Monday, October 27, 2014

Ghosties!

So, There I was…* Been at Kadena about a year, got through Flight Lead checkout with only a few hitches, made the list for Major and am now a Flight Commander.  I’ve got guys I actually command!  Well, not really, but I do get to do all the paperwork on them. If they get into trouble, I get called in with them to the Squadron Commander’s office and get my butt chewed with them and then again after they’re dismissed.  So, I’ve got that going for me.

On the personal side, Mrs Juvat and I have been notified we’ve finally moved up the list far enough to qualify for on base housing.  This was a big improvement as the place we were living on the economy had two tiny bedrooms, and the kitchen counters were way too short for me.  Also, it was costing me an unheard of amount of money.  IIRC about $1000 per month (mid 80s).  COLA helped, but didn’t cover it.  Moving on base, we’d still get the COLA, but lose our housing allowance.  Still, moving on base was going to be a pretty big raise.  Mostly, though, moving on base was getting us back with our (USAF) family with all that entails.

Little Juvat (for the record he’s 6’4” now and probably a bit peeved reading his nom de plume), had just turned 4 and had developed an initially endearing habit, that very quickly became tedious.  Something had convinced him that there were “Ghosties” in the house.  He would go to sleep at the normal time, leaving Mom and I a little time to do those things that people like to do before going to sleep.  Sometime way too soon after, would come a terrible shriek followed by the pitter- patter of running feet.  A sobbing explanation that there were “Ghosties” in his room and would Dad please come and make them go away?

As I said, the first couple of times were endearing.  After that…

It started being every couple of hours all night long, and for whatever reason, Mom didn’t have the anti-Ghostie power.  Only Dad.

This was in the middle of the Reagan buildup years.  I saw a comment on Old NFO’s blog, saying Pilots NEVER got enough flying time.  True Enough!  However, there were times when we got pretty close.  Flying two or three air to air sorties a day could wear a guy out and getting a good night’s sleep was welcome. 

It’s Friday and I’m getting fairly tired.  As a measure of how tired, I decided against the usual Fighter Pilot activities at the Skoshi KOOM and went home.  I’m sitting there reading something.  Little Juvat is sleeping.  Mrs. Juvat is doing something somewhere.  I’m pondering going to sleep where I am or seeing if I can drag my butt to bed, when the phone rings.

It’s the Ops Officer.

He asks if I’m a volunteer for a “real world” mission.    “Yes, Sir, of course.”  “Great, can’t tell you more over the phone, but be at the squadron at 0600 tomorrow.  Bring your deployment bag.”

All thoughts of sleep are now gone.  I turn on the TV to see if I can get some indication of what’s going on.  Wondering if one of the Kim clan is planning to vacation in the South of Korea and we’re going to predeploy.  Well, that’s what they pay me for. Other than weather, nothing much on the news.

Next morning arrives, only a couple of battles with the Ghosties, but I haven’t slept much anyway.  Excitement, “what if”-ing, and a bit of Oh S#!T.

Time to go,  kiss the wife and kid goodbye, grab the bag and jump in my trusty stead.  It's a Mazda rustbucket, but it has a cassette player.  Slam in the cassette that’s partially popped out and crank up the volume.  It’s “Highway to the Danger Zone” from Top Gun.

 Perfect! Fate is on my side! The Fangs pop out and I’m ready to go kill something.  It's early Saturday morning and traffic is light.  I make good time and get to the Squadron.  Walk in and find the Ops Officer and find out what he needs me to do. 

He says, “Well, we’re going to be ‘phoon evac-ing the squadron at 1000 to Kwang Ju, how about getting the ROK weather and notams.”  Fangs immediately retract to the peace time, boring mode.

Kadena didn’t have enough Typhoon proof shelters to shelter all the aircraft on the base, and so, when a typhoon looked reasonably likely to hit, the various agencies on the base would decide who would get the shelters and who would fly out of the way.  This was a good deal if they determined that the storm track would prevent flying North.  Since our mission was to prevent the Kim clan from vacationing in the South, having the aircraft already deployed there  was preferred over trying to recover aircrews, aircraft and maintainers from an unplanned deployment to Clark.  So Kwang Ju it was.
Home Sweet Home
Source: Google Maps

We brief. We’re taking all flyable aircraft, 24, and I’ll be leading one of the four ships.  Nothing really difficult.  We step to the jets, and the Ops Officer happens to be riding in the bread van with me.  He says I look really tired.  I explain the situation with the Ghosties and he offers some possible solution which I say I’ll try when we get back.

Crank up, taxi out, blast off, two hours of airliner time, come down initial and land.  No worries.  Get into the building we will be using for squadron operations as well as our quarters, and check with the Ops Officer on what the plan is.  He says the Maintainers will be recocking the jets for the remainder of the day and we’ll resume a flying schedule in the morning, why don’t you get some rest?  I look at my watch.  It’s a little after noon.  Make it into the room and the next thing I know, my wingman/roommate is shaking me saying it’s time to get up, we’ve got a briefing in half an hour.  It’s 0700 the next morning.

The typhoon bullseyes Kadena with 120K winds.  Trees are knocked down, but other than that not much damage.  Mrs Juvat and Little Juvat handled their first typhoon quite well.  They actually stayed with the Navy Dentist and his family next door.  She reported that he makes excellent Margaritas.

A couple of days go by and we get the redeploy order.  Shortly thereafter we’re back at home.

That night I get a complete night’s rest.  In the morning, I ask Little Juvat about the Ghosties.  He says “the wind blew them all away!”  Gotta love him!

BTW Happy Birthday Mrs Juvat!



*What’s the difference between a Fairy Tale and a War Story?  A Fairy Tale begins with Once upon a time and a War Story begins So, there I was.

22 comments:

  1. Ah, typhoon evacs. We usually had enough lead time to head to the package store (beer) and commissary (snacks) before getting confined to barracks and getting fed C Rations.

    Reminds me of a story though and I thank you for that.

    Great story Juvat!

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    1. Thanks Sarge, looking forward to your version.

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  2. I can remember visiting some of the guy's houses - off base - at Itazuke in 1964. Man were they cold and small. Even when you got the whole flight inside we still wore coats. The main source of heat was typically a kerosene heater in the corner of the living room. When Johnnie Walker and his friend Jim Beam arrived, it warmed up a little. Fond memories of a USAF, now gone, they say.

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    1. It was rarely cold at Kadena, but you're right about small. In the "master" bedroom, we had a double sized futon that unless we were getting ready for bed. was folded up and stored vertically against the wall so we had some room to move about. Doing dishes in the kitchen was torture. My posture was much like our president visiting the Saudi King as I washed them up after dinner. All that having been said, thirty years of hindsight leaves pretty good memories of our time there.

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    2. I can second yer "cold and small" comment, Dave. I lived in a one-bedroom, second story walk-up, in Beautiful Wakkanai-By-The-Sea in 1968. I was damned lucky that kerosene heater you mention didn't kill me or my family. I was VERY happy to move on base when a house opened up...

      @ Juvat: Great post, as always and ever.

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    3. Well....Wakkanai! That reminds me of a story! Thanks.

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  3. Great post, juvat. Glad to hear the 'ghosties' just blew away. Like OldAFSarge I have 'fond' memories of the typhoon evacs at Kadena. The trip to the Package store (1st priority) and then another trip to the commissary for food so we wouldn't have to eat any more of the delicious c-rats than necessary. Also taping up every pane of glass with typhoon tape (yeah, I know it was just duct tape but never heard it called that there). We did the taping so often, I just left the tape on my barracks windows and the Cal docks windows!

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    1. Leaving them up seemed to be common the first year we were on base. Kinda looked something like Detroit, so the new Base Commander put out an edict. Then he had his first typhoon season putting them up and taking them down. Put out a second edict, they can stay up for the duration of the season and come down after.

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  4. Great story Juvat. Thanks for starting my week with a smile.

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  5. Typhoon scheduled to hit Quy Nhon, RVN. The two lift and one gun platoon of the 129th AHC flies south to Phan Rang AB. Gun platoon crew chiefs and gunners commendeer flight line. AF security guards are not amused but outgunned. Gun platoon pilots generally lead massive assault on "O" Club. Hilarity does not ensue. Senior USAF "management" not amused and notifies senior USA "management" who is equally not amused. Redeployed back home the next day, typhoon be damned. Quick refuel stop at Tuy Hoa AB for the slicks who are "shaken down" for misapproiated articles from Phan Rang AB. Guns can can carry "stuff" onboard and have longer range so stop at Tuy Hoa AB is not necessary; "stuff" still missing from Phan Rang. More Army "management" even more not amused. Article 15s promised "all around." 129th AHC not welcome at any AB in RVN unless there happen to be "doobads" in the wire and then we are welcome to shoot. "Missing articles" mysteriously found and returned to Phan Rang AB. 1st AVN BDE Commander squashes "rumours" of punishment because he apparently loves himself some rougue gunpilots. Ah, good times. regards, Alemaster

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    1. Several of my Dad's friends were assigned to Phan Rang. Knowing them, I think they'd have sided with the "Hilarity" ensuing side, being O-3's and below. And I've been on the receiving end of the "not amused" part after inciting some Hilarity. Might take some considerable cleaning up but that could be a future post.
      Great story, Alemaster!

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    2. "Arright, NIS is working on this and will start making arrests tomorrow. Fess up now and nothing more will be said." Anybody ever fall for that line?

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    3. Juvat, From my limited experience (a couple of tours at Randolph [think The Auger Inn on Fridays] and a career of OSA RONs at various AFBs) it's been my observation that you "trigger pullers" flying fighters or ARRS can equal and sometimes exceed most other service casual bar brilliance. But, that's usually at the newly minted major and 03 and below levels as you stated. That's all but the air cav guys. Seems that the Stetsons just cut off any blood flow that happens to make it to a trooper's brain in the first place. At least most of us would act contrite in the light of day and make an offer to pay for damages and never again darken the doors of said establishment. Cav just steals, breaks things, and lies. Should The Sarge, you, or anyone else be interested, I've another tale of spending New Year's Eve at Cam Rahn Bay AB with the 71st ARRS, Green Hornets, sometime. regards, Alemaster

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    4. Sounds like that would also be a good story. And yes, we fighter pilots can be brilliant on Friday nights. Lord knows, my wife has told me so. (Maybe in not exactly those words, I think there was an "effing" in there somewhere.)

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    5. Alemaster, sounds like we need another "open mic night" so to speak. If you'd like, shoot me an email with the story. I can pretty it up (like adding non-copyrighted photos - heh) and publish it with you getting full credit. (Or blame, depending on how things go. Again, heh.)

      Let me know if you're interested. oldafsarge AT gmail DOT com.

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  6. Thanks juvat!

    Wonder what is worse as far as living on the economy - Japan or Germany?

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    1. I've only visited Germany so can't say definitively. We arrived on Okinawa just as the Dollar started tanking against the Yen. Had to put down 2 months rent in Yen as deposit on the house at about 200 yen to the dollar. It took a while for COLA to catch up with the situation, so rent was painful for a while. The good news was when we moved on base, the landlord had to pay our deposit back in Yen. We took that and bought back dollars at a little less than 100 yen to the dollar.
      Best Mexican Food I've ever had was in downtown Naha. A Hispanic Army mess Sergeant met and married an Okinawan, retired and opened a Mexican Food restaurant. Food was fabulous, but that was the first time I ever paid $25 for a Margarita.

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    2. Japan by far. I've lived in both places.

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