Monday, June 17, 2019

Those "Things"

One of the things I enjoy the most about this blog are the comments.  They reflect a wide variety of views and experiences on a subject  and as I have said before, they educate me on many things that I know nothing about, but find fascinating.

And as a person who posts on this blog, I confess, I never really know where the comments are going to go.

For instance, last Friday, Sarge had a back to nature themed post about bunny rabbits.  Here a picture of the Star of that post.  I believe his name, or the name Sarge gave him, is "Peter".



In any case, Sarge waxed eloquent (as only he can) for a dozen or so paragraphs and then signs off inviting comments.

By the time the fifth comment stream is initiated, we are talking about nuclear weapons.

See what I mean?

Little Bunnies to Nukes in 5 Easy Pieces. (Sometimes you just want toast!)

But....

Referring to Nukes as "Those Things" did remind me of a time....

So, There I was....*

A brand new, but fully qualified wingman in the F-4D.  Yep, the mighty Phantom 2

The Sharp Eyed reader will quickly discern that these are aircraft from two different squadrons, however they ARE in the proper order.  The 80TFS aircraft (the Juvats) is in the lead and the 35TFS (Pantons...PTUI!) is following along.


I have been a fully qualified wingman for about 2 weeks and as there's an Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) expected at any moment, I have been relegated to the night schedule.  Out of sight out of mind.  Given that any mistake in an ORI can be cause for termination of the Wing Commander and any/all folks under him with the word "Commander" in their job description, I can't fault their decision.

Howsomeever, little did they know that the ORI team had a little something up their sleeve.  They were going to kill two birds with one TDY visit  (to mix two metaphors with a cement mixer).  They were not only going to give the Wing an ORI, they were going to give it a Nuclear Surety Inspection as well.

Well...that's just peachy keen.  While an ORI tests "How well will the Wing do in Combat?", a Nuke Surety tests how well do they handle all the procedures and safety precautions for weapons that can reschedule sunrise.

In excruciating detail.  as in, one slipup and it's fail, no do-over, off to retirement for all involved.

Unfortunately, for the Wing King, they have requested for their aircrew, the newest fully qualified flight lead with his crewed WSO and the newest fully qualified wingman with his crewed WSO.

One of those four positions would be filled by me!

Oh S4!7!, Oh Dear!

So, the Squadron Commander sits the 4 of us down with the Squadron Weapons Officers (pilot and WSO) and tells us that we are going to go through (informally) the recertification process once again.  Having done that just the week previously, I thought it a bit of overkill.

But, Hey, I don't have much of a career yet to lose.

So, we study, and study and walk through the preflight on the shapes (practice weapons no payload).

No Sweat, Batman!  We got this!

So...The day rolls around.  The horn goes off and the 8TFW is at "War".

I'm on the night schedule still and so is my designated flight lead, so we get to play all the ground crew CBW games whilst trying to get some crew rest for night flying.  No, I don't sleep well while in chemical gear.

We've been at the ORI for a couple of days and now it's time for our command performance.  We're called in to the Wing Weapons shop where we're handed our "Lines".  These are the target folders and mission information that we will be briefing to the Wing Commander (with the Inspectors noting every word, gesture, nuance....)

We get to work.  4 hours later, we're done with the briefing and the Wing King turns it over to the Inspector's for the Inquisition.

Cue Monte Python






They're going to play "Stump the Dummy" with us for another hour or so.  "Lt juvat, can you fly this line with the aircraft you're assigned?

Duh! "Yes, Sir"

"Can you fly it without a gunsight?"

"Yes, Sir"

"Can you fly it without wing tanks?"

"Yes, Sir"

"Can you fly it without a generator?"

"Yes, Sir"

"Can you fly it without either generators?"

"No, Sir"

"Why not?"

Blah, blah blah!  On and on.  Finally we're blessed to proceed out to the jets.

 We suit up and head out to the jets.  First thing I notice different is they've issued me an actual .38 with actual bullets and had me load them.  I figured it was just part of the "show".

We get to the jets and the SP's are out in force.  Ah well, everybody needs their moment in the sun! So to speak!

But they're walking around with their M-16s looking important and checking badges etc, etc, etc.

Cue Yul Brynner





The bread van drops my WSO and I at the Whiskey Shelter for our jet.  Not sure why they were called
Whiskey Shelters, there certainly wasn't any "Adult Recreational Beverages" available.  Lead and his WSO are dropped off at the Shelter across the Taxiway.  (We can see each other.)

I walk up to the roped off area around our jet.  The area is known as the No-Lone Zone.  This means that NO ONE is allowed to be in their by themselves under any circumstances.  There are two SP's inside the rope.  The Crew Chief and his assistant are also in there.  After checking our credentials, my WSO and I are allowed in.  We must remain within sight of each other until in the jet.  We begin our preflight and as I walk around the nose of the aircraft and look at the right pylon, my heart skips a few beats.

The weapon attached to the pylon is not blue colored like I'd practiced with, but a very shiny silver.

We are now in the presence of greatness.  Great potential for screwing things up massively.

We continue to follow the checklists and eventually complete the preflight.  We climb up the ladders and strap in.  I look across at Lead's jet and see the nose gear light flash.  The signal to start.  We crank and go through the various starting and pre-takeoff checklists.  Once complete I flash my nose gear light to tell Lead I'm a go.

He contacts the Command Post who will give us the go or no go code word.  At this point, I'm no longer sure it's just an exercise and therefore, am reciting my favorite Fighter Pilot prayer as fast as I can.

"Dear Lord, please don't let me screw this up!"

Finally, we hear the shutdown code being transmitted.  I breathe a small sigh of relief, but...

I'm climbing out of the Aircraft with my WSO close behind.  We're still in a No-Lone Zone.  As I get down and start to walk around the nose, I see my Flight Lead standing up in his cockpit with his 38 drawn, pointing it at the Lt Colonel Inspection Chief.

Who is in the No-Lone Zone, by himself!

There's a lot of hubbub going on over there, but "Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys", I've got a weapon of my own I need to handle.

Later at the club, with the inspection and, indeed, the ORI  over, the four of us are sitting down for a cold and much needed adult recreational beverage, when the Lt Colonel comes walking up to our table.  He addresses my Flight Lead.  "Captain, I was wrong and you were right to pull your weapon on me.  I should not have been in the No-Lone Zone unescorted.  I wish you hadn't told me to "Freeze, Mother F...er!" and then directed the SPs to shoot me dead if I so much as took another step, but that was the right thing to do."

He leaves and Lead's WSO starts laughing.  We look at him questioningly.  He says "After LowRent, told the SP to shoot him, the Lt Col said 'Captain, the exercise is over!' at which point LowRent, still with his weapon pointed at him says "Colonel, the exercise is over when I sign this bomb back to maintenance!"

Yep!

Later that night, the Wing Commander showed up at our table with a tray full of drinks.  I don't remember much after that.

*SJC

63 comments:

  1. My first can had an ASROC launcher, and several of the ASROCs were special.

    We flunked the Nuke inspection and that is a bad, bad, thing.
    Minutes after flunking, a stake truck drove down the pier, sailors with Tommy guns cordoned off the pier and a number of ASROCs were lifted off the ship onto the truck and the truck left.
    The time between flunking, and passing, the exam was a miserable time.

    And yes, shortly after passing the exam the ASROCs the truck and Tommy gun process was reversed, and the weapons were put back into the special magazine. I cannot neither comfirm, not deny the nature of those weapons.

    I'm not sure how to turn this into a comment on rabbits.

    If only my pun abilities allowed a long drawn out story with a punchline, "So that's why I had a bad hare day."


    Very good post.




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    1. I'll bet in the interim, people were assigned to the ship to "Help" you overcome your shortcomings. These people undoubtedly reproduced like rabbits...

      Lead's WSO who was also my flight commander had been in a wing who had flunked their inspection. In our preparatory discussions, he said we, most assuredly, did not want to go through that.

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    2. And in the time from "No-Pass" to "Pass" y'all on board were hopping around. It must have been a hare-raising experience.

      On that note, I'll keep my ears out for more bad puns.

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    3. I was very low on the food chain, I was in Engineering and not in the weapons department.
      But a poop storm of that magnitude splashed on everyone.

      My last can flunked their annual food exam, and everybody got pulled into the literal clean up of that mess.



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    4. I could be wrong, but barely qualified 2Lt in a fighter squadron is pretty darn low on the food chain. In the AF, even a fresh from boot camp CBPO E-1 had some responsibilities.

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  2. Pulling night guard duty, listening to the other guy reminiscing about chasing someone through buildings one night. The next day he was called into the CO's office, to meet the visiting security inspector who said "I thought you were trying to shoot me." The reply..."I was."

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    1. Yes, there's a certain satisfaction on bringing reality to people who rarely see it up close and personal.

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  3. I find it hilarious when the box checkers find themselves the next box to be checked. Oh, it is lovely.
    Schadenfreude-alicius.... (aka the word of the day: epicaricacy)

    Well told....

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    1. STxAR for the Word of the Day Win!

      epicaricacy (uncountable) (rare) Rejoicing at or deriving pleasure from the misfortunes of others. Usage notes . The word is mentioned in some early dictionaries, but there is little or no evidence of actual usage until it was picked up by various "interesting word" websites around the turn of the twenty-first century.

      The Challenge of the Day is for Sarge to find a way to incorporate that word (correctly of course) in his next four posts. Or Tuna or Beans in one post.

      And, yes, that riposte did make the rounds of fighter pilot-dom for quite a while afterwords.

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    2. That's a 2 dollar word and I'm a 10 cent Texican. That usually means it'll be used in context, but horribly mispronounced just to make the Engrish majors squirm.... Might even throw in a ya'll and some ain't's for flavor.... Wait, is a plural ain't possesive?? Where is Leta Fae Arnold when I need her??

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    3. I hear ya, STxAR. I can slip into my Texican accent in a heartbeat. I've found that it either entertains or irritates the heck out of Mrs J and I'm not particularly good at predicting which result is forthcoming. Still, to quote from Sarge's Alma Mater, Essayons!

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    4. Not a Jedi approved Academy, then.

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    5. Well...not a Southern Jedi Approved Academy anyhow.

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    6. "Do or do not, there is no try." Yoda :D

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    7. "Ya'll do or do not, there ain't no try." John "Yoda" Wayne :D

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  4. I actually remember working on 806, odd what the brain keeps in storage, innit?

    I never had the opportunity to be near the "special" weapons, Gott sei dank, oddly enough I actually remember that ORI. Might be a story there, POCIR.

    Great post, brings back memories.

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    1. Thanks, That picture was actually given to me by one of my Hero's, Lt Col Gene Fudala. Fud retired from Kunsan after a 20 year career. All he had done in that career was fly fighters, no staff tour, no school, no training command, just fighters. My Backseater, Conehead, and I were his wingman on his final flight. Dollar a bomb, there were 12 each and 25 cents a hole on strafe. I was out about $40 bucks on landing. Great guy!

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  5. Our P-3 crew was one of the two crews in the squadron that were special weps qualified. We had quarterly exercises which, as you described, must be passed or doom descends on everyone. On one such occasion we were having a problem getting the shackle to close completely and were running out of time to complete the load. I was able to push in the right place an got the dang thing to close. Later our AO (Aviation Ordnanceman) claimed I moved it with my thumbs alone and I was everyone's hero. I didn't remember it like that, just that I had a date that evening with a lass (who would later become Mrs Flugelman) and nothing was going to stand in my way.

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    1. Exigencies of the Service, I would say. AKA Whatever works!

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  6. "Freeze, moth...." thanks for the chuckle juvat. Ya..... the comments are certainly interesting what with the varied tacks taken.

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    1. Well...It did get the attention of both the miscreant and the SP who had let him in mistakenly. And, allowed LowRent a little payback for the Chicken Excrement that went on in the "inquisition". I mean, really, "Can you fly the mission without electrical power?" Uh...No.

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    2. That is twice you used that particular call sign, that being "LowRent."

      Perhaps a story expounding upon call sign origins of particularly intriguing call signs, in the future, would be in order? Please?

      I still laugh at LUSH's recounting of why someone she knew was named 'Dictator.' "Well, he's a dick, and he's shaped like a potato..."

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    3. Usually, a Callsign was assigned due to a colossal blunder on the assignee's part or was a play on his name. For instance, we had a guy whose last name was Moon in my Eagle Squadron. He hadn't even arrived on base when his nametag was created for him...Sun Yung. It fit. LowRent was one of those cases. I had the good fortune of being assigned at Holloman when TAC lost it's mind and allowed, for a time, people to chose their own callsign, to be actually used in flight. After approval of course. I submitted "juvat" and was approved.

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  7. I’ve had the dubious privilege of being on both sides of an ORI.
    It explained just how rivalries between commands can become toxic.
    As for nukes, we had ASROC and never actually saw or even knew for certain there were anything but practice and conventional weapons on board.
    The only giveaway there might be ant was the Marines who showed up with the stuff we were receiving were equipped for all out assault.

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    1. That would probably be a good indication. Fortunately, that assignment was the last one I had with that mission.

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    2. Skip-I was a hole snipe on my first can, but I qualified to be a Sounding and Security Watch stander to increase my ability to make money when inport.

      Sounding and Security was an armed watch, and part of the training included Special weapons security.
      I sort of recall part of the training that said if you were making your rounds, and you checked the ASROC magazine hatch, you were to open it if it was unlocked, and if there was only one person in the magazine you were to load the .45 and shoot that person without warning or question.

      I do clearly remember that the pier was cordoned off by sailors in dungarees, and wearing gas mask pouches and carrying Thompsons. The Marines may well have been around, but I just don't remember seeing them.

      This would have been sometime in '73 aboard the USS Hawkins (DD-873) at Destroyer and Submarine Piers in Norfolk.


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    3. Hmmmm, well that would certainly ruin someones day if the hatch had been unlocked and he mistook it for the head.

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    4. Sure would change the definition of a one hole or two hole outhouse!

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    5. And I forgot to add that even as a very young and impressionable squid, I thought that random shooting in a special weapons magazine might not have been the best idea.
      The "Hey, Ryan, be careful what you shoot at. Most things in here don't react too well to bullets." scene in "The Hunt for Red October" came long after I left that can.

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    6. I suspect that's probably the case with most anything on a sub.

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  8. One of the things my dad really loved when flying the F-84G was practicing The Bomb toss and flyaway maneuver. His squadron was very good, from what he said, with the dummy versions of special munitions. Something about the thrill of watching the dummies fly up when his fellows pulled away.

    As far as I know, he never actually dealt with special munitions. But, of course, being the tight-lipped person he was, since I didn't have the security clearance, he wouldn't tell me.

    He did, however, when at Kwajalein (yes, spellchecker, that's a real word, see, caps and everything meaning it's a name and all that) he had the yearly duty of going up to Enewitak to take radiation measurements on the dome up there. That he could talk about. Said it wasn't bad in the early 70's, and neither was the surrounding water. Though he did state one time he was glad he was done siring children before he had that duty. (Apparently he also got to go rad sampling around some of the gopher holes in Nevada during one of his tours out there somewhere doing something he never talked about. Dangit, dad, you had so many weird and cool stories that just stopped about 6-7 words in, "And there I was at... um, no." "We were walking in... um, no." Gahhhhhhh!)

    (And thanks to all you cold warriors who did keep your mouths shut about things that were mouth-shuttable about.)

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    1. If one didn't think too much about what exactly they were practicing to do, special weapons delivery methods were kinda fun. Min altitude requirements were winked at as were airspeed maximums. Unless, there was an actual inspection going on of course. In one of my early posts, I talked about a guy that had screwed up the switches on a practice run in Korea where the Nuke target was a small island in the bay. Whereas the practice nuke was high drag, the practice conventional bombs were not. when he pickled and pulled with a conventional bomb selected, and rolled inverted to see it impact (something you would NEVER do with a real one), he noticed he was flying formation with the bomb. As it appexed and started back down, he noted that a Korean Oil Tanker was directly in the flight path. Fortunately it impacted astern of the ship, although he did report a very wide eyed crewman on the stern of the ship as he flew past. Ahh....Those were the days!.

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    2. Had a neighbor while growing up, who flew bombers in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Only found out that his plane was one of the A bomb transports later on (in the 90's??) - never said if it was the Hiroshima or Nagasaki version; and even then it was one of those read-between-the-lines hints.
      Fun note - his B-29 was one of the first to land in Japan after the war ended. The radio man was the only one under 6 foot tall, and he stayed in the plane to keep in touch.. Most were 6' 4" or more. Got a lot of round eyed stares from the locals while walking around.

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    3. It was interesting being assigned in the Orient for much of my career. I enjoyed flying with/against the ROKAF/JASDF/Philippine AF's and found them to be worthy adversaries as well as valued allies. Given the 30 or so year interval, I have always wondered what it would be like to be one of the first to land on Japanese soil.

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  9. juvat: this is a Most Excellent Post ( MEP ), for which I award you the MEP ribbon which is to go just before the Good Conduct ribbon on your ribbon bar.

    I'll bet that John in Philly could spin us one or more highly entertaining post. ( hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink ). Which reminds me, any post which has a Monty Python clip ( and especially the ' No one expects the Spanish Inquisition ' ) in it, is a great post.

    I was one of the lucky ones, the closest I got to special weapons was seeing the alert B-52s from a good distance away.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. Thank you, Sir. I shall wear it proudly. Which blogger uniform are ribbons required to be worn with. Hopefully, not the blog writing uniform. I'll just leave the why to your imagination.

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    2. That should be worn only on full dress occasions, state dinners and the like, which we haven't had yet.

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    3. I don't know. There was an event last October that might have qualified.

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    4. Why yes, you are correct. I have a similar event this coming October.

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  10. HUMPF! Even when I proofread, I missed not having an ' s ' here ( "...one or more highly entertaining post..." ). Not much of an OGF today.

    Paul

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    1. Yes, but with the Blogger's lack of ability to edit comments, one must be allowed some leeway. Even for the OGF.

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  11. Most excellent story and story telling! Nice to turn the tables on the inspector who often seem to be a little full of themselves anyway. Big of him to admit he was wrong and it wasn't a "do as I say, not as I do" situation.

    By the way, the bunny photo allows me to make a comment I missed when it first came up. We see either bunnies in our neighborhood, or coyotes in the canyon. For some reason they are never there at the same time. Those Wile E guys tend to move from canyon to canyon, which allows the cute and furry populace to increase.

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    1. Yeah, for a brief instant, I was on the Wing King's good side. But...As they say, "All glory is fleeting".One small 2-3 second mistake and it's mobile control for you.

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  12. great post and great comments from all today - several really good laughs. This is indeed an august assemblage of writers and commenters (commentators?). Had a 'friend' who was a Marine officer in NC who dealt with special weapons, among other things, and he often had to go visit some folks behind the fence at Ft. Bragg. He was once questioned by an Army three-star as to the purpose of his visit who did not like being told (by a Marine Major) that he did not have the clearance level to know the purpose of the visit. Even better, when the three-star inquired up the chain as to the actions of what he considered an interloper, he was told that he had been given the proper response and that the three-star should mind his own business.

    Regarding bunnies, did Sarge name him Peter because he saw him eating pumpkins?
    Regarding coyotes, we have them here in our neighborhood in NC - a while back, our neighborhood email server, which is often used to report lost pets, had a post where a family noted their cat was missing and asking if anyone had seen it. The next post, by someone else, noted that they had just seen two coyotes in their back yard. I don't think the neighbors appreciated my post asking if the two previous posts might be related ...

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    1. I got the name from a series of books by Beatrix Potter. Much beloved books when I was a wee lad.

      Especially The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

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  13. Never having served, I've never been around Special Weapons AFAIK.

    But I've been on plenty of active Arleigh Burke DDG's, and several Nimitz-class carriers, so I suspect I may have been closer to some than I'll ever know.....

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  14. Props to that Lt. Col. for owning his blunder.

    The Engineer Group we were part of had a section in Gelnhausen (circa 1965) that had man portable ADMs. Once walked past a 3/4 ton and saw an ADM sitting in the back with nobody around. Brought it to the attention of our SgtMaj. Turned out it was a training prop but there was an intense shit storm at Pioneer Kaserne for thirty minutes or so. Being a lowly PFC I never heard what the repercussions were but doubt it enhanced anyone's future prospects.

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  15. Damn, Juvat, they were REALLY serious about taking that inspection out to the edge!
    "The bread van drops....I at the Whiskey Shelter for our jet."
    "drops I"? They apparently made you temporarily the only nuclear-armed aircraft in the entire Jamaican Air Force!
    --Tennessee Budd

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  16. Ah yes, the s**t DO get real when it ain't blue... Although I'm not sure the Navy's rusted .38 Victorys would have fired...

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    1. Yeah, I'm not sure when, if ever, those pistols had last been fired. As my instructor at survival explained, aircrew were not issued them to get into a shooting match with any pursuers, they were issued just so the pursuers were a little slower in pursuing.

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  17. Tennessee Budd: What's your heartburn? This "The bread van drops my WSO and I at the Whiskey Shelter for our jet." is correct. Just because some people use ' me ', does not mean that using ' I ' there is wrong. This is an official ruling.

    OGF Paul

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    1. Gotta disagree, Paul. TN Budd is correct. It should read, "The bread van drops my WSO and me at the Whiskey Shelter...". If you take "my WSO and" out of the sentence, you wouldn't say, "The bread van drops I at the ..." (unless you were Jamaican, perhaps). "I" is a subjective pronoun and is used when you are referencing yourself as the subject of the sentence. "Me" is an objective pronoun and is used when you are referencing yourself as the object of some action.

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    2. Boys, Boys, Boys...The best I (me?) could muster in any of the English courses I took in school was a B-. But I did spend quite a lot of time reading many of these author's works.

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    3. I'm not sure which bothers me most - that you might think you are the equal of those authors such that you can be forgiven the same literary faux pas' - or that you used the HuffPost as a source! :-) I think the latter, since you ARE a purdy decent 'riter!

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    4. Not by a long shot your first postulation. Except that I read them and thought that was how it was supposed to be. I mean...my English Teacher said to read them, she knew my grammar sucked, ergo...

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    5. Don't make me stop this bread van...

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    6. No harm intended, Juvat--it was a gentle chide. I know fighter pilots (or aviators, as I was Navy) can't really be trained in anything non-aircraft-related. They lose interest if it isn't zoomy! I'm joking again, and I did enjoy the story.
      Again gently: Paul, that is, after all, the way to determine the correct pronoun: break the sentence in two, & check which is grammatically incorrect.
      Sorry, but I'm an old language freak. You should be inside my head when I hear "irregardless", "supposably", or my pet peeve, "I could care less". With those, it's a good thing I have BP meds.
      --Tennessee Budd

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    7. Tennessee, we share some of the same peeves. Not that I don't violate that at times, but yeah.

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  18. We used to sit TDY alert in Korea at various places where the "huns" and later the "thuds" were sitting on their "blivots". Much hush, hush going on and no one wanted the duty. Korea is a cold place and guess who always picked up the winter rotations? Just another case of ADC protecting the TAC from enemies, unknown and known. As a matter of filling up history a bit, I signed in at Itazuke AB, 23 Oct 62, the day of the Cuban Missile Crisis. DEFCON was so high, my new Squadron CO posted me to the BOQ and said come back again in a week.
    Most normal people knew that ORIs were necessary, but they disliked the event, no matter. Sometimes it seemed that the most needy guys wound up on the team of inspectors. Lots of sweat invloved for this 1/Lt in the Deuce, especially when I had to perform in the "TF" instead of the "F". Curiously, and I'm sure all pilots here will agree, my instrument flying was always much better when flying solo. ;-)
    Miss Jeanie had her first chemo yesterday, prayers appreciated. Thanks.

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    1. Miss Jeanie is Definitely on the list.

      I thought I was the only one who thought my instrument procedures got better in the Eagle. I thought it was just more experience. Course a "peek" is worth a thousand cross checks. My first month at the Kun wasn't exactly "posted to the BOQ" but it wasn't far from it.

      Again, I hope the Missus is doing ok and the treatment will be successful.

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    2. Best wishes for the Missus to have a decent experience with chemo, not too many side effects, and most importantly, good results! WIll be thinking of her as well.

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    3. Prayers for Miss Jeanie's fast and complete recovery.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)