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  #451  
Old 06-26-2018, 09:14 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The F-8 Crusader's service in the Red Dawn timeline:


F-8 Crusader in World War III


The LTV F-8 Crusader had been largely retired from U.S. Navy service, and completely retired from USMC service, at the outbreak of the Third World War. However, RF-8G Photo-reconnaissance versions were still in U.S. Navy Reserve service with Squadrons VFP-206 and VFP-306 when hostilities began, and stored fighter versions were brought out of desert storage and issued to newly established U.S. Navy squadrons for both carrier deployments and for service from land bases. In addition, French Navy F-8E(FN) Crusaders saw service enforcing French neutrality rights at sea, and saw limited combat when NATO reformed in 1988-89 against Soviet forces. The Philippine Air Force's Crusaders had been largely in storage when the war began, and after the Marcos regime secured the continued presence of the USAF's 3rd TFW at Clark AB to defend against Soviet attacks staged via Cam Ranh Bay, the PAF's Crusaders were returned to the U.S. This work will only mention those Crusader variants that saw active service during the war.

F-8H: Rebuilt F-8D version with strengthened airframe and landing gear. In storage at war's outbreak, some returned to service for training with USN Squadron VF-121 det C (for Crusader), most used for parts, including returned Philippine AF aircraft.

F-8J: Improved E version with “wet” wings and BLC (Boundary Layer Control) similar to F-8E(FN), J-57P-20A engine, and improved radar. Carrier service off of U.S.S. Oriskany (CV-34) (VF-191 and -194) and U.S.S. Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) (VF-53 and -162). VF-191 and -194 became F-14D squadrons postwar, while VF-53 and 162 transitioned to the F/A-18.

F-8K:Upgraded F-8C with J-57P-20A and Bullpup AGM capability. Land-based service with USN only.

F-8L: Upgraded B with underwing hardpoints. Used for training only.

F-8E(FN): French Navy version for operations from carriers Foch and Clemenceau. Replaced 1999 by Rafale M.

RF-8G: Upgraded RF-8A photo-reconnaissance aircraft. Used by VFP-206 and VFP-306 from both carriers and land bases. A VFP-306 aircraft had the distinction of being the last USN aircraft shot down over the Brownsville Pocket in 1989. Replaced by RF-18A in USN service postwar.
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  #452  
Old 07-15-2018, 07:47 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Just letting folks know that the next story arc will begin to be posted shortly. Am taking a little bit of a break in posts at the moment due to Mom having passed away on Friday afternoon. Am busy writing, though, as it's therapy.
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  #453  
Old 07-15-2018, 09:04 PM
Olefin Olefin is offline
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My most sincere condolences on your loss Matt.
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  #454  
Old 07-17-2018, 01:21 PM
swaghauler swaghauler is offline
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I'm so sorry to hear about your loss Matt. I hope you're doing ok man. I'm glad you find comfort in writing, I thoroughly enjoy your story. In fact, I believe Olefin SHOULD include it in the Fanzine.
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  #455  
Old 07-17-2018, 01:47 PM
Olefin Olefin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swaghauler View Post
I'm so sorry to hear about your loss Matt. I hope you're doing ok man. I'm glad you find comfort in writing, I thoroughly enjoy your story. In fact, I believe Olefin SHOULD include it in the Fanzine.
actually was thinking about something like that - possibly a couple of the first chapters if Matt wanted that
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  #456  
Old 07-17-2018, 08:07 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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That would be fine with me: and if additional stories are put in the fanzine, I'm all for it.

Thanks for the best wishes: am staying busy, and am in the process of doing the next story arc: the RAF's first few days in Texas. Will begin posting when it's finished.
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Old 08-04-2018, 07:56 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Olefin: if you want to have a couple of stories in the Fanzine, you have my permission to do so.
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  #458  
Old 08-05-2018, 09:58 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Fellows, the RAF comes to Texas. This first part was written by a friend of mine on the HPCA board. He's the author of The Last War timeline there, if you're familiar with that (Continued Cold War with WW III in 2005).


Coming to Texas: 74 Squadron to the Lone Star State


16 October, 1987. NAS Bermuda, Kindley Field, Bermuda.
Squadron Leader David Gledhill sipped on a cocktail and watched the bikini clad lovelies as he sat on the golden sands of a Bermudan beach. Well actually, no he was sat in the QRA shed drinking tepid, stale instant coffee. The cocktails and bikini clad lovelies were the products of his imagination, although everyone in the rest of the RAF believed that they were part of the normal day for 74 (Tiger) Squadron. He put down his coffee mug and looked around to see if there was anything to read. Gledhill spotted a couple of week old British newspapers, which he had already read a few times and the crosswords in them had been completed. Pre-war there might also have been some ‘adult publications’, however the arrival of female aircrew had seen them disappear to more private locations and in any case with shortages of paper no new ones were being published.

Despairing of anything to read Gledhill picked up a notepad and began to jot down a few thoughts. A couple of years back he had thought that perhaps he might one day write a book about his experiences as a navigator, or perhaps write a novel. When on QRA duty he had often taken the opportunity to record a few stories that he thought that people might want to read one day.

*

Despite preconceptions Bermuda was not a cushy ‘Club Med’ style posting. Until the Liberation of Iceland and the final destruction of the ‘Badger’ force in Cuba, the RAF and latterly USN fighters based at Kindley Field had been kept very busy. Not only had they had to face attack by Soviet bombers, but also the Soviet inspired ‘Bermuda Insurrection’, which had cost 74 Squadron three aircraft and several dead from mortar attacks.
As an island Bermuda had to import most things and in wartime that meant that almost everything was in short supply. There were no cocktails because there was very little alcohol (unless one risked home brew ‘hooch’) and certainly nobody on the beaches – they had been sown with landmines. On top of that hurricane season came around regularly to add to the misery of the servicemen and women cooped up on a relatively small island. That nobody had ‘gone postal’ was something of a minor miracle.

*

Gledhill was just on the point of dozing off when the alert hooter sounded. He was out of his chair and sprinting for his F-4J(UK) before he had time to consciously think about what he was doing. The two Phantoms in the QRA sheds were out and taxiing towards the runway within five minutes; Air Traffic Control held a USN P-3C and ordered an incoming Nimrod to go around.

*

“How did it go, Dave?” Wing Commander Paul Foster, O.C 74 Squadron asked just over an hour later.
“Nothing particularly exciting, Boss.” Gledhill replied. “Just an ancient 707 with wonky nav aids that had caused it to drift out of the Air Bridge Corridor. Think he had a brown trouser moment when we turned up.”
“Well I think I have something that may bring you a bit more excitement.” Foster told him. “As you know we’re going to be going home in the next couple of weeks to re-equip; Group still haven’t told me what with yet, but that’s another conversation. As part of the process we are going to be returning our remaining jets to the Septics.”
“So, I’m guessing I’m going to be leading a ferry flight then?” Gledhill asked.
“Well yes, and no.” Foster said enigmatically. “The ‘Box’ is currently considering sending a couple of squadrons of F-4Es to the Southern Front, a sort of token of solidarity with the Septics. So someone thought it might be a good idea to send a detachment to get some experience first. Some smart cookie spotted that we’d have some aircraft transiting through the area on their way to California and a light-bulb went off.
“You’ll be taking nine Phantoms, a couple of Hercules, a Tristar and a Belfast of all things with you. The ‘Brass Hats’ want our detachment to be as self-sufficient as possible. You’ll be working with either the USAF, or the Marines. I suspect the later because of the commonality between our J models and the Marine S.”

Several questions had been racing through Gledhill’s head and he asked the most important.

“How long is the det for, Boss? Do I get to pick who I take? What’s the weather like in Texas this time of year? Also there are going to be a whole lot of logistics issues to be solved.”
“The initial planning assumes a month to six weeks; the Septic navy is quite keen to get our jets back ASAP, so we don’t want to keep them waiting. Yes, you can choose who you want. I’ve spoken to the Boss of the ‘Red Rippers’, he’s from Lubbock. He tells me it can get pretty cold in November. Since we’re going to be guests of our American cousins we’re going to be bringing our own winter gear; we’ll be drawing on the stocks we have in Halifax. Once your time in Texas is over you’ll take the jets on to San Diego. It hasn’t been decided yet, but some of your det may stay behind and join the E model conversion course. Anybody who isn’t staying will either head back to Blighty, or will probably be posted to Canada.
“A small liaison team is already on its way to join the unit we’ll be flying with. They’ll find out what conditions are like on the ground and give us some last-minute tips.”
“I notice, Boss, you’ve not said where we’ll be flying from other than it’s in Texas.” Gledhill noted.
“Yes, sorry about that, Dave.” Foster said apologetically. “Fact is the Septics have not confirmed exactly where the unit we’ll be joining will be based in November. All we’ve been told is that it is in North Texas.”
“Ah, the Septics and their ‘need to know’.” Gledhill remarked. “And these are the people who give military operations obvious names too.”

The O.C nodded and smiled.

“Yeah, a funny bunch our American cousins.” He said, before turning serious. “However I expect they’ll let you know your final decision when you reach the States; you’ll be going through Dow in Maine, or Otis in Massachusetts. You’ll also meet your Rock Ape team there; Group has arranged for some experienced regiment gunners to be posted in from Canada. There’s a pretty serious Spetsnaz threat in the Southern Front, so make sure your det gets some small arms practice in before you head off.
“We’re being taken off QRA duty as from today, so you’ll have plenty of time to pick who you want to take with you and get the initial planning done. Let me know once you have a plan together; speak to Commander Metcalf if you have any questions about Texas.”
“Will do, Boss, and thanks for picking me for this job. I appreciate it.
“On the small arms issue, I take it we can, ahem, ‘borrow’ additional kit from the garrison?”

Foster nodded.

“Our own Rock Apes will help with brushing up your musketry and I’ve been told you can raid the Bermuda Regiment’s armoury for extra kit. They’re doing b*gger all with it these days.”
“Okay, sounds good.
“I do have one request though, Boss. I really don’t like the radar on the E model and I’ve no desire to start moving mud. Can I put in a request to be posted to either the Wattisham wing, or to the Tonka conversion course when the det is finished?”
“I’ll pass that up to Group, but I suspect you’ll be sent where you’re needed. However if you do a good job with this det I imagine you’ll be able to write your own ticket.”

12 November, 1987. Dow Air Force Base, Bangor, Maine.
“Anything to declare?” The US Customs agent asked. “Any knives, guns, bombs, fruit, vegetables, sandwiches, alcohol, cigarettes, any of that good stuff? “He continued.
“Well I think I may well have the odd gun or two, but I’ve none of the other stuff.” Squadron Leader Gledhill replied, very aware that he had a Sterling SMG in his kit and was wearing a Browning Hi-Power in a shoulder holster.
“Hm, okay.” The Customs agent replied, seemingly disappointed. “I’ll believe you although it’s my ass if you’ve brought in any fruit or vegetables. And I see you’ve completed your visa card; good to see you’re not planning to overthrow the United States Government.”

Gledhill was tempted to make a remark on the lines of ‘well, not on this trip anyway’, but thought better of it. American customs and immigration officials were not known for their sense of humour. Instead he passed through customs and immigration and waited for the commander of the RAF Regiment detachment that was supposed to join Tiger Flight. The experienced group of Gunners was supposed to be flying in from Western Canada.

*

In peacetime Dow Air Force Base had been Bangor International Airport, the only military presence being a wing of Air National Guard KC-135E tankers. Transatlantic airliners often stopped to refuel at Bangor so it had become a common port of entry for those traveling to the United States. Now it was serving in a very similar role for British and Canadian forces transiting to the USA and as in peacetime every non-US citizen had to go through Customs and Immigration, even though they might be servicemen and women.
SAC had also dispersed some of its B-52 force to Dow; several BUFFs were visible dispersed around the base sitting nuclear alert. NORAD assigned fighters from TAC and the RCAF were also frequent visitors.

*

After half an hour Gledhill spotted a group of tough looking individuals in DPM uniforms enter the terminal. They had evidently recently been issued new DPM uniforms by the looks of things, but their dark blue RAF berets and combat boots, none of which were issue Combat Highs, looked like they had seen a lot of service. The ‘Rock Apes’ were also carrying very full looking Bergens and several weapons each in addition to their issue firearm.

“Anything to declare?” The same, rather bored, Customs agent said to Flight Lieutenant John ‘Robin’ Sherwood, the detachment O.C. “Any knives, guns, bombs…”
“I certainly do.” Sherwood said interrupting.

He took out his bayonet and a fighting knife and laid it on the table in front of him. He next unslung what looked like an AR-15 carbine from his right shoulder and put it down.

“This is one of the new Colt Canada C8 carbines.” He said conversationally. “I won it in a card game with a bunch of Canadian Paratroopers; a really nice bit of kit too.”

Sherwood next took out his Browning from its holster and placed it on top of the growing pile. Remembering that he still had his issue Sterling sticking out of his Bergen he took the SMG out.

“Mustn’t forget Old Faithful…and oh yes.” He rummaged around in the pockets and produced a snub-nose Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver. “You’d be surprised what people will include in poker games.
“Now I think that is…no wait a moment, you’ll want to see these…”

Sherwood pulled four hand grenades from his load bearing equipment pouches and put them down on the desk casually as if there were everyday objects.

“Those two are High Explosive and that pair are White Phosphorous; one should never leave home without at least two of each. Don’t you think?”

Gledhill worked hard to stifle a laugh at seeing the pale, white face of the Customs agent. He could not help but notice that the other ‘Rock Apes’ who had reached the other desks were going through the same process of getting out a small arsenal.

“Would you like to see all the ammunition for my guns too?” Sherwood asked innocently.
“Ah…no, that’s fine…ah…err…you’re free to carry on.” The flustered customs man replied.

*

“Flight Lieutenant Sherwood?” Gledhill asked a few minutes later. “I’m Squadron Leader Gledhill, good to meet you.”
“Likewise, Sir.” Sherwood said, taking the navigator’s offered hand.
“Do you always go through Customs like that?”

Sherwood chuckled.

“Well he did ask…you know I think I forgot to mention the banana I brought for my lunch…oh and all the money I won in my last card game. Do you think I should go back, Sir?” He asked with mock concern.
“I…I wouldn’t think that would be a good idea.” Gledhill replied with a chuckle. “Oh, but if you do have a fair amount of cash, Flight Lieutenant I’ll tell you know that anything above a hundred dollars or so will be considered detachment funds.” He added with a wink.

*

An hour later Gledhill had gathered the entirety of Tiger Flight, including its attached RAF Regiment and RAF Police personnel, in a large room that were part of the conference facilities of the former Bangor IAP. Quite who was going to hold a conference at somewhere that was essentially just a staging post was a question that nobody seemed to have bothered to have asked.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.” Gledhill said to his flight. “Welcome to America. You have no doubt been in suspense as to where we are going, well our USAF liaison officer has just let me know that we will be going to Sheppard Air Force Base. Where the hell is that, I hear you ask; well it is in the great state of Texas, near somewhere Wichita Falls; no I hadn’t heard of it either. It’s up in the northern part of Texas, near the border with Oklahoma. The closest place we’ll have heard of is Dallas.”

He paused as he heard someone hum the theme from Dallas.

“No, we won’t have the chance to drop in on the Ewings, who I am told are soon to return to Southfork.
“Now to get back to Sheppard, it was home to a major training wing pre-war but it is now home to Marine Air Group 11, which has two fighter squadrons each of Phantoms, VMFA-134 and VMFA-333, and two of Hornets, VMFA-314 and VMFA-451. There is also a U.S. Navy A-7 attack squadron as well, VA-135 with A-7As. We are to be attached to the sole USAF Phantom squadron on base, the 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron. I understand they have been in it since The Day and are regarded as something of a crack unit, so we do have a lot to live up to. Not that I think any of you will let the RAF down. We’ll be staging through Grissom AFB in Indiana, where we’ll be overnighting before carrying on to Sheppard.
“The other side has pretty much every high end Mig and Sukhoi in the Soviet inventory and all their best SAMs. However I’m not going to stand up here and list everything, the briefing pack you have all been given covers all of that in detail. Read it and if you have any questions ask Captain Hagan from the USAF liaison team.
“Now I am going to shut up and let Mr. Watson say a few words. He has been with the advanced party in Sheppard and will fill us in on local conditions.”

Warrant Officer 2 David ‘Doctor’ Watson took to the stage. He had been attached to the advanced party with the eventual intention that he would command the small party of half a dozen RAF Police attached to the RAF Regiment detachment. Watson spoke for a few minutes describing in some details what Sheppard AFB and the surrounding area was like.

“As you will expect the local Texans are some of the most generous and friendly people you will find, but remember to not abuse their hospitality” He continued. “They are like us back in the last war – they’ll give you the shirt off their backs and go hungry to see visitors eat. If you get invited into a local home remember that they’ll be short of food, so don’t eat them out of house and home. It is also polite to ask whether you can bring anything.
“While in general local civilians are friendly remember that this area was occupied and that there are still former collaborators about, however most of them are either dead, fled or in the local slammer shortly to join the first group. However remember no to discuss any operational details with any civilians you might meet when out and about. Also stay away from anywhere that is marked as off-limits, unless you want to be blown to bits by unexploded bombs.
“No Spetsnaz threat has emerged, so far, but it is probably only a matter of time. Everybody at Sheppard takes a gun with them everywhere and I mean everywhere. Which reminds me, the local Resistance have not handed their weapons in, so remember, gentlemen that nice girl who you pick up in a bar will probably have a very angry husband with an AK47.”

Watson paused as a ripple of laughter made its way through the room, especially amongst the women.

“Don’t laugh too hard, girls, any bloke you might chat up will have a wife or girlfriend with a shotgun. So unless you want to get perforated it’s best to politely decline any approaches from civilians. You’ll find out pretty quickly that in general ‘companionship’ down there is fulfilled by fellow military. Nobody expects you to remain celibate for the length of the deployment, but remember to use your head and not some other part of your anatomy.
“Oh, and one last thing, if you’re going to gamble, don’t bet your kit. It doesn’t look good if you lose it that way and it’s a bit rude if you win our hosts’ equipment; that said, the M1911 I now own did once belong to a marine; but do as I say, not as I did.”

16th November 1987. Sheppard AFB, Texas.
If the morning’s weather was anything to go by it was going to be a fine day Major Matt ‘Guru’ Wiser thought as he waited for the latest nine aircraft that would be attached to his squadron to arrive. From what Colonel Brady had told him the detachment would only be with the 335th for a month before it moved on; Wiser’s squadron was to bring the detachment up to speed on all the peculiarities associated with operating on the Southern Front.

“Think I see them, Boss.” Captain Mark Ellis, Wiser’s X.O, said pointing.

Wiser followed his Executive Officer’s outstretched arm and his fighter pilot’s eyes immediately spotted the formation of F-4 Phantoms being trailed by what looked like an L-1011 Tristar. Unlike his F-4Es, which were painted in Vietnam era SEA colours, the new arrivals were painted a two-tone grey colour, similar to the marine fighters, as was the big jet-liner.
As the nine Phantoms broke formation and entered the landing pattern Wiser and Ellis spotted the pale blue and pink roundels on their wings for the first time; as the L-1011 passed overhead the words ROYAL AIR FORCE were clearly visible on the side of the fuselage.

“Wonder how we’ll get on with the Brits, Boss?” Ellis wondered. “Are they as stuffy and uptight as their rep says?”
“I’m sure we’ll get on fine, X.O; from what Colonel Brady has told me the Brits are all experienced aircrew, not an FNG amongst them.
“Will be interesting to see how they deal with Frank though.” Wiser added with a smile.
“Really takes me back, Major, seeing the RAF again.” General Robin Olds remarked. “Had some good times when I was an exchange officer with their No.1 Squadron. Last I heard they are flying Harriers these days; they were operating the Gloster Meteor when I commanded them; nice bird for an early jet.
“Major, I’ll let you and Captain Ellis introduce yourselves first before I say hello. I’m sure our Brit guests might be a bit overwhelmed to meet brass on stepping out of their jets.”

*

“Another nice landing, Snooty.” Squadron Leader David Gledhill, late of 74 (Tiger) Squadron and the RAF detachment commander said to his pilot as their F-4J(UK) came to a halt.
“I aim to please, Boss.” Flight Lieutenant James ‘Snooty’ Bruce replied. “Looks like the Yanks have a welcoming committee for us.
“We’ll have to stop calling them that.” Gledhill said absentmindedly as he put the pins into his ejection seat.

*

Major Wiser had first learned that a detachment of nine RAF fighters would be joining them when Colonel Brady had informed him that a four man British liaison team would be joining him.

“The Brits are returning their Juliet model Phantoms to the navy and since they are also considering sending down a couple of squadrons to work with us they figure it would be a good opportunity for them to gain some experience. The liaison team will bring you up to speed on how the RAF operates; two countries separated by the same language and all of that good stuff; but as I understand from what General Tanner has told me the Brits want to adopt our procedures.
“Anyway I’m sure you will make them very welcome.”

*

Wiser had spent some time studying RAF rank insignia so that he would recognise the British detachment commander, who, he had been told, was a Squadron Leader, which was their idiosyncratic name for a rank equivalent to a major. Why they couldn’t just use proper ranks he did not know, but who was he to argue with the rank structure of the world’s oldest independent air force?
As the first pair of Phantoms parked he could not help but notice the discrete dark grey kill markings under the cockpit. He could just make out the silhouettes of several different types of Soviet aircraft and the number of markings made whoever was flying this aircraft aces.

“Welcome to Texas, Gentlemen.” Wiser said as the senior RAF officer and his pilot approached. “I’m Major Matt Wiser, commander of the 335th.”
“Squadron Leader David Gledhill, Sir; this is my pilot Flight Lieutenant James Bruce.” Gledhill replied taking Wiser’s offered right hand.
“No need to ‘Sir’ me, Dave; it is okay to call you Dave?” Gledhill nodded so Wiser continued. “Boss or Guru are fine.
“This is Captain Mark Ellis my X.O and Master Sergeant Ross, my senior NCO. I’d introduce you to the rest of my senior team but they’re all out on ops.
“I assume you know Flight Lieutenant Lord though?” Wiser said indicating the senior RAF liaison officer.

Gledhill laughed.

“Oh yes, Jack and me are old friends; I hope he has not been telling you any of his lies has he?”
“Well I have been trying to keep that nickname quiet for one thing, Dave.” Flight Lieutenant Steven ‘Jack’ Lord replied with a chuckle.

Wiser turned to Ellis.

“Mark, can you and Master Sergeant Ross get all the new guys bedded down?”
“No problem, Boss; we should have space for them. Someone will need to bunk with Frank though.”
“We don’t want to impose, Guru.” Gledhill interjected. “I’ve got three more aircraft coming in with the rest of our ground-crew and ordnance, and they also have tents in them.”
“Can’t have you sleeping in tents, Dave; it’s just that Major Carson, our ordnance officer is…a bit peculiar, not that’s not the right word…a bit particular about who he bunks with.”
“I’ll share with him, Boss.” Flight Lieutenant Bruce offered. “I can get on with just about…wait did you say his name was Frank Carson?”

Wiser and Ellis exchanged looks; surely Frank’s reputation had not spread that far?

“Uh…yes.” Wiser said cautiously.

“Wait till Karen hears that.” Bruce said to Gledhill with a broad smile. “She does a passable impression of him.”

Who this other Frank Carson was would have to remain a mystery to Wiser, Ellis and Ross for the moment. At least until Flight Lieutenant Karen McKay started repeatedly saying “it’s the way I tell ‘em” in a broad Belfast accent every time Carson’s name was mentioned.

“If he’s particular about who he shares with, Guru, do you think he’ll mind sharing with the youngest son of an Earl?” Gledhill wondered.
“Well, I’m sure it will be an experience for him.” Wiser replied. “Now before we head off General Olds would like a quick word.”
“You mean the General Robin Olds?” Gledhill asked incredulously. “It would be an honour to meet the General, Guru.”

*

Several hours later

Once the RAF detachment had bedded down and the majority of the day’s operations were over Wiser gathered as many of his squadron as he could together for a briefing by Gledhill on the new arrival’s capabilities.

“Good evening, everybody.” Gledhill said cheerfully. “Can you all hear me at the back?” After several affirmative answers he carried on. “Major Wiser has covered why my detachment is here and for how long, but I’m going to talk a little about our capabilities. I’m also happy to try and answer any questions you might have, except maybe any on quadratic equations, or quantum physics; I don’t know anything about them and no, I don’t know the Queen.”

The USAF officers and Senior NCOs chuckled; Wiser was glad to see that the senior Brit had a sense of humour. None of the RAF detachment he had met so far seemed to fall into the ‘uptight, stuffy’ reputation.

“The F-4J(UK) is for all intents and purposes equivalent to the Sierra models that our marine neighbours fly; the main difference is that our aircraft don’t have the leading edge slats, so we are a bit less agile. However that has not been a major issue for us so far.
“What we can offer you capability wise are better medium ranged missiles; we have brought along our own Skyflash, which is a UK Sparrow upgrade equivalent to the Mike model. We also have Lima model Sidewinders and can carry a gun pod if we need to, which is most of the time. We also have a very capable pulse-Doppler radar, second only really to the F-15 and the Flanker.
“Air to air has been our speciality, but we do have some experience of air to ground, mainly just with dumb bombs and rockets. I don’t want to tell you how to do your jobs but if you want to use us best it will be in air to air taskings, or as escorts on your bombing missions.”

Gledhill paused for a moment to allow questions.

“What level of experience do your aircrew have?” Captain Don ‘Ops’ Van Loan asked.
“Karen is our newest pilot and she has been with our squadron for six months; she has four and a half kills. Karen used to be an air traffic controller, but as she told me ‘any idiot can be an air traffic controller, it takes a special kind of idiot to want to be a fast jet pilot’.
“The rest of us have several tours under our belt; I was in West Germany for a couple of years before we were kicked out. After that I was up in Goose Bay, which is where I was based when all this started. Other than that I’ve been based in the UK and Bermuda before joining you guys.”
“What was Bermuda like?” Captain Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace, the Assistant Ops Officer, wondered.

The British officer smiled before continuing; he was sure that Thrace had the pre-war image of Bermuda as a holiday island in her mind.

“Well it wasn’t all drinking cocktails on the beach I can tell you.” He replied. “When we weren’t protecting convoys and the island itself from ‘Backfires’ we were getting mortared by Communist insurgents and oh, yeah, there was the hurricane season too; so basically fun times.
“We lost three jets during the rebellion along with two good friends of mine, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about losing friends.
“Things got a bit easier when VF-11 joined us, especially since they had Tomcats; I know that only happened after you lost Forrestal, but we appreciated the reinforcements. We made some good friends in the Red Rippers.”
“Are your people all fixed for small arms, Sir?” Captain Ryan Blanchard, OINC, det. 4th Security Police Squadron, wondered.

Gledhill nodded.

“Jack, sorry Flight Lieutenant Lord let us know that we needed to bring along more than just side arms. You’ll find all our aircrew have at least a sub-machine gun as well as a pistol; I’ll need to introduce you to Flight Lieutenant Sherwood and his bunch of Merry Men from the RAF Regiment.”
“Sir, I noticed that you brought two Hercules with you.” First Lieutenant Sandi ‘Flossy’ Jenkins said. “But what was that larger aircraft? I haven’t seen one of those before.”

The Brit smiled before continuing.

“That, Lieutenant, was a Shorts Belfast; an example of one of life’s Great Procurement Mysteries. We bought them in the Sixties, sold them all off, or retired them in the Seventies, hired them back during the Falklands War at a cost that would have apparently kept them in service with the air force for the next ten years, and then requisitioned them when the latest fracas broke out. To cap it all we reformed the same squadron that had operated them; so yes, the Belfast saga is not exactly the RAF’s Finest Hour.”
“One other question, Sir.” Kara Thrace added. “Do any of you play pool?”

The somewhat left-field question threw the British pilot.

“Uh, no, not that I’m aware of…we did have a snooker table at Kindley though.”

The look on Thrace’s face reminded Gledhill of a hawk contemplating a field mouse, which was rather disturbing.

“Better make sure you have plenty of cash, Squadron Leader.” First Lieutenant Lisa ‘Goalie’ Eichhorn said with a laugh, which did nothing to reassure Gledhill. “Kara doesn’t take checks and you really don’t want to owe her anything!”
“Why is that?”
“Simple, Squadron Leader.” Guru said. “Our Kara has a system; if you can't pay what you owe her, she has an alternate payment plan available. Namely, the two of you, the supply tent, a sleeping bag, a radio turned to AFN's all-rock station, a camping lantern for ambience, and well.....”
“I get the idea.” Gladhill said. “She's a....”
“Board-certified nymphomaniac.” Major Wiser replied. “If they gave out such things. So take our advice: don't play pool unless it's a friendly, and unless they want to file for bankruptcy, don't play poker if she's at the table. Sure don't want any of your guys needing to use her, uh, alternative payment plan. Won't do good for Inter-Allied relations.”
“Noted, Guru.” said Gladhill. Then his stomach rumbled. It had been a long day, even with the RON at Grissom AFB in Indiana. “In any case I’m a happily married man.
“Karen plays poker, though, and can handle her drink better than anyone I know. She and Kara might get on well, apart from the nympho bit, of course.”

Guru noted the time on the wall clock: 1715.

“All right, people! Unless there's anything else, we can adjourn to the Club. Give our RAF friends a Texas hello, get them started on some barbeque, and General Olds will be leaving tomorrow afternoon, so he can recount some of his stories for our Allies' benefit.”

As people got up to leave, Guru said.

“Squadron Leader? A moment, please.”

Curious Gladhill came over to the 335th's CO.

“Major?”

Guru waited until everyone else had left.

“Between you and me, for now, you guys may have a role to play in a mission we're planning. Right now, it's very preliminary. In a few days, my GIB and I will probably be going to Nellis to brief Tenth Air Force brass on the mission concept. If it's a go, then we start serious planning. But you will be filling a niche that we've been looking for: either dedicated strike escort, or BARCAP/TARCAP.”
“I see…”
“And once we get the go-ahead, you'll be involved in planning. The people who plan it are also going to fly it.” Major Wiser said. “Just as with Operation BOLO. That means you, your Exec, and your element leads are going to be involved. And speaking of BOLO? You'll hear General Olds talk about that tonight. Among his other stories-including finding out he's an ace in two wars-twenty years after scoring the kill in question.”

Gladhill nodded.

“BOLO? That's new, hearing it first-hand from the chap who came up with it.”
“It was for almost all of us.” Guru said. “Come on: I'll take you over to the Club. You just met everybody, but now? You'll see them as animals in the zoo.”
“Lead on, Major.”
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Old 08-06-2018, 01:59 PM
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minor note the RCAF was called the Canadian Armed Forces, Air Command from 1968 to 2011

What the backstory on the Colt Canada C8 carbine? IRL the C8 was not adopted till 1994. The Canadian Armed Forces used British L2A1 Sterling FN C1 and FN C1A1 (FN FAL) 1955-1985. There is only on one factory in Canada that had the machines and experience to make assault weapons that was Diemaco of Kitchener, Ontario (Now Colt Canada) The C7 was adopted at new service weapon in 1984 and then the C8 in 1994

On a side note, although the C7 is a license-produced version of the Colt Model 715 (M16) assault rifle. Diemaco reviewed the design and made over 150 changes to this weapon before it entered production.

http://www.military-today.com/firearms/c7.htm

http://www.military-today.com/firearms/c8.htm

https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/weapons/rifles.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colt_Canada_C7

https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/weapons/smgs/c1smg.htm
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Old 08-06-2018, 02:34 PM
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The RCAF resumed its pre-1968 title in 1986 ITTL.
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Old 08-06-2018, 03:10 PM
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Matt was the Genie missile used in your timeline - it was still operational until 1988 with the F-106
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Old 08-06-2018, 07:13 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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No. Genie-armed F-106s did scramble on Invasion Day, but they were not cleared to use the weapons.
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Old 08-07-2018, 08:22 AM
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Frank Carson I remember him well, funny guy. Also Septic I seem to remember is a 'nice' Australian term for an American!
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Old 08-10-2018, 07:15 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Next one: and the RAF guys meet General Olds:


Welcome to Texas



Sheppard AFB, Texas; 1720 Hours Central War Time, 16 November, 1987:



Major Matt Wiser and Squadron Leader Dave Gledhill were walking to the Tent that housed the Officer's Club at Sheppard. The CO of the 335th TFS was filling in his RAF opposite number on how things worked in the Southern Theater, and how a bunch of USAF types had wound up with the Marines. “Couldn't get back to our parent wing after the balloon went up, so they sent us to Williams AFB near Phoenix, and wound up under MAG-11.”

“And you've been with them since,” Gledhill said.

“That we have,” Major Wiser said. “We've moved three times since that summer offensive you probably saw on either CNN or the BBC. Williams to Cannon in New Mexico, then Cannon to Amarillo, and Amarillo to here.”

“How bad was it here?”

“Bad enough,” Major Wiser, call sign Guru, nodded. “The occupation around here was run by Cubans with some MVD types. Lot of mutual hatred because of Sheppard being here, and the Resistance was pretty active. You might be wondering why we're headed for a tent instead of the prewar club.”

Gledhill nodded. “That has occurred to me, Major.”

“Again, call me Guru for the most part,” Guru said. He saw Gledhill nod, then went on. “Somehow, and we don't know how, the Resistance got a bomb on base and into the prewar club building. Blew it-and a bunch of Russians and Cubans-all to hell. The reprisals were pretty severe.”

“How bad was it? We've heard our share of stories thanks to the BBC and CNN.”

“They took two hundred and fifty people at random from Wichita Falls and the nearby communities, and two hundred and fifty more from the local 're-education camp', made them dig a trench, and shot them all,” Guru said. “Just for that. There's a town near here-or there was-called Thornberry. In a field near the town is a mass grave, where they think everyone around here who 'disappeared' is. The Army's got investigators digging, along with the FBI. If you want to know what you're fighting against? Have a look at that.”

The squadron leader's face turned pale. “Might just have to,” Gladehill said. “And you've been with the Resistance. My predeployment briefing mentioned that.”

“Five months,” Guru nodded. “Saw and did a lot. And a few things I'm not that proud of,” the CO said, as memories of his time behind the lines came back-and many of them not very good. “And here we are,” Guru said as they got to the Officer's Club tent.

“Not bad,” Gladehill said. “And this place looks pretty busy.”

“It is, any given night. It'll be busier still tonight, and not just with you guys being here,” Guru said. He noticed Gladehill's curiosity. “Your weather brief may or may not have told you, but we're getting a storm in tonight and tomorrow. Rain, wind, you get the idea. Any kind of VFR flying is out the window. But at Angels Twenty, it's clear and sunny, so we and the Marines will have people on Zulu Alert-”

“What we call QRA,” Gladehill replied.

“So that's how you do it. Anyway, we'll have crews on alert, just in case we get party-crashers tomorrow. As in MiG-25RB or Su-24 kind of company. But both sides welcome the weather coming in. It's a chance to get caught up on maintenance, aircrew rest, and just plain get ready for the next round,” Guru said as they went into the tent and headed for the bar. “Smitty?” He asked the bartender. “Get that Sam Adams?”

“Came in today, Major,” Smitty said. “And you've got a Brit with you.”

“Smitty, meet Squadron Leader Dave Gladehill. Smitty here used to run the best off-base hangout for pilots from Sheppard before the war,” Guru said. “Sam Adams for me, and one for him. I'll pay.”

Gladehill shook the barkeep's hand. “A pleasure.”

“Likewise,” Smitty said. “Comin' right up.”

Smitty produced the two beers, and both Guru and Dave took a seat at the bar. “What's his story?” Gladehill asked.

“Came through the occupation okay,” Smitty said. “They didn't arrest me because my bar was family-owned and operated. Didn't have more than a dozen employees, so they didn't consider me a 'class enemy,'” the barkeep spat. “But those damned Cubans? They made my bar a strongpoint when the Army got close, and during the battle? The 23rd ID had to blast and burn them out. If I was twenty years younger, I'd be going down to the recruiting office-and they do have some here now-where I'd be signing up-again.”

“Vietnam?”

“Marine Corps, two tours,” Smitty said. “One in '66-67, then again in '69-70. Buried all that stuff-and my guns-in the back yard before the bad guys came, so they had no idea I was a vet.”

“And that, Dave,” Guru added. “Could've been trouble, knowing from experience.”

“You've got that right, Major.”

Gladehill nodded, then looked around. He noticed General Olds talking with both 335th and Marines, and even a couple of his own people. Clearly, ACM was the topic of discussion, as there was the usual waving of hands. He also noticed a civilian woman talking with two female crews from the 335th. “Who's the civilian?”

“Jana Wendt, who's an Aussie. She works for both CBS and a network down in Australia,” Guru said. “She's done a story about the squadron, then one on me and my GIB-and I'll formally introduce you to Goalie tonight-and she's also doing one on the Day One vets in this squadron. Of which there are ten, and you're looking at one of them.”

“How bad was it?” Gladehill asked.

“Well, when you're expecting to start your first day at a Red Flag, and wind up going to war instead? It was hairy. Lost two planes and a crew, and also lost the Exec. But we did our job. Namely, head down to the border and kill everything headed north painted green. Interstate 19 became a junkyard, thanks to us, the A-10s from Davis-Monthan, some A-7s from the Arizona Guard, and some Army Reserve Cobra drivers. Then the Mexicans and Cubans got sent back across the border. Got my first kill the next day.”

“Sounds hairy,” Gladehill nodded.

“It was, even with Weasels on most of the runs,” Guru said, pulling on his beer. “Hearing about D.C, Omaha, New York, and Kansas City on the radio was worse. Throw in watching a Cuban airdrop on the Phoenix area go bad-and that was a turkey shoot as the F-15s from Luke got into the transports and had a field day. But watching MiG-21s shoot down an airliner wasn't any fun. Top it off with a Cuban MiG-21 crashing outside the Vegas Hilton, where we were billeted, and having the pilot land right in front of the place.”

Colonel Allen Brady, the MAG-11 CO, came up to the bar. “I see Guru's talking about Day One, Squadron Leader.”

“Indeed he has,” Gladehill said. “He told me how many in the squadron are left from those days.”

“Ten,” Guru said. “You could say those who were flying-anywhere-on Day One and are still at it are this war's 'few,' as Churchill would say.”

The XO, Capt. Mark Ellis, another Day One vet, came up to the bar. “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,” he said, motioning for another beer. “Day one was no fun at all.”

“And Colonel Brady has some stories of his own,” Guru told Gladehill. “From the late and unlamented conflict in Southeast Asia.”

Brady nodded. “From the cockpit, Squadron Leader, and from Hanoi. Spent five years and two months in such lodgings as the Hanoi Hilton, Zoo, Zoo Annex, Dogpatch, and Plantation. Being at the Zoo Annex when the Dramsei-Atterbury escape went down was the worst,” said the Colonel. He was recalling an escape attempt in 1969 when two USAF officers went over the wall at the Zoo Annex, and the NVA had come down hard-not just on the two escapees, one of whom died under torture, but also on anyone even remotely suspected of involvement.

“One of these days, Colonel,” Gladehill said. “I'd like to hear some of those.”

“You will,” replied Brady. He then saw General Olds waving him over. “General Olds and I still have some talking to do. You two have a good evening.”

“Will do, Colonel,” Guru nodded. After Brady went to the General, Guru turned to Gladehill. “Come on, I'll introduce you to the rest of my flight.

“Lead on, Guru.”

When they got to the table the CO's flight shared, they found Goalie talking to Flight Lt. Susan Napier, call sign “Fat Albert.” “How'd you get that?” Goalie asked.

“I was in the Hercules, then when combat was opened to women, the Hawk squadron I was in gave it to me,” Napier said cheerfully. “Two kills in Hawks, then after coming to 74, got a third. Badger, that one.”

“You'll hear some C-130 stories, because I came out of the Herky-bird into F-4s,” Goalie said. “Try evacuating the Air Force Academy from Colorado Springs, then the Denver Airlift.”

“Denver?” Naipier asked. “Heard some horror stories about that,”

“A lot of 'em are true,” Goalie said. “But we did our job getting supplies in and getting people out. Then combat was opened to women, and I asked for F-4s. Showed up at the 335th in June of '86, and been flying with Guru ever since.”

Kara and Sweaty were talking with Flight Lt. Karen McKay, the other female pilot in 74, and were surprised that she had been, of all things, an air traffic controller before the balloon went up. “Four and a half kills?” Kara asked.

“Quite. Two Badgers, two Backfires, and half of a Bear-D,” McKay replied. “Had to share with one of your Tomcats, but we did our job.”

Kara nodded. “Well, you'll find things a lot different than chasing down bombers. Here, it's all tac air.”

“That it is,” Guru said, then everyone was introduced to the other. “Now, our allies will get a formal brief tomorrow, but here's a sneak preview.” Guru sat down, and the others did the same. “First, the MiG threat starts at -21 and goes up from there. Most common are -21s and -23s, but we have encountered -25s on one occasion, and there's also -29s.”

“And Guru and I splashed a couple, back in May,” Sweaty added. She recounted the squadron's only MiG-29 engagement, where both of them had run into a pair of Fulcrums. “And it ended the way General Olds described BOLO.”

“How's that?” McKay asked.

“Simple:” Guru said. “We tangled, they lost. Sweaty there nails the wingman with a head-on Sparrow shot, leader breaks. I went into the vertical, then pitched down, stomped on the rudder, and came down through the Mach and right behind him. Got Sidewinder lock, took the shot, and he pumped out flares and chaff. Took a second shot, and that smashed into his left tail and horizontal stabilizer. Canopy comes off, seat fires, and poof! Here's the guy in a chute.”

Preacher, Sweaty's backseater, added, “Going to tell them about the Foxbat?”

“What?” Gladehill said. “A MiG-25?”

“Got him on takeoff,” Guru said. “Cannon, before Wichita and PRAIRIE FIRE. We were escorting an RF-4, and buzzed Cannon. The MiG scrambled after the RF-4, and Goalie and I got behind him. Two Sidewinders and he cartwheels into the desert floor.”

“Only ways for a Phantom to get a Foxbat,” Sweaty said. “Either jump him on takeoff or get him on landing. Otherwise, they're just too damn fast.”

“Add to that,” Goalie chimed in. “Kara over there got a MiG-23 on her theater indoctrination ride. Only in the squadron all of an hour, and she gets a kill.”

“How'd that happen?” Karen McKay asked.

“CO was at a conference,” Guru said. “Kara reports in, and I decide to take her on that theater indoctrination ride, even though it was a stand-down day. We went to the Rio Grande in New Mexico-that was the front line then-and had two MiG-23s come to the party.”

“And?”

“Simple,” said Kara as she picked up the story. “We tangled, they died. Got one of 'em, and the CO got the other.”

“First flight in the squadron, and her first kill,” Brainiac, Kara's GIB, said.

“That she did,” Guru said. “As for the ground-attack side? Starts at Su-17 Fitter and goes up from there. The whole Fitter family-from -17 to -20 and -22. Nicaraguans and Libyans fly the -20s, but Ivan and the East Germans fly the others. Then there's Su-24.”

“Speaking of which,” Goalie chimed in, “We broke up an Su-24 raid here a few days ago. Kara there got one.” She then pointed to Cosmo and Revlon, who were talking with one of the RAF pilots. “And our first all-female crew got another. Marines did their share, and so did the guys on the ground.”

“Not bad, Squadron Leader,” Kara added. “Because Guru there ordered us up, ten minutes after landing from a strike. We had half our fuel, but full air-to-air.”

Guru nodded, then went on. “Better chances in the air, instead of on the ground. Anyway, after Fencer comes Frogfoot. And also Forger. Throw in the Hinds and Hips, and that's pretty much it. Other than Flankers, and they're in another category.”

“How bad?” Gladehill wanted to know.

“Simple,” Sweaty replied. “You have no business tangling with them in an F-4.”

“She's right,” Guru said. “Get down low, holler for help from the AWACS, do a Doppler Break, and hope a 'teenage' fighter-like an F-15, F-16, or F/A-18 is around.”

“Something to keep in mind,” Gladehill nodded.

“It is that,” Capt. Darren “Sin” Licon, said as he came by. Guru introduced him to the Squadron Leader.

“Sin's my intel, and he's pretty good at what he does,” the CO said. “What's up?”

“Dinner's about five minutes away-they're bringing that over, and the Eastbound C-141 was late. Got the papers.” Licon said, passing out some newspapers.

“Not much,” Guru said, scanning the L.A. Times. “Must be a slow day.”

“Same here,” Kara replied. She was scanning USA Today.

Goalie was going over the Orange County Register. “Says here they're still digging on Proxmire.”
She explained who the good (or not-so-good) Senator from Wisconsin for the visitors' benefit.

“And you people pretty much don't like him,” Susan Napier said. “I can see why.”

“Some have more reason to hate him more than others,” Hoser said. “Look over there at Cosmo,” he gestured to one member of the two all-female crews. “She was a Grad Student in Astronomy when the balloon went up, and people in that discipline don't like Proxmire.”

“He was anti-NASA,” Kara said. “He cut NASA's budget to the bone because he sat on that particular Senate Committee, killed NASA research into space colonies, and blocked NASA from doing any kind of SETI research.”

“SETI?” Napier asked, and Kara explained. “Anyone say this chap should get membership in the Flat Earth Society?”

“Cosmo told us a couple of her professors said just that,” Brainiac said.

Then the restauranteurs and Marine Mess people came in with dinner. “Folks, got some barbequed beef patties, or barbequed pork,” the ex-restaruanteur turned Marine Warrant Officer said. “Come and get it.”

After people got their food, the CBS Evening News came on AFN. This time, though, there wasn't much happening. “Just as with the newspapers,” Goalie said. “Slow day.”

“They probably had days like this in World War II,” Guru noted as he dug into the beef patties.

“No doubt,” Gladehill replied.

“In West Germany,” Walter Cronkite said on the broadcast. “Demonstrations against the Neutralist Government continue, with crowds estimated in the tens of thousands in Bremen, Hannover, and Cologne, while in Munich, over 100,000 people called for the Greens to step down and call for new elections. Former Chancellor Willy Brandt repeated his call for the Greens to step down, before, 'forces more considerable take matters into their own hands,' end quote. Informed sources in both Philadelphia and London have told CBS News that the chances of a coup are growing, and that the West German military has begun restricting military leaves and has begun an intensive period of 'unspecified training.'”

“They're going to do it,” General Olds said. “When that exercise ends, they won't go back to their barracks, but they put tanks in the streets.”

“You mean a coup, General?” Gladehill asked.

“That's right, Squadron Leader,” Olds said.

“About damned time,” one of the Marine F-4 pilots said.

“Send those Commie-lovers back to Moscow or East Berlin,” someone else said.

Sin Licon shook his head. “Not likely, guys. Anyone know Rule Number One in a coup?”

“The losers pose for rifle fire,” said Colonel Brady.

“Not quite, sir,” Licon replied. “First, they get interrogated. Find out who their contacts were, who recruited them, any links to the KGB or Stasi. Then get their passwords to any Swiss bank accounts. Then they pose for the firing squad.”

“West Germany's the big one,” Colonel Brady reminded everyone. “When they go, the others won't be far behind. Though the Dutch were the first.”

After a segment from a destroyer on a Norfolk to Alexandria convoy run, and a report on the likely Democratic candidates in the 1988 Presidential Election-and one possible candidate, Sen. Sam Nunn from Georgia, taking himself out of the running, came a Charles Kuralt On the Road segment. This one was from Parkersburg, West Virginia, and a look at Coal Country. Many homes had either yellow ribbons, often joined by Blue or Gold Stars. The mines were working three shifts, so that the coal could provide electricity to war plants and the cities, while many younger men who came from mining families were eschewing going down and were either waiting for their draft call, or just plain enlisting when they reached 18. Their sisters were doing the same, and it was men in their '30s and '40s, if not older, who were going into the mines. “We may have drills and hammers instead of rifles, but we're doing our part,” one miner said. “If they didn't need me down here, I'd re-up.”

“You're a vet?” Kuralt asked.

“Black Horse Cav in Vietnam, '70-71,” the miner replied. “If they didn't need me down here, I'd probably go and try to re-up. Even if they said no, at least I tried.”

Nearby, there was an apple orchard, and a farm growing corn. That wasn't unusual, but the workers cleaning up after the harvest were: Soviet and other ComBloc POWs. “And so, the war has touched West Virginia, in more ways than one. Charles Kuralt, CBS News, On the Road, in Parkersburg, West Virginia.”

“And that's the way it is,” Cronkite said as he signed off. “For all of us at CBS News, Good Night.”

After that, AFN started to show a rerun of a 1982 Baltimore Colts-New England Patriots football game. Some watched the game, others finished up their dinner. And Squadron Leader Gladehill turned to Guru. “Who's this Frank Carson we keep hearing about?”

Guru winced, but he knew that the RAF people would be working with Frank, like it or not. Might as well give them a short version. “Well, long story short, he's the most hated person on this base.” He pulled on his beer, then went on. “He's from an old Boston family that's filthy rich, but he didn't go to Harvard or Yale, but went to the Air Force Academy. Couple blue blood snobbishness and a big sense of entitlement from having graduated from the Academy partially explains his.....attitude.” Guru nodded at a table where the object of their conversation was talking with two other AF officers-both from the Air Base Group, and with Doc Waters, the 335th's Flight Surgeon. “Notice that Frank's the only one around here in undress blues-everybody else is either in flight suits or utilities. He is not willing to be 'one of the guys' after hours.”

“Add to that a big sense of entitlement,” Sweaty added. “He thinks that Academy class ring on his finger entitles him to whatever he wants in the Air Force.” She, too, pulled on a beer. “Including running this squadron.”

“So,” Gladehill nodded. “How'd you get the squadron?”

“I was Ops Officer for a while, then when the Exec got himself killed, I got the XO slot. Much to Frank's disgust, but Colonel Rivers, rest his soul, didn't trust him-for any number of reasons. Three weeks ago, Colonel Rivers bought that farm in the sky, and I moved up. Frank there felt since he was a Major and I was still a Captain, he should've been put in command.”

“Instead, you were confirmed.”

“I was, and two days later, General Tanner-who runs Tenth Air Force, by the way-came by and pinned on the oak leaves. Both he and General Olds have told Frank to suck it up and get on with it, but he won't listen,” said Guru. “He's too by-the-book, hates any officer who didn't come out of the Academy, ignores NCO advice, and treats enlisted like they're serfs and he's the lord.”

Gladehill winced at that. “He's too formal, in other words.”

“That, and he's too by-the-book,” Guru nodded. “If you talked to him, you'd get an earful about his talents not being recognized-”

“Especially since he didn't get into the F-20 program,” Kara grinned.

“That, too,” Guru said. “And throw in his feeling that a 'peasant' from some small town in California who went to what we call a 'hick' school and didn't even go through ROTC-I went to Officer Training School-got put in command instead of him. Took General Tanner and General Olds to give him a good tongue-lashing about that.”

“So, any advice?” Gladehill asked.

“Just be polite, be professional, and give him the polite minimum at the Club,” Guru said. “That's about it.”

“Good to know. I'll spread the word.”


A few minutes later, Guru and Goalie went to the bar for more beer and an order of nachos, while Kara got another beer, then went to the pool table. Squadron Leader Gladehill looked around, and noticed two pilots-a man and a woman, talking with General Olds and Colonel Brady. “Who's the fellow and girl with the General?”

Sweaty answered. “The guy's Major Dave Golen, IDF. He's officially an 'observer,' but he does more than just 'observe.'”

“He observes by participating,” Guru said as he came back. “Me and Goalie have had MiGs shot off our asses by him twice, and you, once,” the CO nodded at Sweaty.

Sweaty nodded. “That he did. As for the other pilot? That's Flossy.”

“Saw her earlier when she asked about the Belfast,” Gladehill said. “How'd she get that call sign?”

The 335th crewers laughed. “Long story short,” Goalie chuckled. “She has no noticable tan lines, and likes thong underwear.”

“Ah.”

“But Dave Golen's her older brother from another mother, and they've proven to be a good team,” Guru said. “Her regular GIB is grounded due to a sprained ankle, so she's got Jang there-” the CO pointed to 1st Lt. Chloe “Jang” Winters. “For a while. Which means we have two, well, 'unmanned' F-4s in the squadron. Probably in the whole Air Force for all I know.”

“Which explains the reporter,” Gladehill noted.

“It does.”

Kara, meanwhile, was holding court at the Pool Table, and she quickly dispatched two Marines who thought they could take her. Then came General Olds' aide, who had lost to her previously, and wanted his money back. A few minutes later, his wallet was lightened by $50.00. “Next!” Kara called.

“She always like this?” Karen McKay asked.

“You could say that,” Sweaty replied, pulling on a beer. “Now you know why we don't play with her unless there's no money at stake.”

“Uh-oh,” Guru said. “Guess who's headed to the Pool Table?”

Goalie turned and had a look. She replied simply, “General Olds.”

“I was hoping I was wrong.”

As both visitors and regulars watched, General Olds went to the table and laid down his money. Kara did the same, and both combatants went at it. It didn't take long for General Olds' skills to show, and Kara was soon out $50.00. She smiled, shook hands with the General, then went to the bar and got another beer. Then she went back to the table, and defeated a C-130 pilot who was doing an RON, then his female navigator.

Right at 1700, Doc Waters, the 335th's Flight Surgeon, rang the bar bell. “Twelve-Hour for those sitting alert in the morning!”


The 335th and Marine crews affected turned in their drinks, and that included Sweaty, Hoser, Preacher, and KT. “Luck of the draw,” Sweaty said, turning in her beer and getting a glass of club soda.

“How'd you choose who's sitting alert?” Gladehill wondered.

“Element leads drew lots,” Guru replied. “Doc Waters there supervised the drawing. I didn't draw alert, but if I had, I'd be sitting the first shift, along with Goalie, Kara, and Brainiac.”

“That we would,” Goalie said. “Wouldn't be the first time, but we've never had to scramble.”

“Yet.”


A few minutes later, it was time for General Olds' remarks, as it was his last night at Sheppard before going back to Nellis. Colonel Brady stood up and started things off. “People, as it's the last night here for General Olds before he moves on, I'd like him to say a few words, and maybe give our guests from the RAF some stories that the rest of us are familiar with.” He nodded in Olds' direction. “General?”

“Thanks, Colonel,” Olds said as he stood up. “People, for a mixed team, you've done one hell of a job. Most of you are Marines, but both the 335th and VA-135 have done more than their share. Now, with the RAF coming to town, you're proving that people who live, breathe, and speak tactical air can work as a team, and you can only get better. The battle lines are a little too far north for anyone's tastes, but if we're at this a year from now, let's get together at someplace like Laughlin or Laredo-and for the benefit of our British friends, those are bases in South Texas-on the Rio Grande!”

“Hear, hear!” Several people said at once.

“And two years from now? Let's all be where we belong: home, with our families.” Olds paused, letting the words sink in. “After a final stop in Mexico City!”

“Here's to that!” Guru said, and several others echoed him.

“All right!” Others added.

General Olds nodded, then turned to Squadron Leader Gladehill. “For our RAF friends' benefit, gather 'round, and you'll hear some World War II and Vietnam stories.”

Then the General started with his making ace in World War II, in a P-38, while going after a group of 60 Me-109s-with only his wingman for company. “Forgot to switch over to internal fuel, after getting rid of the drop tanks, and the engines cut out. Had a 109 lined up, so I figured 'what the hell', and shot anyway. He went down. And I still claim to be the only fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy in the glide mode.”

“Any one of us would've restarted the engines before shooting,” Karen McKay nodded.

Olds took a sip of club soda, then nodded. “You're probably right. Got the engines going, and hit those 109s like a pair of hawks into a flock of pigeons. Wingman got two, I got another one, then dove on two 109s chasing a P-51-and dove too fast. Couldn't pull up because of compressiblity.”

“What's that?” Flight Lt. Steve “Jack” Lord, who had gone ahead to the 335th as a liaison officer, asked.

“It happens when you approach Mach 1 in an aircraft not designed for it,” Capt. Don Van Loan, the 335th's Ops Officer, said. “The airflow over the controls is disrupted, a shock wave develops, and the controls freeze up.”

“How did you recover?” McKay asked. Nearing Mach 1 in a piston-engined aircraft had to be no fun at all....

“Got to denser air at lower altitude, and barely managed to pull out-and blew out my rear canopy-over a wheat field near Rostock. Headed west, and saw tracers coming by, and there's a 109 behind me, shooting. I want to get home, so I flat-planed, and forced him to overshoot. The 109 goes by, I roll wings level and let him have it. Had two kills prior, so these three...”

“Made you an ace,” Gladehill said. “Jolly well done, sir!”

“Thank you,” Olds said. “I had a total of twelve when my tour was over, all 109s or 190s. Went to jets postwar, and had an exchange tour with your No. 1 Squadron and Meteors. Actually commanded it.”

The RAF people looked at each other. An exchange officer commanding a squadron? “Never heard of that before,” Gladehill's deputy, Squadron Leader Paul Jackson, said. “That has to be a first.”

“Has to be,” Gladehill admitted. “Then came Korea?”

“Nope,” Olds said. “Missed out on Korea, probably because of my wife-who was a movie actress-and she used some Hollywood friends to get the Air Force not to send me over there, though I was itching to go. Eventually wound up commanding the 81st TFW at Bentwaters with F-101s when Vietnam started. In '66, went to Arizona and took the F-4 conversion course.”

Guru then said, “Dave, want to know how long it took him to finish the course? It's a fourteen-part syllabus. He did it in five days.” And the regulars saw the RAF's people having to put their jaws back into place after they dropped.

“That I did, then went to Udorn, Thailand and the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. Gathered all the guys in the briefing room and said, 'I'm the new guy here. But in two weeks, I'll be better than any of you. And I pointed to everyone in that room.”

“He was,” Don Van Loan said. “I have an Uncle who flew in the 8th, and that's a true story, folks.”

“MiGs got frisky over Hanoi, and I had an idea to do something about that. We would mimic F-105s, using the same approach routes, call signs, and radio frequencies, and even the same terminology over the radio. Even had the F-4s wired to carry ECM pods to complete the deception.”

“Did you plan it?” Gladehill asked.

“Nope,” the General replied. “I had some very smart junior officers flesh out the plan. Got Seventh Air Force approval for 1 Jan 67. Had a weather delay, so we went North the next day.”

“And you know the rest,” Colonel Brady said. “Seven MiG-21s for no losses.”

“Could've been more,” Olds nodded. “The GCI controllers told the remaining MiGs to get in the clouds and stay there.”

“So, how many in Vietnam?” Jackson asked.

“Four confirmed back then,” Olds replied. “Two MiG-21s, two MiG-17s-both of those in one day. Plus a probable MiG-17 on 2 June '67. Fast forward to a few days ago, and I found out that probable was upgraded to confirmed. Flew in two wars, and an ace in both.”

“Look at it this way,” Van Loan said. “Not just an ace in two wars, but also having Me-109s and Fw-190s alongside MiG-17s and MiG-21s in the kill sheet.”

“How many dogfights were you in over Vietnam, sir?” Paul Jackson asked.

General Olds took a slug of club soda, then nodded. “Fourteen. Four confirmed kills and a probable when I left Southeast Asia. But fast-forward to a few days ago, and Major Wiser and Captain Van Loan tell me that the probable got upped to confirmed, so...”

“It made you an ace, even if it was twenty years later,” Jackson said, a grin on his face. “Congratulations, sir!”

Olds nodded. “Thanks, and I'll tell everyone this: when I pass on, whoever goes through my personal papers and logs is going to find some interesting things. Because that Edsel Mechanic in the Pentagon wanted me sent home early if I made ace. They wanted me as a publicity asset. Didn't want to leave my men before my tour was up, so....”

“'Edsel Mechanic?'” Napier asked. “What do you mean by that?”

“MacNamara, the SECDEF, was with Ford when they rolled out the Edsel, and we know what kind of clunker that was,” Mark Ellis said. “That handle is what his detractors-and you can say that means every Vietnam Vet or service member since then-means about him.”

“I see...He's the same fellow with the 'Whiz Kids?'”

“The very same,” Olds nodded. “But....two weeks before I went home, got into a fight with MiG-21s. Was lined up on a MiG, ready to shoot-had Sidewinder tone-when an F-105 comes up off his bomb run, and I don't think he even sees me. Gets between me and the MiG, and guns the -21. Sent him down, and the Thud headed on out. Cheated me out of what would have been officially my fifth, and if that weasel MacNamara wanted to send me home then, well....”

Gladehill nodded. “You both get what you want.”

“That's it. But..” General Olds continued. “Whoever goes through my personal papers will find some interesting things, and only then will you hear about them.”

Guru turned to Goalie. “Any thoughts?”

“How about hot pursuit of a MiG into China before killing it?” Goalie asked in reply. “Or splashing a MiG inside the Hanoi Prohibited Area?”

Guru pulled on his beer, and nodded agreement. “I'll go along with either one, and add this: how about a low-level flyby of Hanoi on a no-strike day? Say, right over the Hanoi Hilton.”

Squadron Leader Gladehill overheard their conversation. “You two sure about that?”

Guru nodded again. “Neither one would surprise me,” he said, and Goalie nodded agreement. “You're in a room full of people, even though only two were there, who despise LBJ and MacNamara for the way the air war over North Vietnam was run.”

Don Van Loan came by. “I'd say that's the least offensive term,” he added. “'Loathe' would be more like it. My uncle spent five and a half years in Hanoi, Squadron Leader, going after targets picked in Washington, or tangling with MiGs-and he was shot down by a MiG-17-that should have been taken out on the ground.”

“Ah, because they were afraid that if you chaps did hit the MiG bases, you would've killed Russian advisors, and that makes things very sticky indeed,” replied Gladehill.

Goalie said, “As in Fulda Gap time.” She shook her head.

Then General Olds stood up. “One last thing, people! I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon, and when I get back to Nellis, I'm going to tell General Tanner at Tenth Air Force that you're all doing a hell of a job, and whatever you're doing? Don't change a damned thing!”

“Glad to know, General,” Colonel Brady said, and all of the squadron commanders echoed that.

“And you all have the same attitude I had with the Wolfpack, back in 1966-67. You're all concerned with accomplishing the mission and producing results. And if a few useless bureaucrats get in your way? You just go around, over, on top, underneath, or plain through them to get what's needed done, done. Same drill on regs-if they get in the way of achieving results? You fold, spindle, bend, or mutilate what's in the way to get the job done! And if we get together a year from now? Let's do it on the Rio Grande!”

“Hear, hear!” several voices yelled.

“ARF!”

Several people looked around, and found the 335th mascot, Buddy, there.

General Olds then raised his glass of club soda. “Here's to you. Keep it up, and keep ramming it to the bad guys.” After bottles and glasses were raised, Olds finished. “You all have a good night.”

“YES, SIR!” The room responded.


As things broke up, people went back to their tables, to the bar, or to hit the pool table or poker games. Guru and Goalie went to the bar. “Smitty, two more.”

“Comin' up, Major.”

As Smitty produced the beers, General Olds came to Guru. “Major, you don't need to see me off tomorrow. You've got more important things to worry about.”

“Thank you, sir,” Guru said.

“And don't be surprised if in a few days, you get a call to come to Nellis. Bring your briefing material, your GIB, and your bird.”

“General, can I ask when?” The CO wanted to know.

“Probably in a week. I'll brief General Tanner on your little plan, and he'll want to hear from you personally. You'll get the word as to when.”

Guru and Goalie looked at each other. “Yes, sir,” both of them said.

“You two have a good night,” Olds said, shaking both of their hands. “I'll see you at Nellis.”

“We'll be there, sir,” Guru said.

“All right, and remember what I said about not changing a damned thing, Major.”

Guru nodded. “Yes, sir.”

The General nodded, then said, “Have a good night, you two. I'll see you both at Nellis.”

“Yes, sir.”

After General Olds left, Guru and Goalie noticed Capt. Ryan Blanchard, their Combat Security Police detachment commander, and Capt. Kerry Collins, who was a flight lead, get up and leave together, with Ryan slinging her M-16. And by the expressions on both their faces and other body language, it was clear what they had in mind.

“Well?” Goalie asked, her expression a bit coy. “We need to get caught up.”

“On what?” Guru replied. Though he had a good idea of what she had in mind.

“Bedroom gymnastics. Haven't had any for a while.”

Just then, Don Van Loan and Sweaty Blanchard went by, and they, too, had similar expressions on their faces.

“Then let's go,” Guru said. He paid Smitty for the beers, and both left for the CO's tent.

Gladehill saw them go, as Mark Ellis came up to the bar. “Squadron Leader,” Ellis said.

“Mark, I can call you that?” Gladehill replied. “Since I've got my own Exec.”

“That you do,” Ellis laughed. “What's up?”

“I noticed Guru and his backseater. Plus Ryan Blanchard and one of your pilots-Kerry Collins, I think, and Sweaty Blanchard and your Ops Officer. Isn't that unusual?”

“Prewar, unheard of,” Ellis nodded. “These days? It's 'Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow they may not separate us from the rest of the aircraft.' And AF brass has passed the word that there are more important things to worry about than wartime romances. Though somebody around here hasn't gotten the message.” He nodded discretely in Frank's direction.

“Ah. There always is someone like that,” said Gladehill.

“There is,” Ellis admitted. He took a pull on his beer. “Frank there tried to have Guru and Goalie up on a fraternization thing, and Colonel Rivers tore up his complaint. Gave Frank the biggest dressing-down you ever heard. There's several very good reasons for Guru to despise and loathe Frank, and that is near the top of the list, he told me,” the 335th's Exec said. “And a word of warning: Frank got turned down for a transfer to the F-20 program a couple days ago, and sooner or later, he's going to pop. Just hope none of your guys are in the way when that happens.”

“Thanks for the warning,” Gladehill said. “Your CO told me about Frank being turned down for that, but thanks anyway.”

“Anytime. And welcome to Texas,” Ellis put out his hand, and they shook on it.

After Ellis went to a pool table not dominated by Kara, Jackson, Lord, and McKay, came to their CO. “Well, Skipper?” Jackson asked.

The CO for 74 turned to his own Exec and said, “It's been...interesting, you might say. Jack, you've been with these people a bit. What's your feeling?”

“They're good people, Boss, and dedicated. We'll get along just fine.”

“Good. Karen?”

“Had a talk with Sweaty, Flossy, Cosmo, Revlon, Goalie-even Kara, but not all at once. As for Susan and me? We'll fit in.”

Gladehill nodded. “Right, then. Tell the guys to sleep in tomorrow, and get plenty of rest. Because after this storm passes, it's 'game time', as our hosts like to say.”

“Will do, Boss,” Jackson said, and the others nodded.

And so, the RAF's first day in Texas came to an end when Last Call sounded at Midnight sharp.
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Old USMC Adage
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