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  #361  
Old 06-22-2017, 09:23 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Next one, and Prada finds out about her sister....anyone recognize the shout-out?



335th TFS Offices, 1650 Hours Central War Time:


Major Wiser was in his office, going over some last-minute paperwork before going to the Officer's Club. Nothing major, he was glad to see, though he did wish that the elves would take care of it while he was out. He'd learned in his tenure as XO that the paper warriors could not be ignored, despite what one wished, and though they were not as numerous as they were in peacetime, that species of pest was still a problem. Colonel Rivers, rest his soul, had taught him some ways of dealing with bureaucrats, though no doubt every squadron and wing commander had the same attitude that he had: yank those pests from behind their desks, transfer them to the Army, give them rifles, and send them to the front lines. Or, if that wasn't possible, have them shoveling snow at someplace like Loring or Goose Bay. Ah, well, one could dream, he thought.

He'd finished with what was in his IN box and then went to work on something that had just come up, when there was a knock on the office door. “Yeah? Come on in and show yourself.”

Capt. Mark Ellis, the Exec, came in with a clipboard. “Boss, got a few things here.”

“What have we got?” Guru asked, looking up from a paper he had just filled out.

“Aircraft status report. We'll have twenty for the morning. And before you ask, Don's bird needs a hundred-hour check.”

The CO nodded. “Okay.....yours and Frank's just got out of that, right?”

“Right on that, Boss,” Ellis replied.

Guru thought for a moment. “All right, then. You get your bird back, and give the one you flew today to Kerry. Frank gets his back, and Don takes the other Euro One bird.”

“I'll let Don know, and he'll take care of that.”

“Good. What else have you got?”

“Supply requesitions,” the XO said. “The stuff we need to get Kerry's bird back in the air.”

Guru signed the forms. “Gladly. Now, get Ross to turn the scroungers loose. Give them the same list Supply's getting, and they have a hunting license. If the clowns in Supply deliver, well and good. If not...”

“Got you. And the usual rules apply.”

“They do. No felony arrests, no one gets hurt, and best of all, nobody gets caught.”

Ellis nodded. “I'll get him going.”

“Good.” the CO said. He put the papers he had been working on into an envelope and sealed it. “This goes out to Tenth Air Force in tomorrow's mail. DFC citations for Kerry and Pat for bringing their bird back.”

“They deserve it,” Ellis nodded. “Speaking of Tenth Air Force, that C-21 came in. Don took the gun-camera tapes and gave it to the crew. They stayed long enough to refuel, then took off back to Nellis.”

“Those were the originals, right?” Guru asked, and he saw Ellis nod. “Okay, so Yeager's people made copies. Our newsies get the word about the blackout being official?”

“Kodak Griffith said they did. Weren't too happy, but Ms. Wendt went to do a sit-down with General Yeager. I'll bet you the minute that blackout expires, they send the story to Sydney.”

“And L.A.,” Guru reminded him. “They also send stuff to CBS, remember?”

“Forgot about that,” Ellis said. “And the weather update. No change for at least five days.”

Guru read the sheet. “Swell. Forget about any stand-down for at least that long.”

“Too bad.”

“Some things you have to live with,” Guru said as he stood up. He glanced at the office clock. 1705. “Now we're off the clock.” He picked up the folder Sin Licon had given him. “Let's hit the Club. I need a cold one, and food.”

“And we get to watch Kerry and Pat get drunk, while they try and forget about nearly getting killed today,” the Exec said. By the tone of his voice, it wasn't a question.

“Something like that.”

“And you don't have to write any letters today.”

“That, I'll gladly drink to.”


When the CO and XO got to the Club, they found Colonel Brady already at the bar, and keeping an eye not only on several of his Marines, but also Kerry Collins and Pat McCorkle. “Colonel,” Guru said with a nod.

“Major,” Brady replied. “The Mess people won't be too long, which is a good thing. Right now, five of my Marines and your two are racing each other to get drunk. Seems your guys weren't alone in getting shot up today.”

Guru and Mark looked at each other. “Colonel, may I ask where?” Guru asked.

“Same area: Star Hollow Lake. They're protecting something important.”

“Or someone-sir.” Ellis said. “Could be an Army Commander.”

“That's what my intel thinks,” Brady said. “Anyway, that's for tomorrow. What's in the folder?”

Guru opened the folder and showed him. “I could have shown her on the ramp, but next to a shot-up bird was not the time or place.”

“Good thinking, Major,” Brady said as General Olds came in, and he was talking with several 335th aircrew. “What are you going to say?”

“First, sir, I need to talk with General Yeager,” Guru said as the barkeep came over. “Smitty, any Sam Adams come in?”

“Sorry, Major,” Smitty replied. “Only two bottles left.”

“Then Bud,” Guru said. “And one for the Exec.”

Smitty nodded, and produced the bottles. “Here you go, Major.'

“Thanks,” Guru said. He paid the barkeep, then glanced over at his two people. “How many have they had?”

“Working on their second already, Major,” Smitty said. “Each.”

“No more until they get something to eat,” Guru said firmly. He turned to Collins and McCorkle. “Hear that?”

“Loud and clear, Major,” Collins said, Capt. Ryan Blanchard, the OINC of their Combat Security Police detachment, nodded agreement. She was his girlfriend, and she would watch him like a hawk.

McCorkle grumbled, “Yes, sir.”

“Good,” Guru said as General Yeager and his people came in, with the news crew following. “Those guys are still the stars today.”

Ellis nodded. “Well, Boss, maybe we can get Ms. Wendt to talk to Kerry and Pat-that is, before they get too drunk.”

“Or when they're sober,” Guru said. He noticed that Goalie, Kara, and the rest of his flight had gotten a table. “Colonel, if you'll excuse me, I need to get started on my own 'Stress reduction.' It's been a hell of a day.”

Brady nodded. “It has been that, Major.”


Guru went over to the table and sat down. “Well, don't know whether to be pissed or be thankful. Or both.”

“Why's that, Boss?” Kara asked as she got started on her first beer.

“Pissed that General Yeager and his people got into a fight, or thankful that General Dugan hasn't called.”

“Better if it's both,” Hoser said. “Uh, Boss.”

“I'll drink to that,” Goalie said, and she poked her pilot in the arm.

“Guess I will,” Guru said. “Hell of a day.” Then he started on his beer. “Any newspapers come in on the C-141?”

Sweaty nodded, then produced the papers. “USA Today, Stars and Stripes, L.A. Times, take your pick.”

Guru and Goalie shared the L.A., and passed the sports page to Hoser. “Anything in USA Today that leaps out?”

“More protests in West Germany,” Kara said. “They had 100,000 in Dusseldorf.”

“Same thing here,” Guru said. “100,000 also in Munich.”

Heads nodded at that. “Good,” Dave Golen said from the table next to the CO's. “Only a matter of time.” And General Olds, who was sitting with Dave, nodded his agreement.

“Hear, hear,” several people said.

Just then, the mess people arrived. “People, we've got either grilled pork chops or Salisbury Steak, with all the fixn's,” one of the local restaurateurs turned Marine Mess Officer said. “Come and get it.”

After people got what they wanted, the CBS Evening News came on. Unlike the previous day, this was a slow news day, even with the war going on, though coverage of the protests in West Germany-and now in Belgium and Holland as well, led the news coming from overseas. And the brewing affair in Philly over Senator Proxmire's aides finding themselves in very hot water over back-channel contacts with the Cuban Embassy in Paris.

“How long until Proxcreep gets the heave-ho?” Cosmo asked from a table where she and Revlon were talking with Ms. Wendt and her crew.

“Hope he gets the message,” said Don Van Loan. “Time for him to take a hike.”

“I'll drink to that,” Cosmo said. As an astronomy major, she had very good reason to loathe the Senator' who had a fondness for cutting NASA budgets, while others despised him for his anti-military attitude.

“Same here,” Kara said.

After Walter Cronkite signed off, the bartender turned the TV to ESPN, where a rerun of ABC's Wide World of Sports was playing. “Well, that's that,” Goalie said. “Slow day in the big picture.”

“But not for us,” Guru nodded.


A few minutes later, as the clock wound towards 1800, Colonel Brady went to the bar and rang the bell. “People, we've got exactly one hour left before the twelve-hour rule kicks in, and there are a few people here who have a right to get happily loaded. First, several folks from either the Marines or the 335th came back with shot-up birds, and well, you people have a right to get sloppy drunk. You've got an hour left, so make the most of it!” The tent roared with laughter. “Major Wiser? You've got some Air Force business, I believe?”

Guru nodded, then went to the bar. “Thank you, sir. Well, Kerry, Pat? You guys did good, bringing your bird back after some kasha-eating son of a bitch put a few flak holes in it. And take my advice, from someone who's been there, done that? Be glad you're not camping with the Resistance. Or, worse, holed up somewhere, waiting for Jolly Green to get you, evading, or a lot worse, behind barbed wire, eating Kasha and Borscht. So drink up!”

“Glad to, Major,” Collins said.

“Just remember: you're on the flight schedule in the morning. So remember twelve-hour, and hit the sack when Doc calls curfew.”

“Will do, Boss,” Pat McCorkle grinned.

Guru nodded, then turned to where General Yeager and his people were seated. “General? Your young pups proved themselves in the air-to-ground arena, and today? They showed us what they can do air-to-air. And sir, you may have set a record for the longest gap between kills. Because, people? He got a Yak-28 recon bird in that little furball. So, General? Here's to number 12.5.” Guru raised his beer botle.

“Just in the right place at the right time, Major,” Yeager replied in his West Virginia drawl. “You're probably glad the Chief of Staff hasn't chewed your ass over the phone.”

“Chewed his ass yet.” Sweaty muttered.

Preacher nodded, then said, “There's always tomorrow.”

Kara shook her head. “Remember, guys, it's Frank we want packing for Goose Bay.”

“We know that,” Sweaty shot back. “It's just, well....surprising the Boss hasn't gotten an over-the-phone ass-chewing.”

“Maybe General Tanner calmed him down,” Goalie ventured.

Guru went on. “General, one of your pups made ace today. Prada? Stand up and be recognized.” Prada did, and Guru said, “You got number five today, and no matter what happens from now on, you're a certified, card-carrying aerial assassin, and for damn sure, no one can take that away from you!”

“Thanks, Major,” Prada said to the roar of the crowd.

“Enjoy the moment, Captain,” Guru said. “Now, some 335th business. Cosmo? Revlon? Stand up.”

“Uh-oh,” several people muttered.

“You two splashed the only MiG to get away from the F-20 furball,” Guru said, and there was some applause at that. “Now, that gives you two three kills. Two more and not only do you two make ace, but you'll be the only all-female ace team not just in the 335th, but hell, probably the whole Air Force for all we know. This place will rock when that happens. But one piece of advice: when you get to number four? No trolling for MiGs! You might just run into somebody looking for his fifth. So be careful, you two.”

The two looked at each other and grinned. “Noted, Major,” Cosmo said.

“That's good. Colonel?” Guru said, yielding the floor to Colonel Brady.

“Thanks, Major. Now, people, in case anyone's curious, no bad weather for a week. So we''ll be hitting things pretty hard until then. You've got fifty minutes until twelve-hour, so drink up!”


Major Wiser went and got another beer, then went back to his table. “Need to talk to General Yeager, then Prada.” He picked up the folder.

“What's in the folder?” Brainiac asked.

Goalie knew, but said nothing. “Be glad you don't know. Yet.” That answer made everyone at the table curious.

The CO nodded. “You'll find out when I get back.” He went over to General Yeager's table, where the news crew had finished talking to his people. “General,”

“Major,” Yeager nodded.

“General, right now, I'm glad I haven't gotten an angry phone call from either General Dugan or General Cunningham.”

“For his exploit today?” Ms. Wendt asked.

“Something like that,” Guru said. “General, I need to show you something,” He indicated the folder. “Privately, sir.”

Yeager nodded, and the two went to the bar and found a couple of empty stools. “Major?”

“Sir, my Intel was going to show Prada this on the ramp, but next to a shot-up bird was not a good time or place,” Guru said. He opened the folder.

Yeager studied the contents, then frowned. “She needs to see this Now.”

“Sir, may I suggest having Colonel Brady here? He's been there.”

“You mean Hanoi?” Yeager asked, and he saw Guru nod. “Good idea, Major.”

Guru went and talked to Colonel Brady for a moment, then the two went back to the bar. Then General Yeager brought Prada over. “What's this about, sir?” She asked.

“This,” Guru said as he opened the folder.

Prada looked at the folder's contents. A brief cover letter from DIA, then a copy of an artcle from a Cuban propaganda magazine. It showed two female American POWs, one brown-haired, the other blonde. Both had bruising on their faces, and were wearing long sleeved prison pajamas. And both were familiar to her, the brown-haired one very much so. “Daria.....she's alive.” Prada looked at the date on the article. April, 1987. “Seven months ago..”

“Your sister's alive, Captain,” Brady said. “Now you know. My family didn't know I was alive until Christmas, 1970, when the Viets let me write my first letter home.” He looked at the photo again. “Who's the other one?”

“Jane, her WSO,” Prada replied. “God...right now I don't know whether to be happy or worried.”

Brady knew what his family had gone through from January, '68 until March 14, 1973, when he had been released in the third increment of POWs from Hanoi. “Either one can be graded as correct.”

“Long pajama sleeves,” Guru noted. “Trying to hide the scars.”

“You picked that up, Major,” Yeager said.

“Read a few books on the subject, sir,” Guru replied. “And from SERE.”

Prada nodded as she scanned the photo and the accompanying article, which had been translated. “Says here they 'confessed' to attacking civilian targets, My ass.”

“Look, Prada,” Yeager said. “Your sister's had SERE training, and she'll get through this.” And so have you, he said to himself. “And there's this: you might qualify for a transfer under the 'Lone Survivor' rule. Your sister's a POW, and you're flying combat. If you get captured, they might put two and two together...”

“What do you mean, sir?”

“I can have orders cut transferring you out of the 474th and sending you to Edwards to be an F-20 IP. You're a combat veteran, a fighter ace, and you've done your bit for God and Country. I'd like to meet your parents one day, but I sure as hell don't want to do it handing them a flag.”

Prada nodded. “General, I don't know what to say.....I need to think about it, and if I can, talk with my folks.”

Guru wondered, “Red Cross can arrange that, can't they?”

“They should,” Brady said. “I'll check with the Red Cross office on the base. They opened a week after we got here.”

“Prada, I know you want to get back into the fight, but a year away from the war zone as an IP means you'll be passing on your experience, and making sure people know how to fly and fight in the F-20,” Yeager said. “When you do come back, you won't have missed a damn thing, because chances are, this war won't be over this time next year. Chances are, we'll be on the Rio Grande, with next stop Mexico City, and there'll still be plenty to do.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied. “Can I wait until we get back to California? I need to think it over, and talk with my folks, if that's possible.”

“Your call,” Yeager nodded. He understood what she was thinking, and knew that some time away from the war zone would probably be best. IP duty wasn't exactly safe, with the potential for accidents, but it was safer than combat.

“Thank you, sir,” Prada smiled. “Now, if you'll excuse me,” she waved to Smitty. “I need to get slightly drunk.”

The three senior officers looked at each other, then at her. “Understandable, Captain,” Yeager said. “You've got forty-five minutes before twelve-hour.”

Prada smiled. “Then, sir, I need to get started.”


Guru went back to his flight's table, and sat back down. “First time,”

“What?” Kara asked.

“Telling someone their MIA loved one is a POW. Quinn's sister is in the Caribbean version of the Hanoi Hilton,” Guru spat. “Shot down over Cuba, and was MIA until recently.”

“So that's what was in the folder,” Sweaty nodded.

Guru nodded back as he finished his beer. “Yep. The good thing: her sister's alive. The bad? She's a 'guest' of Fidel.”

“And we've all got friends POW or MIA,” Goalie reminded them.

The CO grimaced. “That we do.”

Kara then got up and went back to the bar. She got another beer, then went to the pool table. She laid down her money, and the Marine who was there laid down his. It didn't take long for her skills to show, and the Marine wound up paying.

“I see the Queen of the pool tables is holding court,” Ms. Wendt said as she came over. “Might just challenge her one of these days.”

“Your money,” Guru reminded her. “You've been warned previously.”

“I know, Major. But still....”

General Olds stood up. “I'll give her another crack at me.”

“Oh, shit,” Guru said as the General went over to the pool table. He showed his money, Kara showed hers, then both went at it. This time, as with the previous occasion, General Olds' skills were superior, and after Kara paid him, she came back to the table in a fit of the sulks.

“Well?” Sweaty asked.

Kara shook her head. “I have got to beat him before he leaves.” she grumbled.

“Like I said, Kara. Go to the bar, get yourself another beer, then come back and try again,” Guru told her.

“Gladly.” She then went to the bar, got another beer, and downed half of it before she returned to the pool table. General Olds had returned to his table, and Kara proceeded to defeat another Marine. Then a male AF Major wearing MAC insignia on his flight suit challenged her, and came away with his wallet lightened by $50.00. “Next!”

“She always like this?” Ms. Wendt asked.

“Only after she loses,” Goalie said. “Which ain't often.”

Guru looked around, and saw that Prada's friends had joined her at the bar. One of them, Clancy, he thought, was going through Pepsi like it was nothing. Only when Smitty told him they didn't have much left did he lay off. While Pruitt and Prada were talking, and he gave her a hug. Guru then turned, and found General Olds and Dave Golen engaged in a serious conversation, with much hand-waving. SEA against the Yom Kippur War, he knew. Then the bar bell rang.

“Twelve-Hour now in effect!” Doc Waters said.

People flying the next morning turned in their drinks and got something nonalcoholic, and kept things going until 2100, when one of the Navy flight surgeons with MAG-11 rang the bell. “Aircrew Curfew, people!”

Those on the flight schedule the next morning got up and headed off to their billets to get some sleep. It wouldn't be long until Zero-dark-thirty, and another day of flying.
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  #362  
Old 06-22-2017, 09:34 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The next day dawns, and a joint AF-Navy strike: .


335th TFS Offices, 0535 Hours Central War Time; 12 November, 1987:


Major Matt Wiser went towards the squadron's office, and, glancing around, saw the first light coming from the east. A few bright stars were still visible, and the sky was clear. Another good flying day, he thought to himself as he went into the office. As he went in, rock music was coming from an office radio, and that meant Wolfman Jack's show was going strong. The NDO, Hacksaw, noticed him and came over. “Major.”

“Hacksaw,” Major Wiser replied. “How's the cold?”

Almost on cue, Hacksaw sneezed. “Damn cold and damn pills. I don't know which is worse.”

“Feeling better?”

Hacksaw nodded. “Doc says I may be flying again in three or four days. Five at the most.”

“Listen to him,” the CO said. “He outranks all of us-even me-when it comes to anything medical. So listen to him, do as he says, and you'll be flying again in no time.”

The SDO grinned. “Right, Boss. The XO's in. He's waiting for you.”

“Thanks,” Major Wiser nodded. He had a few words with the admin folks on the night shift, then he went into his office and found the Exec waiting. “Mark.”

“Boss,” Capt. Mark Ellis nodded. He had a clipboard with some papers, and handed his CO a Styrofoam cup. “Got your morning admin stuff, and your cocoa.”

“Good,” the CO nodded. “Usual admin stuff?”

“Morning report for MAG-11 and Tenth Air Force,” Ellis said. The CO signed the papers. “And Supply came through-partially.”

“Parts for Kerry's bird?” Guru asked. They had a bird take flak damage the previous day, and he was anxious to get the bird back in the air.

The Exec nodded. “Got a rudder, rudder actuator, TIESO-”

Guru looked at his XO. “TIESO?”

“Yep,” said the Exec. “Took a 30-mm round right through it. They also have a new radome, canopy frame, and canopy.”

“No horizontal stabilizers?” Asked the CO.

“Still looking.”

Guru thought for a minute. “Okay. Ross on it?”

“He and the scroungers are on it. He's running down a few leads.”

“Remind him that those stabilizers are Priority One,” Guru told the Exec. “And have him touch base with our F-20 visitors. They may have run across F-4 parts during their own horse-trading or moonlight requesitioning expeditions.”

“Will do.”

A knock on the door followed. “Yeah? Come on in and show yourself!”

Goalie came in, and she had two more cups, one in each hand. “Morning, guys,” she said. “Hot Chocolate for both of us.” She handed one cup to her pilot and boyfriend, and kept one for herself.

“Have a good night?” Guru asked.

“Slept like a baby, and ready to get on with earning my flight pay.”

“Of which forty-five cents goes back to the Government on April 15,” Mark Ellis joked.

“Something like that,” Guru said. “Ready to fly with Kara today?”

“Boss?” Ellis asked.

Guru smiled. “We're taking General Olds up on a check ride after the second run of the day. And before you ask, no, we're not going anywhere near the front lines. The old Scud Boxes from last summer will do.”

The XO stared at the CO. “For what?”

“Just some ACM,” replied Guru. “We show him what we're doing, vaguely recall peacetime ACM rules, and just have at it. And before you ask, yeah, we'll be armed, but we sure as hell won't be trolling for MiGs.”

Ellis let out a sigh of relief. “That's good to hear. Last thing I want is an angry phone call from General Dugan asking what got an AF legend killed. Then packing for Loring or Gander.”

“Tha't's for Frank, and we all know it,” the CO laughed. “I'm taking General Olds, and Goalie flies with Kara.”

“And you'll just have a couple Sidewinders for self-defense.” Ellis nodded.

Guru shook his head. “No. Full air-to-air load. You never know, Mark.”

The XO nodded. He understood what the CO meant. “And what about Frank? He'll flip when he hears you're taking General Olds up.”

“Because in Frank's egotistical mind, he thinks an Academy grad should be taking General Olds-who is a West Pointer, up,” Guru said. It wasn't question. “In that case, Frank can go suck an egg for all I care.”

“Don't blame you for that,” Ellis said. “Oh, forgot. Weather.” He handed Guru a paper. “No real change for at least five days. That storm that went through Colorado is now in Kansas and Nebraska, but some down into Oklahoma. Just a few high clouds, temps drop a degree or two, and that's it.”

“Okay.” Said the CO. “Anything in the regs about enlisting Buddy?” He was referring to the squadron's Golden Lab mascot.

“Nothing that I could find.”

“Hey, I got a better idea,” Goalie said. “I remember an Academy lecture where a Thud driver was telling us about Roscoe, the 338th's Mascot at Korat. He came to Korat in the back seat of an F-105F, late '65 or early '66. When his master was shot down over North Vietnam, the whole wing adopted him. Made him an honorary Colonel, club card for the O-Club, even let him sit in on mission briefs. They say that if he slept through a brief? It would be an easy ride. If he woke up, or paid attention? You were in for a bear.”

Both CO and XO were intrigued. “What happened to him?” Guru asked.

“He died in '75, a few weeks before the 388th left Korat,” Goalie said. “They buried him with full honors next to the O-Club. His master never did come back-still MIA last I heard.”

“Hmm..” Guru said. Both XO and GIB noticed he was in thought. “Okay, we can either enlist him, or make him an honorary Captain. In that case, he can go into the O-Club. I'll talk it over with the General, and go from there. Anything else?”

“That's it,” Ellis said.

“Check ride aside, we got a busy day coming. Let's go eat.”


When Guru, Goalie, and the Exec got to the Officer's Mess Tent, they found the usual crowd gathered, waiting. They noticed General Olds talking with Colonel Brady.. General Olds noticed the three, and waved them over. “Major,” Olds said.

“Good morning, sir,” Guru replied.

“Ready to get back at it?”

“Yes, sir.” Guru looked around. “Where's General Yeager and his people?”

“Early-bird,” Brady said. “They're wheels-up at 0630, and have a full day.”

“Some more of my people, no doubt,” Guru said. “As long as those young pups don't wrangle another trip down to the front lines.”

General Olds nodded. “You're not the only one thinking that, Major. So I told him to go west, to the old Scud Boxes from last Summer.”

“General, that's good to hear,” Guru said. “And FYI, sir, that's where we're going this morning for your, uh, 'check ride.'”

“He's flying with you, Major?” Brady asked.

“Yes, sir, he is,” Guru said. “Captain Thrace-” he gestured to where Kara was talking with Sweaty, KT, Flossy, and Jang-will be flying as number two, with Lieutenant Eichhorn in the backseat.”

Hearing that, Goalie grinned. “Wouldn't miss this for the world, General.”

“And if we run into the F-20s?” Olds asked.

“Then, General, we have some DACT and teach those young hotheads a lesson,” said Guru. “Maybe. Those F-20s are small and nimble, like the F-5. These guys might give us a good run.”

“Well, we'll find out, won't we, Major?” Olds grinned. He had an idea that this might turn out to be a mini-Red Flag.

Guru nodded. “We will, sir.”

The Marine Mess Officer came out of the tent and flipped the sign from CLOSED to OPEN. “Chowtime, people!”


After breakfast, Guru went to the Ops Office to get his mission briefing packet. His Ops Officer was waiting for him. “Don,” he nodded. “What have you got for me this morning?”

Capt. Don Van Loan handed him a briefing packet. “Going down to a Soviet-held sector,” he told the CO. Right next to the East Germans.” That meant the East German sector's western flank, held by the Soviet 32nd Army.

Guru scanned the material. “Sector boundaries are usually good defense-wise. Notice I said, usually.”

“But going out....” Van Loan said. He, like the CO, knew from experience that things could be nasty going out right over a division.

“At least it'll be from the rear, and they may not have any warning,” Guru said. “Okay, we getting Weasels?”

“No, but two VA-135 A-7s are coming with you. I sent them on ahead to your briefing room.”

“Two targets?” Guru said as he scanned the mission summary. “Fuel dump and a suspected C3 site?”

“Yep. They want both hit if you can,” Van Loan told the CO.

Guru frowned, then reluctantly nodded. “Do what we can. All right, then.” He gathered the material. “Don? You have a good one.”

“You too, Boss. Don't want to be Exec just yet.”

“And Kara doesn't want to be Ops,” the CO laughed. “Just be careful out there.”

Van Loan nodded. “Same to you, Boss.”


Guru went to the Briefing Room his flight used, and found the two A-7 drivers waiting outside. “Major?” A brown-haired, tough-looking fellow in a Navy flight suit with the gold leaves of a Lieutenant Commander asked. “Steve Kearny. I'm your IRON HAND lead.”

The CO nodded. He'd heard of the IRON HAND people: just like their AF Wild Weasel counterparts, they went in ahead of a strike to kill SAMs and AAA sites. But unlike the AF, the Navy had no specialized squadrons, just pilots within an attack squadron who drew that assignment. “Nice to meet you,” he said, shaking hands. “And your wingie?” He gestured to a blonde woman with cropped hair who had a silver bar on her flight suit, and that meant a Lieutenant (junior grade).

“Lynda Patrick,” she replied, shaking the CO's hand. “In case you're wondering, I've been in combat since May.”

“PRAIRIE FIRE,” Commander Kearny said. “She joined us just in time to kick that off.”

“And you, Commander?” Guru asked.

“Been with the squadron since we were formed up in March '86. Got to combat in September, and been there since. And we're either lucky or blessed. We still have half of our original pilots.”

“You're better off in that department than the 335th is,” Guru said as he opened the door. “Shall we?”

The rest of the flight was in the room, chatting when Guru came in. “Okay, people! Time to get serious and back to work. This time, we're going in with Navy help.” He introduced the two A-7 drivers. “And this time, we're going to a Soviet sector.” He took out the briefing materials and found a TPC and JOG chart. “Here's our two targets.”

“Targets?” Kara asked.

“Targets,” Guru said. “Here, southeast of Comanche, at the Route 36/F.M. 1476 intersection. On the Northwest side of the intersection, there's a fuel dump. Southeast, is a suspected C3 site. They don't know what exactly it is, but those trucks with van bodies behind the cab? That usually means a command post, com relay, or a SIGINT outfit.”

Sweaty asked, “Who gets what?”

“Kara and I will take the fuel dump,” Guru said. “You and Hoser have the C3 site.”

“And if it's not there, Boss?” Hoser asked.

“Good question. We don't get paid for bringing ordnance home. If it's not there, I'll call it out-or Kara will,” and he saw his wingmate nod. “In that case? Drop on the dump.”

“Got it,” Sweaty nodded.

“MiG threat?” Brainiac asked. He was hoping he and Kara would be able to add to their tally.

“Brownwood Regional is the closest,” Guru said. “MiG-21s and -23s. The former are East German, the latter, Soviet. San Angelo has -23s, and so does Grey AAF at Fort Hood. MiG-29s are there as well, and at Bergstrom. Which, by the way, has Flankers.”

Heads nodded at that. Nothing new there. “Defenses?” Goalie asked.

“Getting to that. There was an SA-2 there, but it's not listed as operational, but don't take that to the bank,” Guru told the crews. “This is a divisional rear area, so expect SA-6 or -8, plus either -9s or -13s as we head on out. MANPADS and 23-mm at the target as well. There's at least two 57-mm sites near the targets, so our Navy brethren? Take your antiradar shots, then kill the flak sites.”

“We'll take them out,” Commander Kearny said. “We're packing two Shrikes and four Rockeyes each bird.”

“They -45Cs?” the CO asked. Kearny nodded back. “Good. Now, as for us? Twelve Mark-82 Snakeyes each bird, and the centerline MERs have the Daisy Cutter fuze extensions. Other than that, the usual air-to-air: Four Sidewinders, two Sparrows, full 20-Mike-mike, two wing tanks, and ALQ-119s for the leads, -101s for the wingies.”

“Got it,” Kara said. “Ingress?'

Guru traced the ingress route on the JOG chart. “We come in over Lake Comfort, and follow the Soviet-East German boundary. Past Dublin, and south to the town of Lamkin, on Route 36.” He passed the INS coordinates around. “Then we go south to the town of Pottsville, turn west to the town of Indian Gap. Ten seconds after the town, we turn north. No visual checkpoint for our pop-up point, so it's all INS. Make your runs, then get your asses down low and headed north.” He surveyed his crews. “Any other questions?”

“Bailout areas?” KT asked.

“Down there? Anywhere away from the roads,” replied Guru. “Weather is pretty much unchanged, in case you're wondering.”

'It had occurred to some of us,” Sweaty nodded.

“I'll bet. Okay, first run of the day, and for Sweaty's element, and Brainiac? That's all. Kara and I are taking General Olds to one of the Scud Boxes we prowled last summer. Have some ACM, and maybe we'll run into those F-20 hotheads and teach them a lesson or two.”

Hearing that, Kara grinned. “It'll be a pleasure.”

“Hopefully,” Guru reminded her. “Okay, Commander? You guys meet us at ten grand overhead. Anything else?” Heads shook no. “Then let's gear up.”

The crews went to their locker rooms to change, with the Navy people heading off to their aircraft. Guru came out of the Men's Locker Room and found Goalie waiting, as usual.”Ready?” He asked.

“Let's get going,” his GIB replied.

Pilot and GIB went outside, and headed to the squadron's dispersal area. The sky was brighter, they noticed, and the sun had just risen. When they got to the revetment holding his bird, 512, they found the rest of their flight waiting for his final instructions. “Ready?”

“Time to make some Russians think they should've stayed home,” Preacher said.

KT nodded. “The ones who are still alive, that is.”

“It is that,” Guru said. “Okay, we're Corvette Flight for at least this one. Now, usual procedures on the radio. Call signs between us, and mission code to AWACS and other parties.”

“Any word on who these Russians are?” Sweaty asked.

“No info,” Guru said. “You know as much as I do.” He looked at his crews. “Anything else?”

Heads shook no, then Kara said, “Guess that's it.”

Guru nodded. “All right: time to mount up. Let's hit it.”

The crews broke up and headed to their aircraft. When Guru and Goalie went into their revetment, Sergeant Crowley, the Crew Chief, was waiting with the ground crew. “Major, Lieutenant?” Crowley said as he snapped a salute. “Five-twelve's locked and cocked. She's ready to go kick some Commie ass.”

“Thanks, Sergeant,” Guru said as he and Goalie returned the salute. They did their usual preflight walk-around, then he signed for the aircraft. That done, pilot and GIB mounted the aircraft, put on their helmets, and got strapped in. Then they went through their cockpit checks.

“Back to a Soviet sector,” Guru said as they went through the preflight. “Got used to East Germans, Nicaraguans, or Libyans.”

“Same here,” Goalie replied. “But we're going back to Public Enemy Number One,” she reminded him. 'Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom,” said Guru. “Check yours. And nothing wrong with that. Arnie?”

Goalie replied, “Arnie and INS all set.” That meant the ARN-101 DMAS and the INS. “Preflight complete and ready for engine start.”

“That we are,” Guru said. He gave a thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. Guru then started his engines. First one, then both J-79 engines were soon up and running. Then he called the Tower. “Tower, Corvette Flight with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi to Runway Three-three Lima. Hold prior to the active, and you are number two in line.”

“Roger, Tower. Corvette Flight rolling,” Guru replied. He gave another thumbs-up to his CC, who motioned to the ground crew. They pulled the chocks away from the landing gear, and Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal. Guru released the brakes, and began taxiing out. He headed towards the runway, and the rest of the flight followed.

When the flight got to the holding area, they waited while a Marine flight of F-4s went ahead of them. As the Marines took off, Corvette Flight taxied into the holding area, where the armorers removed the weapon safeties. Then Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are calm,” the controller replied.

“Roger, Tower.” Guru called back. He taxied 512 onto the runway, and took a quick glance to his right. Kara and Brainiac in 520 were there in his Five O'clock, as they should be. They gave a thumbs-up, and both he and Goalie returned it. Then it was time. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower didn't reply by radio, but flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Canopy coming down,” Goalie said, and Guru did the same. He glanced to his right again, and saw 520's crew had done the same. “Ready?”

“Time to fly,” Goalie replied.

“Let's go.” Guru put the throttles forward, released the brakes, and 512 thundered down the runway and into the air, with 520 right with them. Thirty seconds later, it was the turn of Sweaty's element, and after takeoff, all four joined up with the A-7s at Flight Level 100, and they headed south for the tankers.
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  #363  
Old 07-12-2017, 09:45 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Guys, I will have new material up over the weekend. RL has been a serious pain the last week, but things have settled down quite a bit. Patience, please.
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  #364  
Old 07-16-2017, 09:32 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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New update, and can anyone recognize the Soviet air-assault officers?



Over West-Central Texas: 0745 Hours Central War Time:



Corvette Flight headed south, having had their pre-strike refueling and after dropping to low level, cleared the FLOT. Unlike strikes flown on the east side of the East German sector, where the Nicaraguan gunners were not that excited about shooting at them, this time, the East Germans had the Soviet 32nd Army on their western flank, and both sides would be alert and ready to shoot. The ingress route Guru had planned out took the flight along the boundary between the East Germans and the Soviets, where one side might not know what the other was doing. So far, it looked like things were quiet.

In 512, Guru kept his head on a swivel, checking his instruments, the radar repeater, the EW display, as well as having his eyes out of the cockpit, checking for threats. While in the back seat, Goalie was concentrated on the navigation, but also keeping her eyes out visually for threats as well. “So far, so good,” she said. “They still asleep?”

“Maybe they're having a unit inspection or an ORI,” Guru jokingly replied. “Dublin off at One O'Clock.”

“Got it,” Goalie replied. “Stay on this heading. Two minutes to the turn point.”

“Roger that,” said Guru. He glanced at his EW display. Clear so far.


On the outskirts of Dublin, the commander of the 374th MRR, 155th Motor-rifle Division, was watching one of his battalions as it went through some training. The Americans to the north were quiet, and the Regiment needed some quiet time to absorb some personnel and equipment replacements that had recently arrived. Though he was surprised at how young some of the men were: a replacement draft had arrived, and with a few exceptions, all were barely eighteen, depite having had six months' training prior to shipping out. He turned to the battalion commander, a young Major who had been promoted after taking the job due to casualties, and the Colonel saw the man simply shrug his shoulders. The Colonel knew what the Major was thinking: if the Americans came at them now, they'd be in for it, as he doubted many of these replacements would make it through their first battle. Then the sight of jets and the scream of jet engines came, as two A-7 Corsairs and four F-4 Phantoms flew by very close. Some of the young soliders stared at the aircraft, and were promptly kicked-literally-back into their duties by their sergants. The Colonel and the Major shook their heads, and then went back to work.


“Lamkin coming up,” Guru said.

“Copy. One minute to the nav point,” Goalie replied. “EW still clear.”

“Got it,” replied Guru. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-six-five for fifty-five. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-seven-eight for sixty. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing Two-one-one for seventy-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger that.” Guru checked his own radar. Clear for now. “Coming up on the turn?”

“Thirty seconds,” Goalie replied.

Then the small town of Lamkin appeared Just a collection of houses on the south side of State Route 36, it was useful as a navigation checkpoint from their point of view, it went by in a blur. Guru waggled his wings in case there were civilians down there, then he turned slightly right to pick up the heading for the next turn point, the town of Pottsville. “How long until the next turn?

“Two minutes,” Goalie replied. She glanced around, then at her own EW display. “EW still clear...wait: looks like an air-search radar due south.”

“Probably a Mainstay,” Guru said, referring to the Mainstay AWACS aircraft. “Still...Flight, Lead. Music on.” That meant to turn on their ECM pods.

“Copy, Lead,” Kara replied, and the others followed suit.


Corvette Flight continued south, then they picked up a small hill, and just past that, Pottsville, which was their turn point. Guru put 512 into a right turn, and picked up the heading to the next turn, the small town of Indian Gap, which was more of a spot on the map than a town. After steadying on the new heading, two-six-five, he asked, “Turn in when?”

“Fifteen seconds,,” Goalie replied.

“Got it,” Again, this was more a spot on the map than a town, and he banked right and came onto the new course. “How long until IP?”

“One minute thirty.”

Corvette Flight headed north, generally following F.M. 1476, and though there were some small rolling hills, there were none that stood out, and thus no landmark that could be used as an IP. Guru scanned for threats, and spotted the town of Gustine off in the distance at his One O'clock. Good. “Set 'em up,” Guru told Golalie.

She worked the armament control panel, and replied. “You're set.”

“Roger that, Flight, Lead. Switches on, and stand by to pull. Puncher 304, time for you to go to work.”

“Roger, Lead,” Commander Kearny replied as the two A-7s climbed, then they began shooting their Shrike missiles.

“Got some radars,” Goalie said.

'Too late,” Guru replied

“Stand by....and PULL!”

Guru pulled back on the stick, and the Phantom climbed for altitude. He leveled off, and went into a shallow dive. Guru was able to pick out the fuel dump that was their target, but saw the area where the suspected C3 site was supposed to be was empty. “Flight, Lead. Primary target in sight, secondary is gone.”

“Copy,” Sweaty replied. That meant that she and Hoser would drop on the dump.

“Ready back here,” Goalie called.

“Time to go,” Guru said as he rolled in on his attack run.


East of the supply dump, just west of the town of Gustine, the 801st Independent Air Assault Battalion was resting after conducting an assault exercise against the town. The battalion had fought in America since 1986, and had taken the casualties to show for it, for they were now on their fourth commander. Though new to America, Lieutenant Colonel Gordunov was a decorated veteran of Afghanistan, fighting at Herat and Kandahar, and was a Hero of the Soviet Union twice over. He had brought several other officers with him, all Afghan vets but one, to rebuild the battalion. As part of the rebuilding process, he had personally led his First Company in an assault exercise on the town's garrison. The garrison, a motor-rifle battalion from the 366th Guards Independent Tank Regiment, which was itself rebuilding, had done well in the exercise, but the umpires from Front Headquarters had ruled that the
air-assault troops had taken the town.

Now, Gordunov and his comanders were going over the exercise over a late breakfast. He had listened to the veteran officers he had inherited upon assuming command, and had been reminded that “Motor-rifle blockheads are one thing. Americans are totally different.” Gordunov had also wondered who had been watching the exercise; though the local inhabitants were indoors as per the curfew, no one could miss the noise of the exercise, and his intelligence officer was now wondering how long until word of their unit's presence would be in the U.S. Sixth Army's hands. Then there was Captain Levin, his Zampolit. The man came across to Gordunov as someone who volunteered for the assignment, and as a sincere and idealistic Communist. The truth about what kind of war he'd landed in was likely to shock the young Zampolit, and Gordunov was right. Still, Levin had the makings of a good solider, and the exercise had shown that. But he was surprised when the Zampolit pointed to the southwest. “What is it, Levin?”

“Air raid, Comrade Commander,” Levin replied calmly.

“What are you babbling-” Gordunov said, then he froze as he recognized the aircraft. F-4 Phantoms coming in. “TAKE COVER! And get the air defenders up!” The officers scattered as they ran for foxholes or a dry creekbed.


“Lead's in hot!” Guru called as he rolled in. The A-7s had gone to work, killing a nearby 57-mm site, and had shot at least two Shrikes, forcing the AAA radars off the air, and maybe any SAMs, too. He easily recognized the fuel dump and the motor pool next to it. Selecting the center of the dump, he lined up several large fuel tanks in his pipper, and ignored some light flak, probably 23-mm, that was coming up. Barbeque time, Ivan.....”And...Steady...Steady....HACK!” Guru hit his pickle button, releasing his Mark-82s down on the dump. He pulled up and leveled off, heading north and jinking to avoid flak as he did so. “Lead off safe,” Guru called.


“What the...” Gordunov said as he heard Guru's F-4 fly past, and then the bombs went off. The fuel dump had been one of the targets of their exercise, and the seemingly lax security had made their task an easy one. Now, a number of secondary explosions followed in the F-4's wake, and he knew what the target was. He had never been under air attack before, and this was a new experience. He poked his head up, only to have Levin pull him back. He started to demand why, then the Zampolit pointed. Another F-4 was coming in.


“SHACK!” Goalie called from 512's back seat. “We got secondaries, and they're big ones!”

“How big?” Guru asked as a shoulder-fired missile flew a few hundred feet ahead of his nose, and another one flew over the top of the aircraft.

“Big enough!”

“We'll take those, don't you think?” Guru said as he headed north.


“Two's in!” Kara called as she rolled 520 in on the target. She saw the secondaries left in the CO's wake, and picked out some revetments on the east side of the dump that had fuel bladders or simply piles of drums. Kara, too, drew some light flak as she came in, and even a SA-7, but she ignored it. Ready to fry, Ivan? She lined up the revetments in her pipper. “And...And.....HACK!” Hitting the pickle button, Kara sent her dozen Mark-82s down on the fuel depot. She pulled up and away, jinking as she did so. “Two's off target,” she called.


In the foxhole, Colonel Gordunov heard Kara's F-4, then he-and presumably Levin-heard the bombs going off, and felt the concussion. He poked his head up out of the hole to see several large explosions left in the fighter's wake. Cursing, he looked around, and saw several of his soldiers with Strela-3 missiles on their shoulders fire, and then they watched helplessly as their missiles fell short. Then he noticed the Lieutenant who commanded the air defense platoon point to the south. That had to mean more American aircraft coming, and he dropped back into the hole.


“GOOD HITS!” Brainiac shouted. “Got some secondaries, and they're big ones!

“How big?” Kara asked as she jinked, and saw a missile fly past their left wing.

“Texas sized.”

“That's good enough,” she replied as she turned north, picking up the CO as she did so.


“Three in hot!” Sweaty called as she rolled in. She saw that the secondary target was indeed gone, and adjusted her course slightly to aim for the fuel dump. Both the CO and Kara had left an inferno in their wake, but she saw several fuel tanks that had escaped the carnage, and selected those as her target. Hope you enjoy a Texas barbeque, Sweaty thought as she lined up the tanks in her pipper. Ignoring the 23-mm flak, she drew closer. “Steady....And...And....HACK!” She hit the pickle button, and released her bombs onto the dump. Sweaty pulled wings level and away, accelerating as she did so, and jinking to avoid flak or SAMs. “Three's off safe,” she called.


“What the...” Gordunov said as Sweaty's Phantom came past, and once again, the Americans left explosions in their wake. He poked his head up again, and noticed Levin doing the same thing, and what they saw....the fuel depot was blazing furiously, and the occasional sympathetic detonation of fuel drums or tanks told them that putting that inferno out was going to be a job. How that was done wasn't his problem, but still....Then Levin pointed to the south again. Another American Phantom was coming down. Gordunov didn't need to be told twice, for he ducked back into the hole.


“GOOD HITS!” Preacher shouted from Sweaty's back seat. “Righteous ones!”

Beneath her oxygen mask, Sweaty grinned. “How righteous?” She, too, had a shoulder-fired missile fly past the aircraft, this time on the right side.

“Large and righteous!”


“If it pleases the guy upstairs,” quipped Sweaty as she turned north, picking up Kara's bird as she did.


“Four's in hot!” Hoser called as he rolled in. The other three birds hadn't left much for him to hit, but he didn't get paid for bringing back ordnance. As he came down, he noticed the supply dump's motor pool hadn't been hit, and he lined that area up in his pipper. Even with all the fires and explosions, the flak gunners below hadn't abandoned their posts, for 23-mm fire still came up. Not your day, Ivan., he muttered as the motor pool grew larger in the pipper. “And.....NOW!” Hoser hit his pickle button, releasing his Mark-82s. He then pulled up and away, jinking like the others to avoid any flak. “Four off target.”

“Sookin sin...” Son of a bitch, Gordonov muttered as Hoser's F-4 came by, the closest of the four. The bombs went off in the plane's wake, followed by some sympathetic explosions, and this time, he felt some of the heat wash over, even though the depot was several hundred meters away. Was it just thinking it did? No matter. He got up, and Levin came with him.Gordunov surveyed the scene, and saw several trucks in the depot's motor pool had been tossed aside like toys, and were now blackened skeletons. And several human torches came staggering out of the flames, only to collapse on the ground. He turned to Levin, who was clearly shocked by the sight. Then he remembered that the Political Officer had never been in combat before. “Well, Levin?”

“Comrade Commander.....” Levin replied. “Is it always like this?”

“I wouldn't know,” Gordunov said as he shook his head at the destruction. 'The Dushmani don't have an air force.” This had been his first time under air attack. “So, Levin, what do we do now?” He asked, wondering if he'd get some Party blather.

“We can only do our duty, Comrade Commander,” the Zampolit replied.

Gordunov was surprised, but then again, he had an idea that Levin would make a good soldier. “That's all we can do.” He waved his Chief of Staff, Major Dukohnin, over. “Any casualties?”

“None, Comrade Commander, but if those planes return....” said Dukohnin. No more need be said.

“We won't be here. Get the battalion ready to move. And as for those poor bastards,” Gordunov motioned to the inferno. “Tell the garrison in town that's their problem.”

“Right away, Comrade Commander.”


“SHACK!” KT hollered from the back seat. “We got some good hits!”

“How good?” Hoser asked, wincing as a shoulder-fired missile flew by on the right side.

“Good secondaries.”

“Have to take 'em,” Hoser replied as he headed north, and then he picked up his element lead.


Guru heard the call. “All four off target,” he said. “Puncher 304, Corvette Lead. We're headed out.”

“Roger that, Corvette,” Commander Kearny replied, then he calmly added, “I'm hit.”

“Puncher, can you make the Fence?” Guru asked. That meant the FLOT, and also I-20.

“Negative,” Kearny said. “I'm getting out. See you all later.”

Guru and Goalie scanned around, but it was Kara who made the call. “Got him, and there's a chute.”

Then Puncher 307 came up. “Crystal Palace, Puncher 307. Puncher 304 is down, four miles north of the target. Have a visual on a chute.”

“Roger, 307. Will notify Jolly Greens,” the controller replied.

“Puncher 307, Corvette Lead. Join up with us. Nothing you can do for him,” Guru called Lieutenant Patrick.

In her A-7, Patrick didn't want to leave her element lead, but knew that Air Force flight lead was right. Besides, she had no bombs or Shrikes left, and only had 20-mm. “Copy. Puncher 304, this is 307. Can't stay, and good luck.” Then she reluctantly turned north, following the F-4s on their way out.


“That sucks,” Goalie said as the A-7 joined up on the F-4s.

“Always,” Guru replied. Then he called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

“Corvette, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-six-zero for fifty-eight. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-nine-one for sixty-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing Two-one-zero for seventy. Medium, closing.”

“Roger that, Crystal Palace,” Guru replied as the A-7 joined up with the strike flight. “How long to the Fence?”

“Two minutes,” Goalie called as Proctor Lake flew by on their left.

“Good,” Guru said. Then he did some calculations in his head. Two minutes to the Fence, and the I-20. No way those MiGs would catch them. Then another call came from the AWACS.

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-six-zero for forty. Medium, closing.”

“Copy,” Guru said. “Say bogey dope.”

“Corvette, Crystal Palace. Bandits are Floggers. That meant MiG-23s. “Threat now One-five-five for thirty-five. Stand by....bandits now turning. And going away.”

Guess they don't want a wall of Eagles this morning, Guru thought. “Copy.”

“One minute,” Goalie called. It wasn't long until the twin ribbons of concrete that were I-20 appeared. “And...now.”

“Flight, Lead. Verify IFF is on, out.” Guru called. Now that they were over friendly territory, having their IFF on was a must. Given how the Army and Marine air-defense pukes acted on occasion.....”Shoot them down and sort them out on the ground,” was their motto.

Once they cleared the Fence, the flight went to the tanker track, and their post-strike refueling. One thing the fighter crews had learned from talking to tanker people, was that it was a heartbreaker sometimes for them to refuel a flight going in, then when that same flight came out, minus one or two aircraft.....and they never asked what happened to the missing birds. It was a cardinal rule, and strictly enforced.

The flight then headed to Sheppard, and got into the traffic pattern. Once the outbound strike birds had cleared, and two inbound ones had gone before them, and then the morning C-141, it was Corvette Flight's turn. After they landed, the crews taxied to their respective dispersals, and as the F-4s taxied, canopies popped, the crews saw the news crew filming, as usual. “Well, no surprise there,” Guru said.

“She upset you're flying General Olds before her?”

“Kinda,” Guru replied. “But Kara's actually taking her up. I'll have the cameraman.”

Goalie grinned in the back seat, oxygen mask off. “Kara going to get her airsick?”

“That's the idea.”

Then the Phantoms got to the dispersal, and found their revetments. After taxiing into his, Guru got the “Shut down” signal from his Crew Chief, and the ground crew put the wheel chocks into place. He shut down the engines, then he and Goalie went through the post-flight checklist. The ground crew brought the crew ladder, and both pilot and GIB took off their helmets and climbed down. “One and done,” Guru said.

“And three more, plus our ride with General Olds,” Goalie nodded as a ground crewer brought her and Guru bottles of water.

“That's about it,” Guru replied as he took his bottle and promptly drained half of it.

“Sir?” Sergeant Crowley, the Crew Chief, asked. “How's my bird, and how'd you guys do?”

“Five-twelve's working like a champ,” the CO said. “Whatever you're doing, don't change it.”

“Yes, sir!” Crowley was beaming at that.

“And the fuel dump we hit?” Goalie added. “Went sky-high.”

“Good to hear that, Lieutenant,” Crowley said. “Major, we'll get her ready for the next one.”

The CO nodded. “Good man, Sergeant. Get her ready to go.”

Crowley smiled. “You got it, Major! All right, you heard the man! Let's get this bird ready for the next one.”

Guru and Goalie nodded, then headed to the revetment entrance. Kara and Brainiac were there already, waiting. “Well, how'd you guys do?” Guru asked.

“Big secondaries, and you had some,” Kara said, and Brainiac nodded.

“What happened to that A-7? Goalie asked.

“Good question,” Sweaty said as she came up with Preacher, with Hoser and KT right behind them. “No radar warning.”

“I'd like to know myself,” Guru said as Sin Licon, the SIO, came over. “Sin,”

“Major,” Licon said. “Heard about the A-7. VA-135's Intel is talking with the wingmate right now. She doesn't know what happened.”

Guru shook his head. “And we don't either. No indication on the RWR, nada. And no basketball-sized tracers, in case you're wondering.”

The intel nodded. “Could be anything, Major. Shoulder-fired missile, heavy SAM with optical backup, IR missile from a vehicle-like an SA-9 or -13....”

“Or flak,” Kara said.

“Or flak.”

“Okay,” Guru said, getting back to business. “Debrief in when?”

“Fifteen, sir. Have to talk to the XO's flight first. They got in ahead of you.”

“All right, then. Get out of your gear, and briefing room in fifteen. We debrief, then check your desks, because in an hour, we're back at it,” Guru said.

Kara nodded, then a grin came over her. “Then we fly with General Olds.”

“That we do,” Goalie said.

“Boss, can we come with you?” Sweaty asked, and Hoser, Preacher, and KT nodded. 'If you run into those F-20 guys, it's more of a fair fight.”

“She's right,” Kara pointed out.

Guru thought for a moment, then nodded, and he had a grin come over his face. “I like it. You guys can tag along, and if we do run into those F-20 jocks? We all get to teach them a thing or two.”

“Love to,” Sweaty grinned.

“First things first,” Guru reminded them. “Let's debrief, then get ready for the next one.”
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Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, but always have a plan to kill them.

Old USMC Adage
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