuries. In Feb 1971, SSgt Wissig and AIC Davis were killed when their jeep they were patrolling in ran over a land mine.

My first 8 months in country, I worked as an Intelligence Liaison Officer working with the 1st Tiger Division, Republic of South Korean Army. On two occasions, my life was threatened by two intoxicated Korean soldiers. One was upset because I didn’t recognize him, and the other because I wouldn’t let him rub my leg. Koreans are very touchy-feely. Anyway they both had .45’s and pointed it at me several times, threatening to shoot me. Luckily I was able to talk my way out of being killed. Another incident while I was working with the Koreans, was when the Qhuin Nhon ammo dump blew up. I worked in the Tactical Operation Center under ground and I was on nights. The dump was 20 miles to our south and when it blew up, you first felt the ground shake and then the loud ‘boom’. You could see and hear the explosions for the rest of that night. I also was responsible for relaying enemy contacts and ambushes. The Korean compound was also an Artillery Base with a 105 Howitzer which we called Stumpy. When it went off, it made your ears ring.

My last 4 months in-country I worked in law enforcement. Sometimes I was assigned duties as the NCOIC of the main gate. US Army troops sometimes would stop at the base for a little in-country R&R. When they arrived at the gate, they had to check their weapons. After their short stay, they would come back to the gate and retrieve their weapons before leaving the base. One incident was one of the soldiers was very intoxicated and my subordinate refused to give him his weapon. He started fighting with my subordinate and I ran over and assisted in apprehending and handcuffing him. The Army MPs who worked with me, whispered in my ear that we should let the troop go and his unit would take care of him. I agreed and we released the individual. After that, one of the MPs informed me one of the intoxicated individuals buddies had locked and loaded and pointed his weapon at me. The MP said he drew his weapon and informed the individual he didn’t want to do that. Of course I was very grateful. I had great respect for the MPs and sometime would work with them when I got off duty. Their NCOIC, Sgt Pendergraff transferred out, but before he did he gave me his NCO club card which allowed be access to the NCO Club even though I hadn’t been promoted to Sgt yet. He honored me when he said I was the only Law Enforcement Security Policeman who deserved it. I left Vietnam at the end of July assigned to Travis AFB.

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

My direct commission from MSgt to Captain in Aug 1981. Air Force Commendation Medal for the period of 1 Aug 72 – 1 Feb 74: Sgt Leon T. Meek distinguished himself by Meritorious service as Security Force Communicator/Plotter, Security Alert Team Leader, and Munitions Storage Area Supervisor while assigned to the 827th Air Defense Group, Kingsley Field, Oregon, from 1 Aug 1972 to 1 February 1974. During this period, Sergeant Meek’s outstanding professional skill, knowledge and leadership aided immeasurably in identifying problem areas in the security police division and in developing and implementing the corrective actions capable of solving these problems. The distinctive accomplishments of Sergeant Meek reflects credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

The Meritorious Service Medal for the period of 8 Aug 1981 – 30 September 1989: Major Leon T. Meek distinguished himself in the performance of outstanding service to the United States while assigned to the 153d Security Police Flight, Wyoming Air National Guard, Cheyenne, Wyoming, from 8 August 1981 to 30 September 1989. During this period, Major Meek’s unsurpassed leadership qualities enabled him to direct and reorganize is unit’s mobility requirements, resulting in a decrease in unit equipment losses and man-hours for inventory. The result also created a quantum leap in the storage, maintenance, and operational readiness for all unit equipment. His analytical ability to solve problems and adeptness to priority setting resulted in the establishment and implementation of outstanding programs. Major Meek’s ability to make full and effective decisions and use of resources are outstanding and inspirational to security personnel. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Major Meek reflect great credit upon himself, the Air National Guard, and the United States Air Force.

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

My brother, SMSgt Lyle E. Meek. He taught me a lot during my time in the military and chewed me out when I really needed it.

One incident I was stationed at Kingsley Field, Oregon and he was home on leave. I came to my mother’s house, in uniform preparing to go to work. I made the mistake of complaining about my supervisor and a few other things. My brother had been a Drill Instructor at Lack
land and he jumped down my throat, chewing me out, up one side and down the other. He didn’t hold anything back. As he was chewing me out for complaining, he would poke his finger in my chest, hard. Basically he told me to stop complaining and learn the jobs of those above me, because they had more responsibilities than I could imagine. Best chewing out I ever had. Oh by the way. he wouldn’t hesitate to chew me out when I was an officer either.

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 first night in Vietnam. I was awakened by gunfire which was normal as the Security Police routinely set off flares, mortars and gun fire around the base perimeter which was called a” free fire zone.” At the time I didn’t know that nor did any one tell me to expect it. I was a little scared and nervous, but no one came and got us so I went back to bed figuring they would come and get me if they needed me.

The Cheyenne Tornado. I had just pulled into the parking lot and was going to the hanger when everyone outside yelled at me about the tornado. Initially I didn’t believe anyone until I looked behind me and saw what looked like a dust devil and power lines exploding. I ran into the hanger for cover. When the tornado had passed, I went outside and it looked like we had been bombed. Cars, planes, and debris everywhere. We lost six of our eight aircraft.

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 retired from the military on 4 March 1990. May 1990 I was hired as a Deputy Sheriff for Campbell County, Gillette, Wyoming. I retired from that on 8 Jan 2010. I went back to work for the Sheriff’s Department for approximately 9 months as a Main Control Clerk until I turned 62.

In Oct 2011, I worked part time as a Police Officer for the Gillette Community College until June 2013 at which time I retired and moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon.

In April 1992 I was involved in a shooting. A suspect was very intoxicated and had beaten his wife and was looking for her with a gun. My Sgt, Cpl, and I arrived and eventually confronted the individual who pulled a gun and shot my Sergeant in the upper left chest. Myself and my Corporal returned fire, killing the suspect. I was told later by investigators it was good I had fired because we had saved our Sergeants life as the suspect had half cocked his revolver to fire a second shot.

Presently I’m retired living in Kingsley Field base housing, in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

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

Vietnam Security Police Association is basically the only one along with TWS. No benefits from this except for connecting with other veterans and looking for old buddies. I’ve thought about others like the American Legion or the VFW, but I really don’t like large crowds or noise. I also don’t like a smoky room and I don’t drink alcohol. I suffer from PTSD so I pretty much am a recluse. I was a member of some Motorcycle Clubs, ie., “Vietnam Vets” and “Brothers Vietnam”. I left the “Vietnam Vets Club” because of some drug use and outlaw clubs they were hanging around with. I did remain with Brothers Vietnam until I moved and had to sell my motorcycle. I really enjoyed these guys as we were just a bunch of Vietnam Vets who wanted to hang out together and ride motorcycles. We were not trying to prove anything. Every Sunday in Cheyenne, Wyoming we’d all go to a truck stop for breakfast where we’d laugh and enjoy each others company and the truck stop were always ready for us when we got there.

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

It gave me direction, discipline and self pride. It taught me many things about attitude and leadership.

Back when I was young there was the draft and a lot of people were trying to avoid the draft. Many young people had no discipline or respect and had no thought of the future. In some ways I was the same. However, like the lyrics of the Charlie Daniels song “Still In Saigon” I was brought up differently, I couldn’t break the rules. Plus my father was retired Army and my brother was serving. I didn’t want to get drafted so I enlisted in the Air Force.

As I said it taught me discipline, self pride and gave me a direction of where to take my life.

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

Cooperate and graduate. You joined, now honor yourself, your family, and country and honorably serve. It’s all what you make of it. You can sit around a sulk because you didn’t get the career you wanted or you can make the best of it and do the job you were given. Many time during my career I heard people complain they didn’t get the position they wanted or were promised. I was told by my father and then my brother to read the fine print, “And other duties assigned.” I wanted law enforcement, but got security police. When I was stationed at Kingsley Field Oregon, I requested again to cross train into Law Enforcement, but was denied. Made the best of it and eventually got a commission and became the Commander of both Security Police and Law Enforcement. If your going to volunteer for the military you must understand there are no guarantees. The needs of the military come first.

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

Just thinking of the past from when I graduated from high school, attending college, enlisting in the military, my tour of duty in Vietnam, and the rest of my military career and other places I was stationed. Thinking of dates, times, and looking through old photos. It would be great to find an old friend I served with or have them find me. It would really be great to be remembered and get in touch with someone and talk about the past.

.

7
Dec

CMSgt William Hamilton U.S. Air Force (1977-Present)

Read the service reflections of US Airman:

hamiltonCMSgt William Hamilton

U.S. Air Force

(1977-Present)

WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?

I was born in the Air Force. My father was stationed in Waco, Texas when I was born in an Air Force hospital. I grew up moving every year to a new assignment with my father, mom and sister. I loved living near the airplanes and the annual airshows was one of the best days of the year. By the time I started high school other things had peaked my interest, mainly sports and girls and not necessarily in that order. This was the late 60’s and Vietnam was in the headlines every night. My older classmates were joining up or getting drafted and it was a noble and honorable thing. By my graduation year in 1970, the war had turned ugly and the media and public were protesting it nightly. My father had retired from the Air Force and we lived miles from any air bases. I had a fairly high draft number and sat out my “draftable” year in college without any concerns about military service. Within a couple of years, I got married, got a job and started my adulthood. By 1975 I really started thinking about the military again. I’d watch aircraft contrails fly high overhead and wonder where they were headed. I started reading aviation books and magazines again. I went to the Air Force recruiters and took the AFQT to see what I was qualified to do. I did well but recruiters have a job and that is to put people in career fields that have shortages. I held out for a while as I learned more about jobs which would allow me to fly initially.

WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?

I wanted to fly. As an enlisted person, my options were limited. Aircraft loadmaster was one of the few jobs that allowed me to fly so that’s what I signed up for. I became a C-141A loadmaster and enjoyed it greatly. After about 8 years and 5000 flying hours I became a MAC ALCE loadmaster for about 10 years and got a much better view of the big picture through the Wing, numbered AF and HQ deployments. I then became an Air Reserve Technician and returned to the flying squadrons as a Scheduler/Training NCO and Flight Examiner. I later became the squadron loadmaster supervisor and then squadron superintendent before moving to the group retiring as a group enlisted superintendent for six squadrons.

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

In 1979 and early 1980 I flew several support missions which were part of the Iranian Rescue mission attempt. It was all very secretive and since it was not successfully executed, not much ever came out publicly. I flew several support missions into Grenada after the invasion in 1983. One of them was dragging back several Army helicopters shot up in the operation. Also flew several missions into Panama after the successful invasion there in 1989. In August of 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, I deployed as an ALCE Loadmaster for nearly three months. We got the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) from Fort Stewart, GA shipped out of town and over to the desert. I then deployed forward for nearly nine months as the ALCE Superintendent in the 1610 Airlift Division in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. By 1993 I returned to flying full time as a C-141 loadmaster and flew combat support missions into Bosnia in the mid-90’s. I flew into the Kosovo Theater in 1999 during NATO operations following my transition to a new C-17 squadron. Following the 9/11 Terrorist’s attacks, I flew many missions supporting combat operations into Afghanistan and later Iraq when we went into there in 2003. All my wartime service was significant to me.

WHICH, OF THE DUTY STATIONS OR LOCATIONS YOU WERE ASSIGNED OR DEPLOYED TO, DO YOU HAVE THE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY?

Being assigned to the 1610th Airlift Division during the first Gulf War in 1990-91. I really had a great sense of accomplishment with what we had done when it was all over.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

Going to Saudi Arabia in 1990 was probably the most rewarding assignment of my career. Throughout the late 70’s and 80’s we built up our military and trained as though WWIII with the Russians could start at any moment. By 1990 we were be best trained and equipped military the world has ever seen. All that training paid off and we continued to train in that desert environment until we picked the time and place we wanted to start the operation. I worked over 120 days in a row at one point with no time off. We worked 12-hour shifts but with travel time it became 14 to16 hour days. When I returned home in June of 1991, I was very proud of what we had accomplished and that all my training had finally been utilized.

WERE ANY OF THE MEDALS OR AWARDS YOU RECEIVED FOR VALOR? IF YES, COULD YOU DESCRIBE HOW THIS WAS EARNED?

I received a Bronze Star for my service during Operation DESERT STORM in 1991. I was awarded the Aerial Achievement Medal for flying combat missions during the NATO Operation in Kosovo in 1999. During Operation’s ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM I received several Air Medals. Like everybody else, I was just doing my job.

OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

The Bronze Star Medal in 1991 for Operation DESERT STORM since it was my highest. I deployed to Saudi, Kuwait, and Iraq and saw much of the carnage the Iraqis had inflected on Kuwait as well as the aftermath of our bombing operations on the Iraqi’s. The medal was totally unexpected but helped open many opportunities for me later in my career. However the Air Medal was the one I always coveted as a flyer. I didn’t get those till late in my career but the wait was worth it.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

No doubt that would have to be my first boss SMSgt Art Dodgins. He was a rough gruff WWII vet who I thought was a hundred years old at the time. He smoke unfiltered Pell Mell Red cigarettes and drank Scotch with just a splash of water. He mentored me without me having a clue what he was doing. He watched after me early in my career and told me when it was time for me to be an instructor and flight examiner and later leaving the unit and becoming an ALCE Loadmaster. It wasn’t until I became a SNCO that I realized what he was doing and I’ve tried to lead other young airman down that path. He knew what it took to get promoted and he made sure I was ready when the time came.

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22
Dec

Sgt Stephen Willcox U.S. Air Force (1962-1968)

wilcoxPersonal Service Reflections of USAF Airman:

Sgt Stephen Willcox

U.S. Air Force

(1962-1968)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/bio/Stephen.Willcox

WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?

By the time I graduated from high school in 1962, young men either went to college or knew the draft would eventually catch up with them. My grades in high school were less than stellar and there were no expectations from teachers or family that I was “college material.” So, my best friend and I went to see an Army recruiter. We tentatively signed up as Nike Ajax Repairmen. As soon as the recruiter left the office to make copies of documents, the Air Force recruiter from the office across the hall walked in and invited us over to his office. Within the hour we signed papers to join the U.S. Air Force. The decision to join the Air Force for me centered around my concern that I might not have the mechanical ability to be a Nike Ajax Repairman, whereas the Air Force tested recruits for inherent and acquired abilities prior to job training and assignments. Who told the Army recruiter of our decision is lost to time, but I must admit the Air Force recruiter made a bold move. I’m thankful to this day he did so, as the Air Force tests demonstrated clearly that I didn’t possess an ounce of mechanical ability.

WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?

After technical training as an Administrative Specialist at Amarillo AFB, my first assignment was at Donaldson AFB in Greenville, South Carolina with the 63rd Field Maintenance Squadron of the 63rd Troop Carrier Wing (MATS). I worked as a Security Clerk in the Orderly Room. Shortly after arriving at Donaldson, I learned the base would be closed and the 63d TCW moved to Hunter AFB in Savannah, Georgia. We closed down the Orderly Room in about April of 1963 and I was assigned as the 63rd FMS Mail Clerk at Hunter AFB. I transferred to the Aero Repair Branch on the flight line under the direction of CMSGT William G. Jones. When he transferred up to the Field Maintenance Office as Maintenance Superintendent, he took me with him. I essentially became the squadron resource on the Air Force Manual 39-62 and edited airmen and some officer performance reports before forwarding them to Wing Personnel. Due to the zero error rate on reports to Wing Personnel, I was asked to interview for an administrative position at the Office of Deputy Commander Material, 63rd TCW. Although selected for the job it was not very demanding and by the summer of 1965 I grew restless and bored with the job.

Personnel told me of an opening for a special assignment in the state of New Mexico. To apply required an intensive background check, an official Air Force photo session, work history and references. Intrigued, I joined the other candidates vying for the position. Selected for the position in April of 1965, I was assigned to the 1090th Special Reporting Group, an Air Force detachment at Sandia Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sandia Base was from 1946 to 1971 a nuclear weapons installation of the Department of Defense and run by the Army. From April of 1965 until my discharge from active service at the nearby Kirkland AFB, I worked in a classified mail/record room that maintained a tracking system of secret and top secret documents.

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

No, I spent my entire four years of active service in the U.S. The 63rd FMS and other squadrons under the 63rd TCW did provide early support operations to Vietnam and other areas of Southeast Asia. Then, the C-124 Globemaster was the only aircraft large enough to carry heavy military equipment into combat areas. Quickly, however, a newer transport aircraft took over the job and the C-124 soon phased out of operation.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

The one year I served at Sandia Base. The Sandia Base, Kirkland AFB and Albuquerque communities were quite unique. Both Sandia Base and Kirkland employed a large civilian workforce. Sandia Base, in particular was an eclectic community where civilians, Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force personnel worked side by side. Because Sandia was an Army base, an E4 (then A1C) in the Air Force was considered an NCO and could join the NCO Club. The Staff Sergeant who supervised me was not only a boss, but a friend. I often think of those months at Sandia Base and Albuquerque – it’s like the motto on the New Mexico license plate – truly a “Land of Enchantment.”

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