Monday, September 7, 2020

C-7 M-8


Construction is officially over. The Porta-Potty is gone!

So, Campers, the countdown is continuing and while the clock does seem to be clicking slower and slower, I've been reassured that the phenomenon is only a figment of my imagination.  We are a week from closing as this is published and a week and a day from moving in.*  Packing is fast and furious, indicated by the half life of rolls of tape, packing paper and boxes which seems to be measured in nano-seconds.  My close personal friends on the Lowes Staff have learned to keep an eye out for my pickup and clear the aisles to the moving supplies area.

And...Thankfully, the Big Guy has been working to keep the juvat family record intact.  This will be my 48th move in my lifetime.  Each and every one has encountered rain during either the departure or arrival phase...or both.  Thankfully, we've received almost two inches of rain over the last couple of days.  The sucking sound the ground has been making is deafening.

So, we've got that going for us...which is nice.

On with this week's post, juvat!

¡Sigamos con el correo, sí, mi sargento de la Fuerza Aérea mayor incluso que Methusala!

Last week, in the comments on my post about Capt Walmsley's Medal of Honor, OldNFO (whom, legend has it, may even be older than Our beloved OldAFSarge...if you can believe that!) posted a comment that said "Usually, the crew or backseater is never even mentioned, especially talking about the Army and USAF awards."

I thought that was an interesting comment so did a little research on some of the more "spectacular" aerial missions I was aware of in which the person in command did what he thought was required and for which he was awarded a medal of considerable prestige.  I didn't limit the search to just the Medal of Honor because I'm aware of only one incident where two people were awarded the Medal of Honor while on the same aircraft on the same mission.  That would be Lt Truemper and SSgt Mathies.



But, as I thought about the statement, I remembered another Medal of Honor Recipient I'd written about, Col Leo Thorsness. The courage, skill and luck that earned him The Medal was brilliantly displayed on a very spectacular mission flown in a two place F-105F in North Vietnam.  His Backseater, Capt Harold Johnson, received the Air Force Cross for his participation in the mission. The Service Cross (Navy Cross, Air Force Cross or Distinguished Service Cross for the Army) is the second highest award for valor.  I've heard it said that the difference between receiving the Medal of Honor and your respective Service Cross is the talents of the Award Nomination Letter Writer.  Having read some of the AFC letters, there's a fair amount of truth in that statement.

In any case, Capt Johnson was not left unmentioned.



Another mission which required some unusual airmanship and occurring with a two person crew became famous as "Pardo's Push".  On that mission, one of the F-4s took battle damage and lost most of their fuel.  Unable to reach home, the other F-4 had the damaged one lower his tail hook.  He then flew under the damaged aircraft, made contact with the tailhook with the nose of his plane and pushed it to Laos.  There was considerable consternation among the multi-starred folks about the maneuver as both aircraft were lost with both crews ejecting  safely in Laos.  Eventually, Col Pardo and his back seater received the Silver Star but not until 1989, well after the war.  

But again, both the Pilot in Command and his back seater received an appropriate award.

Hadley's Harem participated in the Ploesti Raid and is resting on the bottom of the Mediterranean

My final example is that disaster in WWII known as "The Ploesti Raid". This attack on Oil Refineries in Romania involved 177 B-24's launching from Benghazi Libya. Some bad luck, bad planning and a well executed defensive plan resulted in 88 B-24s being shot down and of the 89 that returned, more than a third were not repairable.  Nearly 500 men were killed, captured or interred. Many of the aircraft that managed to return had severely injured men on board who would not be able to return to flying.

During this mission, there were 5 Medals of Honor awarded, three posthumously.  However, ALL crew members who went on the mission were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Which brought me back to OldNFO's statement. As I reread my main source for the posting on Capt Walmsley, I found a sentence towards the end that I had overlooked.  Turns out his entire crew, including himself, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.  The DFC is the Air Forces 4th highest medal for Valor behind the Medal of Honor, the Air Force Cross, and the Silver Star.  There are some other medals in between the Medal of Honor and the DFC in order of precedence, but by and large those are paper pusher medals. I can say that as I have several myself. The DFC is not a paper pusher medal.

Doing the research on Col Thorsness's Back Seater, I discovered this DOD site which lists the recipients of all three top awards for valor, broken down by Service, Medal and Conflict. The list apparently contains recipients dating back to the creation of the Medal of Honor in the Civil War.  That should be a pretty good source for future reference.  As I trolled through the Air Force lists, I recognized a pretty fair amount of names on them (Well...for Vietnam anyhow) and once again, realized how fortunate I was in my Fighter Pilot seasoning to have them as Flight Leads.

I also found this site to be pretty poignant with respect to the Ploesti raid.  Lots of photos, medals, letters to family from the government.  Ploesti was a BAD day.

During the research, I had a question about how a Medal of Honor was approved.  The Army  stepped up and provided that.  Essentially, the nomination has to make it through several layers of shoe clerks for vetting, then it enters the political arena with the Chief of Staff, then Service Secretary's then finally the Secretary of Defense approval before it goes to the President.  

All of this, normally, has to be completed within a Five Year window from the time of the action.  DOD was allowed to extend that window in 2017 and conducted a review of post 9/11 actions that might have qualified for upgrade. Several have been upgraded.

I wonder what possibly could have changed in January 2017 that might have affected that decision?

 And while looking into this, I came across a very Interesting Story.  Which you'll have to wait until next week to read.


*In case anyone was wondering about the title.


  1. The Big Day approaches! Huzzah! Holy smokes.....48 moves......yup a military career will result in that. Practice that cursive now and good luck juvat. Yah, can't think of ANYTHING that happened in January 2017 that could have changed the approval process for medals. Fifty per cent loss on one bombing raid..... time to send a few generals out on a mission.

    1. Some of them were simple, moving into or out of a college dorm, or BOQ at pilot training. Some were a bit more exciting, New Mexico to Okinawa. Big Spring to Columbus MS was an especially exciting one as it took place in January during a sleet storm. But every one had percipitation. First look at the weather for the upcoming week shows the streak has a fair chance of being unbroken.

      Well 3 of the 5 Medals of Honor went to Wing Commanders, 2 of those posthumously. The other went on to be a really big deal in SAC. That's another upcoming story, though.

  2. Know you'll be glad to get the saga of Casa Nueva de juvat past the next steps - as a reader, it doesn't seem like it's taken too long, but imagine you and Sra. juvat have a different perspective! After the closing and move in, let us know if you want to do it all over agin!

    The Ploesti raid was seared into my memory as a kid watching movies in the 50's and 60's with one image in particular standing out - where the camera is looking down on a B-24 just as it gets the left wing root hit and it comes off in a ball of fire, and the plane starts to go down. BUT, even though that image was used in a video on Ploesti, another documentary I just found says that footage was shot over the Carolines in the Pacific theater, and that film seems believable. So maybe news media using footage from other places in reports about a given location isn't anything new...
    Politics certainly play a part in the award of the MOH. Know of one case where an action worthy of at least the Navy Cross and perhaps even the MOH was not awarded until years later due to politics within the DoD, and even then the ward up being for the Silver Star.

    1. For some reason, the Pacific was especially bad on B-24s. Don't know why. Maybe it may have been the superb Japanese AAA (yes, juvat, I can hear you hissing now) equipment and troops. Maybe the harsh environment (yes, the Med had salt air too, but the bases were dry. Not so in the Pacific.) Or it may have just been they needed more TLC than a B-17.

    2. Tom, I've seen that picture and didn't realize that it wasn't Ploesti. Thanks.

      Unfortunately, I think that "Shoulda been a MOH" happened quite often. I also am curious about the politics of 4 Korean Medal of Honor recipients only. Remember they received the Army Medal of Honor as the USAF hadn't been authorized their own yet. I'm positive, inter-service politics didn't come into play there at all.

    3. Beans,
      All your reasons are plausible and probable causes. I would add logistics problems inherent to the extreme distance to the theater and the comparatively lower priority given to the theater as compared to others such as Europe.

  3. Glad you explained the whole "C-7 M-8" thing, makes perfect sense. So it would be said, out loud, as "Charlie 7, Mike 8" - which almost sounds like a sports money ball score. Heh.

    Most, if not all, military awards are tainted by politics and the mean spirits of the shoe clerks. Because they are useless idiots, they assume everyone else must be at well.

    I have seen a couple of command directed awards for low level things where the shoe clerks and bean counters were up in arms. Command suggested that unless they really wanted that coveted assignment in the Aleutians, or Greenland, just keep making noise. Otherwise, do the paperwork and STFU.

    Pardo's Push, one of my favorite stories!

    1. Guess I didn't push publish on the response to this yesterday.

      The voice in my brain pronounced it "C minus 7" and "M minus 8". But clearly the my sense of humor was overwhelmed by subtleness. Mea Culpa

      Pardo's Push. Two lives trump two airplanes every time in my book. Momyer was an ass, as well as an asshole!

    2. Isn't Momyer Swedish for arsehole?

    3. You're the linguistic expert, but Google translate seems to agree. ;-)

  4. To address things in reverse order, yeah, January 2017, the man sure hates servicemembers, doesn't he? Grrrrrr. I am so tired of hit piece after hit piece over vapor and wet dreams. It's one thing if there was something there, but just to make up lies that are more transparent than a 3 year old's? Double Grrrrrrrr....

    Funny, on the MOH tier of doom, I don't see Congress anywhere in the whole 'Congressional Medal of Honor' except at the beginning of the process. Though I am sure they are lurking to put their sticky fingers in to gum up the process. But, politics aside, thanks for finding that flow-chart. Explains a lot we mortals who didn't serve didn't understand (well, at least me, the awards system has always seen to be wonky, people who way deserve them not getting them while REMFs and FOBbits and Penta-Wonks sucking up the majority. Then there's the people who receive medals who can't wear them because that would acknowledge that something something happened somewhere and that would raise questions. Like... Major Gantt. A sled-driver. Had a stack of boxes in his closet that didn't match his uniform. Or my dad, who at his retirement was able to pin on some fruit salad that I've never seen before. Just that once, because retirement. Weird. Again, thanks for tracking down the flow chart.

    Glad things are moving along, if glacially. Our ground over here has been dry until last week and now it's over-saturated. Which sounds nice to people who don't live on relatively flat limestone sub-base areas, but that's how sink holes start... Still, nice not walking through crunchy grass. Is your driveway and road in good condition now?

    1. Beans, Agreed.

      I read somewhere this morning that it is referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor however it is officially THE Medal of Honor. It gets referred to as the Congressional, I believe I read, (I can't find the site right now as I'm on a short packing break and Mrs J is wrapping things louder and louder in the kitchen), because it is awarded in the name of Congress.

      Driveway, road and low water crossings weathered the weather quite nicely, thanks.

  5. Congrats on 'almost' having a house! And yes, rain is guaranteed... You're military (retired but still), so you get rain to move in. Thanks for the research. I was going on what I remembered from back in the day. Friends I knew in the Navy seemed to both get the same award in 2 place airplanes. On another note, I 'think' part of that was the USAF 'attitude' toward non-pilot aircrews. I remember a bird colonel on one of the 'special' USAF birds that was not a pilot, but controlled the back of the bird. Since he was not a pilot, his evaluations were written by a captain who was the pilot. Thankfully the Navy was/is smarter than that. ;-)

    1. Thanks.

      Probably half my flying time was with Non-Pilot aircrews. Both of my F-4 Flight Commanders were WSO's and wrote my OPRs. I quickly learned that a good WSO was worth his weight in Gold and a bad one could get you killed very quickly. So I did my best to try and get the bad ones up to speed or, failing that, not in my back seat.

      So, given that, I'm not sure there was an "Air Force" Attitude. I'm sure there were pin-heads who drove the aircraft that had that attitude. Unfortunately, they were usually the ones who ended up wearing stars and had offices with windows at Fort Fumble. They're also the reason I retired at twenty.

  6. I hadn't realized the Silver Star is the 3rd highest. As for politics involved of awards, you're darn tootin!

    Having read more than a few citations, I had thought my dad was cheated for I had read his records. (Dad wouldn't agree with my summation, it is my personal opinion only.) But he did have a Silver Star with oak leaf cluster.

    1. 2 Silver Stars is nothing to sneeze at! Heck even one is exceptional. Sounds like your Dad would have been someone I'd like to have known. "I was just doing my job, the way I was trained." was a common statement I heard from folks like that.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.