Monday, June 30, 2014


So there I was….stationed at Holloman AFB in lovely Alamogordo-by-the-sea NM. I’ve been married about a year now and my personnel officer bride and I have managed to align the moons of Jupiter and gotten assigned together.  She is working at the Consolidated Base Personnel Office (CBPO) and I am assigned to the 435th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron (TFTS) as an Instructor Pilot (IP) at Lead-in Fighter Training (LIFT). (I’m trying to expand Sarge’s Acronym Locker).The 435th mission was to teach newly graduated pilots the basics of flying a fighter, and also trained existing fighter pilots in the AT-38B and qualified them as IPs.

I’ve completed instructor training (Ed Rasimus was my IP, story(s) at a later date), and have been working as Squadron Scheduler.  Ed’s description of his Replacement Training Unit (RTU) scheduler, Wimpy, in “When Thunder Rolled” accurately describes a scheduler’s duties.

In any case, I’m building the schedule one day when the Squadron Commander walks in.  He’s one of the VERY few people allowed in the scheduling office when the schedule is being built.  Reduces distractions, eliminates the opportunity for pulling rank, bribery or blackmail to get on the schedule.  But the Squadron Commander is the boss, so he’s allowed.  Anyhow, he walks in and says “Juvat, old boy, I've got a good deal for you!”  Immediately I think “Shields to Maximum!  Ready all phasers and photon torpedos!”  I am attentive to his every mannerism at this point and, based on previous experience, am evaluating various escape routes.

He says “You know we’re getting a new DO (Director of Operations, the person in charge of all the Operational aspects of a Fighter Wing, an O-6, Full Colonel) shortly.  Because we’ll have to work around his schedule, and since you’re the scheduler, I want you to be his Instructor.”

Now, I need to go off track a bit to set the stage for what I envision is an opportunity to commit career suicide.  At this point in time, Tactical Air Command had instituted a policy which, to me, was absolute genius.  They modified the uniform regulation for flight suits so they could include a small patch on the sleeve showing a pilot’s experience level.  One silver colored star for every 500 hours of Fighter Time.  Additionally, a pilot would have a gold colored star if he had even 1 hour of combat time and would add additional gold stars for every 500 hours of combat time. 

There were a lot of Vietnam era pilots in the 435th at the time.

Ed had at least 3 gold stars ( I think he might have had 4).  Most of the Majors and above had at least 2. 

Since I had a little less than 1000 hours in the F-4, I had one silver star.

The reason I thought this policy was genius, and undoubtedly the reason it was done away with, was you could instantly judge a senior officer’s credibility with a quick glance to his sleeve. Fighter Pilots judge credibility primarily on having employed weapons from a Fighter in anger, multiple times.  So an O-4 with 3 Gold Stars and 6 Silver stars (4000+ hours of flying time and at least 1000+ combat time, AKA Ed) had much more credibility than an O-6 with 2 Silver Stars (our Wing Commander at the time).

About now, Sarge is probably saying “Get ON with it, juvat!  We’re paying by the electron here.”  Back in the squadron, as I have now eliminated all possible escape routes as impossible, I’m thinking about the many different ways I can screw this up.  If he’s a rising star in the, as LL at Virtual Mirage would say, Chair Force, I will probably run afoul of him because, well let’s just say, I’m not very tactful.  If he’s actually a Fighter Pilot (an attitude not an AFSC), what is little ol’ minimally experienced ME gonna teach him?

But, the die is cast; I am to be his IP.  The day of his arrival is now upon us, and I happen to be looking out the window when I see a brand new Corvette sweeping into the parking lot.  By sweeping, I mean driven as a Corvette should be driven, with authority! Out steps the driver who jams his flight cap on his head at the requisite Fighter Pilot angle and with the Fighter Pilot crush at the back. 

Robin Olds, NOT Vegas, but the flight cap is right.
A quick glance at his sleeve, 3 golds, 6 silvers.  He’s been there, done that!

He strides into the squadron like he owns it (which technically he does), and the squadron is called to attention.  Bellows “As you were”.  Walks up to me sticks out his hand and says “Juvat, I’m Vegas” I reply…..”Pleased to meet you, Sir.”  We sit down and I begin the flight briefing for his first ride.

The Instructor Pilot program at LIFT was divided into 2 parts, aircraft qualification and Instructor qualification.  Aircraft qualification was 5 flights, 3 in the front and 2 in the back followed by a check ride.  Successfully completing the check ride meant you were qualified to fly the aircraft.  The front seat rides were for practicing aircraft handling as well as landings.  The back seat was for instruments.  Landing from the back seat was taught after the check ride as part of the instructor qualification.

So, for Vegas’ first ride, we’re going to go out to the area and do a little acro then some stalls and falls, then return to the base and beat up the landing pattern.  We get suited up and walk out to the jet, fire it up and taxi it out.  The AT-38 was a pretty sweet little jet and performed the LIFT role well, but takeoff at Holloman on a hot summer day was often exciting.  Holloman’s field elevation was 4000’, which meant that a lot of runway 22’s 12000’ was needed. 

Vegas gets us airborne and flies the departure like he’s been doing it for years, we get through the advanced handling without me demo’ing any of the maneuvers, the man has golden hands.  Back into the pattern, pitch out, configure, on airspeed in the final turn, touch down on the numbers on speed.  Power back up; go around, another perfect landing and another and another.  Full stop and taxiing back in, I’m trying to figure out what to say in the debrief.  I can’t say “Got nothin’ Boss, great ride!” without appearing like a suck up, but that’s what it was.  However, we get into the debrief and he starts with “Man, I think I was about 2 knots fast on that first touch and go……” and proceeds to conduct his own debrief.

Second ride is in the back seat, he wants to do the takeoff.  Smooth as glass.  We head to Roswell to shoot an approach.  That penetration and approach was pretty tricky, there’s a big descent to make a hard altitude and if you’re not paying attention, your airspeed can get away from you, making the rest of the approach difficult.  More than one pilot has busted a check ride on that approach.  His approach was textbook. 
At one point in my life, I could read this.  Now, pretty much Greek.

We get back to Holloman and I’m looking forward to maybe getting SOME stick time at least with the landing, but NOOOOOOO.  Vegas asks if he can do the landing.  Greases it.  I’m glad I let him land, might have been embarrassing.

So this goes on for rides 3 and 4.  I’m learning more from him than the other way around.  We’re now heading back into the pattern on ride 5, his last ride before the qual check.  I’m very relaxed.  He pitches out, configures, comes around the final turn and we’re over the overrun, but a few knots slow.  I notice the nose start to rise a little sooner than I expected as he begins the flare and the throttles start coming back.  BAM, we smack down on the runway.  Power comes up, we complete the touch and go and get cleared for a closed pattern (pitch up to downwind from the end of the runway rather than go out to the pattern entry point and reenter traffic).  I’m thinking, what the heck was that, a fluke?  Configure, start the final turn, rollout.  And the same thing happens again.  Too slow+Early Flare=Hard Landing.  We've got gas for one more pattern so I can’t demo. If he doesn't land correctly this time….He doesn't.  If anything the full stop was worse.  So much so, that we’re taxiing on the runway longer than usual.  He asks me “How was that?”  

The mind is racing.  Decisions, Decisions…

“Well, sir, I think you need another ride.”  He says, “Can we do that? How?”  I say “I bust you on this one.”


I’m thinking, well at least McDonald’s is hiring.

After clearing the runway, we typically would call back to the squadron with the Aircraft status (Code 1-fully operational, music to Sarge’s ears, rarely happened; Code 2-flyable, but some problems; Code 3- not flyable without repairs) and the mission status (T3C -Student Passed, T2M- mission unsuccessful Maintenance, a needed system was inop, T2W- Unsuccessful Weather and T2S- Unsuccessful Student non-progress). Hard Landings have to be written up, so the jet is Code 2.

“Black Eagle ops, Juvat, Code 2, T2S” 

“Juvat, Black Eagle Ops, say again” 

“Black Eagle ops, Juvat, Code 2, T2 Sierra” 

“Standby Juvat”

“Juvat, Black Eagle One (the commander), say reason for T2S”

Before I can respond, the DO gets on the radio from the front seat and says “If my IP says I busted this ride, I busted this ride!”

I’d follow him through the gates of Hell.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer in Rhody

The "Beast" at rest...
I have had the occasion in the past to whine about regale you with tales of grass cutting in the fair state of Little Rhody By The Sea. 'Tis an activity in which I was engaged this very day (Sunday the 29th of June, for those of you in the future).

That lead in photo is the monster which drags me around the yard, dependent upon me for fuel, guidance and the occasional emptying of the bag. It's all very ceremonial and conducted with a great deal of pomp and circumstance. (If sweating a lot and breathing in copious amounts of dust is synonymous with "ceremonial" and "pomp and circumstance.")

While that's as may be, I do tend to whine a lot about mowing the lawn. I bemoan the fact that I must needs be take four to five hours out of every precious weekend to cut the fescue down to a length which The Missus Herself finds pleasing to the eye. I rage at the cruel fate which has condemned me, like Sisyphus, to engage in this task week after week only to watch the green stuff grow back. As if mocking my efforts to keep it short.

But it does give a lad time to think about the great issues of the day and to even wax philosophical about the very activity which takes up so much of one's free time.

Now I must admit, when I'm done cutting the grass down to size, it is a most pleasing feeling. I can look about the yard and contemplate the fact that once again, I have vanquished my green foe.

As is my wont, I did a little Wiki-research as to the origin of this quaint custom of having a lawn. As always, we can blame the European aristocracy.
Lawns may have originated as grassed enclosures within early medieval settlements used for communal grazing of livestock, as distinct from fields reserved for agriculture. The word "laune" is first attested in 1540, and is likely related to the Celtic Brythonic word lan/llan/laun, which has the meaning of enclosure, often in relation to a place of worship.

Lawns became popular with the aristocracy in northern Europe from the Middle Ages onward. The early lawns were not always distinguishable from pasture fields. It is speculated the association between the word "pasture" and biblical mentions made lawns a cultural affinity for some. The damp climate of maritime Western Europe in the north made lawns possible to grow and manage. They were not a part of gardens in other regions and cultures of the world until contemporary influence.

It was not until the 17th and 18th century, that the garden and the lawn became a place created first as walkways and social areas. They were made up of meadow plants, such as camomile, a particular favorite. In the early 17th century, the Jacobean epoch of gardening began; during this period, the closely cut "English" lawn was born. By the end of this period, the English lawn was a symbol of status of the aristocracy and gentry; it showed that the owner could afford to keep land that was not being used for a building, or for food production. - Wikipedia
Based on that last paragraph, I do believe that The Missus Herself, regardless of her appearance and place of birth, may actually be English.

All we're missing is croquet.

Nevertheless, the grass is cut, a beer was imbibed to celebrate victory and I sat back and contemplated the wonders of my wife's handiwork in our little corner of the world. All that you are about to see is the work of her hands and the vision she had for our back yard.

I just lift heavy things and cut the grass. It's all I'm good for.

Statues and everything, Alexander the Great would feel right at home!
What I like to call "The Oval Garden", the centerpiece of the back yard at Chez Sarge.
That Japanese Maple began it's career as a very small stick with one leaf. The Missus Herself nurtured it well methinks.
Seems that The Missus Herself has been influenced by the Ancient Greeks.

Once the mighty mower has been shut down and stillness reigns once more amongst the roses, one can hear this in the background...

The waterfall at Chez Sarge.

I enjoy one of the Shipyard's finest after a long day in the yard.

Sigh... All gone!

Speaking of roses...

Their number and variety is staggering this year. I don't know how she does it.

Have a great week!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Beginning

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg (Source)
By Karl Tröstl (Europeanna 1914-1918) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
One hundred years ago today, in the city of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated.

One could view this as the starting point to one of the bloodiest centuries in the history of humanity.

Though many of us may have learned in school that this was the event which started World War One, that is not really accurate. It did, however, provide a pretext for much of what followed.

Austria-Hungary issues an ultimatum to Serbia.

Russia decides to support their fellow Slavs in Serbia.

Austria-Hungary looks to the German Empire for support.

France is allied by treaty with Russia.

The United Kingdom, though not formally allied with France, have close military ties with the French and have declared themselves to be a guarantor of Belgian neutrality.

It is a complicated web of treaties, promises and misconceptions.

Once things have been set in motion the generals tell their political leaders, nothing may stop it. To stop mobilization is to invite disaster.

The summer of 1914 proves to be hot and very tense. While there is much diplomatic back and forth, nothing looks promising. Certain so-called "statesmen" fail badly, perhaps intentionally.

Germany feels "squeezed" by the countries around her. Her Kaiser, Wilhelm II, is something of a spoiled brat. He wants a Navy just like Britain's. He is a grandson of the great Queen Victoria.

As was the British King George V and Alexandra, the wife of  Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

The stage has been set. Europe is a powder keg.

The fuse has been lit.

Hell awaits.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Friday Flyby - 27 June

Lockheed F-80C Shooting Stars of the 80th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter Bomber Wing
We've met this outfit before, here, back when co-blogger Juvat was a brand new member of the commentariat and well before he had embarked on his blogging career. I suppose before we go much further I should tip you off as to what Juvat has to do with today's episode of the "series within a series", otherwise known as Famous Aviation Units Featured on the Friday Flyby. (Hhmm, that could be acronymized as FAUFFF. Pronounced just as it looks. I know, I know, I left out the "on the." Artistic license and it is my blog.)

Where were we? Oh yeah, what does Juvat have to do with today's FAUFFF? That's an easy one. Let's look at the unit patch of today's unit, the 80th Fighter Squadron.

Before you call the PC police, let me 'splain (well, I'll let Wikipedia do it).
One of the early squadron commanders, Edward "Porky" Cragg named the Squadron "The Headhunters" after the local New Guinean Headhunter tribes who hated the Japanese and helped to rescue downed pilots. He also commissioned a crew chief, M/Sgt. Yale Saffro, who was once offered a job to work for Walt Disney as a cartoonist but turned it down, to design the 80th's patch. (This original patch design can be seen "here", and has been officially sanctioned by the Office of Air Force Heraldry for current uniform wear.)

The squadron saw action against the Japanese in the Pacific including deployments in Australia, New Guinea, the Schouten Islands, Morotai, Leyte, Mindoro, and Japan.
So it's all nice and official and was intended to honor the New Guinean tribes. Not mock them. Sane people don't mock headhunters. No, not the corporate "find you a job" headhunters, these are the "cut your head off" headhunters. I have read (somewhere) that the Japanese were terrified of them. With good reason I am led to understand.

Note the motto on the bottom of the patch Audentes Fortuna Juvat, "Fortune Favors the Bold." Yup, our Juvat was a Juvat. Assigned to the 80th Tactical Fighter Squadron (for such it was called back in the day) when they were flying the mighty F-4D Phantom II thundering monster of a green and brown...


Oh yes, the story. Juvat was but a nugget back in them thar days and I was a wee Staff Sergeant Weapon Control System radar calibrator kind of a guy. (Nugget is an old Air Force term for an inexperienced aviator. No doubt I have just insulted Juvat and shall hear about it. "Sarge! You got some 'splainin' to do!!!")

So I used to work on the 80th birds and our good man Juvat would fly them.

He would break them. I would fix them. Well, the radar part anyway.

Now the 80th has a long and distinguished history. They fought in the Pacific against the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (uh, that would be "the Japanese Empire" for those of you of a non-historical bent), they fought in Korea and they fought in Vietnam. They have flown many different aircraft and have oft been the stablemates of the 35th Fighter Squadron. Both of those squadrons were at Kunsan when I and Juvat were there and they are still at Kunsan. Though now they fly the lawn dart, er I mean, F-16 Fighting Falcon.

F-16 of the 80th Fighter Squadron

The 80th has had a number of famous pilots. Those F-80s shown above? One of the Headhunters (they didn't become Juvats until 1971, yes, yes, we'll get to that) was a Major Charles J. Loring, Jr. who had flown P-47s in WWII. He had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for actions in support of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. He flew 55 combat missions before being shot down by ground fire over Belgium on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1944, and made a prisoner of war.

Major Loring

He stayed in the Air Force after WWII and managed to get himself back into the cockpit for Korea. Where he was assigned to the 80th Fighter Bomber Squadron (same unit, different role, different name) and sent to fly missions in Korea.

Major Loring was from Portland, Maine. A fellow New Englander and we are so proud of him. Loring AFB (no longer active) is named for him. Sad to say, that means we know where this story is going.
Late in the morning of November 22, 1952, Loring led a flight of four F-80s on patrol over Kunwha. Upon radioing a forward air controller, he was told a T-6 Texan flying over Sniper Ridge had spotted a concentration of artillery near the ridge which was pinning down UN ground troops on the ridge. He was also told the artillery concentration was surrounded by a heavy presence of anti-aircraft guns. Loring ordered the flight to the location, spotting the artillery concentration.

Immediately after Loring began his dive bombing run, he was spotted by the anti-aircraft batteries. The Chinese crews operating them were highly skilled, and even at a distance, the batteries fired an extremely accurate barrage which struck Loring's aircraft several times on the nose and fuselage. The fire disabled the aircraft. His wingmen, noting the damage, suggested he abort the bombing mission, as the flight was not far behind the lines and Loring's aircraft could have attempted the return trip. Instead, Loring ceased radio contact, and resumed what appeared to be the standard bombing mission. At 4,000 feet (1,200 m), however, Loring accelerated his aircraft at a 40-degree angle in what appeared to be a controlled maneuver, lining up the Chinese batteries. The other pilots reported they watched, stunned, as Loring dove his damaged aircraft into the battery position. Loring was killed instantly in the impact, but his action resulted in the complete destruction of the battery position. - Wikipedia
He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:
Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Air Force, 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing
Place and date: Near Sniper Ridge, North Korea, November 22, 1952 
Entered service at: Portland, Maine. Born: October 2, 1918, Portland, Maine
Maj. Loring distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While leading a flight of 4 F-80 type aircraft on a close support mission, Maj. Loring was briefed by a controller to dive-bomb enemy gun positions which were harassing friendly ground troops. After verifying the location of the target, Maj. Loring rolled into his dive bomb run. Throughout the run, extremely accurate ground fire was directed on his aircraft. Disregarding the accuracy and intensity of the ground fire, Maj. Loring aggressively continued to press the attack until his aircraft was hit. At approximately 4,000 feet, he deliberately altered his course and aimed his diving aircraft at active gun emplacements concentrated on a ridge northwest of the briefed target, turned his aircraft 45 degrees to the left, pulled up in a deliberate, controlled maneuver, and elected to sacrifice his life by diving his aircraft directly into the midst of the enemy emplacements. His selfless and heroic action completely destroyed the enemy gun emplacement and eliminated a dangerous threat to United Nations ground forces. Maj. Loring’s noble spirit, superlative courage, and conspicuous self-sacrifice in inflicting maximum damage on the enemy exemplified valor of the highest degree and his actions were in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Air Force. Source
A true American.

Now what about that 1971 thing I mentioned above?
On 15 February 1971, the 80th TFS redeployed from Yokota to Kunsan AB, Korea, while temporarily assigned to Detachment 1, 475th Tactical Fighter Wing to begin the process of inactivation, with its personnel and aircraft transferred to the 35th TFS. Lt Gen Jay T. Robbins, a former 80th FS commander and World War II ace who was Vice Commander of Tactical Air Command, rescinded the inactivation and had the 80th TFS transferred to the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing, in Korea. There it was re-staffed with personnel from the 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron, which was inactivated on 28 February. The 391st TFS's insignia had included the motto Audentes Fortuna Juvat, which subsequently became the "Headhunters" motto. On the 391st TFS sleeve patch, the scroll displaying the motto was such that when the patch was ripped off, the word "Juvat" was left in place. The former 391st aircrew did so with the consent of the 80th TFS commander at the time, Lt Col Soloman Harp III, who named himself the first "Juvat". The motto remained unofficial until approved on 9 October 1986. - Wikipedia
 Note those underlined bits. Good story, neh?

Another famous Headhunter was Captain George Welch, he of Pearl Harbor fame whom we met in a Friday Flyby last year.

Now after Pearl Harbor, Captain Welch found himself out there in the Pacific with the 8th Fighter Group, 36th Fighter Squadron. Now the 36th flew the P-39, an aircraft that was little loved by American pilots (though loved by Soviet pilots).

P-39 Airacobra

After Pearl Harbor, Welch returned to the continental U.S. to give war bond speeches until being assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron of the 8th Fighter Group in New Guinea. Despite his aerial victories on December 7, 1941, Welch was dissatisfied with flying the poorly performing Bell P-39 Airacobra. When asked by a journalist what aspect of the P-39 he liked, then seven-victory ace George Welch said, "Well, it's got 12 hundred pounds of Allison armor plate." This was a reference to the center mounted engine rather than actual armor plating. When Welch inquired as to when his squadron (the 36th FS) would receive P-38s, he was told, "When we run out of P-39s." He repeatedly appealed to be assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron (which flew the Lockheed P-38 Lightning) until he was granted a transfer. Between June 21 and September 2, 1943, flying a P-38H, Welch shot down nine more Japanese aircraft: two Zeros, three Ki-61 Tonys, three Ki-43 Oscars and one Dinah. Welch flew three combat tours (a total of 348 combat missions with 16 confirmed victories, all achieved in multiples) before malaria retired him from the war. - Wikipedia
LT R L Bob Peters P-38 "Lady Madie" of the 80th Fighter Squadron "Headhunters" - 8th FG

Major George Welch

Welch went on to work as Chief Test Pilot, engineer and instructor with North American Aviation during the Korean War where he reportedly downed several enemy MiG-15 "Fagots" while "supervising" his students. However, Welch's kills were in disobedience of direct orders for him to not engage, and credits for the kills were thus distributed among his students.

After the war, Welch returned to flight testing; this time in the F-100 Super Sabre with Yeager flying the chase plane. Welch became the first man to break the sound barrier in level flight with this type of aircraft on May 25, 1953. However, stability problems were encountered in the flight test program, and on Columbus Day, October 12, 1954, Welch's F-100A-1-NA Super Sabre, 52-5764, disintegrated during a 7g pullout at Mach 1.55. When found, Welch was still in the ejection seat, critically injured, and was aided by NAA test Navion pilots Robert "Bob" Baker and Bud Pogue. Welch was evacuated by helicopter, but was pronounced dead on arrival at the Army hospital. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. - Wikipedia
A terrible end for such an outstanding pilot. Sadly, it happens.

You may have noticed that this Flyby is more about some of the men who flew in the squadron but is a little light on aircraft pictures. Sorry about that Chief...

But some of the stories I've read concerning the 80th I just had to share. But to tide you over for a bit, here's an F-4C Wild Weasel!

F-4C Wild Weasel of the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing
(Another of Juvat's and my old outfits!)

So what's with the Weasel you ask? Well, there were a lot of Weasels in the Juvats. Hhmm, that didn't come out right. Wikipedia, a little help?
In the winter of 1967-1968, now assigned to the 347th Tactical Fighter Wing, the 80th began transition to the F-4C Phantom II. In January 1968 its few available aircrews and aircraft (most of its F-105 assets were in the process of augmenting units in Thailand and the F-4Cs at Yokota were not yet operational) were sent to Korea in reaction to the North Korean seizure of the USS Pueblo. During the summer of 1968 the 80th TFS became the first PACAF squadron to assign a contingent of experienced F-4 aircraft commanders and electronic warfare officers (EWOs) as F-4C Wild Weasel crews. The first fully modified F-4C Wild Weasel aircraft arrived in April 1969.

Between 1968 and 1971 the primary mission of the 80th TFS was to deploy on a rotating basis to Osan AB, Korea, providing a nuclear strike alert posture against targets in the Soviet Union, North Korea, and China, maintaining several aircraft on fifteen-minute alert. It also trained on conventional weapons. In 1970 all PACAF F-4 Wild Weasel crews transferred into the 80th TFS.
Okay, technically speaking all those Weasels were not Juvats. Not yet anyway!

The 80th also flew the Thud for a while.
The squadron transitioned to the F-105 in 1963. Relocating to Yokota AB, Japan on 13 May 1964 (though deployed at Korat RTAFB, Thailand, 30 October-29 December 1964; Takhli RTAFB, Thailand, 27 June-26 August 1965; Osan AB, South Korea, 26 December 1968-20 February 1969, 24 April-27 May 1969, 5 August-10 September 1969, 28 November-27 December 1969, 6 March-10 April 1970, 29 May-20 June 1970, 7 August-4 September 1970, 30 October-28 November 1970, and 23 January-15 February 1971), the 80th was assigned to the 41st Air Division on 18 June 1964 (but attached to 2nd Air Division, 30 October-29 December 1964). Source
F-105 Thunderchief, aka "Thud"

While in Southeast Asia...
In 1962 the 80th began to transition to the F-105 Thunderchief, and in May 1964 moved from Itazuke to Yokota Air Base, Japan, where it was attached to the 41st Air Division. A few months afterwards, the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing moved to the United States, so the "Headhunters" were reassigned to the 41st Air Division. Stationed at Yokota until 1971, the 80th Tactical Fighter Squadron served under several different parent units over the next few years, including the 6441st Tactical Fighter Wing, 41st Air Division, and 347th Tactical Fighter Wing. The squadron performed two combat deployments to Southeast Asia in 1964 and 1965, serving first for two months at Korat Air Base, Thailand and later for two months at Takhli Air Base, Thailand. For these two combat tours the 80th earned the Vietnam Advisory campaign streamer.

These two deployments made up the total of the 80th Tactical Fighter Squadron's involvement in Vietnam. 80th pilots flew against such major targets as the Hai Nguyen steelPlant, storage facilities at Haipong, northeast and northwest rail lines, Phuc Yen, Kep, and the Doumer Bridge. On 23 August 1967, while flying an F-105 Thunderchief (the largest single-engine fighter ever produced) 1Lt Dave Waldrop (temporarily assigned to the 34th TFS at Korat) gunned down a Mig-17 over North Vietnam. While in Vietnam, the 80th accumulated 7,384 combat missions in Southeast Asia, with 2,657 combat missions over North Vietnam. These missions represent 17,104.4 combat hours over Southeast Asia. Members of the 80th were decorated with 7 Silver Stars, 64 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 426 Air Medals while deployed to Vietnam.

Sadly, several "Headhunters" remained in Vietnam after the squadron departed. Of these, Quincy Collins, Murphy Neal Jones and Don Heiliger returned home in 1973, but William V. Frederick and Lynn K. Powell are listed as Killed in Action (KIA).

For its involvement, the squadron earned one Battle Honor, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross (with Palm), and four Air Force Outstanding Unit Citations. During the war, the 80th produced one Ace, Captain Jeff Feinstein, an F-4 WSO with 5 confirmed kills. Source
Now at that web page above, it mentions that the text was provided by a Colonel Jay Riedel. A pilot whom I will always remember as "Jay Bird." Remember this?

Seems that "our" Juvat, is not the only Juvat with some skill with the written word.

Colonel Riedel commanded the 80th, I do believe he was Juvat's commanding officer. (Heh. He commanded Juvat and he commanded all of the Juvats.) Available on Amazon. (No, I'm not pimping Amazon. I'm pimping Col Riedel's book. Which I will be ordering shortly!)

Fighting Falcon of the Juvats takes to the air, loaded for bear!

A proud squadron. A proud history. Truly
Fortune Favors the Bold!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

They Want to Take Your Freedom, Seriously

And they need masks because?
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The progressive idiocracy is starting to wear thin with this old veteran. Rev Paul seems to agree.

The wording of the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution seems pretty clear to me. It establishes that the people have a right to keep and bear arms and that the government is prohibited from infringing upon that right.

There has been a lot of ink spilled over this amendment. United States vs. Miller immediately springs to mind. This case arose over enforcement of the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 which was enacted due to "public outrage" over the St. Valentine's Day Massacre (in which one group of criminals gunned down a second group of criminals).

That particular event (the "massacre") can be argued to have come about from the Federal Government banning the production, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

What do I conclude from all this? The NFA was really enacted in order to provide a stream of revenue for the Federal Government. (Want to know how government really works? Follow the money.) The NFA was enacted due to the government playing nanny based on the desires of a special interest group.

I'm starting to think that the phrases "the government wants" and "that's a bad idea" are synonymous.

The 2nd Amendment is what makes the rest of the Bill of Rights viable. If the people are disarmed, their freedoms are dependent on the whim of those in power. I think we all can cite numerous examples of how that works. (Right Mr. Hitler?)

While researching this post here's one piece of absolute government stupidity I came across regarding US v Miller (which initially had seen a lower court rule, correctly, that the NFA was unconstitutional):

The U.S Government appealed the decision and on March 30, 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case. Attorneys for the United States argued four points:
  • The NFA is intended as a revenue-collecting measure and therefore within the authority of the Department of the Treasury.
  • The defendants transported the shotgun from Oklahoma to Arkansas, and therefore used it in interstate commerce.
  • The Second Amendment protects only the ownership of military-type weapons appropriate for use in an organized militia.
  • The "double barrel 12-gauge Stevens shotgun having a barrel less than 18 inches in length, bearing identification number 76230" was never used in any militia organization. - Wikipedia

My own reading of this piece of the government's argument is that they were completely full of bovine excrement. On each and every one of those four points.

But, you say, the Supreme Court ruled...

Yes, bear in mind that they also blew the Dred Scott Decision:
Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), was a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court held that African Americans, whether slave or free, could not be American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court, and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States. Dred Scott, an African American slave who had been taken by his owners to free states and territories, attempted to sue for his freedom. In a 7–2 decision written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the Court denied Scott's request. For only the second time in its history the Supreme Court ruled an Act of Congress to be unconstitutional. - Wikipedia
The Supreme Court should be above it all and rule strictly on the way the Constitution is written. The men who wrote that document were very smart. Many of those who try to interpret the language of the Constitution are most assuredly not.

The Supremes are human, they make mistakes. They often bend to the political winds.

I fear for my country.

So, Where Are You From?

Where I'm From...
In an e-mail exchange with a good friend of mine, we were discussing our New England roots. But his Dad was career military and he himself is career military, so the concept of where he's "from" is probably a lot different from the concept where I'm "from." Where I was born and raised was pretty much the same place for over twenty years. His experience of growing up, like that of my progeny, is no doubt different from mine. For the children of career military folks tend not to stay in one place for very long. (And in the military, four years is considered "long.")

So my friend and all three of my kids are "military brats," i.e. the children of career military parent(s).

So the concept of where one is from has been on my mind lately.

I can say that I am from Vermont, born and raised. The Missus Herself can say that she is from Korea, born and raised. The kids on the other hand?

The Naviguesser was born in Korea, then lived in Colorado, Mississippi, Nebraska and then Germany. Until he went to college. In New England. Ask my son where he's from, he'll say "New England" - I'm not sure if he claims Massachusetts as his adopted home, but the Red Sox ball cap he wears out there in California makes people think he's from Massachusetts. He could claim Rhode Island if he wanted to, though he didn't spend much time here between being in college and then being in the Navy.

Shortly after his discharge from the Navy, he followed Horace Greeley's advice.

Now The Nuke was born in Aurora, Colorado and lived in that fine state until the age of 4 and a half. Then she did the Mississippi, Nebraska, Germany track, followed by high school in Rhode Island and college in Massachusetts (same alma mater as her brother). Now she's in the Navy. I do believe she tells folks she's from Rhode Island. Kind of...

The WSO was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming (we were living in Colorado at the time), then she followed the same course as The Nuke, more or less. Mississippi, Nebraska, Germany, followed by high school in Rhode Island and college in Massachusetts. She went to college in the same town as her older siblings, but a different institution of higher learning than the older two.  She's always gone her own way. The two older siblings are Surface Warfare Officers, The WSO is a Naval Flight Officer. She tells folks that she's from Rhode Island.

Oddly enough The Missus Herself will, from time to time, tell people that she claims Colorado as her "home state" (every American should have one and The Missus Herself worked hard to become an American) as that was the first place we lived when we were reassigned from Korea back to what we always called "State-side," some of the old-timers of my acquaintance would refer to the US of A as "CONUS" - which is (of course) an acronym standing for CONtinental United States.

One real old-timey Master Sergeant I worked with in Korea when I was a mere sprig of a Staff Sergeant always referred to CONUS as "the ZI." Pronounced zee-eye, this not really an acronym, it's simply an abbreviation for Zone of the Interior. Which is what they called CONUS back during World War II. I can't vouch for that, I wasn't there. While I am "old," I am not that old.

Now this whole "where are you from" thing gets interesting in small town New England. While I may have known this growing up in a smallish town in New England (I say smallish because back then we had a population of 10,000 people, nearby towns were smaller) I didn't really think of it until I retired from the Big Blue Machine and moved to Rhode Island.

I have had a few denizens of this region look down their noses at me and say "oh, you're not from here are you?" As if the ability to be born, raised, live and die all in the same town is a huge accomplishment. Seriously?

Then to brag about how your ancestors did the exact same thing. In other words, it's an uninterrupted line of people who were all born, raised, lived and died in the same town.

Of course, there had to be at least one ancestor who couldn't say they had lived in the same place their entire life.

So at some point in time there had to have been a family member who stepped off the boat, looked into the wilderness and heard...

"You're not from around here, are you?"

I am sure that the original inhabitants of New England would have preferred that our ancestors had all stayed back in Europe, Africa or Asia and left them alone. But they didn't. They migrated and moved to a new land. Made lives for themselves and their descendants. So that one day, those self-same descendants could look at someone new and say...

"You're not from around here, are you?"

The street where I grew up.
Nope, I'm not from around here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Tuskegee Airmen

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award presented by the U.S. Congress. It is awarded to an individual or group for an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States.

This medal was presented to the Tuskegee Airmen, African American pilots flying for the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Awarded on March 29, 2007, the medal recognized their "unique military record that inspired revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces."

Physical Description:Tuskegee Airmen Congressional Gold Medal; Obverse: three profiles of a pilot wearing a leather flying helmet, ground mechanic wearing a billed cap; and pilot wearing a service cap; a soaring eagle depicted below the three profiles; raised letter text "TUSKEGEE AIRMEN" above profiles; Reverse: three starboard side aircraft profiles, Curtiss P-40 with "99" on fuselage; North American P-51D with "332" on fuselage, and North American B-25 with "477" on fuselage; raised letter text, "ACT OF CONGRESS, 2006, OUTSTANDING COMBAT RECORD INSPIRED REVOLUTIONARY REFORM IN THE ARMED FORCES".

What do you call men who faced discrimination, scorn, beatings and sometimes even death at the hands of their fellow countrymen, yet who stepped up to fight for the very country which ofttimes viewed them as second class citizens?

I don't know...

But if you ask me, the word "heroes" applies.

These men have always been in my pantheon of great warriors and true American heroes.
The only black air units that saw combat during the war were the 99th Pursuit Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group. The dive-bombing and strafing missions under Lieutenant Colonel Davis, Jr. were considered to be highly successful.

In May 1942, the 99th Pursuit Squadron was renamed the 99th Fighter Squadron. It earned three Distinguished Unit Citations (DUC) during World War II. The DUCs were for operations over Sicily from 30 May – 11 June 1943, Monastery Hill near Cassino from 12–14 May 1944, and for successfully fighting off German jet aircraft on 24 March 1945. The mission was the longest bomber escort mission of the Fifteenth Air Force throughout the war. The 332nd also flew missions in Sicily, Anzio, Normandy, the Rhineland, the Po Valley and Rome-Arno and others. Pilots of the 99th once set a record for destroying five enemy aircraft in under four minutes.

The Tuskegee Airmen shot down three German jets in a single day. On 24 March 1945, 43 P-51 Mustangs led by Colonel Benjamin O. Davis escorted B-17 bombers over 1,600 miles (2,600 km) into Germany and back. The bombers’ target, a massive Daimler-Benz tank factory in Berlin, was heavily defended by Luftwaffe aircraft, included Fw 190 radial propeller fighters, Me 163 "Komet" rocket-powered fighters and 25 of the much more formidable Me 262s, history’s first jet fighter. Pilots Charles Brantley, Earl Lane and Roscoe Brown all shot down German jets over Berlin that day. For the mission, the 332nd Fighter Group earned a Distinguished Unit Citation.

Individual pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group earned 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses. Their missions took them over Italy and enemy occupied parts of central and southern Europe. Their operational aircraft were, in succession: Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Bell P-39 Airacobra, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and North American P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft. - Wikipedia
Pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group at Ramitelli Airfield, Italy; from left to right,
Lt. Dempsey W. Morgan, Lt. Carroll S. Woods, Lt. Robert H. Nelron, Jr.,
Captain Andrew D. Turner, and Lt. Clarence P. Lester

Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Jr
Commanding Officer, 332nd Fighter Group, WWII
Commanding Officer, 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing, Korean War

Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. (December 18, 1912 – July 4, 2002) was an American United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen.

He was the first African-American general officer in the United States Air Force. On December 9, 1998, he was advanced to four-star general by President Bill Clinton. During World War II, Davis was commander of the 99th and the 332nd Fighter Group, which escorted bombers on air combat missions over Europe. Davis himself flew sixty missions in P-39, Curtiss P-40, P-47 and P-51 Mustang fighters. Davis followed in his father's footsteps in breaking racial barriers, as Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. was the first African-American general in the United States Army. - Wikipedia
"Red Tail" P-51 of the 332nd
"INA The Macon Belle"

F-86 Sabres of the 51st FIW in Korea
Note the red band on the tails of all three aircraft.

Official portrait of Lieutenant General Davis, USAF

President George W. Bush presents the Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Roscoe Brown Jr., during ceremonies honoring the Tuskegee Airmen Thursday, March 29, at the U.S. Capitol. Brown, Director of the Center for Urban Education Policy and University Professor at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York, commanded the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332 Fighter Group during World War II.

War accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen
In all, 992 pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1941 to 1946. 355 were deployed overseas, and 84 lost their lives in accidents or combat. The toll included 68 pilots killed in action or accidents, 12 killed in training and non-combat missions and 32 captured as prisoners of war. The Tuskegee Airmen were credited by higher commands with the following accomplishments:

  • 1578 combat missions, 1267 for the Twelfth Air Force; 311 for the Fifteenth Air Force
  • 179 bomber escort missions, with a good record of protection, losing bombers on only seven missions and a total of only 27, compared to an average of 46 among other 15AF P-51 groups
  • 112 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air, another 150 on the ground and 148 damaged
  • 950 rail cars, trucks and other motor vehicles destroyed (over 600 rail cars)
  • One destroyer put out of action. The ship concerned had been classified as a destroyer (Giuseppe Missori) by the Italian Navy, before being reclassified by the Germans as a torpedo boat, TA 22. It was attacked on 25 June 1944. The German Navy decommissioned it on 8 November 1944, and finally scuttled it on 5 February 1945.
  • 40 boats and barges destroyed
Awards and decorations included:

  • Three Distinguished Unit Citations
  • 99th Pursuit Squadron: 30 May–11 June 1943 for actions over Sicily
  • 99th Fighter Squadron: 12–14 May 1944: for successful air strikes against Monte Cassino, Italy
  • 332d Fighter Group (and its 99th, 100th, 301st, and 302nd Fighter Squadrons): 24 March 1945: for a bomber escort mission to Berlin, during which it shot down 3 enemy jets
  • At least one Silver Star
  • 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses to 95 Airmen; Captain William A. Campbell was awarded two.
  • 14 Bronze Stars
  • 744 Air Medals
  • 8 Purple Hearts- Wikipedia
Ladies and gentlemen, here be fighter pilots!

The Tuskegee Airmen - Then...
... and Now

Tuskegee Airmen
(Charles Taylor)

The 99th lives on as the 99th Flying Training Squadron based at Randolph AFB, Texas.

The 99th Flying Training Squadron flies T-1A Jayhawks and they are in the process of painting
the tops of the tails of their aircraft red, in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, the "Red Tails".