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Posts tagged ‘Air Force’

17
May

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

Katherine

RECORD YOUR OWN SERVICE MEMORIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26
Apr

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

ogieView the service reflections of

MSgt John Ogden

U.S. Air Force (Ret)

(1953-1974)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22
Mar

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

profile1Read the service reflections of

SSgt Walter Madden

U.S. Air Force

(1958-1966)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23
Jan

Profiles in Courage: The Defiant One: Robin Olds

By LtCol Mike Christy

Together We Served Dispatches

Fighter pilots used to say that there was a glass case in the Pentagon building to the precise dimension of then-Colonel Robin Olds, who would be frozen in time and displayed wearing his tank-less flight suit, crashed fore and aft cap, gloves, and torso harness with .38 pistol and survival knife. Beside the case was a fire ax beneath a sign reading: “In case of war, break glass.”It was something of an exaggeration, but it contained an element of truth: Robin Olds was built for war. And he was born to fly. It was imprinted in his genes. Born July 14, 1922 in Honolulu, Hawaii, Robin Olds was the son of then-Capt. (later Maj. Gen.) Robert Olds and his wife Eloise, who died when Robin was four. The oldest of four, Olds spent the majority of his childhood at Langley Field, Virginia where his father was stationed as an aide to Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell. In 1925 when he was only three, he accompanied his father to Mitchell’s famed court-martial. Dressed in a child-size air service uniform, he watched his father testify on Mitchell’s behalf. Five years later, young Robin flew for the first time when his father took him up in an open-cockpit biplane.

Deciding on a military career at the age of 12, Olds attended Hampton High School in Hampton Virginia where he became a standout football player. Declining a series of football scholarships, he elected to take a year of study at Millard Preparatory School in 1939 prior to applying to West Point. Learning of the outbreak of World War II while at Millard, he attempted to leave school and enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

This was blocked by his father who forced him to stay at Millard. Completing the course of study, Olds was accepted to West Point in July 1940 and played for the renowned coach Red Blaik, compiling so stellar a record as a tackle on both offense and defense that in 1985 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Selecting service in the U.S. Army Air Forces, Olds completed his primary flight training in the summer of 1942 at the Spartan School of Aviation in Tulsa, Oklahoma.Returning north, he passed through advanced training at Stewart Field in New York. Receiving his wings from Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, Olds graduated from West Point on June 1, 1943 after completing the academy’s accelerated wartime curriculum. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, he received an assignment to report to the West Coast for training on P-38 Lightnings. This done, Olds was posted to the 479th Fighter Group’s 434th Fighter Squadron with orders for Britain.

Arriving in Britain in May 1944, Olds’ squadron quickly entered combat as part of the Allied air offensive prior to the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Dubbing his P-38J aircraft the “Scat II” (every fighter he flew in combat was named “Scat” and numbered sequentially), Olds worked closely with his crew chief to learn about aircraft maintenance. Promoted to Captain on July 24, on a low-level mission over Montmirail, he spotted two bogeys far in front of him, heading to his right, about 200 feet off the deck.

He pulled behind the two FW-190’s and at 400 yards behind the trailing plane, he fired a six-second burst, hitting the left wing and then pulling his gunfire onto the fuselage. Big pieces flew off, flame and smoke poured out, and the airplane rolled off to the right. Turning his attention to the second plane, he did not see the first one hit the ground. As the second plane pulled a full 360 turn, Olds stayed with him. From dead astern, he fired a five-second burst and observed many hits. The Focke Wulf zoomed up and the pilot bailed out.

On August 25, during an escort mission to Wismar, Germany, Olds shot down three Messerschmitt Bf 109s to become the squadron’s first ace, making him the last P-38 ace of the Eighth Air Force and the last in the European Theater of Operations. He also claimed three more unofficial kills that could not be verified by witnesses.

In mid-September, the 434th began converting to the P-51 Mustang. This required some adjustment on Olds’ part as the single-engine Mustang handled differently than the twin-engine Lightning.

After downing a Bf 109 over Berlin on Oct. 6, Olds completed his initial combat tour in November and was given two months leave in the United States. Returning to Europe in January 1945, he was promoted to Major the following month on February 9, and received his seventh aerial victory the same day, using his P-51D’s new K-14 gunsight to calculate the deflection and hit a Bf-109 at 450 yards over Magdeburg with his first burst, a result that surprised even Maj. Olds. He closed in and fired twice more, with his third burst sending the Messerschmitt down in flames. Five days later, on February 14, he claimed three more kills but only received credit for two with the other listed as a “probable.”

On March 25, less than two years out of West Point and at only 22 years of age, Maj. Olds received command of the 434th. He never forgot it. Decades later he said, “As a Major I was responsible for feeding and housing my men, training my men, and rewarding or punishing them. As a Colonel I had to check with some general for permission to visit the latrine.”

Unlike many pilots who regarded airplanes as tools, Olds could be sentimental about his machines. Near the end of the war he was one of six P-51 pilots who attacked a German airdrome and found himself the lone survivor. He nursed his crippled Mustang back to base but found that it stalled at 175 mph, rolling violently. But as he said, “Scat VI had taken me through a lot and I was damned if I was going to give up on her.”

Somehow he got the bird on the runway and kept it in one piece.

Olds was a team player as long as the team wanted to play. When the leaders were only interested in suiting up, he exercised some initiative. In other words, he went freelancing. In his first two dogfights he was alone with his wingman, having left formation to hunt on his own. As he wryly noted long afterward, “When I shot down my first two airplanes I was relieved to see that they had black crosses on their wings.”

Olds used to say that the two best things about World War II were London and Col. Zemke. When the 479th’s first commander was shot down in August 1944, Hub Zemke moved over from the fabled 56th Fighter Group and rejuvenated the Mighty Eighth’s last fighter outfit. Not that Olds needed any rejuvenating, but the group had plodded along in pedestrian fashion.

In a few weeks Zemke turned things around, and added to Robin’s already formidable determination to succeed as a shooter and a leader. The group converted to P-51s in September but on October 30, 1944, while flying in unforecasted turbulence, the wing of Zemke’s P-51 was torn off. Zemke was forced to bail out over enemy territory and was captured. He was liberated when the war with Germany ended.

Olds had made ace in both the P-38 and P-51, probably the only pilot ever to do so. Postwar after VE-Day, he returned to the States and reverted to his permanent rank: a 23-year-old Captain.

With the end of the war in Europe in May, Olds’ tally stood at 12 kills as well as 11.5 destroyed on the ground. Returning to the US, Olds was assigned to West Point to serve as an assistant football coach to Earl “Red” Blaik.

Olds’ time at West Point proved brief as many older officers resented his rapid rise in rank during the war. In February 1946, Olds obtained a transfer to the 412th Fighter Group at March Field, California, and trained on the P-80 Shooting Star. Through the remainder of the year, he flew as part of a jet demonstration team with Lt. Col. John C. “Pappy” Herbst.

In 1946, while based at March Field, Olds met Hollywood actress (and “pin-up girl”) Ella Raines on a blind date in Palm Springs. They married in Beverly Hills on February 6, 1947, and had two daughters, Christina and Susan, and a son, Robert Ernest, who was stillborn in 1958. Most of their 29-year marriage, marked by frequent extended separations and difficult homecomings, was turbulent because of a clash of lifestyles, particularly her refusal to ever live in government housing on base. Olds and Ella Raines separated in 1975 and divorced in 1976. Olds then married Abigail Morgan Sellers Barnett in January 1978, and they divorced after fifteen years of marriage.

Ella Raines died in May 30, 1988 Sherman Oaks, California from throat cancer. She was 67.

Seen as a rising star, Olds was selected for a U.S. Air Force-Royal Air Force exchange program in 1948. Traveling to Britain, he commanded No. 1 Squadron at RAF Tangmere and flew the Gloster Meteor. With the end of this assignment in late 1949, Olds became the operations officer for the F-86 Sabre-equipped 94th Fighter Squadron at March Field in California.

Olds next was given command of the Air Defense Command’s 71st Fighter Squadron based at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport. He remained in this role for much of the Korean War despite repeated requests for combat duty. Increasingly unhappy with the U.S. Air Force, despite promotions to Lieutenant Colonel (1951) and Colonel (1953), he debated retiring but was talked out of it by his friend Maj. Gen. Frederic H. Smith, Jr. Shifting to Smith’s Eastern Air Defense Command, Olds languished in several staff assignments until receiving an assignment to the 86th Fighter-Interceptor Wing at Landstuhl Air Base, Germany in 1955. Remaining abroad for three years, he later oversaw the Weapons Proficiency Center at Wheelus Air Base, Libya.

Made Deputy Chief, Air Defense Division at the Pentagon in 1958, Olds produced as series of prophetic papers calling for improved air-to-air combat training and the increased production of conventional munitions. After assisting in generating the funding for the classified SR-71 Blackbird program, Olds attended the National War College in 1962-1963. Following graduation, he commanded the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Bentwaters. During this time, he brought over former Tuskegee Airman Col. Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. to Britain to serve on his staff. Olds left the 81st in 1965 after forming an aerial demonstration team without command authorization.

After brief service at Shaw AFB in South Carolina, Olds was given command of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base. He knew from his own sources that all was not well in the 8th TFW and resolved to see it from the perspective of the FNG (the “freaking” new guy).

He went through the normal in-processing routine like any other newbie, paid close attention and spoke little. By the time he reached the front office, he reckoned that he knew all he needed to. He began cleaning house.

First he cut loose the deadwood, the ticket punchers and careerists who had “sniveled some counters “- missions that counted toward completion of a tour when in fact they had not gone north. Then he began learning the way the Wolfpack did business so he could improve upon it. He stood before the F-4C Phantom crews and said, “I’m going to start here by flying Green Sixteen (tail-end Charlie) and you guys are going to teach me how. But teach me fast and teach me good, because I’m a quick learner.”

Sitting in the audience was Capt. Ralph Wetterhahn, a future MiG killer. Like so many other pilots and WSOs, he was energized by the new CO’s press-on attitude. Years later, Wetterhahn compared Olds’ arrival with that of Brig. Gen. Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) in Twelve O’clock High.

The old ways were not only out, they were deceased. A new regime had arisen, and the Wolfpack began showing results. Olds ruled over a fiefdom like a feudal baron, enjoying the excitement of the hunt by day and discussing the great game with his men at arms by night.

Under Olds’ predecessor, who seldom flew combat, the 8th had eked out a meager kill-loss ratio. Like the rest of the Air Force, it had barely broken even with Hanoi’s MiGs, peaking at a 2-1 exchange rate. Under Olds, the Wolfpack shot to the top of the Southeast Asia league, bagging 18 MiGs, and when he left, the wing’s kill ratio stood at 4-1.

The free-wheeling environment at Ubon fueled morale, and the Wolfpack’s was stratospheric. Dedicated consumers of booze and red meat, they reveled in the warrior ethic. In contrast, todays sedate, sober young professionals are superbly educated, highly competent, and terrified that they might say something that somebody would find objectionable. Olds did not want to live in that world.

And he didn’t.

Increasing concerned about F-105 Thunderchief losses to North Vietnamese MiGs during bombing missions, Olds designed “Operation Bolo” in late 1966. This called for 8th TFW F-4s to mimic F-105 operations in an effort to draw enemy aircraft into combat. Implemented in January 1967, the operation saw American aircraft down seven MiG-21s, with Olds shooting down one. The MiG losses were the highest suffered in one day by the North Vietnamese during the war. A stunning success, Operation Bolo effectively eliminated the MiG threat for most of the spring of 1967. After bagging another MiG-21 on May 4, Olds shot down two MiG-17s on the 20th to raise his total to 16, including the four MiGs over Vietnam.

Over the next few months, Olds continued to personally lead his men into combat. In an effort to raise morale in the 8th TFW, he began growing a famed handlebar mustache. Copied by his men, they referred to them as “bulletproof mustaches.” During this time, he avoided shooting down a fifth MiG as he had been alerted that should he become an ace over Vietnam, he would be relieved of command and brought home to conduct publicity events for the Air Force. On August 11, Olds conducted a strike on the Paul Doumer Bridge in Hanoi. For his performance, he was awarded the Air Force Cross.

Upon return to the U.S., Olds was acclaimed as America’s top gun of the war to date, a record he retained for the next five years. But he was contemptuous of the Air Force’s attitude toward air combat, exclaiming, “The best flying job in the world is a MiG-21 pilot at Phuc Yen. Hell, if I was one of them I’d have got 50 of us!”

Despite his MiG-killing fame, he was perhaps proudest of the strike against North Vietnam’s best-defended target: Thai Nguyen steel mill. In an ultra-low-level attack, leaving rooster tails on the paddies behind them, Olds and two wingmen put their bombs on target. He considered it a dangerously wasteful effort, as the mill had been hit repeatedly, but its smoke stacks had remained standing. What he valued most was the courage and skill of his aircrews.

Leaving the 8th TFW in September 1967, Olds was made Commandant of Cadets at the US Air Force Academy. Promoted to brigadier general on June 1, 1968, he worked to restore pride in the school after a large cheating scandal had blackened its reputation. In February 1971, Olds became director of aerospace safety in the Office of the Inspector General. That fall, he was sent back to Southeast Asia to report on the combat readiness of USAF units in the region. While there, he toured bases and flew several unauthorized combat missions.

He found what he feared: most Air Force fighter crews “couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag.” Commander John Nichols, a Navy MiG killer brought to Udorn, Thailand to teach dog fighting to the Air Force blue suits, saw Olds taxi his F-4 into the chocks after a practice mission. “The canopy came open, followed by General Olds’ helmet in a high, lofting arc. He was not happy.” But his report and analysis were not well received, and his recommendations were ignored.

When Operation Linebacker began in May 1972, American fighter jets returned to the offense in the skies over North Vietnam for the first time in nearly four years. Navy and Marine Corps fighters, reaping the benefits of their TOPGUN program, immediately enjoyed considerable success with a 12:1 kill-loss ratio. In contrast, by June, as Olds had predicted, the Air Force’s fighter community was struggling with a nearly 1:1 kill-loss ratio.

To the new Inspector General, Lt. Gen. Ernest C. Hardin, Jr., Olds offered to take a voluntary reduction in rank to Colonel so he could return to operational command and straighten out the situation. Olds decided to leave the Air Force when the offer was refused (he was offered another inspection tour instead) and he retired on June 1, 1973. With 17 career victories (thirteen in WW II plus four in Vietnam) when the triple ace died, he was America’s third-ranking living ace. His 259 total combat missions included 107 in World War II and 152 in Southeast Asia, 105 of those over North Vietnam. Scat XXVII (F-4C-24-MC 64-0829), the plane he flew for his four MiG kills, was retired from operational service and placed on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, with the four red MiG stars representing his four MiG kills in Vietnam painted on the splitter vane of the intake.

Retiring to Steamboat Springs, CO, he became active in public affairs. Enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001, Olds later died on June 14, 2007. His ashes were interred at the US Air Force Academy.

Far too many military personnel, policemen, and politicians mouth their oath of office as a rote exercise. Not Robin Olds. He thought about the words, absorbed, them, and passed them along. In addressing newly commissioned officers he said, “The airman swears that he will obey the orders of the officers appointed over him. Do you realize what responsibilities that puts on your shoulders? Your orders have to be legal and proper. Think about it, before you give one. But think about how to protect and defend the Constitution. Because do you know what that is? That is by, for, and of The People. It is not the President; it is not the Speaker of the House; nor the Leader of the Senate. It is the People of the United States; who, hopefully in their wisdom will guide their forces properly.”

Olds had been writing a memoir for several years prior to his death. Says F-4 pilot and novelist Mark Berent, “It was well written, as you’d expect from Robin, but it wasn’t really about him. It was more about people he knew.”

Another Air Force officer who read part of the text said that it began as an ethereal discussion with the ghost of Robin’s father. Robert Olds had asked his son the status of the U.S. Air Force and got a detailed debriefing on what’s wrong with the service. It was a long list.

When he died on June 14, not quite 85, Olds left the work incomplete. The fact that his book remains unfinished represents a major loss to aviation literature.

Gen. Robin Olds once said his magnificent mustache represented his defiance. This defiance grew into the modern-day practice called “Mustache March” in the U.S. Air Force, in which Airmen of all ranks grow their mustaches out of regulations for the entire month of March in defiance of AF hair grooming standards.

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.

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.

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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.

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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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28
Sep

CCM Robert D. Chandler U.S. Air Force (Ret.) (1966-2005)

chandlerView the Service Reflections of US Air Force Veteran:

CCM Robert D. Chandler

U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

(1966-2005)

Shadow Box: http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/profile/68255

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

When I was a young boy, on rainy days I would sit and look at my dad’s military photos and dream about the future and what it would be like to be in the United States Military. My dad served in the U. S. Army and the US Army Air Corps. Before that he had served in the CCCs (Civilian Conservation Corp). On Saturday nights, my dad, brother and I would shine our shoes for church on Sunday, and my dad would press our trousers with a sharp crease like he did while he was serving in the military. He taught us close order drill with a broom stick when we were 9 years old and 10 years old.

By the time I finished High School and had 57 hours of college, the Vietnam War was in full force. My buddy, Gary Lane, and I decided to enlist into the USAF in January 1966. We were set to ship out to Lackland AFB in February but an outbreak of meningitis kept us from enlisting until March 9, 1966. A hit tune by Barry Sadler called the Green Berets was playing on the radio, young men were joining the military left and right and I did not want to miss my chance of being in uniform so I joined the USAF as planned.

My dad said he would hate to see me leave home, but I would become a man and learn more in the USAF than in College. He was right!

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

After Basic Training at Lackland AFB in March – April 1966, I went to Shepard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas for Basic Air Craft Loadmaster Training. I attended technical school there and learned all about C-124 cargo planes. Upon graduation from Tech School in July 1966, I got orders to reportto the 36th Troop Carrier Squadron at Langley AFB, Virginia. After more ground training, I took my first flight on a C-130E on August 24, 1966.

In October 1966, I was sent to the 37th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Langley and was promoted to A2C. I started airdrop training and by January 1967 I was Combat Ready on the C-130E. I loved flying and my career field and volunteered for every mission. My first cross country was in October 1966 to Lajes Field, Azores. The flight back to Langley took 9 hours because of headwinds all the way home.

In November 1968 I was transferred to the 38th Airlift Squadron and about a few weeks later received order to report to Fairchild AFB, Washington for Combat Survival Training and after that report to the 774th TAS at Clark Field, Philippines.

I arrived at Clark Air Base on February 3, 1969 and went on my first mission to South Vietnam a week later. I rotated in and out of Vietnam until March 1970 and I got out of the USAF and returned to West Virginia.

In September 1971, I joined the West Virginia Air National Guard and became an Aircraft Loadmaster on C-119 cargo planes. In 1975, I graduated from the NCO Academy at Knoxville, Tennessee in May and went to work for the West Virginia Air National Guard as a full-time Technician as an Aircraft Loadmaster. Our unit got C-130s in November 1975 and I thought I had died and went to heaven. I was going to live at home and do the same job I loved in the regular Air Force.

I flew with the 130th Airlift Squadron from 1971 until 25 January 2001. I had become the first Command Chief of the 130th Airlift Wing in August 1996 and to become a State Command Chief, I had to hang up my wings. It was a difficult decision but I was selected to become the State Command Chief of West Virginia and finished my flying career with 11, 1407 hours of flying time. I was truly blessed, having traveled to 77 countries and all 50 states and territories.

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.

I participated in Combat Operations from February 1969 until March 1970 while flying missions on C-130B aircraft out of Clark AB, Philippines. We flew from the DMZ at Dong Ha in the north, to the Mekong Delta in the south and everything in between. We airlifted cannon barrels for artillery pieces, food, ammo, passengers, and body bags of young Americans. We also airdropped 10,000 pound bombs in an operation called Commando Vault. We airdropped Blu-82s to make helicopter landing zones. Photo of a Blue-82 loaded for a mission.

In 1991 we flew combat missions in the Persian Gulf War. After the war had ended, we flew a mission over the battle fields and airdropped 37,000 pounds of clothing to a prisoner of war camp on the border of Kuwait and Iraq. The tracks were still fresh in the sand as we flew to our Drop Zone.

During the War in Bosnia, we flew supply missions to our forces on the ground.

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