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.