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Old 01-16-2019, 10:36 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Auberry, CA
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Sorry for the gap in between updates, but they will be more regular in the future...

In between strikes:



335th TFS, Sheppard AFB, TX: 1515 Hours Central War Time:


Major Matt Wiser was in his office, taking care of some squadron paperwork. No matter what, the elves never touched it while he was out, and so, he had to attack it. The armchair warriors had to be taken care of, much to his disgust, and there was no going around it. Guru finished the last of the papers-and he was glad to have a good Exec in Mark Ellis, for he took care of what he could, weeded out the wheat from the chaff, and left the really important stuff for the CO's attention. Just as I did, when I had the job, he thought. The CO got up and looked out his office window, intending to hit the fitness tent and at least get in a four-mile run on a treadmill, when there was a knock on the door. “Yeah? Come in and show yourself!”

It was his Staff Sergeant Secretary. “Major? There's somebody here from the base JAG office.”

JAG? Oh, good. Maybe this has to do with Frank's Article 15....”Okay, Trisha,” the CO said to Staff Sgt. Trisha Lord. “Send him in.”

She nodded. “Yes, sir,” Sergeant Lord nodded to someone outside. “The Major will see you.”

A male lieutenant with close-cropped brown hair, wearing BDUs and with a waist holster and .45 came in. “Sir? I'm First Lieutenant Michael Joyce. The legal officer sent me over with this.” He handed the CO a brown envelope.

Guru opened it, and read the cover letter. He looked at the JAG officer, then the paper again, then smiled. “Lieutenant, you don't know how good this'll make a lot of people in this squadron feel.”

“Uh, yes, sir,” the JAG weenie replied. “This was my first case, and, uh...”

“You were hoping it'd go to trial,” Guru said, and Joyce nodded. “Be glad it didn't go that far.” He scanned the letter one more time. “All right, that'll be all. Send my secretary in on your way out.”

“Sir,” Joyce said. He saluted, and Guru sketched a return one. After he left, Sergeant Lord came in

“Major?”

“Find the Exec and Chief Ross. Tell 'em I want to see both of them when I get back from my last mission.”

“Yes, sir. Is there anything else?”

“No calls,” Guru said as he got up from his desk. “I'm headed to the gym.”


Major Wiser went to his tent to change into his workout clothes, then went over to the large tent that served as the base fitness center. Before he went in, Colonel Brady, the CO of MAG-11, came out, drenched in sweat. “Sir,” Guru said.

“Major,” Brady replied. He was headed for the shower, then was headed back out. Even though he had his share of battles with the armchair warriors, as Colonel Brady was the Marine equivalent of a wing commander, he made it a point to fly at least two missions a day, if not more. “Going in?”

Guru nodded, then gestured at the entrance, where Doc Waters was standing, clipboard in hand. “Yes, sir. With my squadron's flight surgeon there, checking off names, no doubt, I'd best be going in.”

Hearing that, Brady laughed. “No doubt about that, Major. Best to keep the sawbones happy.”

“Yes, sir,” said Guru. Then he turned serious. “Sir, I heard from the Air Force JAG office. It concerns a certain officer.....”

“Was that....matter processed?”

Guru nodded. “It was, sir.”

“Good,” Brady said. “Now, you've got two things to worry about: First, how fast until the old-boy network at the Academy finds out, and second, what do they do about it?”

“Sir, that will be as soon as that fellow drops a dime or a letter in the box, and second? Not much, I think, Try getting something like this expunged.”

Colonel Brady thought for a minute. “That is highly doubtful, and Major? I think it'll go the way we discussed earlier. He gets an O-5 promotion via the old-boy network, serves out his twenty, then retires.”

Guru nodded, unhappily. “Yes, sir.”

“Still, you've made a lot of folks on this base very happy,” Brady reminded him. Then he changed the subject. “What about that mission you're cooking up?”

“Sir, General Olds will brief General Tanner, then my GIB and I will get called to Nellis for a more thorough briefing. If we get the go-ahead, then we can get serious about planning. I'll need some of your Hornet guys to add their two cents when it comes to the flak-suppression and TARCAP side.”

“You'll get 'em,” Brady said. “Let me know when.” He looked at Doc Waters. “And on that note, you'd best make your sawbones a happy man.”

“I'd best get that done, sir,” said Guru.

“You have a good workout, and a good last mission.”

“Will do, sir.”

Colonel Brady went on his way, and Guru went in. “Doc,” he said. “Bored enough that you're sitting out here?”

“Got to have something to do,” the flight surgeon said. “When the most serious thing I've seen in a couple days is a sports injury, or last week,Digger's sprained ankle or giving Ms. Wendt and her cameraman their flight physicals? Have to stay busy somehow.” With that, Doc checked off the CO's name on the list.

“Had to ask, Doc,” said the CO. He then went inside and found himself a treadmill. After he started his run, the rest of his flight came in to get their workouts in. Goalie got to the treadmill next to him. “Well?”

“Doc's checking off names, I noticed,” Goalie said. “He bored or what?”

“He is. Told me that the most serious thing he's had in a few days was a sports injury-along with Digger's sprained ankle and giving our Media guests their flight physicals.”

Goalie laughed. “He waiting for an air strike or a missile attack?”

“Maybe,” Guru said. He noticed Kara on a treadmill, along with several male Marines-and even a couple of the RAF guys-glancing at her. Discretely, mind. “Need to warn the RAF fellows about not ogling Kara in the gym.”

“She does make them pay at the pool table,” said Goalie. “Or at a poker game.”

“That, too. Still, won't do good for inter-Allied relations if she decks one or two for staring at her in her sports bra.”

“There is that little thing to worry about.”


A few minutes later, as Guru and Goalie were finishing up, an Ops NCO came in. “Major? Captain Van Loan sent me to find you. He's got a mission for you.”

“When?” Guru asked as he got down from the treadmill.

“As soon as you're ready, sir.”

Goalie got down from her own treadmill. “No rest for the weary or the wicked.”

“We'll rest when we're dead,” Guru said. “Find the rest of the flight, and see if any of the RAF people are going with us. Get showered up, then in the briefing room.”

“When?”

“In twenty.”

“On my way.”


Guru went and took a quick shower, changed back into his flight suit, then went to the Ops Office. The Ops Officer was there waiting for him. “Don,” he nodded. “You've got a mission for me?”

“That I do, Boss,” Van Loan replied, handing the CO a briefing packet. “Hamilton Municipal Airport.”

Guru scanned the cover letter. “Okay...'Local field supporting light transport, helicopter, and..'” He looked at his Ops Officer. “Su-25 FOL. Nice.”

“Four-ship for strike, and two of the Brits for TARCAP. No Dave or Flossy,” Van Loan said. “Sorry, Boss, but they've got their own.”

“Okay,” Guru said. “You be careful, now. Treat your last one like it's your first for the day. Remember what General Olds said about complacency?”

“Took it to heart, Boss. It kills, and we all know it.”

“Good. Don't want to break Kara in as Ops,” Guru said.

Just then, the object of that conversation came in. “Boss, everybody's in the briefing room,” said Kara.

“On my way,” Guru said. “Good luck, Don.”

“You too, Boss.”

Guru and Kara then went to their flight's briefing room. The crews were there, along with Flight Lts. Karen McKay and Ian Black, and their GIBs. “All right, folks, we've got our last one for today.”

“Where we going?” Sweaty asked.

“Hamilton,” Guru said. He opened the packet and found a TPC chart. “Right here, forty-one miles south of Stephenville on U.S. 281. We're going for the municipal airport, two miles south of the town proper, which is being used by light transports-think An-2s, An-24s or -26s, and L-410s; plus helos, and is also a Su-25 FOL.”

“So how do we get there?” Hoser asked.

“Tanker Track CHEVRON at Mineral Wells, then we get our asses down low, and follow the Brazos River.” Guru tapped on the map, then went on. “For the benefit of our British friends, the Brazos divides two Army-sized units. West of the Brazos is the East Germans, and on the East side? Nicaraguans and in their rear, Libyans.”

Kara asked, “How far south?”

“Down to Lake Whitney, until about a mile short of the dam, and we avoid the flak at the dam, but no avoiding the flak at Lake Granbury Dam, or at the bridges.”

“East Germans shoot at us, but the Nicaraguans don't,” Brainiac said. “Unless they're the ones being hit. Libyans do, and they shoot a lot.”

“Got it,” Karen McKay said.

“Going on,” said Guru.” Once we clear Lake Whitney, we go southwest, south of Clifton, then keep going. Cross State Route 36 near Jonesboro, then hit the town of Evant, at the U.S. 84/281 intersection. Turn north, and thirty seconds later-eight miles-is a bridge over a creek-it's really a small river, but it's listed as a creek.”

Hoser asked, “That's the pop-up point?”

“It is,” Guru said. “Climb up, get eyeballs on target, and make your runs. When you do your post-strike jinking, make sure your last jink takes you northwest, and head for Proctor Lake. Turn north and get to Lake Comfort, then the I-20 and the FLOT.”

“Got it,” replied Sweaty. “Defenses?”

“Coming to that,” the CO said. “At the target, it's a mix of 23-mm ZU-23s, and WW II-era 37-mm for the flak, plus guys with MANPADS. Now, this is a crossroads town, so there's the likelihood of a supply convoy passing through or staying the night, and they do have their own air-defense assets. Anything from gun trucks to ZSU-23s, and MANPADS at least, if not SA-9 or -13.”

“Intel's full of good news today,” Goalie quipped.

“Who gets what?” Kara asked.

“You and I get the ramp areas,” Guru said. He had a copy of an FAA airport diagram. “They're not here prewar, other than a small spot here. But Ivan or somebody's added more ramp space. I'll take the north side, you the south. We'll have a dozen Rockeyes each for that.”

“What about me and Hoser?” Sweaty wanted to know.

“Sweaty? You get Ivan's improvised hangars, here, east of the ramp area,” Guru said, tapping a photo that had to have come from an RF-4C, but he had no way of knowing. “Hoser? Get the runway. Both of you will have Mark-82 Snakeyes-an even dozen. Everybody's also got full air-to-air.” That was four AIM-9Ps, two AIM-7Fs, two 370 gallon wing tanks, an ALQ-119 or 101 ECM pod, and full 20-mm.

“MiG threat?” Karen McKay asked. “We'll have four AIM-9Ls, four Sky Flash, two wing tanks and a SUU-23 gun pod.”

“Good question. You two,” Guru said, nodding at both McKay and Black. “Set up a TARCAP. Kill anyone flying, and be ready to do nasty things to party-crashers. MiG-29s are not just at San Angelo or Goodfellow, but also at Gray AAF and Bergstrom. MiG-21s and -23s are at Waco Regional, James Connally AFB at Waco, Temple Regional, Gray AAF, and Bergstrom.”

“Which is where the Flankers are,” Brainiac nodded. “Swell.”

“It is, and it sure isn't,” Guru admitted. “Other than that, weather and bailout areas are unchanged. And there's one other thing.”

“Boss?” KT said.

“Complacency,” Guru reminded them. “This may be our last one, but we treat it like it's the first. Consider these guys-whether Russians or East Germans-as if they're Cat I with all the bells and whistles. Complacency kills, so keep that in mind,” the CO said with due seriousness.

“Loud and clear, Major,” Kara replied, and everyone knew that when Guru was addressed by his rank, they were just as serious.

Guru nodded. “Good. Anything else?”

“Buddy's awake,” Goalie said, nodding at the squadron's mascot. The dog was sitting up, and paying attention to the brief. “That's a first for us.”

“You sound like it's a bad omen,” McKay said.

“It can be,” Kara replied. “Just like another dog in Southeast Asia, if he sleeps through the brief, it's going to be an easy ride. If he wakes up and pays attention, watch out.”

Heads nodded at that. “Last time he did,” Sweaty said. “We had two birds go down with three rescued and one crew member KIA.” She was recalling Razor and Revlon's shootdown, and right after that, Hoser and KT had gone down as well.

“Could be a false alarm,” Guru said as an Ops NCO appeared at the door to collect the briefing materials. “If that's it, gear up and meet at 512.”

The crews headed to the locker rooms to gear up. Guru went to the Men's Locker Room, got into his G-suit and survival vest, and collected his helmet. When he came out, Goalie was waiting, similarly geared up. She asked, “You ready?”

“Ready, and hope Buddy's waking up was a false alarm. Not in the mood for any letter-writing.”

“Don't blame you for that,” Goalie said as they went outside.

When they did, both found Dave Golen, Flossy, and their GIBs, Terry McAuliffe and Jang, getting ready for their own mission. “Dave,” Guru said. “You getting ready?”

Their IDF “Observer” nodded. “Just getting set. You still Rambler Flight?”

“We are,” Guru said. “You still Mustang?”

Golen nodded. “Where are you going?”

“Town called Hamilton, south of Hico.”

“That's where we're headed. If you hit MiGs, call out and we'll be there.”

“Same for you,” Guru said. “We'll bring the Brits.”

Flossy grinned. “More the merrier,” she said.

“It is that,” Guru said. “You be careful,” he told Golen. “Don't get complacent.”

“Which kills,” Golen nodded. He knew what the CO meant, having had it drummed into his head in '73, '82, and in this one. “The same to you, and good luck.”

“Likewise,” Guru said, shaking Golen's hand. “Good luck, and be careful.”

“Will do.”

Guru and Goalie then went to the squadron's dispersal, and found 512's revetment, with the flight crews waiting. “Okay, folks. Gather 'round.” He was ready with his final instructions.

“Usual on the radio?” Kara asked.

“It is, and that should be familiar by now to our Brit friends,” Guru said, nodding at McKay, Black, and their GIBs. Mission code to AWACS and others, call signs between them.

“It is,” McKay said, and Black, along with the GIBs, nodded.

“Good. Now, remember what I said about complacency., and let's make it count. Now, if you see basketball-sized tracers coming at the target? That's ZSU-30-2, and those are bad news. Abort. If you see 'em before or after the target? Evade, and note the location.”

Heads nodded. All of the USAF crews knew what ZSU-30 meant, and though they hadn't faced them, the RAF crews knew it was bad news. “Gotcha, Boss,” Kara said.

“Good. We've got an hour and a half of daylight left, so let's get this done,” Guru told them. “Let's hit it. Mount up and meet at ten grand overhead.”

The crews headed to their aircraft, and Guru and Goalie went into the revetment and 512, where Sergeant Crowley, the Crew Chief, was waiting. He snapped a perfect salute, and both CO and GIB returned it. “Major, Lieutenant?” Crowley said. “Five-twelve's ready to rock and kick some more Commie ass.”

“Good to know, Sergeant,” Guru said. He and Goalie did their preflight walk-around, then climbed the ladder and mounted the aircraft. After getting strapped in, they did the preflight checklist. “Hope Buddy being awake was a false alarm,” Guru said.

“Here's hoping,” Goalie replied. “Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom. Check yours,” Guru replied. “You're not the only one feeling that way. Arnie?”

“Arnie's all set, and so is the INS,” Goalie said. She meant the ARN-101 DMAS and the INS system. “Preflight complete and ready for engine start.”

“It is, and we are,” Guru said. He gave a thumbs-up to Crowley, who gave the “Start engines” signal. One, then two J-79 engines were soon up and running. Once the warm-up was complete, Guru called the tower. “Tower, Rambler Lead with six, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Rambler Lead, Tower,” the controller replied. “Clear to taxi to Runway Three-three Lima, Hold prior to the Active, and you are number three in line.”

“Roger, Tower. Rambler Lead rolling.” Guru gave another thumbs-up to Crowley, who waved to the ground crew. The chocks were pulled away from the wheels, and then Guru released the brakes. Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal, and Guru taxied 512 out of the revetment. When clear, Crowley snapped another salute, and both Guru and Goalie returned it.

Guru then taxied 512 to the Active, with the others in the flight following. When they got to the Active, there was a C-130 departing first, then a 335th two-ship, which he recognized as Dave Golen and Flossy, then a four-ship of Marine Hornets. When the Marines taxied onto the runway, Guru's flight taxied into the holding area, where the armorers removed the weapon safeties. Once the Hornets had launched, it was their turn. “Tower, Rambler Lead requesting taxi for takeoff.”

The controller replied immediately. “Rambler Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are Two-six-seven for ten.”

“Roger, Tower,” Guru said. He taxied 512 onto the runway, and Kara in 520 followed suit, getting into his Five O'clock position. Guru glanced over, and saw Kara and Brainiac give a thumbs-up. He and Goalie returned it, and did a final cockpit check. All was ready. “Tower, Rambler Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

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

“Canopy coming down,” Guru said, pulling down his canopy and locking it.

“All set,” Goalie said. Hers was down as well. “Ready back here.”

Guru glanced at 520, which was also ready. “Then let's go.” He applied full power, released the brakes, and 512 rumbled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right with him. Thirty seconds later, it was Sweaty and Hoser's turn, and after that, McKay and Black's. The flight formed up at FL 100 and headed south for the tanker rendezvous, and after that, enemy territory.
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