Trevor Siemian is a keeper

The NFL is a game of inches. On any Sunday the worst team in the NFL could beat a Superbowl team. Sometimes, a win in the AFC division comes down to the basics. One turnover, one coaching error, one flag or even one act of divine intervention wins the game or loses it.

While a loss to KC at home is a bummer, we saw some really good things on Sunday night. We saw Devonte Booker pound the line and make yardage after contact. We saw Trevor Siemian dropping bombs, and scrambling out of the pocket and then connecting. We saw the excellent use of RB hands as well. We are seeing remarkable improvement during every game.

Even though it was a loss, Broncos fans must respect the progress the new QB is making. To make the playoffs, however, Trevor Siemian will have to play his ass off and the play calling will have to play to  the team’s strengths instead of running into run stuffers like Dontari  Poe  WTF?

Trevor continues to see his throws tipped  because he does not clear his passing lanes. When he scrambles to the left or right in order to clear the lane, he never gets tipped. Soon these tipped balls are going to turn into a pic 6. KC tipped the ball an extraordinary amount of times.

Siemian continues to improve and does everything that the suspect play calling asks him to do…

I think he is a keeper and will finish the season strong. Under the current play calling restrictions, the Broncos won’t even be a wild card. Maybe it is time to go to a no-huddle offense and give the boy a little more fire hose. At this point, the Broncos have nothing to lose with Derek Carr in the picture. It is time for a Trevor Siemian test drive that puts the pedal to the metal and takes out all the stops.  Let the games begin…

 

 

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From Babbitt to Baghdad (Part 24)

I was provided the honor of attending Air Force Survival School  at Fairchild AFB, Washington in the winter.  The main part of Survival School was conducted in the forests of northern Washington state. They showed us how to make tents from the bowels of trees and how to make huge signal fires. It was a “Lord of the Flies” experience complete with arguing about how to cook the rabbit. The defacto leader of the group became  an aggressive  Air National Guard  “BabyLoad” from the WANG. I had smuggled in a wrist rocket sling shot and was fixated on killing and eating squirrels. The others became jealous that I had the forethought to smuggle in a weapon.  I had grown up in the deserts and mountains of  Nevada and knew that you had to have at least a wrist rocket for the love of Pete. The group had a few really cool Reservists, but the rest were anal retentive greater than thou stressed out predatory Active Duty pukes. By the end of Survival School, I would  become the personification of Ralph and Piggie and was hunted down for the  emotional slaughter. Had Survival School lasted another week, my head would have been on a stick along with the Rabbits.

Survival School brings out the super asshole in moderate assholes. I was used to hunting with people in the mountains of Nevada and Colorado where the event is cherished and celebrated. I was not expecting the level of city slicker bullshit that is brought out after just a few days in the woods. I was used to eggs and potatoes for breakfast, a silent walk in the woods for deer,  and my dads “stoup” cooking over a warm fire for dinner. The mixing of military posturing politics and survival school was heinous to witness and endure. I am just kidding.

The worst offense was having the WANG Load tell me I was going to put somebody’s eye out with my wrist rocket. I did not understand how that could happen when I was 50 yards away and shooting into the tops of trees away from the group. I wish I had my daisy pellet rifle. I would have eaten freshly cooked squirrel every night. It would have been better than the store bought  bunny rabbit that the WANG Load executed. We all petted the little creature before the WANG Load slit it’s throat. We had to survive. The rabbit screamed out like  a Robespierre guillotine victim as the blade fell.

Just kidding. The survival school instructor offed the bunny on the tailgate of his truck. Once the bunny was skinned and gutted, it was a competition for who then cooked the bunny. Of course, the WANG redneck baby load  with his signature redneck aggressiveness would wrestle control custodial responsibility of the bunny body.  Then, we would employ a complex synergistic cockpit resource management  consensus interaction to determine how to cook the beast. The WANG redneck baby load would win out. The little beast would be cooked in tin foil along with some other vegetables. Lastly, the WANG redneck baby Load would divvy out the delicacy as well. We were supposed to say mmmm taste good and all that jazz . I ate my portion but felt like my palate had been violated, given that it was prepared and served by WANG control freak baby load redneck asshole. Manly men doing manly things.

The real shitty part would come after the trek through the snow-covered forest. The group would be put in a concentration/ POW camp of sorts and brutalized by the survival instructors. They also showed us copious methods of torture.  By the end of this segment, I hated the enlisted Survival School instructors. They epitomized what it meant to be a tragic passive aggressive  overzealous NCO with a GED. Their performance was a mixture of out of control behavior and survival instruction.  I was extremely grateful when it was over.

When the two-week hell school was over, I visited my Uncle Doug on his death bed at the Spokane VA. He was in the final throws of prostate cancer. The nurse had just given him a dose of morphine, so we were able to talk about Survival School etc.

Uncle Doug had attended Survival School at Stead AFB in Nevada. That was November 22nd, 1963.

During the POW aspect of the school, they called everyone together and told them that John F. Kenedy had been shot. Everyone thought it was a joke until the instructors played three separate radios that were broadcasting his assassination. We then talked about airplanes and such. Doug had flown with Flight Engineers on the B-17, B-29, and KC-97. The B-52 and the KC-135A that he had flown did not have the FE. Our conversation only lasted 30 minutes. By then the morphine had worn off and he began to feel pain and lost interest in talking. I would say goodbye, shake his hand, and head back to Tacoma. A few days later he would pass away. At his burial at the Spokane VA cemetery, a KC-135A would fly over at low level with full flaps and gear.

Both my father and Uncle would be put on alert when Fidel Castro welcomed the staging of Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles 90 miles from the Florida coast. Fidel Castro almost caused world war III and the complete destruction of the United States of America. While many soft in the head liberals herald Fidel Castro as some sort of communist hero, intelligent people familiar with his history understand that he was a brutal dictator and an asshole. Good riddance.In fact,  rest in peace you commie bastard.

When we forget history, we are doomed to repeat it. Our safety and security as a nation depend on leaders and a population that maintains corporate memory. Otherwise, stupid people can be talked into shaking hands with Hugo Chavez or calling a Marxist dictator a great man?  In today’s world, pillars of society are condemned. Today, police officers are evil, teachers are the reason our children are failing, and brutal Marxist dictators are freedom fighters. Sodomy has been elevated to that of marriage between a man and a woman. Adult men can put on a wig and a dress and use the same bathroom as an adolescent female. Muslim terrorists are welcomed and given free housing while our veterans live under bridges or off themselves. Up is down, down is up and brutal human rights violating dictators are considered righteous world leaders.  Shove your Che Guevera t-shirt up your ass.

When we have stupid  neocon leaders, they abandon diplomacy and use our military for nation building 10,000 miles away. “Peace is our Profession” is replaced with special interest foreign policy and wars of choice.

If we have leaders that can talk the public into allowing grown men to use any bathroom they choose, then the population is susceptible to every manner of propaganda, silly manipulation, and silly mind control. We must be vigilant and not allow any cult of personalities to make offensive use of nuclear weapons morally or ethically OK.

We must have leaders that will not use nuclear weapons as an extension of conventional warfare. Our Air Force leaders understand this and must be the bulwark against idiot neocons that are willing to use nuclear weapons to conduct their inept foreign policy. Ant president that wants to use nuclear weapons offensively  must be put in a straight jacket and sent to Walter Reid Medical Center for evaluation for an extended length of time.

 

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From Babbitt to Baghdad (Part 23)

They say that the flying game is hours and hours of  endless boredom interrupted by sheer terror.  During long flights, the aircrew would tell jokes and the “there I was” stories!  Most pilots have the attention span of a hummingbird on Redbull. A few of the pilots had an attention span for me that could be quantified in seconds. You could actually see their eyes dull over in 3.8 to 4.2 seconds. A few others would lose interest in listening when my lower lip would reach approximately .786 inches from my upper lip and a sound became audible. The pilot ego makes a Harley rider convention look like a kindergarten recess. The egos are so thick you can cut it with a knife.

The interest level for  “there I was” stories was on a sliding scale and relative to the acceptance of the individual.   Some guys could relate a “there I was” story about telling the pilot to bank right when he was pissing in the crew latrine. The aircrew would be riveted like a dog being teased with a treat. We would hang on every word. For me, even with the best delivery, it was an awe shit moment. I mean, I could tell a story about flying with the wing on fire, while getting a blowjob from passenger and landing on a carrier and the interest level would barely peg the meter. The pilots would be looking at their big watches within 10 seconds. Then they would key the mike and tell me I was coming in broken and stupid, but mostly stupid. Today, and looking back, I would have to agree.

The telling of an aviator’s  story was a right of passage. For some, it took years and years of flying on the C-141B before a good story would come about. On some trips, the aircrew would have over 100 years of combined service on just the flight deck alone. This meant utter tens of thousands of flying hours and thousands and thousands of trips. During a trip across the pond, the Loads and Engineers would sit at the back of the cockpit and tell story after story. Some were good and some were bad. When there is another 8 hours of flying before arriving at the next location, anything of interest is welcome.

In the Air Force, everyone wants to be looked upon as competent especially when it related to the job or the aircraft. One 728th Loadmaster was bereft of any stories, so he created one. During the preflight, he had removed the nose gear pin access window. Then when the aircraft would not pressurize after takeoff, he immediately went into the latrine to inspect the window. He then stated that the nose gear access window was removed and that he would fix it. He thought he would be viewed  and welcomed as a competent hero. Instead, he faced legal action under the UCMJ. His “there I was” story kind of backfired. His “there I was” story was a stupid shit story that got him kicked the fuck out.

The C-141 was a very safe aircraft. Only minor mechanical things happened in flight.  In 16 years I may have shut down one engine in flight, and disconnected 3 generators. The worst thing that every happened was losing number two system en route from Kuwait International to Mildenhall. We had performed 3 back to back augmented missions hauling  “technicals” or  brand new Toyota pickup trucks with  50 caliber machine gun mounts. Kind of like Rat Patrol 2.0.

Most of the aircrew stories had to do with crew rest and all the wild adventures in far off foreign lands. But then again, flying to minimums was a stressful affair.

For the most part, the C-141B had a high departure rate unless of course one of the crew was snake bit. The 728th actually had a severely snake bit Flight Engineer.  Every time he showed up at an aircraft there was a 50/50 chance that he would break the airplane by simply touching it. On one occasion, I was to get a check ride on a three ship airdrop mission. My examiner was JP Snakebit himself. Well, I got about three-quarters of the way through a preflight and the aircraft broke for reasons I cannot recall. We then tail swapped to a second aircraft. That aircraft broke too. We were finally tail swapped to a third aircraft, finished all the preflight items and took off. We would join  with the other aircraft east of the Cascades and make the TOT on time. I flew with Mr. Snake bit to Germany and ended up breaking for 10 days because of a fuel leak and other assorted issues. He was good for per Diem. He also had an insane sense of humor. He loved to call me a “you boob” in a kind, loving and endearing way. Nobody has since used “you boob’ in such an elegant and touching fashion. My nickname was  “Mach 2” . I got that nickname after being observed in the throws of a couple of espressos.

The C-5A and B were both pieces of shit. During Somalia, we were staging out of Egypt. To get to Cairo, we had to take a C-5B out of Dover. We took off twice and air aborted twice. I took 8 hours before we finally took off a third time and headed for Cairo. We all crew rested at a resort close to the Pyramids. The next day the Dover crew was headed home. When the C-5B crew took off, a bleed air duct broke on one of the engines and it over-temped. They were then stuck in Cairo for a week waiting for an engine change. A super high time Flight Engineer on the C-141 would have 10,000 hours. A super high time C-5 Flight Engineer might have 3000 because the C-5 was broke on the ground all the time.

I once checked out a C-5 main landing gear during C-5 loading operations. The ground service pumps that allow the C-5 to kneel were running, and one could actually see leakage everywhere. I told the C-5 Eng and he shrugged his shoulders.  He said that if they wrote up every hydraulic leak on the gear, they would never take off. They just used a rag wrench here and there and it was good to go.

During the Iraq war, I would fly 100 times with only one break. All the rest were on time departures. In fact, I may have broken a March bird less than 5 times in 1700 hours of flying.

The best C-141C  break at March AFB was  in Rio De Janeiro. We would spend 10 days on the Copacabana  waiting for an MRT. The left airconditioning pack was inop. That was a hard break. Oh, I also broke in South Korea for an emergency brake selector valve.

313th Engineers would break for the stupidest shit.

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From Babbitt to Baghdad (Part 22)

On my second trip to Thailand, we hauled a squad of Special Forces. When we arrived at Pattaya Beach, Thailand, these fellas hit the ground running. Over the course of the evening, we would see a few here and there as they ducked into and out of the copious neon-lit “Go Go bars.” Other times we would see a few sitting at a kickboxing ring with 10 Thai girls seeking their attention. As aircrew, it was 8 hours bottle to throttle. There is nothing more physiologically horrific than flying hung over like a bitch.

The 4 star Thai hotel we stayed at was only $26 a night. The next morning during check out these once mighty Special Forces dudes were hung over and did not have 10 hours of sleep between all of them. They looked like a ragged downtrodden bunch as they dragged their asses to their Nissan van taxi. A few even showed up at the checkout desk with a couple  of Thai girls in each arm.

I was ready to go, I had already purchased some Thai fried rice and eggrolls for the mission, and was on my second cup of wretchedly strong espresso with the crew.  I even had a 6 pack of Coca-Cola bottles made from pure cane sugar. A cold bottle of Thai Coca-Cola will knock your socks off.  One bottle was like drinking my mother’s kool aid back during my childhood in Babbitt, Nevada. My mom had all the neighborhood kids addicted to kool-aid and homemade kool-aid popsicles.  After a big glass of Kool-aid, we would go out on a neighborhood mission or run amok in the desert hunting lizards and horny toads.

The taxi ride to the aircraft was a terrifying event. The Nissan van that was transporting us had a very small 4 cylinder diesel. It was so underpowered that it barely accelerated when at 50 miles an hour. The diesel-powered Toyota van taxi in front of us was going to0 slow, so our macho taxi driver started passing him. Even though he had the weak diesel 4 cylinder floored, the acceleration was unnoticeable. Ahead of us in the oncoming lane was a huge truck stacked with bundles of who knows what and it was coming on rapidly. I was in the front seat with the red box Marlboro smoking skinny little  semi-toothless  Thai taxi man, and I was starting to freak out. Meanwhile, we were passing motorcycles with up to four family members on each. The Toyota van driver kept the peddle to the metal so we were in a full-on drag race, taking up both lanes. A huge truck barrelling down on us. Even then, the Toyota driver would not let off the throttle.  I was debating whether I should bail out of the van or shit my pants. We finally passed the Toyota van and tucked in front of him with barely a foot to spare before the huge Mercedes truck whooshed past us. About then, the rest of the crew in back erupted in a “Holy shit!”  I think the “Baby Load” vomited. The toothless Thai taxi driver would take a puff off his red box Marlboro, exhale and state, ” No problem GI,” as a visible trace of sweat oozed down his forehead. I wanted to yell “asshole,” but I could not speak Thai. They say that the last thing that passes through a Co-pilots mind after an impact is the Flight Engineer. In this case, the Co-pilot was in the seat behind me.

With preflight activities started, the Loadmaster helped the drastically hungover Special Forces animals into the airplane. They would coalesce and collapse 0n the ramp at the back of the plane. Some would be sprawled out like lazy hounds in a Lil Abner cartoon. I would nudge one of the young bucks with a horrendous bureaucratic submissive  ground pounder buzzcut and say ” Ya gotta be tough to fly the heavies!”  A few were curled up in the fetal position. After rifling through his bag, one fella would come up with a box of Alka-seltzer and save the day. Plop plop fizz fizz.

Later during the flight towards Northern Thailand, the medic would have the old head MSGT Special forces honcho hooked up to an I/V. Hell, he might have been doing some Hitleresque B-12 concoction as well. It was a mission essential medical procedure given that he was hungover like a  CSU college student and we were going to kick him out of  a perfectly good aircraft over the jungles of Thailand.  Meanwhile, the crew was starting to run  airdrop checklists. I would look back to see all the Special Forces guys chuted up and lined up ready to go. When the jump light turned green, these hungover fucks jumped  HALO out over Northern Thailand. They would spend the night in the Jungle and we were headed back to the 4 star hotel and another night in Pattaya Beach, Thailand eating steaks, drinking beer and who knows what else.

Of course, before we would leave the Royal Thai Airbase, we always had to pay our respects to the Air America legend that ran the MAC annex there. He had a little glass front fridge and we were obligated to buy  a dollar liter bottle of Singha to help the war effort. The Singha bottles would be cold with drops of water streaming down the sides  in the humid 90-degree air. I tossed back a nice big chug of excellent sweet and tasty cold Thai beer. Given that I was the  premiere 728th Airdrop Flight Engineer, I deserved a cold beer after a perfect preflight and  perfect airdrop sortie.  One only wanted to drink “one” beer. I made the mistake of drinking two-liter bottles on the way back to the Hotel. Because we stopped at a few Thai religious temples as well as a fried banana fritter stand along the way, I was crossing my legs like a Babbitt little league outfielder in a long inning.  I mean even a Mac crew dog would not piss on the side of the road in Thailand. I did give it some thought. Instead, I waited until we go to the hotel and  then all hell broke loose.  Hoo-fucking-rah.

MMMM, the smell of Thai fried rice with basil…….

 

 

 

 

 

From Babbitt to Baghdad (Part 21)

The 730th was undermanned and overworked. The ARTS were under constant stress. Not only did they have to manage and  train at the squadron, they had to do the missions. I was hired to do the J97 for the most part. The J97 was an Air evacuation training mission.  It was fragged to make stops at Travis, McChord, Elmendorf and Eielson AFB.

I would jump on Alaska Airlines from Seatac to Ontario, California. Then the base taxi service picked me up and took me to the unit. I had a Zenith blue  1967 VW bug parked in back of the unit as well. I would check into billeting  and show for the J97 on Friday morning if I remember correctly. It could have been Thursday.  It would depart for Travis pick up a med crew and then head to McChord. At McChord, the Flight Engineers that lived in Tacoma and were now part of the 730th would jump on at McChord and then get a sortie to Elmendorf AFB. The next day was good for 2 more sorties. The third day was good for another sortie. Over the 3 day mission, the McChord Engineers or “The Northern Alliance”  could get 5 currency sorties which were good for 60 days. They also knocked out a 2 UTA ‘s that paid two active duty days each. Two people would also get a preflight currency item accomplished.

Once the J97 terminated at March AFB, I would jump on an Alaska jet back to Seatac. I would get 5 days Active Duty, and some per Diem out of the deal.  The folks at McChord got 4 days of Active Duty for 2 days work and per diem. I did this mission copious times from July 2000 to February 2005. It was an easy trip. Plus we got to eat fresh beer battered halibut at F street or  hot wings at Humphries or  drink big beers at Chilkoot Charlies, Then it was off to the Bush company.  I once spent $400 buying beers for 728th Super Airgawd Loads at the Bush. In the 728th there was a Bush Company currency item. In fact, if one did not do a Bush Company sortie, one got Q3ed and sent to the penalty box. Speaking from experience, the Bush Company was the best strip club on  planet earth.  There is nothing like eating fresh Alaska salmon with corn on the cobb while gulping down a pitcher of good Alaska Amber beer before heading into to the Bush. In the summer time, after we had spent all the money, it was still light out at midnight. In the scheme of things, Anchorage is one of the best party towns in the USA.

 

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From Babbitt to Baghdad (part 20)

When I flew with the 728th at McChord AFB, the job afforded me the opportunity to leave the ghastly and morose rainy winters days of the Northwest. Once the aircraft cleared the Cascades to the east or Grants Pass, Oregon to the south,  one was treated to the sun again. The vitamin D would come rushing in. Every month I was able to escape from the Northwest which put the Northwest seasonal depression disorder at bay. In addition, the worldwide travel fed my mind. Ignorance of other cultures and countries in the world can be exploited. Governments love an ignorant population. Ignorant, paranoid and unstable populations are very susceptible to propaganda campaigns and successful manipulation by special interest and the media. .

The summertime in the Northwest is simply gorgeous.  There was nothing like preflighting a C-141B on the McChord AFB ramp after a good breakfast and aircrew briefing. On a clear day, Mount Ranier would be in all it’s glory. The Flight Engineers would show at the aircraft, look at the forms, and start flipping switches and moving flight controls.  Most of the time, the trusted C-141B would have no additional writeups and would be chomping at the bit and ready to fly when the pilots arrived unless the FE was snake bit and had the initials JP. Then the pilots would load their waypoint data , settle in and call for checklists. The engine start, radio calls, taxi, and takeoff would unfold with precision. In many cases, a C-141B pilot or Flight Engineer might have run checklists and taken off 5000 times.

During a beautiful Northwest summer day, it was hard to leave because it soon would be over and one would be subject to the 5000 scattered and 2000 broken skies of Western Washington state. In the winter time, once the C-141B broke out of the clouds, a different sense of happiness would wash over the crew. We would then head to Alaska, Hawaii, California or somewhere east. The excitement of the preflight and takeoff  duties would settle into the up and down bobbing of the aircraft on autopilot, radio calls, and pilots talking about airline interviews. Of course, the Flight Engineers knew that the 3-man cockpit was obsolete and on its way out, Soon the Flight Engineer and his Fred Flintstone TOLD cards would be replaced by technology. For the C-141B Loadmaster, they had nothing to worry about. A computer chip can’t push cargo onto an airplane. With that in mind, they would sleep soundly after the main landing gear retracted into the wheel well. If they weren’t sleeping, they were handing out pudding cups and making certain they had their Squadron coin in their flight suit pocket. On long legs, they would sleep. When the aircraft arrived at it’s destination, the Loadmasters would be bright eyed and bushy tailed. The Pilots and Flight Engineers would be tired as hell. Of course the dense and socially inept  Air God Loads would want to play the coin game like a dog with a ball. The poverty struck big mouth Super Air God Load bums were always looking for free beer.

When there wasn’t a heinous power abusing 728th  examiner on board, the aviation experience at McChord was wonderful and glorious.  I was a line flyer and hated the politics of the Air Force Reserves. People were always getting promoted ahead of me with less time in grade. If one had big tits or was a lesbian, one got promoted ahead of everyone else, so I had to compartmentalize and buy another rental house.

Once I was forced to leave the wonderful McChord flight line, the experience would be replaced with the gift of Southern, California ,  great people, and the same timezone. The only things I would miss were the ARTS and troops at the 728th. The 728th had the best and most knowledgeable ARTS of all the flying squadrons at McChord AFB. Some had even worked on old shaky. After decades of running interference for  imbecilic and overzealous political morons that ruined the flying experience, they kept things real at the 728th.  Respect!!!!! As far as the Reservists, we were by far the coolest squadron.  We got shit done and didn’t follow the Sonics around like dumbasses.

I would also miss the old head C-141B pilots and Navigators that I flew airdrop with. We did some cool shit. Some had flown during Vietnam. I would get to fly with them a few times and then they would retire. Many had jobs flying in the airlines and were maximum contributors to the Reserves. Time with loved once was rationed. I feel for the USAF Reserve pilots that spent precious little time with their families in support of our national interest.  I feel for the wives and husbands that stayed home alone raising kids without a fulltime daddy or mommy. Thank you for your service. The families of the Air Force Reservist  aviator are the true heroes. They waited for us to return safely from countless missions.

Thank you for taking me through all the Cascade low-level routes at 300 knots and tolerating my dysfunctional non-value adding big mouth and inept cockpit environment social skills. Thank you for taking me around the world safely. The world was my classroom and many of you were a patient teacher.

 

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From Babbitt to Baghdad (Part 19)

March AFB had been part of the Brodhead family since 1963. My father was a member of the 1st CEVG or 1st Combat Evaluation Group. The 1st CEVG headquarters was at March AFB. My father was stationed at a SAC radar site in Babbitt, Nevada some 300 miles away. Here and there he would be required to TDY at March AFB for training etc. On a few occasions, he would take the family with him. We would stay at billeting at March AFB and then go to Disneyland or Knottsberry farm. I remembered driving by  tiny little Las Vegas, San Bernadino, and Norton AFB in the mid-1960s.  My dad loved to say San Bernadino.

The 1st CEVG was a radar group. They used radar systems to track SAC aircraft during bomb runs etc. The unit he was stationed at Det 12 . They would manage the Hawthorne bomb plot.  SAC aircraft would come through the Nevada desert and then simulate hitting a target out in the vast desert somewhere. The B-52 crews would simulate a bomb release after accomplishing all checklist procedures. Then the Bombing Navigator would call for bombs away at the appropriate latitude and longitude taking speed and winds into account. Meanwhile, the Det 12 radar facility would track the aircraft via radar triangulation and monitored the aircraft ‘s communication frequency. At bombs away the lat and long would be logged and scored etc. The Det 12 also had weather measuring equipment at the bomb plot so a bomb release could be monitored for precision. March AFB and Castle AFB B-52 crews would train at the Hawthorne bomb plot before being sent TDY to bomb North Vietnam.

My father was a genius at repairing radar equipment. He would tell stories of tracking the SR-71 Blackbird across Nevada when it was maching out. He could only get a few blips on the radar scope and figured that the SR-71 was eclipsing 3000 miles an hour. My father was using precision radar equipment that put massive B-52 bomb loads into the shack with 90% accuracy. He never lied to me, hence, I have to believe him when he said the SR-71 could fly over 3000 miles an hour.

Many times my father and I would talk about Ohm’s law at the dinner table. He was a solid radar instructor and had the gift of gab.  He was also the unit gun instructor. I would be taught about gun safety from an early age and carry a shotgun out into the desert at 9 to 10 years old. I never heard my father cuss ever. I never saw my father drunk. My dad would say that if he could hook my big mouth up to a car’s differential he could drive across the country for free.He also said that I could  “talk the hind leg off a dead jackass!”

He would become the NCOIC of radar operations and also train airmen on every aspect of radar repair and operations as it related to tracking and scoring SAC aircraft. The same technology was employed in Vietnam. In 1966, my father would be stationed at a 1st CEVG radar site in Dalat South Vietnam. For 6 months he would work in a radar trailer directing and scoring B-52 strikes. Once a B-52 was in the bombing zone, a lite would flash in the cockpit notifying the B-52 crew that the 1st CEVG had them over the target. Between a good BombNav and the 1st CEVG and the bombing accuracy over North Vietnam increased by up to 90%. My dad  and his small Dalat detachment were  responsible for  directing 6000 tons of ordinance being delivered on North Vietnam. In 1968 he would be stationed in Thailand at another radar site.

The Dalat radar detachment was in a heavy Agent Orange contamination zone.  The large hill that the radar site was situated on was routinely stripped of foliage by the use of Agent Orange. What used to be lush forest and jungle was reduced to a bald hill of brown dirt. The air conditioning system and equipment cooling systems of the SAC radar trailer  pulled the Agent Orange off-gassing into its confines. As a result, a great many of the 1st CEVG teams that served at Dalat succumbed to Ischemic heart disease. My father was one of them. It did not help that he was a smoker.

When my father retired, we left Nevada and moved to Colorado. He would buy a little rambler on a horse acre 1 mile from Denver air traffic control center. He would apply for a job with the FAA as a radar technician but they would not give my father a job. My father was extremely intelligent and started fixing TVs when he was 19 years old. He could state all of Ohm’s law from memory and was a natural mechanic that could fix anything. Instead, he got a job selling smoke detectors. My mother would ride a bicycle back and forth to a sweatshop seamstress job. Now you know why I bought real estate.

I was my father’s son. From the time I was born until I enlisted in the Air Force, my father would talk about the Air Force and SAC. After he retired from SAC in 1973, he still talked about Vietnam, Thailand, and the Hawthorne bomb plot. Civilian life after Air Force retirement was a bummer for my father. He went from Esprit de Corps and belonging in a professional military organization to what the boring private sector had to offer. The same sense of loss would happen to me when I left the 730th Airlift Squadron. All correspondence stopped. I then understood fully about transitioning from a highly professional military organization to civilian status. The transition was the hardest and most painful thing I ever had to endure.  It lasted all of  5 years. A time where I was emotionally unstable and longed to wear the Air Force uniform. Every time I would talk about trying to come out of retirement, my friends would talk me out of it and render me support. Like my father, I was lost. Please forgive if I caused anyone stress. I was out of control.

Hardcore military patriots have to pay a high emotional price when the retire. We all endure it. That is why we all have empathy and respect for our retirees. They are our brothers and sisters in arms. In their hearts, they are still serving. Even when my father was in ill health, he dreamed of being called up for duty…. We must move on and live our lives the best way we know how. There is much love and fun to be had in the country that we have vowed to protect and serve. It is our time now,

Colonel Stan Sliz a survivor of the fall of Lima site 85 would attend his funeral.  Lima site 85 was a top secret radar site in Laos that directed B-52 strikes on the Hanoi trail. Stan would work with CMSGT Richard Etchberger an Air Force Medal of Honor recipient.

Lima Site 85

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Dalat site

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From Babbitt to Baghdad (Part 18)

C-141 Flight Engineers had a shelf life of sorts. Many folks joined a unit, attended a million dollar training school, took up several months of a squadron’s time, and then quit after 1000 hours of flying.  Others would accumulate 13000 hours and not quite until they reached high year tenure. A competent line flyer is the product of copious training and effort.  During the last years of the C-141, manning shortages could not be overcome by training a few individuals from off the street. Units had to look at older C-141 crew dogs. An old C-141 crew dog was poddy trained and neutered already. I was certified, recertified, exorcised, neutered, poddy trained . Q3ed , Q1ed and had a D cell Maglite and the dash 1 shoved up my ass.

An old C-141 crew dog was poddy trained and neutered already. The  730th assistant resource manager, who was the glue that kept the 730th a cohesive and well-managed unit, ask me to call up the McChord squadrons and tell them that we needed Flight Engineers.  Low and behold, many started to call and then showed up for interviews. The 730th had the pick of the aircrew litter. As a result, the 730th gained a splendid group of Flight Engineers to complement the existing solid group of guys and gals. There were a few exceptions, but for the most part, the 730th got the best that the 313th and 97th had to offer. In fact, we acquired a very competent mix of dedicated folks that only needed C model transition training.  Moreover, by this time the C minus model was replaced by the C plus which made transition training a piece of cake.

Because I could schedule my time without regard to an employer, I would fly down on Alaska Airlines, man the J97, and then fly back to Seattle on Alaska again. The folks from McChord would jump on the aircraft on AFTPs or a UTA stay a week and then fly back on the J97. It was a good deal for everyone. Except for the stigma of dealing with me and the social fallout from my morose past, the new folks fit the unit like a glove. It wasn’t long before there was a little measure of endearment and tolerance. They knew that I had taken a mental beating at McChord, and they were too dignified to continue the tradition. Everything was copacetic. I was still a gregarious braggart and a big mouth , but it was copacetic.

The ARTS earned a much desired flying breather. The local 730th Flight Engineers also stepped up their game. We were getting things done and had a high level of Esprit De Corps.

A little time later, the 313th and 97th FE resource managers would come to March AFB and ask if they could be attached to the 730th. The 730th resource manager said no.  I then had the opportunity to fly these gentlemen back to McChord. This would be their final flight on a C-141C as passengers. The 97th FE resource manager had trained me while in the 728th. He also was a FAA certified Flight Engineer examiner. He gave me my FE tickets. he was a balanced and knowledgeable man who was not afraid to rationally discipline an individual and then move on. he took his job seriously and applied professionalism to his craft.  He would adapt and be a Chief in maintenance at McChord.  He would pass away just a year after the C-141 was removed from the inventory. A few of us would visit him on his deathbed. He almost did not recognize me. His last communication to me was a thumbs up. He died the next day. Many of us would attend his funeral and pay our respects.

people come and go in our lives. It is how we touch other people in a positive way that makes us a good human being.

I had forgiven the 313th FE resource manager. He thought he was doing the right thing. He was just a big rooster that got carried away.  Under his charge, all the barnyard  aviator animals would pick at my feathers. By the time I had left the 313th ALS my ass and most of my body would be picked clean of feathers. I still had my wings for the meantime. But then agin, he took absolute pride in his work and did the best he could for his squadron of people.

As time goes on we understand that most people are somewhat alike. We are born, we thrive, and then we grow old. We do the best we can. We must forgive other people’s trespasses or we carry a burden of contempt with us to the grave. We grow beyond our own self-limitations and learn empathy for others. We care about others and show it in our eyes when we shake hands or communicate. We grow and change the windows to our soul. I believe this type of behavior is the key to getting next to people.

Yup, I sat right across from the two individuals. One had built me up and the other had torn me down. There was no greater difference in management styles west of the Mississippi.

My ass had grown fresh new feathers. I was pecking around in a  different animal farm and these guys were headed to different pastures. Change comes whether we like it or not…Soon the C-141C chapter would be completely read and only reminiscing would remain. Stronger memories would then fade and  become just a dream.

A few months later the Twin Towers would be attacked.

 

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From Babbitt to Baghdad (Part 17)

When I started participating at the 730th Airlift Squadron, from the looks of it, the ARTS and a few bums  did a majority of the flying. The local Flight Engineers would do UTAs and AFTPs, but many Reservists had jobs and would not do very many strat missions. Many had ben in the 730th for decades. They needed their private sector jobs to maintain their lifestyles and raise families etc.  It was so bad that the Squadron Commander requested that the Flight Engineers fly at least 160 hours a year as a minimum. The ARTS of the 730th were overworked and needed help. From July 2000 until March 2005 I would fly over 1700 hours on the C-141C, hence, I averaged close to 360 hours a year or 200 more than the requested minimum.

At the 728th at McChord, I maxed out AFTPs, UTAs , ground teeps, and then  performed up to 90 days of  active duty days a year. Part of the deal at March AFB was only doing UTAs and Active duty days. I would settle into doing the J97 and strat missions. I still had a business to run and houses to rent so I had to make blocks of commitment.  Even after performing a J97 and a couple weekday UTAs, the resource manager would want me to take an additional strat mission before going back to Seattle. I could not do a local on AFTPs, but I could do a strat mission on Active Duty. Over the 5 years I worked at the 730th I did very few AFTPs. This cut into the pay that I could have gotten. Instead, the manning budget went to Alaska Airline tickets. $40 a day per Diem and a couple Active days for travel was a fair exchange.  I was not going to bitch. I had a job at what would soon be one of the last two C-141C flying units in the country. I had a job and could contribute until I had my 20-year letter. Plus my stress level had gone from 100% at the 313th Airlift cookoos nest to a pleasant situation.

The 730th Airlift Squadron Engineer section was made up of solid individuals. Except for a few regressions they always gave the individual human equity. We started our vocational affair with just a little bit of technical training and just a little bit of belonging. That was good enough for me.

At the 313th Airlift Squadron, a shadow of SAC style intimidation  and paranoia hung thick in the air like the smell of a construction sight portapotty. If one wore special optics, one could  actually see the SAC eat the young mentality oozing down the walls as well. Most all the people in positions of authority used their Jerry-power in an intimidating fashion. They had power and belonging. You only had the power and status they gave you. Of course, there were those that would jump on the anti-Brodhead bandwagon just for security and special favors.  The reporting official that I had for a month and never spoke with tendered me a 1 EPR and then was promoted to Senior. Of course with a 3 EPR, my 10 years time in grade  meant nothing and paved the way for other Jerry Kids to be promoted.

At the 730th Airlift Squadron, things were much different. The building I worked at was not a stress container. It had good Kharma. It did have a few folks with contemptuous and unsavory personalities, but they were not out to eat around one’s asshole until it all fell out. They were just personalities to tolerate. They were solid patriots that did their jobs, so causing issue was irrational, unnecessary , and non-value adding. I mean if the unit could tolerate their grandiose and offensive interaction styles, then I was a budding saint in a flight suit. The social equation is quite complex. Some people are blatant assholes with extreme personalities ridden with insecurities that project there mental BS onto others and they are left alone for convenience sake. Then there are others that step across the sliding scale line and are burned at the stake or ostracized at a Christmas party. In reality, I gave my power-base away at the drop of a hat. I literally opened the door to contempt and allowed others to draw first blood. If a person took the opportunity to draw first blood,  I considered them weak and lemming like. They were relegated to my shit list. When others refused to draw first blood in an attempt to undermine my social and professional power-base, I saw that as a refreshing sign. I saw these types of individuals as strong and emphatic in their own right. They were not lemmings and did not adhere to the politics of the schoolyard. The bottom line is that at that juncture I was not a liability and not worth fucking with. As a result, I put my best foot forward. I became and asset and did my absolute best for the unit. I still had a big mouth and that was a liability on the flight deck. The resource manager simply stated that I should self-manage and that was it.  He would reinforce this concept a few times over a 5 year period.

During the last days of my participation at the 313th, just driving down to the unit would cause stress for me. As soon as I entered the base at McChord, and turned down the long road towards the flying units, my heart and core would feel emotional pain. Entering the 313th building was an emotionally negative event. Almost every single eye contact event was emotionally draining. When I would enter a room at the 97th, the ARTS would not even take their eyes away from their computer. Instead, they would give me the silent treatment. They didn’t even feel that I deserved a good morning, a kiss my as, or a go fuck yourself.  I ran a small business and was a self-made millionaire. That was my power-base. I took pity on their excuses for  management and basic corporate behavior and courtesy.  What the fuck….I got performance and production out of people by being kind, attentive, and nurturing. They played little aviator God bullshit games.  The Reserves is supposed to be full of folks that see a bigger picture than Active Duty.  We do not assimilate stifling bureaucracy behaviors, and we make things better.

At the 729th and 730th, when I entered a room for just a little social nourishment, I was always greeted with a good morning or a how are you. For this, they earned my dedication and followership skills. As far as my big mouth and excessive personality, that was cast in stone by the time I was in first grade. Don’t know what else to say…

 

 

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