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Old 04-25-2019, 07:46 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The next day gets started:



335th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Sheppard AFB, TX: 19 November, 1987, 0530 Hours Central War Time:


Major Matt Wiser walked from Officer Country to the Squadron Offices. One thing about Fall, was that the nights got longer, for only now was the first hint of light appearing on the Eastern Horizon. Taking a glance at the sky, the stars were still visible, and that meant good flying weather. Pleased at that thought, he went into the office, and found the night-shift crew at work. The SDO on nights, Hacksaw, saw him.

“Major,” Hacksaw said. “You're a little early.”

“Woke up a few minutes early, so I decided to go ahead and get up,” the CO said. He glanced at his office. “XO not in yet?”

“No, Boss, and it's been pretty quiet. There was a Scud attack on Bowie about an hour ago, but no word yet on damage or casualties,” Hacksaw said, reading from a message.

Hearing that, the CO grimaced. There were two types of missions he absolutely despised, even though they were important. CAS runs, when there were people in A-4s, A-7s, and A-10s who lived and breathed the mission, and Scud hunts, where one might spend two hours flying around looking for mobile missiles that were likely already hidden. Though he and his flight had killed their share of Scuds, they had more Scud hunts where their quarry had not been found, and opportunity targets were struck instead. “Let me know if anything comes in before I go to eat. You seeing Doc today?”

“Got an appointment at 1000,” Hacksaw replied. “Last day on the pills, and if he says the cold's done..”

“You're back on the flight schedule,” Major Wiser said. “Remember that he does outrank us in anything and everything medical, so if the sawbones thinks you're not ready...”

“I know, Boss. I feel great, and just, well, ready to get back in the game.”

Guru nodded. He, too, had been grounded with a cold, and had been frustrated when Doc had grounded him back in March. “After what happened yesterday? Hacksaw, you're not missing a damn thing.”

“I know, Major.”

“As long as you remember that,” the CO said sternly. “When Digger comes in to take over, get him up to speed, get some food, then you're on with Doc.”

Hacksaw let out a grin. “That last thing? I can't wait.”

“Good. I'll be in my office,” Major Wiser said. He chatted for a few minutes with the enlisted admin people, then went to his office. On his desk were the two notes he'd written for the families of the two RAF crew who had gone down the day before. He went over them, added his signature, then sealed them in envelopes. The CO then got up and went to his office window when he heard the rumble of jets. Two F-4s were going up on maintenance check flights, and Guru also noticed a C-130 taxiing as well. The flying day was just getting underway, he knew, when a knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. “Yeah? Come on in and show yourself!”

The door opened, and his XO, Capt. Mark Ellis, came in. “Morning, Boss,” the XO said, with a clipboard tucked underneath an arm, and two cups of steaming liquid. “Hot chocolate for you, and coffee for your humble Exec,” he added, handing a cup to the CO.

“Thanks, Mark,” Guru said. “The scroungers have orders to put this on their list each and every time?”

“They do, Ross says,” Ellis replied. “Got the morning admin stuff for you.” He gave the CO the clipboard.

“Morning reports for both Tenth Air Force and MAG-11,” the CO noted as he signed both forms.

“And the aircraft status report,” Ellis pointed out. “We've got twenty-two birds for this morning.”

“Which makes us full-mission-capable,” Guru nodded. “And when that happens, we wind up having a couple take battle damage at least, if not actually go down.” He grimaced at that, then scanned the next form, which was the weather report. “Partly to mostly sunny, highs in the upper fifties, lows in the upper thirties to low forties,” the CO noted. “And no bad weather for at least five days.”

“Which gives us five days to earn our flight pay, and make things miserable for the bad guys.”

“Yeah,” Guru said. He scanned the next paper. “Scroungers list?”

“For your information only,” said the Exec. “Half of the stuff on that list is what Ross says we can use for horse-trading.”

“He on track of some more LGB kits?”

“He is, and we may have some in two or three days.”

Guru nodded. “That's good. We can do some more LGB stuff when we get those. And that's it?”

“No personnel stuff, so that's it for now,” Ellis said. Then there was a knock on the door.

“Yeah? Show yourself and come on in!” The CO barked.

The door opened, and the CO's GIB, First Lieutenant Lisa Eichhorn came in. She, too, had two cups of steaming liquid. '”Morning, Boss, and XO,” she said. “Ready to earn our flight pay today?”

“And come April 15, we give half of that back to the Government,” Guru quipped.

“We do.” Goalie then asked, “What's up?” Not only was she the CO's GIB, but they were also lovers. And she could tell something was bothering her pilot.

“Waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Guru said. “Frank. He's flying with an Article 15 now in his file, and he's going to do something stupid. Sooner or later, and there will be a shit-storm after. No doubt about it.”

“Why won't he transfer?” Goalie asked. “You'd think he'd gotten the message after last night.”

“He wants out, but on his terms,” the CO said. “He thinks the Academy old-boy network will get a promotion board to ignore the Article 15, and if he impresses a high-ranking VIP-and he's heard the rumors that Sundown Cunningham may visit sometime between Thanksgiving and New Year's, by the way-he gets noticed.”

Goalie nodded. “Which means, if a squadron got shot up bad enough to be pulled off the line, and needs a new CO or XO-maybe both, he gets one of those slots,” she said. “Not likely, but from his point of view?”

“Might just work. Even if he never gets to O-5,” the XO said. “He has that on his record. Which is what he's wanted all along.”

“Yeah. Well, one fuckup, and he's out of here,” Guru said firmly. “Now, before we go eat? There was a Scud attack last night on Bowie, thirty-five miles south of here on U.S. 287. No word on damage or casualties, but last time they were hit? Libyans hit a refugee camp near there with a couple.”

Both the XO and Goalie winced. “Not good,” Ellis observed. He had gone on a Scud hunt for the guilty parties-as had half the squadron.

“No, and because of that, we may be getting some Scud hunts today,” the CO warned both of them. He was recalling the afternoon spent going after Scuds-and eventually finding and killing some.

“Happy thought,” said Goalie. “Not.”

“No, and if we do get Scud hunts? Let's hope for some good opportunity targets,” said Guru.

“To be hoped for,” Ellis said.

“No argument there,” the CO agreed. He looked at the clock on his office wall. “0550. Let's go eat.”


Guru, the Exec, and Goalie left the office and went over to the Officer's Mess Tent. They found Colonel Brady talking with Dave Gledhill and their reporter, Jana Wendt. “Good morning, Major,” Brady said.

“Morning, sir,” Guru said. Here, salutes were unnecessary. “Dave, and Ms. Wendt. Well, I guess yesterday's events are the topic of conversation?”

“They are,” Gledhill nodded. “Colonel Brady's intel, and your Sin Licon, briefed us on those guns. Thought you guys were joking with us-you know, new blokes to the theater and all. Turned out you weren't.”

“Ask the guys in 134,” Brady reminded Gledhill. “Their CO and two other crews went down the first day we ran into those. Only one crew recovered, and his wasn't it.” He was recalling the first day when MAG-11's squadrons had encountered ZSU-30-2s, with three Marine F-4s down, and only one crew recovered. And VMFA-134's CO had been one of the two who had gone in with no chutes.

Gledhill recalled that conversation with the MAG-11 intel people. “Sometimes you don't think it'll happen to your people, and then it does.”

“Almost happened to Kerry Collins and Pat McCorkle,” Guru said. “Only reason they're still here is that some of the rounds were either flat-out duds, or hadn't been fuzed right. And we did show you photos of their bird.”

“You did. Very sobering indeed.”

Guru nodded. “Come by after the first mission. Those notes I wrote for you to pass on to the next-of-kin are ready. Mail goes out at 1100.”

“I'll be there,” said Gledhill.

“Said it before, but I hate to send those off,” Guru nodded. He turned to Ms. Wendt. “Thinking up a story?”

“You could say that, Major,” the reporter grinned. “Speaking of stories, the one about your mascot went to Sydney and CBS last night. It should be airing in Oz today sometime.”

“And here?” Guru wanted to know.

The reporter shrugged. “Tonight or tomorrow.”

“And your check ride?” Guru said. “I'll find some time in the next couple of days. You're going with Kara, though.”

“The 'Wild Thing'?” Ms Wendt asked.

Guru grinned. “The same. I'll take Mr. Scott, your cameraman, and be glad you're getting a chance to fly. Even if it's away from the front lines.”

The reporter knew why: any captured reporters were turned over to the KGB, and weren't considered POWs-one more violation of international law for Ivan, among many. “Well, beggars can't be choosers.”

“A word of advice, Ms. Wendt,” Colonel Brady said. “Take plenty of airsickness bags along.” The MAG-11 CO had a nasty-looking grin on his face. “You'll be glad you did.”

Just then, the Mess Officer came out of the tent and flipped the sign from CLOSED to OPEN. “Chow's ready, people!”


After breakfast, crews went to their respective squadrons, and Guru-along with his other flight leaders, went to the Squadron Ops Office to get their first mission of the day. Since the CO made it a point to be the first out the gate, he was there first, and found the Ops Officer waiting for him. “Don,” he nodded to Capt. Don Van Loan, his Ops Officer.

“Boss,” Van Loan replied. “Got a good one for you. Dublin, southwest of Stephenville.” He handed the CO the mission packet with target folder.

“Back to the East German sector,” the CO noted. He scanned the mission brief. “Fuel dump and truck park southeast of town. Not the airport?”

“Still not operational yet, even though your flight trashed it a few days ago. Their engineers can't be everywhere at once.”

“To be thankful for,” Guru said. “Still might find a helo, though. And Brownwood Regional's back operational, I notice.”

Van Loan nodded. “It is, and that means East German MiGs,” he added. “Just you guys, Dave Gledhill's element, and that's it. No Weasels.”

Guru sighed. As usual, the Weasels were busy. He knew there were too many requests for them and not enough assets. “All right. Thanks, Don. You have a good one, and be careful out there.”

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

“And Kara doesn't want to be Ops,” the CO reminded him. “Thanks again.” As the CO turned to leave, Major Frank Carson came in to get his own element's mission brief. “Frank,” Guru nodded politely.

“Major,” Carson replied, a little too politely, Guru noticed. But the CO could also pick up a hint of contempt in his voice.

“Good luck out there, and be careful,” Guru told him. “No unnecessary risks.”

Carson stared at him for a moment, then gave a slight nod. “Of course.”

“So long as you know,” Guru replied. Then the CO went to his flight's briefing room, and found everyone there, along with Buddy, the squadron's mascot. To the CO's pleasure, the dog was already curled up on the floor, fast asleep. “Okay, folks, let's get the show on the road. We're going back to Dublin.”

“We were there not that long ago,” Sweaty said. “Smashed up the airport pretty good.”

“Where's this?” Gledhill asked.

“East German sector,” Kara replied. “So, Boss, what's the target?”

“Not the airport,” Guru said. “It's not listed as operational for fixed-wing, but we're going for a fuel dump southeast of town. At the F.M. 303/304 Junction.” He pulled out some photos, taken probably by an RF-4C as they were from low level, and very detailed. “Fuel dump on the north side of the junction, and a truck park to the southeast corner. It's a horizontal Y intersection, so the fuel dump's north of the prongs, and in between? That's the truck park.”

“Visual cues?” Goalie asked. Since she was the lead GIB, that was a very good question.

“None listed or visible,” Guru replied. “So the town of Purves, eight miles or thirty seconds from the target, is our last checkpoint. Pop up, and climb just high enough to ID the target, make your runs, and get your asses down low.”

“So who gets what?” Sweaty asked. “And what's the ordnance load?”

“You and I are taking the fuel dump,” said the CO. “Kara and Hoser? You two get the truck park. We've all got the same load: six Mark-82 Snakeyes and six M-117Rs. Snakeyes on the inboard wing stations, M-117s on centerline.”

Hoser nodded. “Usual air-to-air load, Boss?”

“You got it. Four AIM-9Ps, two AIM-7Fs, two wing tanks, full load of twenty mike-mike, and the usual ECM pods.” That meant ALQ-119 for the element leaders, and ALQ-101 for the wingmen. “Dave?”

Gledhill nodded. “For us, that's four AIM-9Ls, four Sky Flash, two wing tanks, and a SUU-23 pod.” His pilot, Flight Lt. Paul Jackson, nodded.

“All right, and now, how we're getting there,” Guru said. “We pick up the tanker track north of Mineral Wells, and once we've topped off, we get down low, and cross the fence at the I-20. Follow the Brazos River and Lake Granbury. Stay just east of the river, and that puts us just in the Nicaraguan sector.”

“Why's that? Flight Lt. Susan Napier, the second in the RAF element, asked.

Sweaty grinned. “They don't shoot at us unless they're the ones being bombed. The East Germans on the west side? They always shoot.”

“They do,” Kara confirmed. “But at the Brazospoint Bridge and points south to Lake Whitney? It's Libyans on that side, and they shoot every time.”

Hoser nodded. “No kidding! And their motto is 'spray and pray', and they shoot like they're worried the practice is going to be banned five minutes after.”

“That's about it,” Guru said. “Okay, we follow the river all the way to Lake Whitney, and just short of the dam, we turn west on a two-six-five heading. Stay south of Meridian, all the way to U.S. 281 and the town of Olin. That's F.M. 219, and we follow 219 to Purves, which is where we pop up. Once clear of the target? Get your asses in a northwesterly direction, and pick up the Leon River. Follow it to Lake Leon, then north to the I-20. Pick up the tankers again, head home, and get ready to do this again.”

Flight Lt. Paul Jackson asked, “Major ,what's the MiG threat?”

“Brownwood Regional is back operational, so that's Russians and East Germans. They have MiG-23s and -21s respectively, and they're the closest MiG field, just southwest of the target. Four minutes' flight time, by the way. MiG-29s are at San Angelo and Gray AAF at Fort Hood, and Su-27s are still at Bergstrom. Rest of 'em are -21s and -23s at the other fields.”

“Brownwood?” Kara asked, half surprised. “Boss, we hit that yesterday!”

“I know, but it's listed here as back in business.”

“Guru,” Gledhill asked. “How do you want us to go?”

“When I call PULL? Assume a TARCAP and kill anyone flying at the target. Then get ready to do nasty things to party-crashers,” Guru said.

“Nothing new here,” Gledhill repiled, and the other RAF crew nodded.

“Good. Now, the defenses. This is a division HQ, so expect SA-6 or -8. Target proper has ZU-23s and guys with MANPADS. There's still 37-mm and 57-mm at the airport,” the CO told the crews.

Brainiac nodded. “Any Weasels?”

“Negative,” Guru said. “Just us and our ECM pods. Any other questions?”

“Not one,” KT said. But look at Buddy. He's still asleep.” She nodded at the dog, still curled up and fast asleep.

“Not like yesterday's finale,” Preacher noted. “Should've known something was up when he listened to the brief.”

Heads nodded at that, and Kara said, “Too late now.”

“It is that,” Guru acknowledged. “Okay, these are East Germans, and in some cases, they're better than Cat I Soviets. Keep that in mind. Anything else?” Heads shook no as an Ops NCO came to collect the briefing material. “All right. Gear up and get ready to fly. Meet up at 512.”

As the crews headed out, Guru went to the Men's Locker room to gear up. When he did, Goalie was waiting outside, as usual. “Ready to rock?” She asked.

“And earn some flight pay,” Guru said. “Let's go.” They went outside, and found IDF Major Dave Golen and his element talking over their mission. “Dave,” Guru said.

“Guru,” Golen replied. “Good luck on yours.”

“You too, and remember, Flossy's your younger sister from another mother,” the CO said, nodding at 1st Lt. Sandi “Flossy” Jenkins and her GIB, 1st Lt. Chloe “Jang” Winters.

“Always,” Golen said.

“Okay, you going anywhere near Stephenville or the general area?” Guru asked. “If you hit MiG trouble, holler. We're Mustang Flight, and two of the Brits are with us.”

Golen nodded. “Near Stephenville, and we're Camaro. If you need help, we'll be there.” Both Golen and the CO shook on that.

“Same here. Good luck, and be careful,” the CO warned. “That's the East Germans, you know.”

Golen nodded again. “Getting shot up a couple days ago was no fun. Don't care to repeat the experience.”

“Been there, and done worse,” Guru said, recalling his time with the Resistance in Colorado. “Just be careful out there.”

“Will do.”

“Good, Dave. You guys have a good one,” said the CO.

“You too.”

Guru then headed to Goalie, then they walked to 512's revetment. The rest of the flight was there. “Okay, folks. Usual procedures on the radio.” That meant call signs between them, and mission code to AWACS and other parties. “Now, one last thing,” the CO said. “Those ZSU-30s? If you see basketball-sized tracers anywhere on ingress, and we have run into those west of the Brazos-”

“And this is a time when Yeager's people could be handy,” Sweaty said.

“Brash young pups and all,” Kara spat. She still bristled at the thought of Clancy and Pruitt in their F-20s.

“Down, girl,” Guru said. “But you're both right, but we can't use what we don't have. Now, if you see those tracers on ingress? Take evasive action and call in the location. If we run into them at the target? Abort. We'll reform, and head for Stephenville. The Municipal Airport can use some more craters,”

Heads nodded at that. “Sounds good, Boss,” Sweaty nodded.

“Dave?” Guru asked his RAF counterpart.

“I'd say that's it,” Gledhill replied, and heads nodded at that.

“I agree,” Guru said. “Okay, that's that. Time to get going. Meet up at ten grand, and let's hit it.” He clapped his hands for emphasis.

The crews broke up and headed to their aircraft. Guru and Goalie went into the revetment and found their mount, 512, bombed up and ready to go. “Major? Lieutenant?” Staff Sergeant Mike Crowley, the Crew Chief said as he snapped a salute. “Five-twelve's ready to kick some more Commie ass.”

“Thanks, Sarge,” Guru said. He and Goalie did their preflight walk-around, then climbed the ladder and got themselves strapped into their seats. After putting on their helmets and plugging in, they went through the preflight checklist.

As they did the preflight, Goalie asked, “Want to bet they'll give us a Scud hunt later today?”

“Hope not,” Guru replied. “I'd rather take a CAS run than do one of those.”

“Not the only one thinking that,” his GIB replied. “Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom, check yours, and glad to hear I'm not alone. Arnie?”

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

“That we are,” Guru said. He gave a thumbs-up to Crowley, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. One, then both, J-79 engines were soon up and running. During the warm-up, Guru called the tower. “Tower, Mustang Lead with six, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

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

“Roger, Tower. Mustang Lead rolling.” Guru gave another thumbs-up to his Crew Chief, who signaled the ground crew to pull away the chocks from the wheels. Then he gave the “Taxi” signal to Guru, who began taxiing 512 out of the revetment. After 512 cleared the revetment, Crowley gave a perfect salute, which pilot and GIB returned. Guru and Goalie then taxied, with the rest of the flight following, to the taxiway, then to the holding area. There, a Marine F/A-18 flight was ahead of them. After the Marines taxied onto the runway, it was their turn to get into the holding area, where, after they did so, the armorers removed the weapon safeties. The Marine Hornets took off after that, then it was Mustang Flight's turn. “Tower, Mustang Lead requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Mustang Leader, Tower, Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are two-seven-five for five.”

“Roger, Tower,” Guru replied, then he taxied onto the runway. Kara followed in 520, and tucked right into his Five O'clock position. Guru and Goalie did a final cockpit check, then glanced at Kara and Brainiac, who gave thumbs-ups. They returned it, then it was time. “Ready?” Guru asked.

“Time to go,” Goalie replied.

“It is that,” Guru said. “Tower, Mustang Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Canopy coming down,” Guru said, pulling his canopy down, then closing and locking it. Goalie did the same, and both looked at 520, which was just as ready. It was time. “Here we go.” Guru applied full power to the throttles, then he released the brakes. 512 then rumbled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right alongside. Thirty seconds later, it was Sweaty's and Hoser's turn, and after that, the two RAF F-4Js. The flight formed up at FL 100, then headed south for their tankers.
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