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Old 01-13-2015, 11:14 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Location: Auberry, CA
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Part II:


1530 Hours Mountain War Time: Over Western New Mexico:


The five-ship of Phantoms made the tanker rendezvous over the Continental Divide, and met up with their F-15 and Weasel escorts. Four F-15s made up Cowboy Flight, and one pair would set up a BARCAP to take care of anyone coming out of Cannon, while another pair would do the same for anyone out of Roswell (the old Walker AFB/Roswell AAF). Guru talked with the Weasels, who were using beer names for their call signs, and Coors 31 would lead the Weasels. He asked them to send one pair in to deal with the Portales SA-2, and the other pair to take care of the Roswell North SA-2, then come back and cover the target. After the inflight brief, everyone drank the fuel they needed from the tankers, and headed east. As they did, Guru noticed an EF-111 orbiting west of the Rio Grande. That would be their escort jammer, and the Spark Vark came into the formation. Then it was time to go down low and get into enemy territory.

The trip east went by like a blur. As the package went in, enemy radar activity was nil at best. Maybe the jamming's working, Guru thought. “Time to U.S. 285?” That was their next nav checkpoint.

“One minute,” Goalie replied.

Up ahead, the F-15s were like blockers in a football game, ready to jump on any MiGs that showed up, while the F-4Gs were on their flanks. Behind the strike birds was Athena's RF-4C, and above her was the EF-111, spoofing enemy radars as they headed on in.

“And now..285,” Goalie called.

The ribbon of Highway 285 flew by below them, a they headed for the next nav point. La Espia Peak, where the EF-111 would break off, climb, and then orbit to perform its standoff jamming role. “Two minutes to the peak,” Guru said, remembering the pre-mission planning.

“You got it,” Goalie said. Both crewers were swiveling their heads, keeping an eye out for threats, something that the RTU instructors had drilled into their heads.

It wasn't long, then the peak appeared at their Eleven O’clock. “Sundance Four-One. Time for us to go to work.”

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “Blind 'em, fella.”

With that, the EF-111 pulled up and started sending electrons out onto the radar frequencies used by the SAM sites, air-defense radars, and especially the GCI stations.

After that, the F-4Gs peeled off for their antiradar strikes, and then the F-15s climbed to assume their BARCAP mission.

“Elida dead ahead. That's the IP,” Goalie called.

“Sweaty, you and Hoser do your thing,” Guru said.

“Copy,” Sweaty replied. “Good luck.” Both TARCAP F-4s climbed to orbit the small town, as Guru and Starbuck climbed to search for the target, and WSOs began searching with the Pave Tack pods' cameras.

“Got it!” Capt. Judd Brewster, or Braniac as he was known. He was Kara's WSO.

“Roger that,” Guru said. “Got it?” He asked his GIB.

“Target locked,” Goalie said. “Ready to lase. Stand by to release on my hack.”

“Roger that,” Guru replied, setting up the ordnance himself.

“Steady, steady, laser on, and.....HACK!”

Guru hit the pickle button, and both GBU-10s came off the aircraft. He then banked away, but not in a steep turn so that the laser could stay on target and the two bombs could follow the laser all the way in.

As Guru pulled away, Starbuck rolled in. She dropped her bombs a few seconds after Guru did, and she, too, pulled off target, but careful enough to keep the laser on the target.


Down below, in the Ranch House, several KGB and PSD officers were discussing their joint interrogation of a 'bandit' leader. They suspected he knew about plans for a major guerrilla operation timed to coincide with any counteroffensive the Americans launched, but so far, the bandit had resisted all of their efforts. Drugs, torture, even offers of sex, had been for naught. Then the rumble of aircraft engines could be heard, then everything blew apart as four laser-guided bombs blew the house-and all of its occupants-into tiny pieces.

“SHACK!” Goalie called from the back seat. “Four good hits!”

“Anything left?” Guru asked as he pointed the F-4 due west.

“Nothing but matchsticks, blood, and brains,” she replied. “Laser off. And I say it's time to go.”

“You are so right,” Guru said as he took 512 down low again. “Starbuck, you concur?”

“Roger that, Lead. Four bombs, four hits. Let's get the hell out of here,” Kara said.

“Sweaty, Hoser, on me,” Guru called. “Here comes Athena.” Her RF-4C was starting its run-in.” Cowboy, Coors, time to egress.”

“Copy,”

“Roger,”

The package reformed near the EF-111 orbit point, and the trip west was anticlimactic. No MiGs came to challenge them, no SAMs lit up. And crossing the Rio Grande didn't even get a response from the Patriot and HAWK crews. After hitting the tankers, Guru gave the “Mission Success” call, then all of the birds broke for their home bases; Luke for the F-15s, Phoenix/Sky Harbor for the F-4Gs, Davis-Monthan for the EF-111, and Williams for the F-4Es and the photo bird.

When the F-4s came into Williams, there was a crowd gathered, with both Colonel Brady and Colonel Rivers heading it up. The birds were taxied into their dispersal shelters, and their regular ground crews came in, as usual. When the crew ladders were in place, the crews were able to climb down. At 512, Staff Sergeant Crowley was waiting. “How'd it go, Captain?”

“Can't say much,” Guru said. But he gave a thumbs-up. Then he saw Goalie come out from the Pave Tack pod, and she had a videotape in her hand.

Then Kara came over with Braniac, and he also had a videotape in hand.

“All right, people!” Brady said. “How'd it go?”

“Four drops, four hits,” Guru said. “No SAMs or MiGs. And no flak either.”

The two Colonels looked at each other. “Good job, Captain,” Rivers said. “Main Briefing Room, ten minutes. Get out of your flight gear and get your asses over there.”

Ten minutes later, the crews-including Athena and Helo, who had come in a minute behind the strike birds, were in the Main Briefing Room. General Donnelly was there, and to no one's surprise, the OGA people were there as well. “All right, Captain, let's have it. How'd it go out there?”

Guru and Starbuck exchanged glances. Then he looked at the General straight in the eye. “General, four drops, four hits. All that's left of that house is matchsticks and bloody and/or burned scraps of meat.”

“You concur, Captain Thrace?”

“Yes, Sir, I do,” she replied. “Even if somebody had been right outside, getting some fresh air? If the shrapnel didn't kill him, the concussion did.”

Donnelly nodded. “Let's check the tapes.”

First Goalie, then Brainac, played their Pave Tack tapes. The crews all noticed the OGA people were paying very close attention. “Four bombs on target. CEP is zero,” one of them said. “Nuthin' left of that place.”

“Wait for the RF-4C imagery, “ one of his friends said.

“Captain Park?” Donelly asked. “Your assessment?”

“I'll go along with what Captains Wiser and Thrace said. That place is history,” Athena replied, and Helo nodded.

“Very well,” Donelly said. He paused for a moment, thinking. Then he said. “All right, then. I remind you that you are still bound by your NDA forms, and are not to discuss this mission with anyone, even amongst yourselves. In your log books, you will say that you flew a strike-or a post-strike recon, against a target in Eastern New Mexico. Nothing more than that.” He looked at the aircrews. “Is that understood?”

The crews all looked at each other, then they said, “Yes, SIR!”

“Good,” said Donelly. As he got to leave, with the OGA men in two, he turned to the crews. “I wish I could tell you more. But I can't. Other than this.”

“Sir?” Colonel Rivers asked.

“All of you on the mission have done a valuable service for your country today. Maybe in twenty or thirty years, when you're bouncing your grandkids on your knee, you'll read about it. Then you can say whatever you want. Maybe.” Then the General and the OGA men left the room, leaving ten still confused aircrew and two senior officers still confused by the whole thing.

Rivers came over. “Guru, you're one of the old hands in the squadron. Ever flown anything like this?”

“No, Sir,” Guru replied. “Give me a shot at the Denver siege perimeter, ripping up a supply dump along I-40, or paying Cannon or Roswell a morning wake-up call, but this?”

“I know what you mean,” Rivers said. “There were probably strikes like this flown in WW II, Korea, and Vietnam. They don't tell you anything other than 'hit this target.'” He looked at the crews. “Let's get over to the Club. Twelve-hour rule kicks in at 1900 for you guys, so you've got an hour and a half to get loaded.”

“Boss, that's an order I'll be glad to obey,” Kara said.

“You guys may not get a medal for this mission, or any other recognition, but I'll be able to do something at least,” Rivers nodded.

“And I'll buy the first round,” Brady said.

“Then, sir,” Sweaty said. “Lead the way.”

As they left, Guru turned to Rivers. “Boss, they did leave us those Pave Tack pods?”

“They did,” Rivers confirmed. “You and Ellis, in between flights tomorrow, check and see who else in the squadron's Pave Tack qualified.”

“Got it, Sir.”

“Oh, and Guru?” Rivers asked. “I'll see about getting some time on the range for some refresher Pave Tack training.”

Guru nodded. Then he asked. “Time on the Goldwater Range, Boss? Or time on the range in Eastern New Mexico?”

A smile came to the CO's face. “Way things are going, it may be a little of both.”


Two days later, it was the first day of PRAIRIE FIRE, and this one mission was quickly forgotten. Until.....
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