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Old 03-25-2020, 10:09 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Part II: the reporter and cameraman get their "Check Ride":



Over the Texas Panhandle, 1420 Hours Central War Time:


The two F-4s that made up Corvette Flight were headed west as they entered the old Scud Box. Bounded by Childress, Tulia, Abernathy, and Paducah, this had been one of Ivan's favorite Scud launch areas during the interval between PRAIRIE FIRE I and II that summer, and the 335th had spent a lot of time and effort, along with at least one crew, hunting Scuds. They had done the job, not always successfully, the pilots told their backseat passengers. Lots of places to hide in the day, and the bad guys were doing the old “Shoot and scoot” firing technique. Then there had been the air-to-air action, along with their usual strikes into the enemy rear.

“Wasn't this where you got your gun kill?” Trevor Scott, the cameraman, asked from 512's back seat.

“Who told you?” Major Matt Wiser asked. “You guys weren't with us then.”

“Sweaty and Hoser told us,” Jana Wendt called from 520. “They gave us the lowdown on what you guys did out here.”

In that bird's pilot seat, Captain Kara Thrace shook her head. “Figures,” she muttered. “Well, yeah, we did some air-to-air.”

“And she made ace out here,” Major Wiser replied. “Though her post-ace celebration was...memorable.”

“Guru, don't you start that story,” Kara shot back with mock indignation. “We're on an open channel here.”

“What happened?” Wendt asked. “If it's as naughty as you say, we can't air it.”

Kara shook her head. Might as well tell my version. “Well, I got a little drunk.”

“More than a little, I'll say,” Guru chimed in.

“Hey, this is MY story, okay?” Kara said. “I took a few guys to the supply tent to celebrate, then they found me the next morning.”

“As naked as the day she was born,” Guru quipped. “More than slightly drunk, sitting in the front seat of an F-4, and having puked all over the cockpit of said airplane.”

Wendt was surprised. “Not yours, I hope?”

“No, and before you ask, not the CO's, either,” Guru said. “It was that snotty Major we've all had problems with.”

“And his ground crew had to clean it up,” Kara added.

“They did,” Guru said. He checked his map, looked outside and below, then nodded. They were there. “All right, this is the Scud Box. Two, let's get down low, show our guests some of our old stomping grounds, then do some turnin' and burnin'.”

Music to my ears, Kara thought. “Let's do it. Hang on, Ms. Wendt, and you're about to have the most fun you'll ever have with your clothes on.”

“Oh, shit,” Jana Wendt muttered, then she pulled an airsickness bag from one of her flight suit pockets. The other female pilots and backseaters-GIBs they called themselves-”Girls in Back”-had told her to stuff her pockets with those bags. If she was going to fly with Kara, they had said, you'll need every last one you can find.

“Ready Mr. Scott?” Guru asked.

“Camera's ready,” Scott replied. “Let's go.”

Guru smiled beneath his oxygen mask. “Glad to oblige.” He then turned 512 into a hard diving left turn. “Follow me, Two.”

“With you,” Kara replied. “Like I said, hang on.” Then Kara followed the CO's bird down.

“Oh, shit,” Ms. Wendt said, holding onto the airsickness bag with one hand, and her camera with the other.

Guru and Kara went down low, down to 2500 Feet, then pulled up. After doing that, they went through some basic ACT maneuvering, then some barrel rolls, high and low yo-yos, even a couple of rolling scissors-one vertical, one horizontal.

“How do you like it, Mr. Scott?” Guru asked as they finished the horizontal scissors.

“Haven't had to use one of these bags,” the cameraman replied cheerfully. “I'm having a ball.”

“Getting some good footage?”

“You'll like it,” Scott said. “Jana, how's things over there?”

In 520's back seat, Ms. Wendt was groping for an empty airsickness bag. She had used several already. “Hanging in there,” she said, trying to be as stoic as possible, despite the queasiness in her stomach . She knew these fighter pilots were still hoping that they'd be able to scare her back to reporting on the war from CBS in Los Angeles, and she wasn't going to give them that pleasure, the CO's previous remarks notwithstanding. “You guys do this every day.”

“All the time,” Kara replied. “Boss, what's next?”

“You do the honors,” Guru said. “Show a SAM break. I'll call it.”

“Ready.”

“Roger that,” Guru said. He thought for a moment, then called. “SAM, Five O'clock.”

Without hesitating, Kara pulled sharply high and to the right, then she came around in a 180, before rolling back in. “How'd you like that?”

“How many Gs was that?” Ms. Wendt asked, trying not to throw up.

“Oh, only six,” Kara said.

Only six? It felt like six hundred, the reporter thought. “I'll take your word for it.” She reached for another bag-and saw she only had two left. Careful, now...

In 512, Guru grinned beneath his oxygen mask. If she's getting sick, good. Now they'll know what we do day in and day out. “Your turn, Mr. Scott,” he told the cameraman. “Ready?”

“When you are, Major,” Scott replied, getting ready to film.

“Kara, call it,” Guru said.

“Roger, Lead.” Kara thought for a second or two, then she made the call. “Lead, SAM, Eight O'clock!”

Guru pulled high and to the left, putting the F-4 into a turn that was high and tight, rolling inverted as he did. He rolled back, did a 180, then came in to join up on 520. “How was that, Mr. Scott?”

“Loved it,” Scott called back. Beneath his oxygen mask, he had a grin from ear to ear. “This is great!”

“Not so great when they're shooting at you,” Guru reminded him-and Ms. Wendt as well. “Watched a CO get killed on me, two weeks into the war,” he said. “Called the SAM, and next thing I see is that his bird's a fireball. Nobody got out.”

“Ugh,” Scott said.

“Yeah. Happened twice in those days, losing the CO, and lost an XO, too-on Day One. Those early days were rough.” Enough of that, the CO decided. “Two, let's get back down low. Show our guests some of our old targets.” Then Guru took 512 back down low.

“My pleasure,” Kara said. “Hang on again, Ms. Wendt,” she said as she followed the CO.

“Oh, God,” Wendt muttered as she reached for another bag as the maniac in the front seat-or so it seemed-took the fighter down.

They flew around for a few minutes, showing the reporters two of their old Scud targets, and a helo field that still had wrecked helicopters still sitting where they had been blasted. “When we did a Scud Hunt out here?” Guru said. “We also had other targets, if we couldn't find what we were looking for.

“You mean that chopper field?” Scott asked.

“No, that was a preplanned strike, but there were plenty of opportunity targets, let's put it that way.”

“If it was a military target out here,” Kara added. “Military traffic on the roads, a supply dump, truck park, and on and on. You name it, we hit it.”

“That we did,” Guru said. “Before that, we put the hurt on the bad guys retreating from Amarillo. They're still clearing wreckage from I-27 and U.S. 287. All right, now. Let's show these two an Immelmann, then stay high. Almost time to go home.”

“Right with you,” Kara said, joining up on her Lead.

“Ready...Ready.....NOW!” Guru pulled back on the stick and applied full military power. Kara did the same, and both F-4s pulled up. They went through the cloud deck, coming out at 19,000 Feet, then they split-Guru going right, and Kara going left. They leveled out just above the clouds.

“Is that it?” Ms. Wendt asked, and everyone listening could hear how shaken she was.

“It is,” Guru said. “Two, on me, and let's go home.”

“Roger that,” Kara said. She did a 180, then joined up on Guru, who then turned east towards Sheppard.

“That was interesting,” Scott said. He glanced around, then above, and something caught his eye. “Major, somebody's above us, and they're really high.”

Guru looked up, and sure enough, so high one could barely make out an aircraft, but it was there. “He's smokin',” the CO noted. The bogey-whoever he was, was going fast. “Too fast for a U-2.”

“Who is it?” Ms.Wendt asked. She couldn't pick out the aircraft, but was taking the CO's word for it.

“That high?” Kara said. “Either an SR-71 or a Foxbat recon bird. What they call a MiG-25R or RB.”

“Can you get him if you had to?” Scott wanted to know.

“Too high, and too fast,” Guru said. “Only way to nail a Foxbat in an F-4 is to jump him on takeoff-which is how I got my Foxbat kill. Or you get him on landing. Other than that? You need an F-14 or F-15.” Though a blue-suiter to the bone, he was enough of a professional to know that a Phoenix from an F-14 was the best Foxbat-killer out there. And he'd seen it happen more than once.

“Well, this has been interesting,” Scott said, looking around. All that was beneath them was clouds. “And for Jana's benefit, how do you know when we're back?”

“Just time and distance, since normally I'd have Goalie in the back seat working the nav system, but we're almost home.” Guru then took 512 down into the clouds, then came out beneath, with Kara right behind him, and the Wichita Falls area was revealed. “Here we are,” he said. Then the CO called the Tower for landing instructions.

“Major, could you have Kara come in a minute or two behind us?” Scott asked. “I should be behind the camera when she gets out.”

“Not a problem,” Guru replied. “Two, wait a couple minutes, then call the Tower and come on in.”

In 520, Kara grinned beneath her oxygen mask. “My pleasure.”

“Oh, God,” Ms. Wendt moaned. She was out of airsickness bags.

Guru heard that, and grinned himself. “All right,” he told Mr. Scott after hearing from the Tower. “We're coming in.” Guru then got into the pattern, waiting for the eastbound C-141 to land, then he made his approach and landing.

After touchdown, he taxied in, and popped his canopy. A good-sized crowd was watching: AF, Marines, Navy, and RAF. They saw him taxi into the squadron's dispersal area, then into 512's revetment. Before shutting down, he called the Tower and told them to go ahead and clear Corvette Two in.

Then he and Mr. Scott got out, and after a quick post-flight, shook hands with Sergeant Crowley, who, as usual, had a bottle of water for both. “How'd it go, sir? And for you, Mr. Scott?”

“New experience for me,” Scott replied. “I've been in helicopters, but this was totally different. There, you're packed in with a dozen or more people, and you're low and slow enough anyone can shoot at you.” And often did, he remembered from his Vietnam days, the last one a ride in a South Vietnamese CH-47 going back to Saigon from Xuan Loc two weeks before the end of that war.

“Leave that to the rotorheads,” Guru said, even though a good friend was such a driver, and had brought back two of his own after they had to bail out-a few days into being a squadron commander. Then Kara's F-4 made another flyby. “Kara's coming in. Get your camera ready.”

Scott produced his 8-mm, and both he and Guru went to watch as Kara's F-4 came in and landed. The F-4 taxied in, front canopy popped and raised, before taxiing into the squadron's dispersal area, then finding its revetment. Only after shutting down did the crowd approach, and at the lead of that was Colonel Brady.

“Major, Mr. Scott,” Brady said. “How'd it go?”

“I'll defer to Mr. Scott, sir,” Guru said.

“It was one hell of an experience, Colonel. Wouldn't mind doing it again,” Scott said. He looked at 520 as the ground crew brought the crew ladder.

“Want to do it with the Marines?” Brady asked. “Say the word, and I'll arrange it.”

“Love to, but I don't now about Jana,” the cameraman replied, nodding at 520.

“Then we'd best go see,” Brady said.

Both canopies were now open, and Kara had taken off her helmet, and both she and her Crew Chief were helping Ms. Wendt. The reporter shakily stood up, then climbed down from the Phantom. Then she got down on her hands and knees and promptly threw up! “Where's Doc?” Kara asked.

“He's comin'”, said Guru as a Dodge Crew-Cab pickup arrived, and the flight surgeon got out. “You have to arrive in style?”

The flight surgeon was cheerful. “First semi-emergency call in a while,” the sawbones replied. “And she may need a ride back to Medical.”

“Got anything?” The CO asked as they went into the revetment.

“Dramamine's right here,” Doc said, producing a bottle.

They went over as Ms. Wendt sat up, and Kara was standing over her. “You all right?”

“Like shit,” the reporter moaned. “Is that all right for you?”

“For a first-timer, it sounds good enough. Doc's here,” said Kara as the CO and the Flight Surgeon arrived.

Doc came up. “Want something for your stomach?”

Ms. Wendt nodded. “Please,” she moaned. The sawbones gave her two pills, which she swallowed, and then guzzled some water. “Thanks....”

“Was it worth it, Ms. Wendt?” Guru asked as he got there, with Colonel Brady and quite a few others behind.

“You still trying to scare me out of here?” Wendt asked as she staggered to her feet. “Told you guys I was staying. And I mean it,” she added as she staggered towards Doc's truck.

Guru nodded as Mr. Scott kept filming. “I know, but still...Had to ask.”

“You're not getting rid of me that easy,” the reporter said as Doc helped her into the right front seat of the truck. “How many Gs was that? Five million?”

Guru looked at Kara, who shrugged. “Just six,” Kara said.

Goalie came up. “She pass?”

“Just,” Guru said. He turned to Kara's crew chief. “Sarge, how many bags did she leave?”

“How many did she have?” The Staff Sergeant wanted to know.

Mr. Scott got close. “Jana, how many bags did you take?”

She moaned. “Twelve...”

“A dozen,” Guru said to the Crew Chief.

The Staff Sergeant nodded with a look of disgust on his face. “Twelve here,” he said. “Good thing she didn't puke all over the cockpit.” At least he'd have the assistant CC clean them up.

“You guys aren't scaring me out of here that easy,” Ms. Wendt said, staggering to her feet. “Besides, I've still got stories to do.”

Sweaty was standing next to Kara. “Told you,” she said.

Without a word, Kara opened a flight suit pocket and pulled out several $20 bills. She handed one to Sweaty, another to Goalie, and then Flossy, KT, the XO, Cosmo, Revlon, and a couple of others.

Then Guru, Goalie, Kara, Sweaty, Flossy, the XO, and Brainiac all got close to Ms. Wendt. “Well, Ms. Wendt, you and Mr. Scott now know what we do day in and day out,” said the CO. “With one difference.”

“What's that?” Mr. Scott asked.

“Simple,” Kara said. “Nobody was shooting at us,” she nodded. “No SAMs, no Triple-A, no MiGs. Or seeing somebody in your flight-or another friendly-turn into a fireball or having to bail out.”

Guru nodded. “And we've all seen that too many times,” he said.

“Some more than others,” Colonel Brady said. “Well, Ms. Wendt? You still want to fly with the Marines?” He was referring to a previous offer for a backseat F-4 ride with one of the two Marine F-4 squadrons in MAG-11.

“Once was enough for today,” Wendt moaned, staggering around. “I need to lie down.”

“Want to go to your quarters, or to Medical?” Doc asked.

“Whichever's closer.”

“Come on,” Doc said, taking her hand. “We'll get you to Medical, and I could give you an IV.”

“Just get me lying down, until the world stops lurching back and forth,” Ms. Wendt said as she was helped into the truck.

After the truck drove off, and people thought that Doc, at the moment, couldn't be more happier. He finally had a semi-emergency case, and was back in his element. “Doc looks like he's on Cloud Nine,” Goalie observed.

“Can you blame him?” Sweaty replied. “After that last air strike, the most he's had to do was an appendectomy.” To her, and the others, it seemed that the Doc was eager for something to happen, just to break the monotony.

“No,” Guru said. “Dave,” he turned to Squadron Leader Dave Gledhill. “You going to take her and Mr. Scott here up?”

“I think my guys and girls can show them a thing or two,” the RAF officer said. He, too, had a grin on his face.

“Anytime,” Scott grinned. “Even if Jana doesn't want to, I'm game.”

“Be careful of what you wish for,” Guru warned the cameraman. “Because you usually get it-and more, besides.”

“All right, people!” Colonel Brady said. “Still got some time before we can knock off.”

As the crowd broke up, Guru went to his PAO, Lieutenant Patti Brown. “Patti, you guys get your pictures?”

The PAO turned to the airman who was the squadron's photographer, and he had a camcorder in hand. The airman nodded, and gestured to one of the sergeants in the PAO shop, who had a 35-mm camera as well. “Got all we need, Major,” Brown said. “We'll share it with the newsies, and one of the guys wants to do an article for Airman.”

“Good,” the CO nodded as Goalie came up. “Get what you need?”

“Twenty years from now, if we're all still alive, we'll have a field day with these,” she grinned, having borrowed Kara's own camcorder.

The CO grinned, but then turned serious. “First we have to get to the 'after the war', first,” he pointed out. “That caveat is in force.”

“Isn't that the truth?” Goalie asked. “At least my IN box is empty.” Though only a First Lieutenant, she was Senior WSO.

“Lucky you,” Guru said. “Okay, make sure it's empty. I need to check mine, get one of the newbies in as SDO as Digger should be cleared, and pair him up with another newbie.”

“Still pairing old hands with FNGs?”

“Yep,” Guru replied. “That has a habit of keeping said FNG alive. When I can't pair old and new, we lose people.”

“Sad, but true,” Goalie admitted. “You still need to slay the armchair warriors?” She had developed a loathing for the AF bureaucracy, and she also knew that the CO had done the same.

“Unfortunately,” said Guru. “I'll see you in the Club.”


After Guru returned to his office, he found a few things in his IN box. Mostly memos about matters that might make sense-to someone flying a desk, but not to him-or anyone else flying combat. Shaking his head at one memo that was critical of “excessive expenditure of flares, either for IR deception or for night illumination”, he couldn't shred them, but instead simply filed them. One of these days, when either General Tanner, or better yet, Sundown Cunningham, paid a visit, Guru vowed to show the offending paperwork to the generals, and hopefully, said paper-pushers would get a royal ass-kicking, preferably followed by a trip to the front lines or up north to shovel snow at someplace like Gander or K.I. Sawyer.

After finishing the papers, he got up and took a look outside his office. While combat ops had not yet resumed, the transports were busy-with the eastbound C-141 taking off, having unloaded its cargo, and a C-130 was coming in, along with what looked like a Special-Ops MC-130 getting ready to depart. The “Snake-eaters” were always busy, and whatever they were up to, no one outside their compound, which included the old SAC Molehole, had any “need to know.” Whatever they did to put the hurt on the bad guys and make Ivan's life behind the lines miserable, all power to 'em, the CO thought. Then there was a knock on the door. “Yeah? Come in and show yourself!”

The XO opened the door. “Boss, got a couple of things for you before we knock off.”

“What have you got for me?” Asked the CO.

“First, all twenty-four birds are going to be up and ready in the morning.”

Guru thought for a minute. “Well, now. Last time we had that?”

“Yeah?”

“You, me, and Don were at Nellis. Day One.”

“That is something,” the XO admitted. “And crews?”

“I'm going to put Digger in with an FNG-and the same goes for Hacksaw when he's cleared. If we put vets with FNGs, the survival rate goes up,” Guru said, reminding the XO of a bitter truth.

“And if a crew is all newbies, they have, what, a fifty-fifty chance of not making it to ten missions,” Ellis nodded. It wasn't a question.

The CO nodded back. “Ain't that the sorry truth? All right, that's done. What else?”

“Weather update. Not quite CAVU tomorrow, but close,” the XO said as he handed Guru the weather report.

“Okay...Partly to mostly sunny, highs in the mid-60s,” Guru read the weather summary out loud. “Cloud base 12,000 to 15,000. Tops out at 20. The stand-down was fun while it lasted.”

“It was,” said Ellis. “Eastbound C-141 brought the newspapers, and everything on our supply list. Kev O'Donnell's pretty happy: two new ejection seats, radar parts, hydraulic fluid, brake fluid, engine oil, and the scroungers also came through.”

“As in?”

“Two dozen new Paveway kits.” Paveway meant laser-guided bombs. “All for GBU-10.”

“More UNODIR, if necessary,” Guru smiled. More laser bomb strikes-if they couldn't get any in the ATO, they would pull assigned ordnance and hit a point target with Paveways-Unless Otherwise Directed. “General Olds did give us the go-ahead for that.”

“He did. One other thing: Ryan Blanchard's CSPs found somebody in a hideout northeast of the base. Found the guy in what was a bombed-out house about five hundred yards north of Runway 17L. They caught him trying to get into the storm cellar-and he shot it out.”

Guru wasn't surprised at hearing the news. There was still an active Spetsnatz and PSD threat to the base, and though a PSD agent had been caught during General Olds' time on base-and later executed, the threat was still there. “They take him alive?”

“No. Ryan's people shot him full of holes.”

“They saved the OSI and Army Counterintelligence people a couple weeks' worth of work,” the CO observed dryly. “Find anything?”

“Yeah, he had two AK rifles along with the one he tried to use,” Ellis said. “Plus some explosives, timers, and so on. Plus a shortwave radio, one-time pad, a notepad, and a map of the base. Problem with the latter two? The notes in the pad and on the map are in shorthand, and it'll take some work to figure out what kind.”

“Too bad,” said Guru. “Because you can't interrogate a corpse. Anything else?”

“Aircraft status report,” Ellis replied, handing the CO the form.

Guru signed it, then asked, “That it?”

“That it is.”

“Okay,” Guru nodded. “Thoughts on this afternoon's excitement?”

The XO thought for a minute. “No way did we scare her back to Nellis or L.A.. If we did, she would've been telling her people to pack the minute she staggered to her feet.”

“I'll go along with that. She still wants to fly with the Marines, and maybe the RAF now,” said Guru. “She's made of more sterner stuff than we thought. If that Su-24 strike didn't prove that, this did.” The CO was recalling the last air strike, and Ms. Wendt had disdained the shelters, instead, going out and filming-as the strike came in. Her only regret, she had said to their temporary PAO, that they weren't on the air live.

“Looks like it. We may have turned her into an adrenalin junkie. If she wasn't when she got here, she's one now,” Ellis pointed out.

Guru winced, but knew the XO was right. “She told us she was staying back when General Olds was here. This was her way of proving it.” The CO looked at the clock. It read 1702. “Anything else?”

“Not until morning,” said Ellis.

“Good,” Guru said, standing up and grabbing his bush hat. “Then let's hit the Club.”
__________________
Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, but always have a plan to kill them.

Old USMC Adage
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  #542  
Old 03-25-2020, 10:18 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And the day comes to an end in the Club:



Officer's Club Tent, Sheppard AFB, TX: 1710 Hours Central War Time:


When the CO and XO arrived at the O-Club, the place was already buzzing. With Ms. Wendt's “Check Ride” over and done, and with the stand-down coming to an end, everybody was in a good mood. Even though with the latter, and getting back into combat as a result, it was what the crews had signed up to do. The two got to the bar, and found Smitty, the barkeep, there as usual. “Smitty,” Major Wiser said. “What have you got tonight?”

“No Sam Adams, Major, but I've got the usual suspects,” the barkeep replied cheerfully. “Heard you took the newsies up.”

“Had the cameraman,” Guru replied. “Bud for me.” He saw the XO nod. “And one for the exec.”

“Comin' up,” Smitty said, then he produced the two beer bottles.

“Thanks, Smitty,” the CO nodded. He paid the barkeep, took a drink, then said to the XO, “That was an interesting day.”

Ellis nodded. “It sure was, Boss,” he said. “Even if we didn't scare that reporter back to Nellis or L.A..”

“Were you guys trying to do that?” Smitty asked. “Word's gone around that's what you had in mind.”

“There was that chance,” Guru admitted. Just then, Ms. Wendt came in, with Goalie, Sweaty, KT, Flossy, Jang, and a couple other female aircrew. “Looks like she's recovered,” the CO observed.

“Looks like it,” Ellis said, noting the hand-waving going on, and the reporter nodding as if she understood. “We're stuck with her.”

Guru took another pull on his beer. “That we are.”

Colonel Brady came up, with the “Two Daves,” Dave Golen and Dave Gledhill. “Major,” the MAG-11 CO nodded. “How's our reporter?”

“Have a look for yourself, sir,” Guru said, gesturing in the reporter's direction. “I'd say she's recovered somewhat.”

“Give her a few days, then I'll see about getting her a ride with the Marines,” Brady said.

“And us,” Dave Gledhill replied. “Why'd she ride with you guys?” He asked Guru.

“She wanted to ride with me at first,” Guru said. “Then I told her if you're going up with us, you're riding with the best I have.”

“And Kara showed her,” Gledhill finished.

“She did,” said Guru. “Kara flew her bird like she had just stolen it, but then again, we all do.”

Both Brady and Gledhill nodded. “Keeps us alive,” the MAG-11 CO noted.

“It does that,” Gledhill agreed.


A few minutes later, people started to congregate at their usual tables, and when Guru got to his, he found Goalie, Kara, Braniac, Hoser, KT, Sweaty, and the others either there, or coming. “Well?” Guru asked his wingmate. “You gave it your all.”

“I did,” Kara admitted. “Not only didn't I scare her onto the next westbound C-130 or -141, but she's now got rides coming with the Jarheads and the RAF.”

“And you had a pool, I noticed,” the CO observed. He wasn't surprised at all.

“She did,” Goalie said.

Kara nodded. “And I paid up,” she said.

Then Don Van Loan came over. “Boss, here's the papers.”

L.A. Times for me, and Orange County Register for Goalie,” Guru said.

“Here you are, and who wants USA Today or Stars and Stripes?”

“I'll take USA,” Sweaty said.

“Then I'll settle for Stars and Stripes,” Kara said. Though everyone did share, so when she got her copy, she passed the sports section to Hoser.

“I'm not a California boy,” Van Loan said, but I did get to like the L.A. Times while we were at Williams.”

“Okay, Don?” Guru said. “A little business before you go. I'm going to pair up Digger with a new pilot. Flossy and Jang have clicked as a crew, and now that's happened...”

“You don't want to break them up,” the Ops Officer finished. “Who does Digger pair up with?”

“Haven't decided yet. We'll talk it over tomorrow, and the day after, they start flying.”

“Fair enough,” Van Loan said.

“All right, Don, thanks,” said the CO.

“Anytime,” the Ops said, then he went to his table.

Sweaty looked at her CO and flight lead. “When do you go to Nellis?”

Guru shrugged. “Haven't had a call or message from General Tanner telling me to come to Nellis. When I do, I'm supposed to bring Goalie and all of the planning material. Such as it is.”

“When we flew that strike the day or two before PRAIRIE FIRE-the one we really can't talk about?” Goalie said, and she saw heads nod at that. They all had flown the mission. “We had everything we needed. Here, though, we've got diddly shit.”

“So when you do go, Mark's in charge, not Frank?” Kara asked.

“Exactly,” Guru replied. “Mark's the XO, he runs the show while I'm gone. Frank can bitch about it all he wants, but that's the way it is.”

Then the restaurateurs who ran MAG-11's mess came in. “Folks, we've got Tex-Mex style chicken, or Chicken-fried Steaks-they're Bison, though. Come and get it.”

After people got what they wanted, the CBS Evening News came on AFN. “Good evening from Los Angeles,” Walter Cronkite began. The big news today comes from overseas, where a new Italian government, formed after the assassination of the Italian Prime Minister, has denounced the previous government's neutralist policy, and has vowed a crackdown on the Red Brigades terrorist group.” The network's Rome correspondent came on, with images of protests both pro- and anti-neutralist, and several suspects in the murder of the Prime Minister being hauled into paddy wagons.

“Sources in Rome say that the new Prime Minister, Benito Craxi, is expected to visit Philadelphia in the coming weeks, and meet with President Bush. Though Italy is not expecting to join the war, this is one more nail in the European neutralists' coalition.”

“Well, now,” Preacher said. “About damned time.”

“Who's left?” Kerry Collins asked.

“The big one's West Germany,” Sin Licon, the SIO, said. “That Bundeswehr exercise is still going, and chances are, it won't be long.”

“Until the coup,” Colonel Brady said.

“Yes, sir,” Licon replied. “Until the coup.”

“Then the rest of those rats fall into line,” Flossy spat.

“In West Germany,” Cronkite continued, “continued protests against the Green Coalition's neutralist stance continue, with over 200,000 reported in Hamburg, 100,000 in Munich, and the same number in both Cologne and Frankfurt. Former Chancellors Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt both spoke in Hamburg, calling for the end of the neutralist government and an end to 'Soviet and Eastern manipulation of the government', a direct slap at the Soviets and East Germans.”

“That's balls right there,” Dave Golen noted. “That's what, the second time he's called for a coup?”

“Think so,” Hoser said.

Guru put down his fork and checked the L.A. Times again. “That Bundeswehr exercise is still going.”

“They're getting ready,” Jang said, and heads nodded at that.

“The only questions are when, and how bloody does it get,” Dave Gledhill noted.

Sin Licon nodded agreement. “That's about the size of it, sir.”

The broadcast continued, with a report from just north of the Alberta-Montana border, where the battle lines had remained stalemated since late 1985. “Glad we're not up there?” Kara asked. “Know a few people who did go North.”

“Definitely,” the CO said.

Then a report from Ms. Wendt came. “In Texas, an Air Force squadron has an unusual member,” Cronkite said to open the report. “Jana Wendt, from our sister network 9 News Australia, has the story.”

“Here, at a base in the liberated area of Texas, this Air Force squadron has an unusual officer. He has four legs, but a heart of gold, as pilots and crew go out and come back from missions.” Then footage of Buddy, the Golden Lab who was the 335th's mascot, ran, as the dog went to meet crews coming back from a mission. And also footage of the dog in a mission brief (supplied by the PAO). “They say that if Buddy sleeps through a briefing, it's going to be an easy one. If he stays alert, they say? Watch out.” That was followed by the footage of Buddy's being given his honorary Captain's commission. “He's so beloved, this unit made him an honorary Captain. A little morale boost for men and women who fly and fight every day, and for those who keep the squadron's aircraft flying. Jana Wendt, CBS News, with the U.S. Air Force, somewhere in Texas.” The report concluded with the dog in her lap, licking her all over.

“Not bad,” Colonel Brady said. “You did good, Ms. Wendt.”

“As opposed to today?” She asked, her appetite seeming normal. “When we shot that segment, the most I had to worry about was dog hair and being licked to death.”

“When are you doing your piece about your backseat ride?” Guru said in jest, then Buddy let out a bark.

“In a few days, Major,” the reporter said. “I still need to talk to the Day One people.”

Guru, Mark Ellis, Don Van Loan, and several others knew what she meant. A piece on those who had flown on Day One was on order, and getting that story out-especially to her parent network down in Australia, was important. For Australians, Day One was just a horrible story they had seen on the news, but for ten of those in the 335th who were in the tent, that had been the first day of what was turning out to be a long war.

“Just say when,” Lieutenant Patti Brown, the PAO, said.

“I'll let you know,” Ms. Wendt replied.


After a story about a Trans-Pacific convoy, and a look at how Major League Baseball was preparing for the postwar world, whenever that time came, the broadcast wrapped. “And that's the way it is,” Cronkite finished. “For all of us at CBS News, good night.”

“Slow day,” Dave Gledhill commented.

“There were days like this in World War II,” Guru said. “Not much happening either way.”

Heads nodded, then Kerry Collins said, “Tomorrow's a new story.”

“It is,” Don Van Loan nodded.

With that, and AFN airing a rerun of a Detroit Lions-Chicago Bears game from 1984, Kara got up, got another beer, and went to hold court at the pool table. “Won't be long until Twelve-hour kicks in,” Preacher said.

“Yeah,” the CO agreed. “Still, time to eat, drink, and be merry....”

“For tomorrow, they may not separate us from the rest of the airplane,” KT finished.

“Ain't that the truth?” Guru asked. “Since we're up to twenty-four birds, we're overdue for somebody's taking the big hit.”

“Heaven forbid,” said Preacher. The ex-seminary student said a silent prayer, hoping that event wouldn't come for a few days.

Guru nodded. “Well, Flossy and Jang are going to stay together.”

“Digger getting a new pilot?” Goalie asked. Being Senior WSO, that was something that concerned her. She saw Guru nod, then went on. “Well, if it keeps you from writing a letter in the next few days...”

“Of course, the letter you don't want to write above all is to Frank's Dad, then finding out some Senate or Congressional staffer is coming to see what happened,” Hoser said.

“Both can be graded as correct,” said Guru.

Eyes turned to Kara, who was holding court at the pool table. She easily dispatched a Marine Hornet driver, then two of the Special-Ops MC-130 guys, then came Susan Napier. Both combatants laid down their money, then went at it. This time, the RAF pilot's skills were superior, and Kara smiled, nodded, paid the $50.00, then came over to the table. “Well?” Sweaty asked.

Kara shook her head. “Where'd she learn to play like that?”

“Bermuda,” Dave Gledhill answered. “One way to kill time sitting QRA was the pool table, only we didn't play for money.”

“Figures,” Kara spat. She went to the bar, got another beer, then defeated the next three who challenged her-another RAF Rockape, and two Marines.

Guru smiled. “Good to see she hasn't lost her touch.”

“Can't have that,” Goalie said.

“No.” Guru then went to get another beer, and found Doc at the bar. “Doc.”

“Boss,” Doc Waters replied. “Keeping tabs on Frank, just like you suggested.”

“Anything leap out at you?”

“No, but I'm on the lookout. So far, all he's doing is whining about not being taken seriously.”

Guru nodded. Nothing new here. “We stopped taking him seriously as a squadron when Colonel Rivers not only stripped Frank of his flight lead qualification, he made me Exec.”

“Which is what he's talking about,” Doc said. “So far, nothing that would have me violate doctor-patient privilege.”

“All right,” Guru said as Smitty handed him another beer. He paid the barkeep, then said, “Watch him like a hawk, and keep me posted.”

“Will do, Boss.”

Guru went back to the table, “Doc's keeping an eye on Frank.”

“Good,” KT said. “How long until Sundown Cunningham comes calling?” She, and just about everyone else on the base, was hoping that the Vice-Chief of Staff would come on a visit, and wind up kicking Frank's ass off base.

“No idea.”

Colonel Brady then rang the bar bell. “Fifteen minutes until Twelve-Hour! People, we had a stand-down, but still had some flying. Major Wiser and Captain Thrace of the 335th took two of our guests from Down Under up, and showed them some fighter flying.”

“At least I got her airsick,” Kara said.

“That you did,” Guru replied. “And not surprised you had a pool going.”

“Hey, I did pay up,” Kara protested.

“Which you did.”

“Well, Ms. Wendt? How'd you like your exposure to fighters?” Colonel Brady asked.

“Now that the world's stopped lurching from side to side?” Ms. Wendt replied. “I did get a little appreciation for what you people do every day.”

Mark Ellis asked, “Even with no one shooting at you?”

“Even with that.”

Colonel Brady then asked the cameraman. “How about you, Mr. Scott?”

“Wouldn't have missed it for the world,” the cameraman grinned. “More excitement than in a chopper, I'll grant you.”

“At least we can bail out,” Don Van Loan said. “If you get it in a helo, you go down with the ship.”

“Been there, did that, in Vietnam,” Scott replied. “Twice, actually. Once in '72 during the Easter Offensive, and again three weeks before Saigon fell.”

Guru nodded. “Just be glad we didn't have to bail out. Did that once, and spent five months with the Resistance.”

“Had my turn to skydive,” Brady added. “And spent five years in Hanoi.” Brady looked at both newsies. “When you two want to fly with the Marines? Just say the word and I'll arrange it.”

“We'll take you up on that, Colonel,” Ms. Wendt said. “And the RAF, too.”

“Oh, joy,” Karen McKay muttered. Flying a prissy reporter was not what she had in mind.

“Fair enough,” Dave Gledhill said.

“All right! Ten minutes to Twelve-Hour, so drink up!” Brady announced.

People finished their drinks, or tried to, before one of the Navy Flight Surgeons rang the bell. “Twelve-Hour now in effect!”

After turning in what hadn't been drunk, people switched to nonalcoholic. “Well, even if it's iced tea, 'eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow they may not separate us from the rest of the airplane,” Kara said. She was eyeballing a plate of nachos she had brought over.

“It is that,” Goalie agreed. “Game time again tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” Brainiac said. “Just as long as CAS doesn't come on the schedule.”

“Down, boy,” Guru said sharply. “If we get the call, we go. Simple as that. I don't like it any more than any of you, but if the Hogs and A-7s are busy...”

“Our turn again,” Sweaty finished.

Time went on, then Doc Waters himself rang the bar bell at 2100. “Aircrew curfew now in effect!”

Hearing that, Ryan Blanchard and Kerry Collins got up, with Ryan slinging her M-16. It was clear what they had in mind. Goalie saw that, and nodded at Guru. “Well?”

“Let's go,” Guru said. He knew what she wanted-and he was in the mood. “See you all in the morning. Bright and early, Zero-six hundred. For another day closer to the Rio Grande.”

“Night, Boss,” Kara said. She could tell what both had in mind.

Guru and Goalie went into Officer Country and found the CO's tent. Guru opened his ice chest, pulling out a bottle of 7-Up. “Nightcap?”

“Later,” Goalie said. She got out of her flight suit, and as before on such occasions, there was nothing underneath. “Ready?”

Guru got out of his. “Let's go.” Then they went after each other.


The next morning, the alarm clock buzzed. Guru woke up-slowly, and saw the time. 0415. Wonderful. Little under three hours to game time. He turned, and saw Goalie's bare back facing him. How many times again did we do it? Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted. “Hey, sleepyhead. Time to get up and be human again.”

She came awake, and sat up in bed, the covers coming off her bare chest. “And good morning to you. What time is it?”

Guru nodded. “Almost Zero-Dark-Thirty.”

Goalie got up and began to dress. “No rest for the weary or the wicked. Want to bet Kara's just now kicking out her latest one-night stand?”

“No bet,” Guru said as he got up. “Game day again.”

“Yeah,” she sighed. “When we get to Nellis for that briefing? At least we'll have a night in a real bed.”
These camp beds are okay, but...Goalie thought.

“There is one small reward for briefing the brass,” Guru agreed.

“All right, see you in the chow line.”

“I'll be there,” Guru said.

After she left, he got ready to head for the shower. Though still dark outside, it wouldn't be long until breakfast at 0600, then the first mission brief, before going out on that first one of the day. And how many more until the Rio Grande? Guru thought. Too many, he knew, and not everyone would be there at the end. Time to get on with it, he said to himself as he left for the shower.
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  #543  
Old 04-04-2020, 10:46 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Guys, what would you like to see next? I have some more stories, set before this one, some fact files about ships, aircraft, armor, small arms and heavy weapons. (the T2K Small Arms Guide and Heavy Weapons Guide were very useful in prepping the latter one)

One of the stories deals with Kara making ace-and another deals with some of her wartime antics coming back in a manner that she didn't think of. Kelly Ray's POW experience is in three-one about repatriation, and two deal with a war-crimes trial and subsequent hanging of said war criminal. Another one deals with Guru's coming out of the Colorado Mountains to return to the cockpit-along with a dozen other evadees. Let me know what you want to see and I'll post 'em.
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Old 04-06-2020, 03:34 PM
cawest cawest is offline
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ahhh All?. just what ever you want to post, we will read and enjoy.
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  #545  
Old 04-06-2020, 10:17 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Okay, here goes: The first day of Operation PRAIRIE FIRE from the 335th's angle. PRAIRIE FIRE is the American counteroffensive after the Battle of Wichita that tore apart the Soviet front line in the Midwest and in the Southwest. Wichita was a failed Soviet offensive aimed at erasing a bulge in the Soviet line a la the Kursk one. The problem was that the Soviets delayed, and some intelligence work-along with Schwartzkopf's suspicions-"It's where I would attack, if I was in Marshal Kribov's shoes", as he said in his memoirs-laid the groundwork for a trap. Premier formations such as 1st Guards Tank Army, 3rd Shock Army, and 4th Guards Tank Army, were gutted as a result. The day after the Soviets called off the attack, Schwartzkopf's U.S. Fifth Army, Fourth Army in Wyoming and Colorado, and Sixth Army in New Mexico all went over to the attack.....

Note; the USAF expects to go to war and be billeted in a five-star hotel-or so the saying goes. The 335th is billeted at the Mesa Sheraton Resort, so...
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  #546  
Old 04-06-2020, 10:18 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Light the (Prairie) Fire


Williams AFB, AZ, 14 May, 1987; 1725 Hours Mountain War Time:


Captain Matt “Guru” Wiser of the 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron taxied his F-4E Phantom into its dispersal area. He and his flight had flown four missions that day, including one up to the Denver Siege Perimeter. Though there would be light enough for another forty-five minutes or so, this was the last flight of the day. After shutting down, he and his WSO, First Lieutenant Lisa Eichhorn, climbed down from the aircraft, bone tired and ready to get something to eat, and maybe have a beer in the Officer's Club, before going to their billet at the Mesa Sheraton, getting some sleep, and then going out the next morning and doing it all over again. His crew chief, Staff Sergeant Mike Crowley, was waiting for him. “Sergeant.”

“Sir,” Crowley said. “Word from Colonel Rivers, all aircrew meeting in the main briefing room. Now, Sir.”

The members of his flight looked at each other. His wingmate, Captain Kara “Starbuck” Thrace and her back-seater, Captain Judd Brewster, just rolled their eyes. Then the second element came over; First Lieutenant Valerie “Sweaty” Blanchard and her back-seater Second Lieutenant Bryan Simmonds, along with First Lieutenant Nathan West and his back-seater Second Lieutenant Kathryn Thompson. “What's going on?” Sweaty asked.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Guru said. “Let's go.”

The four crews headed on over to the squadron building, which had housed a T-37 training squadron prewar, and they went right to the main briefing room, not even bothering to get out of their G-Suits and harnesses. When they got there, they discovered the room was packed, and the CO, Lt. Col. Dean Rivers had a scowl on his face. Guru nodded to Maj. David Golen, who was an Israeli AF observer visiting the squadron. “Ever seen anything like this?”

“Once. The Yom Kippur War, on the first day, and then the day we crossed the Canal,” Golen said. He'd been a brand-new Second Lieutenant in 1973, and had nailed three MiGs during that war, and had a couple more in F-16s during the Bekaa Valley Turkey Shoot in 1982.

“Well, now that everyone's here,” Colonel Rivers said. “Especially the Exec,” nodding in Guru's direction. “Got some bad news for all of you: the twelve-hour rule is in effect, as of now. Curfew for you guys is at 2000. Wake-up is at 0300, and first wheels up tomorrow morning is at 0430.”

“What?” Starbuck said, and Guru echoed her. In fact, almost everyone was. The buzz in the room was palpable.

“Don't bother eating breakfast at billeting, because you'll eat here in the morning. The maintenance and ordnance folks will be up all night, getting your birds tweaked, and then armed,” Rivers continued. “I can't tell you guys any more than that, and this comes from Tenth Air Force. Any questions?”

“Colonel,” Guru's hand shot up. “What's this all about? Wasn't like this in the early days.”

“Can't tell you, XO,” Rivers said. Captain Wiser was the Executive Officer of the 335th. “Any other questions?” Rivers asked. He surveyed the room, then nodded. “All right. Get on over to the Sheraton, have a good dinner, get a good night's sleep, and see you in the morning. 0330.”

“Guru, what's going on?” Lieutenant Eichhorn, call sign Goalie, asked. “Something's up.”

“Yeah,” Guru said. “Go on ahead and get the debrief going. I'm going to see what this is all about.”
He then went down to see Colonel Rivers. “Sir. Can we talk?”

“My office,” Rivers said. And the two officers went to the CO's office. “Close the door, XO.”

After Guru did so, he asked “Permission to speak freely, Sir?”

“Always, Guru,” Rivers said. “Say whatever's on your mind.”

“Sir, I'm your Exec. If something's going on, I need to know about it. Especially if something happens to you,” Guru told his CO.

“I know, Guru, I know,” replied the CO. “I don't like it any more than you do, but this came from the top. Tenth Air Force. And General Tanner didn't like this either.”

And when General Tanner didn't like something, Guru knew, it had to be important. “Sir, does this have anything to do with Wichita? Or that conference you went to last week?”

“Maybe. That's all I can tell you. If anything happens to me, I'm putting together a packet with everything you need. Ross will give it to you,” the CO said. Master Sergeant Michael Ross was the squadron's senior NCO. And no one was more highly respected in the squadron than he was. The man was old enough to be the father of nearly everybody in the unit, and the enlisted airmen looked up to him as a father figure.

Guru nodded. “Yes, Sir.”

“Anything else?” Rivers asked.

“No, Sir.”

“All right; get debriefed, get something to eat, and have a good night's sleep. It'll be a busy day tomorrow.”

“Yes, Sir,” Guru said.

“Dismissed,” Rivers nodded, and Guru saluted and headed out of the office. He then headed over to the locker room, got out of his harness and G-Suit, then went to the old classroom that his flight used for briefings and debriefings.

“Well?” Goalie asked as he entered.

“No joy,” Guru told his flight. “Whatever's going on, we won't know until after the first sortie.”

“What?” Kara and Sweaty asked at once.

“They're holding this close to the chest. This might have something to do with Wichita, but Rivers wouldn't tell me any more than that.”

Sweaty looked at her flight lead. “Guru, you're the XO. Shouldn't you know what's going on?”

“That's what I told him,” Guru replied. “He told me this comes from the top, and that's higher than General Tanner. Whatever this is, security's super-tight.”

Heads nodded at that. Something was up. And whatever it was, it was important. “So when do we know?” Kara asked.

“When we come back from the first sortie.” Guru said. “Let's get the debrief done, something to eat, then get back to the Sheraton. Won't be long until 0300.”


Sheraton Mesa Resort: 0300 Mountain War Time, 15 May 1987:

The phone rang in between the two beds. Each bed's occupant reached for the phone, but only one grabbed the handle. “Yeah?”

“This is your 3:00 AM wake-up call,” the voice on the other end said.

“Thank you,” Guru said as he hung up. He quickly got out of bed, and quickly got dressed. Captain Don Van Loan, his roommate, got up as well. “Won't be long until we know what this is all about.”

'Yeah,” Van Loan, the assistant Ops Officer, said.

Both quickly shaved and brushed their teeth, then headed on out, and the hall was filled with 335th and Marine aircrews who were all headed to the base. When they left the lobby of the hotel, the buses were there, waiting. The crews got onto the buses, then were bused to the base. When they got off, they noticed there was a large amount of activity, as promised, to get the first birds off by 0430. And everyone noticed the various squadron commanders there, waiting for their people. Guru noticed Colonel Rivers. “Boss.”

“Guru,” the CO said. “You guys all have fifteen minutes to eat. Then get dressed to fly, hit your briefs, then man your aircraft. First wheels up at 0430.”

“You heard him,” Guru told the 335th crews. Then they all filed into a Marine operated mess tent. He turned to Goalie. “When's the last time you ate in a chow line?”

“Been a while. The Academy, I think,” Goalie said.

Nodding, Guru picked up a tray and silverware. He looked at the young Marine cooks. “All right, what have you guys got here?”

“Here you go, Sir,” a Marine PFC replied, taking lids off of food trays.

“Lovely,” Guru said. “Steak and scrambled eggs.” He took a steak, some scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, toast, and coffee.

“The condemned got fed a hearty meal,” Goalie quipped as she got her meal, then sat down with her pilot.

“Clear the way! Dead people walking coming through,” Kara said, and the 335th people had a good laugh at that. But they couldn't linger, for they had to be in their briefing rooms shortly. The aircrew ate quickly, then all of them, Air Force and Marine, headed to their respective squadrons to be briefed.

When the 335th's officers arrived, they were told to get ready to fly, and report to their flight briefing rooms. And when Guru and the members of his flight arrived, they found two Marine officers, both aviators, waiting. “You guys flying with us?” Guru asked.

“That's right,” the senior one, Capt. Jerry Singleton, said, introducing his wingmate, First Lt. Cory Abbott. “We're your SAM and flak suppressors.”

After introductions, Guru opened the briefing packet. “Great.”

“What?” Kara asked.

“Moriarty, along I-40. Target is just south of the town. A mix of command vehicles and dugouts.”

“What about 'em?” Sweaty asked.

Guru looked at everyone. “HQ, Soviet 13th Army.”

The room was silent for a minute. “What the hell?” Kara asked. “Someone's gone nuts.”

“Tell me about it,” Guru said. “SA-2 and SA-3 nearby, plus at least one 57-mm battery, and watch for ZU-23s as well. They have a guard battalion around the HQ, so MANPADS will be there as well.”

“So how do we do this?” Goalie asked. “We don't have any Pave Tack pods, so what are we carrying?”

“Lead element has a dozen Mark-82s, each airplane,” Guru replied. “Second element has Mark-20 Rockeyes to rip them up afterwards. We go in, low and fast, make a turn and do our run from West to East. Pop-up at thirty seconds to target, drop our ordnance, and get gone. One pass and haul ass.”

“Sounds good to me,” Sweaty said. “Usual air-to-air load?”

“Yep,” Guru replied. “Four AIM-9s-and we get Ps now, by the way, and two AIM-7Es. Usual ALQ-101 in a forwards Sparrow well and a full load of 20-mm.” He looked around. “Okay, SAM-supporession,” he said, turning to the two Marines. “I want the SA-3 site hit with HARM, and the 57 site hit as well. Then CBU what's left.”

“Got it,” Captain Singleton replied.

“Bailout areas are anyplace where there isn't a road. Stay with a cripple as long as you can. If you can hit the river, best of all” Guru said, and everyone nodded. Then there was a knock on the door. “Come on in and show yourself!”

In came First Lieutenant Darren Licon, the Squadron Intelligence Officer. “Guru, got something from the Boss.”

“What is it?”

“Stay away from the Alberquerque area is what he's telling everyone.” Licon said. “And before you ask, he told me to tell you that you'll see why when sunrise comes.”

The aircrews looked at each other. “Lovely,” Nathan West said.

“Thanks, Darren,” Guru said. He turned to the aircrews. “Anything else?” Heads shook no. “Let's hit it.”
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  #547  
Old 04-06-2020, 10:22 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The first two missions of the day:



Over occupied New Mexico, 0525 Hours Mountain War Time, 15 May 1987:


The six-ship flight was headed due east, and as they did so, the crews could see the first rays of dawn beginning to break. They were going in a little higher than usual, since the F-4s normally didn't fly night strikes, and when they had left Williams it was still pitch dark. In the lead F-4, Guru was concentrating on flying the aircraft while Goalie handled the navigation. “Approaching Highway 285, Guru. Turn point in one minute.”

“Copy,” Guru said. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Two-One,” he said. “Any threats?”

“Corvette Two-One, Crystal Palace,” the AWACS controller called back. “Negative.”

“Roger,” Guru said.

“Turn point.... Now!” Goalie called.

Guru turned the F-4 due north. Their next turn point would be I-40. Ivan was using the Interstate as a Main Supply Route, and they'd flown strikes against supply dumps and truck parks along the freeway more than once. But they had been directed not to hit any bridges on the freeway. None at all. “How long to turn?”

“One minute,” Goalie replied.

“Copy.”

“And turn.”

Guru put the aircraft into a left turn, and in the predawn twilight, picked up the twin ribbons of interstate highway. So far, it looked like I-40 was quiet. Not for long, he thought. You guys are getting a big wake-up call this morning....”Pop up?”

“One minute.”

“Corvette Flight, Lead. Switches on, radars on. Time to go to work.”

“We're hot,” Goalie called. “Stand by... and now! Pop up!”

Guru pulled up to 1500 feet AGL and he saw the town. And just to the south, there it was. All the revetments built to shelter vehicles made the target stick out like a sore thumb. He then called the two Marines. “Rattlers, go to work.”

“Roger that!” Captain Singleton called.

Both Hornets climbed further, and picked out the SA-3 site. Singleton put his HARM missile on it, and the SA-3, which had just gone from search to fire-control mode, suddenly went off the air as the HARM exploded the radar. Then the Marine element lead rolled in, and put his two Rockeye CBUs onto the SAM site, putting it out of action.

Just as the Hornet lead went in, Lieutenant Abbott rolled in on the 57-mm site. Their radar was not up, so he simply dropped his CBUs on the flak battery, ripping it apart. Then it was time for the F-4s to go in.

“Lead's in hot!” Guru called. He picked up the center of the HQ area, where a number of command vehicles were all clustered together, and all of them had antennae very prominently displayed. He lined one of them in his pipper, then hit the pickle button. “HACK!” And a dozen Mark-82 five-hundred pound bombs came off his aircraft. “Lead off safe.”

His bombs landed in the middle of the target area, and several command vehicles exploded, or were tipped over by near-misses. A number of Soviet soldiers whose vehicles had not been hit tried to start their engines, but it was too late...

“Two in hot!” Kara called. She laid down her bombs just to the south of where Guru had put his, One of her bombs happened to hit the HQ's portable generator, while another bomb landed on top of a bunker where several of the Army's staff officers were sleeping. The bunkers were built to protect against insurgent rocket or mortar attacks. Not a five-hundred pound bomb landing right on top of it....”Two's off safe.”

“Three in hot!” Sweaty yelled. She and West had a dozen CBUs, and she decided to put hers right where Guru had laid his bombs. A dozen Rockeyes came off her bird, and each CBU had 247 bomblets, ideal for ripping up armored vehicles or anything else they touched. A number of vehicles that had survived Guru's bombs were hit by the bomblets, and they fireballed. “Three's off safe.”

“Four in hot!” West said. He laid down his CBUs on where Kara had laid her bombs, and as he dropped, he noticed some flak, probably 23-mm, coming up. It was too little, too late. And like his element lead, several vehicles were hit by his CBUs, and they fireballed as well, and also caught a number of personnel out in the open, killing and wounding many. He easily outran the flak, and called, “Four off safe.”

“Copy that. Form on me, music on, and let's get the hell out of here,” Guru called. That call told everyone to turn on their jamming pods, and the four F-4s did so. The two Hornets formed up on the Phantoms, and everyone headed to the southwest. The strike birds picked up their safe-passage lane, so that the Army pukes who handled the HAWK and Patriot SAM batteries wouldn't shoot them out of the sky.

As they headed out, they all noticed something as they approached the Rio Grande. Flashes all along and behind the river. Artillery fire. And to the north, at Alberquerque's southern outskirts, it looked like something from Apocalypse Now, as the sky was full of Huey and Chinook helicopters. “What the?” Kara called over the radio.

“Wouldn't want to be there right now,” Sweaty replied. “That sky's full of choppers. And above the choppers, it's full of shells.”

“Roger that!” Guru said. “Crossing the fence.” That meant the Rio Grande. And as they did, the crews saw Army vehicles crossing the river. “Go Army...”

“This is big, Guru!” Goalie said over the intercom. “Think this is it?”

He nodded. “Maybe.” Then it was time to call the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Flight across the fence.”

“Copy,” the controller replied. “Do you need a vector to the tankers?”

“Roger that,” Guru replied.

The AWACS controller vectored them to the tanker track over the Continental Divide, and to the fighter crews, it was crowded airspace. Lots of tankers orbiting, whether KC-135s, KC-10s, or Marine KC-130s. And it seemed that there were fighters or attack birds all over, either pulling away from the tankers and headed in, or, like they were, coming out. And as usual, battle-damaged aircraft went to the head of the line, but this morning, there were only a couple. The Hornets drank from a KC-130, while the F-4s went to a KC-10 to refuel. Then they headed back to Williams. They came into the pattern and then landed, and as they taxied to their respective dispersal areas, the crews noticed a second wave was getting ready to go. It was 0615.

Guru taxied to his revetment and shut down. After he popped his canopy, he asked Goalie. “Now we'll find out what's going on.”

“Yeah,” Goalie said as the ground crew put the crew ladders in place.

Guru and Goalie climbed down from 512, then did a quick postflight inspection. Then he turned to Sergeant Crowley. “Pull the strike camera film and send it off.” As he said that, he noticed the ordnance crews bringing CBUs to 512, and the other three birds in the flight. “What the?”

“Guru,” Goalie tapped him on the shoulder. “Colonel Rivers and Licon coming.”

The CO and the SIO came over. “How'd it go?” Rivers asked. “This debrief will be out here. Because as soon as you're all turned around, you're going back out.”

“What?” Kara asked. “Sir, if you don't mind my saying this, but what's going on?”

“Now that the first wave is back, I can finally tell you guys. This is it. Operation PRAIRIE FIRE. Ivan impaled himself at Wichita, thanks to Schwartzkopf, and now, we're going to push them back. You guys probably saw the Army crossing the Rio Grande.” When he saw them nod, Rivers continued. “And they're not stopping until the Texas line at least.”

“About time,” Guru said. “So, the mission?”

“How'd it go?” Licon asked.

“No SAMs.” Guru said.

“Flak?”

“Only as I was coming in,” Nathan said. “The Marines did their job. No heavy flak, and no SAMs.”

“BDA?” Licon wanted to know.

“We hit the target area, and there were a few secondaries,” Kara said. “I saw some from Guru's bombs.”

“And some from yours,” Sweaty added. “You'll probably need the strike footage.”

“I'll have it developed ASAP,” Rivers said. “That strike was a high-priority one.”

“Yes, Sir,” Guru agreed. “Now what?”

“Get yourselves something to drink, hit the latrine, because in twenty minutes, you're going back out.”

“Sir?” Guru asked. Nothing like this had happened much since the early days.

“You're on-call CAS. Check in with III Corps' ALO, and they'll direct you to a FAC. We'll be doing this all morning, and likely all day as well,” Rivers said. “Good luck.” He then headed off with Licon to debrief another arriving flight.

“Like the early days?” Kara asked. “I've heard horror stories about those.”

“Yeah,” Guru said. “Five missions a day for the first four days. Total confusion, just find armor headed north and strike.” He shook his head at the memory. And he'd seen photos of I-19 north of Nogales, where the 335th, along with the A-10s from Davis-Monthan, had turned the interstate into a junkyard of Mexican and Cuban armor, shattered soft-skinned vehicles, and dead and maimed men.

“Better do what the Boss said,” Sweaty nodded.

Heads nodded in agreement, and they all went to do their business and get something to drink. When they came back, the crews noticed the ordnance guys hard at work. And there were numerous AF and Marine aircraft coming in and taking off. Then, fifteen minutes later, Sergeant Crowley came over to Guru. “Sir, you're ready to rock.”

“Here we go,” Kara said, getting off a parked Hummer.

Guru nodded. One thing he had noticed: no one had gotten out of their G-Suits. “Okay, this'll be short. Go by call sign, not mission code on the radio, unless you're with a FAC or an AWACS.” He saw his flight nod. “Anything else?”

“How about applying for frequent-flier miles?” Sweaty joked. And the others laughed.

“I'll take it up with the CO,” Guru laughed. “Anything else?” Heads shook no. He grabbed his flight helmet. “Time to go. Let's hit it.”

Five minutes later, the flight was taxiing to the runway, and then they launched. And this was the second mission of the day, and it was only 0705.......



Over Western New Mexico, 0815 Hours:


The flight of four F-4s was orbiting about twenty miles west of Los Lunas, on the Rio Grande. They had checked in with the Air Force Air Liaison Officer with III Corps, and had been told to wait. Guru had told the man, “We ain't got the gas to stay up here all day, fella.” But they had been told to wait. Then a call came for them.

“Corvette Two-One, Bulldog Zero-One. Contact Nail 36 for tasking,” the ALO called.

“Copy that,” Guru replied. “Nail Three-Six, Corvette Two-One, how copy?”

“Corvette Two-One, Nail Three-Six. Come on in. Tasking near Edgewood on I-40.”

“Roger that,” Guru called. “Flight, Lead. Let's go to work.” And the four Phantoms headed northeast. To everyone's surprise, their RWRs were not showing any enemy SAM or fighter radars. Something was going right, though down below, the crews could see the ground forces-in this area it was the 5th Marine Division, pushing east. As the flight cleared the Sandias, Guru noticed an A-7 orbiting. Only this one was a two-seat A-7K, now being used as a FAC platform. “Nail Three-Six, Corvette Two-One. Coming in from southwest.”

“Roger, Corvette and I see you,” the FAC called. With those smoky J-79 engines, one could see an F-4 approaching before one actually had eyeballs on the airplane.

“Roger,” Guru replied. “What's the target?”

“Armor headed south on Route 344, north of the Interstate. Tanks and Bravo-Tango-Romeos. Time to make these go away, son.” the FAC replied.

“By the sound of his voice,” Goalie said from the rear cockpit. “He's a Vietnam vet.”

“Not to mention calling me 'son',” Guru quipped. “Copy, Nail. Want to make the run northeast to southwest.”

“Your call, Corvette.”

Guru nodded. “Flight, Lead. Follow me in. Northeast to Southwest. One pass only. If you have hung ordnance, don't go around for another try.”

“Copy, Lead,” Starbuck called.

“Roger.” Sweaty.

“Copy that,” “Hoser” West.

Guru led the F-4s on their maneuver, and he watched as Nail made a run and fired a couple of rockets. The WP that resulted from the rocket impact clearly showed the target.

“Anything north of the Willie Pete is yours, Corvette.” Nail replied.

“Copy. Say threat.”

“Corvette, negative radar SAMs, but Sierra Alpha-Nines, and Shilkas.” And to prove his point, the A-7 dodged a hail of 23-mm fire coming from below.

“Copy,” Guru replied. “Set it up. Everything in one pass.”

“Got it,” Goalie said. “You're hot.

“Flight, follow me in. Lead's in hot.” And with that, Guru rolled in on the armor, still in road march.


Down below, the Soviet battalion commander was shouting at his company commanders on the radio in his command BTR.” First, there had been this no-notice order to form up and join the rest of the regiment, which was somewhere south of what the locals called 'I-40'. Second, as the battalion moved south, there had been some sniping, and some RPGs shot at their vehicles, knocking out a couple of BTR-70s and blowing the tread off a T-72. And now, this solo aircraft, which had been lurking, out of SAM range, and even daring his antiaircraft vehicles to shoot at it. Then his political officer tapped him on the shoulder. “What is it, Comrade...”

“AIRCRAFT!” The Zampolit shouted, pointing to the northeast.

“Mother of...” the Soviet Major muttered, as the lead F-4 came in and cluster bombs came off the racks.

“Gotcha!” Guru yelled as he laid his Rockeyes just north of the WP smoke. “Lead off target.”

“Two's in hot!” Kara called, seeing Guru's CBUs find targets and explode several. She picked out the trailing vehicles and selected them. Again, Rockeyes came off an F-4, and she pulled out. “Two off target.”

“Three's in hot!” Sweaty called as Kara pulled off. She decided on the middle of the column, and saw several vehicles explode as Kara's CBUs went off, and there were burning vehicles where Guru had dropped his. Steady, steady, she told herself. “HACK!” A dozen Mark-20 Rockeyes came off her aircraft.

“Disperse! Get off the road!” The battalion commander was shouting. The road ahead was blocked with burning vehicles after the first two aircraft had made their runs, Then he heard another aircraft coming in, and he was cursing his driver. “Move it, you gutless...” Then his BTR took hits, exploding around him.

“Three's off target,” Sweaty called.

“Four's in hot,” Hoser said. He simply made his run in between where Guru and Sweaty had dropped theirs, Again, CBUs came off an F-4, and he pulled up after release. “Four's off target.”

“Nail, Corvette,” Guru called. “How'd we do?”

“Corvette, Nail Three-Six. I give you one-hundred percent bombs on target. Grade Point Average Four decimal Zero. Have a nice day.”

“Roger that and thank you,” Guru replied. “Flight, let's get out of here.”

“Copy, Lead,” Kara calmly replied. Then she shouted. “LEAD! BREAK RIGHT!”

Guru broke hard right, then he saw a MiG-23 overshoot him. Then he heard Kara shouting.

“FOX TWO!” And an AIM-9P came off her Phantom, streaking like a spear into the MiG's tailpipe. The missile exploded, then the MiG became a fireball. There was no chute. “Splash!”

“Good kill, Two!' Sweaty shouted.

Guru frowned underneath his oxygen mask. Where had that MiG come from? If Kara hadn't been on the ball...”Nice shootin', Starbuck,” He called. Then he called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Two-One.”

“Corvette Two-One, Crystal Palace, go.” the controller responded.

“Crystal Palace, we just had a Flogger jump us. Where the hell did he come from?”

“Corvette, We had him about ten seconds before someone called 'Splash.'”

“Thanks a lot, buddy. He almost splashed one of us.” Guru replied, not bothering to tell the AWACS knothead he'd been the one who'd almost become someone's scalp.

“Roger, Corvette. Do you need a vector to the tanker track?”

“Copy.”

The controller vectored the flight to the tankers, and just like the previous mission, the tanker circuit was busy. After refueling, they headed back to Williams. When they landed, the flight taxied back to their dispersal area, and just like the morning, someone was waiting for them. Only this time, it was just Licon. After Guru popped his canopy, he and Goalie shook hands, glad to be alive. If Kara hadn't been on the ball...

“How'd it go, Sir?” Licon asked as Guru and Goalie got out of the aircraft.

“Air to ground was fine,” Guru said. “Turned a battalion into a company on Highway 344.”

“FAC directed?” Licon asked as the other crews arrived.

“Yeah. Nail Three-Six was his call sign.” Guru said. “He gave us a four-point-zero.”

Nodding, Licon said, “Good, Sir. Anything else?”

“Yeah, Kara got a MiG-23 that nearly got me. Where did he come from?”

“He was hugging the mountains, saw you, and rolled in behind you,” Kara said. “He was too close, though, to try an Aphid shot,. Looked like he was trying to line you up for guns.”

“Good shooting, though,” Goalie said. “Otherwise, it was skydiving time.”

“That's two for Kara, now?” Guru asked.

“It is, Sir,” Licon said. “How many eyeballs on the kill?”

“Three pairs, not couting Kara and Brainaic,” Guru said.

Licon looked at Sweaty and Hoser, and all four crew members nodded. “And you, Sir?”

“I broke right, rolled out, and saw the missile fly up the MiG's tailpipe.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Licon said. “I'll write that up as a confirmed kill, and note the location. Maybe we can find a wreck later on.”

“Thanks, Darren,” Guru said. “Where's the CO?”

“He went out about a half-hour ago with a four-ship. Carson's with him.”

“Good. That asshole's not around, and where the boss can keep an eye on him,” Kara said.

“Seconded,” Sweaty chimed in.

Then the crews saw the ordnance people bringing five-hundred and seven hundred and fifty-pound bombs to their aircraft, along with Capt. Mark Ellis, the Ops Officer. “This one comes for the Marines. Mountainair Municipal Airport, just north of U.S. 60. The Cubans have helos based there, either Hips or Hinds.”

“Let me guess; they want them gone,” Goalie said.

“Right on that,” Ellis replied. “So we got the mission, because Marine air is busy with CAS for the jarheads.”


“Since we don't have a choice, we'll take it,” Guru said. “How long?”

“As soon as you're turned around,” Ellis said. “Sandwiches and drinks in the Hummer, hit the latrine, and get ready to go ASAP,” Ellis said. “Have a good run.” He then headed off to see the next returning flight.

Nodding, the crews went to the Hummer while the ground crew and the ordnance guys went to work. “What's the sandwiches?” Sweaty asked.

Hoser checked the box. “Chicken, Ham, Turkey, Club, and something brown that just sits there.”

Goalie checked the ice chest. “Sodas, bottled water, tea, and Gatorade.”

“Coffee in a gallon thermos,” Guru said. He helped himself to a cup. He was still full from breakfast, and didn't want to chance himself on what some called “Roadkill sandwiches” from the Marines' mess tent.

“I'd like to know,” Kara said, in between bites of a chicken sandwich, “Who wasn't on the ball with that MiG?”

“That's the sixty-four thousand-dollar question,” Goalie nodded. “He must've come up from down south.”

Sweaty nodded as well. “Want to bet his GCI got taken out, and he was just looking for a target?”

“Since he didn't bail out,” Brainac said, “we'll never know.”

Sergeant Crowley then came over. “Captain,” he said to Guru. “Your birds are ready to go.”

“Thanks, Sergeant,” Guru said. He went over to a portable latrine-of which a number had been placed on the ramp area, and did his business there. Then he gathered his flight around the Hummer, and checked the materials Ellis had left for them. “All right....we'll come in south of Manzano Peak, pick up Route 55, and come in on the target. One run only, people! North to South. Go past the town, pick up the Chupaedra Mesa again, then turn west for the Rio Grande and I-25.”

“Threat?” Kara asked.

“Says here the only defenses are guns. ZU-23s and the quad ZPUs,” Guru said. “But everybody there likely has access to SA-7s, so watch it. No flak or SAM suppressors on this one: we're it.” Guru told his flight. “Any other questions?”

“No questions,” a voice said. “Just wishing you good luck.”

Guru turned and there was Dave Golen, their IDF observer. “Dave, this all bringing back memories?”

“Yes,” Golen said. “First day of the Yom Kippur War. But with one difference.”

“What's that?” Sweaty asked as she grabbed her helmet.

“You're winning.” Golen said. He put out his hand, and everyone shook it. “I wish I could join you.”

“Talk to Rivers when he gets back,” Guru said. “We had an IDF exchange officer go home a couple months ago: he had fifty-seven missions and a couple of MiGs on his belt when he left.”

“I will,” Golen said. “Good luck.”

“Thanks, Dave,” Guru said. “Any other questions?” He asked his flight. Heads shook no. “All right, time to hit it.”

The crews went to their birds, and after a quick walkaround, they strapped themselves into their mounts. Their flight instructors would have been apoplectic at how rushed the preflight routine was, but on a day like today, no choice. They started engines, let them warm up, then they taxied to the runway, and after the tower showed them the green light, the four F-4s rolled down the runway and into the air.
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  #548  
Old 04-06-2020, 10:30 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And the morning goes on, two more missions before lunch:


Over New Mexico: 0950 Hours:


Corvette Flight headed into enemy territory, and as they crossed the Sandias south of Manzano Peak, their RWR receivers were clear. Either the EW effort was working, or so many radars had been knocked out, and gaps torn in the ComBloc air defense net. “How long to Route 55?” Guru called.

“One minute,” Goalie replied. “Stand by to turn.”

“Roger that.” Guru then called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Two-One. Say threat?”

“Corvette Two-One, Negative threat.”

“Copy.”

“Stand by....and turn!” Goalie called.

Guru put the F-4 into a turn, and the rest of the flight followed. “One minute thirty to pop-up?”

“Roger that,” Goalie said.

“Flight, Lead. Pick up your visual scanning. Don't want to be caught like last time,”

“Copy, Lead,” Sweaty called.

“Stand by...” Goalie said. “Now!”

Guru put the F-4 into a climb, and as he did, he could see the Mountainair Municipal Airport off to his right. “Target in sight. Lead is in hot.” He banked right, and began to roll in on the target.

“Switches set,” Goalie said. “We're hot.”


Down below, the Cuban Air Force's 261st Helicopter Squadron was trying to get their Mi-25 Hinds and Mi-8 Hips airborne. Several of each had already been shot down, and despite the skies being full of American aircraft, the ground forces needed their support. So far, the field hadn't been bombed yet, but the base commander knew his time would come. Apart from the armorers and maintenance personnel, the base commander had every available man digging slit trenches and foxholes, or improving already existing facilities, because sooner or later, the Americans would strike his field. He was distracted by a rumble off to the west. This time of day, he knew it wasn't desert thunder-he'd been exposed to enough of that the last year and a half. No, it was artillery fire. And it was coming closer.

“Steady, steady...” Guru called. He could see several helos and a couple An-2 transports on what passed for a parking area on this dirt field. Nice try, Fidel....and....”HACK!” He hit the pickle button, and six five-hundred pound and six seven-hundred and fifty pound bombs came off the aircraft. “Lead off target.”

There had been no warning. The first indication the Cubans had that their field was under attack was Guru's Phantom flying past, and then that Phantom laid a dozen bombs across the runway and the improvised parking area. Two Hips, a Hind, and one of the An-2s fireballed as bombs exploded on and around them.

“Madre Dios...,” the base commander said as one of his officers pulled him into a trench.

“Two's in hot!” Kara called. She rolled in on the western side of the field, and saw an An-2 trying to take off. She didn't have time to arm her 20-mm gun, but instead focused on the bomb run. “HACK!” She called, and walked her bombs across the runway, blasting holes in it, and also landing a bomb on a ZPU gun emplacement, whose gunners died not even knowing they were under attack. “Two off target.”

“Three's in hot,” Sweaty called. She selected the center of the runway, and saw two Hips siting next to it, still intact. She came in and smoothly walked her bombs across the center of the dirt runway, and exploded both Hips, as a five-hundred pound bomb landed between the two helos. “Three's off safe,” she called as Two-Three pulled away from the target, and right over the town of Mountainair.

“Four in hot,” Hoser called. He saw that the field had been smacked by the first three, but saw one area that hadn't been affected: a parking area south of the field for fuel trucks. Since there was no fuel storage here, even before the war, all fuel for the helicopters-and the occasional visiting An-2 or An-26, had to be delivered by fuel trucks. So Hoser made a turn before rolling in, coming in from due east, and walking his bombs along the south side of the runway. Several fuel trucks exploded, and a couple bombs landed in a tent area south of the runway. As he pulled out, he saw an An-2, to his surprise, take off and pull away to the east. You are one lucky SOB, he thought as he called. “Four off target.”

“Roger that,” Guru said. “Form on me, music on, and let's get the hell out of here.”

All four F-4s joined up and they headed right for the Rio Grande. As they headed west, all of the crews noticed Marine F-4s and A-4s overhead in abundance, providing CAS to the Marines on the ground. They even heard a Marine FAC simply stack aircraft up from 5,000 up to 25,000 feet, and telling newly arriving aircraft, “Get in line at 25,000 and wait your turn.”

“Guru, Sweaty. Glad that ain't us?” Sweaty called her flight leader.

“Roger that!” Guru replied. “Crossing the fence.”

“Corvette Two-One, Crystal Palace. We show you across the fence. Do you need a vector to the tankers?”

“Negative, Crystal Palace,” Guru replied. “Not this time.”

“Roger, Corvette. Maintain Two-Seven-Zero until state line.”

“Copy,” Guru replied.

Once they reached the Arizona-New Mexico state line, they were then able to head to Williams. After coming into the pattern, they had to wait as several flights of both AF and Marine aircraft took off, then the flight was able to land. After taxiing to their dispersal area, the crews got out, relieved that this one had gone off almost like a training mission. “Good one, Guru,” Goalie said.

“If they were all like that...” Guru said. “Take 'em while we can.”

“Hey, did anyone see an An-2 on the runway?” Kara asked as they walked back to the Hummer.

“Yeah,” Hoser said. “He took off just as I was pulling away. He's lucky.”

Sweaty nodded. “Those things can land anywhere. He probably found a strip someplace to the east.”

Guru nodded as Sergeant Crowely came up. “Sergeant.”

“Sir. Anything we need to know?” He was asking about maintenance issues.

“No, not yet. Pull the strike camera footage, and..” Guru stopped. He saw the ordnance crews coming with a mixed CBU and dumb bomb load. “Well....I know what we're carrying.”

“Yes, sir. Be ready in thirty minutes,” Crowley said.

“Okay, Sergeant,” Guru said. Then he noticed Colonel Rivers and the SIO waiting. “Sir.”

“How'd things go, XO?” Rivers asked.

“This one was as close to a milk run as we'll probably get. No Triple-A, no SAMs, no nothing.”

“BDA?”The SIO, Licon, asked.

“I'm claiming a couple of helos on the ground,” Guru said. “Put a few holes in the runway and the parking area. Calling that an airport is an overstatement, though.”

“Same here,” Sweaty added. “You'll have to check our strike camera footage, though.”

“Roger that,” said Kara. “Put mine on the runway, and maybe a bomb or two on a flak site.”

“Hoser?” Licon asked.

“Fuel dump,” West replied. “Made that go away.”

“Thanks, all of you,” Licon said. “BDA should be available later today. Recon's been active all morning, and don't be surprised if you see a high flier.”

“U-2s?” Goalie asked.

“Maybe,” Licon said. “Thanks again,” and then the SIO went off to receive another incoming flight.

“Let me guess,” said Sweaty. “SR-71s?”

“Maybe,” Rivers said. “Don't be surprised if they did show.”

Guru nodded. He noticed the maintenance folks and the ordnance people working. Many of the men were either wearing sleeveless T-Shirts or were going bare-chested, while the women in those crews were in the same sleeveless T-Shirts or were in sports bras. “If Carson saw those, he'd go ballistic.”

“No kidding,” Rivers said. “So far, nothing yet.”

“Give him time,” Kara nodded.

Guru nodded, then he saw the object of their discussion coming towards the group. “Uh-oh... Speak of the devil.”

Major Frank Carson came over. He was easily the most despised officer in the squadron, and that opinion was shared by everyone else in the unit, both officers and enlisted. An Academy grad, he was notorious for blindly enforcing every rule and regulation, even when those made no sense. Throw in his distaste for officers who were not Academy grads, or Academy grads who were “one of the boys” after hours, female aircrew, and just about how the 335th was run, and it added up to trouble. “Colonel,” he said, giving a perfect Academy salute. “Are you going to do anything about the airmen who are out of uniform on the ramp?”

“No,” Rivers said. “Other than telling the NCOs to have plenty of sunscreen handy. It's a hot day, in case you haven't noticed.”

“Sir!” Carson wailed.

“In case you haven't noticed, Major,” Rivers said. “We're at war. And right now, I don't give a damn how the ramp crews are dressed. If it keeps them comfortable while they're doing their jobs? I could care less.”

“Sir....You don't understand!”

“No, Major, you don't. Unlike you, I know what parts of the book to keep and what to throw away. Now get ready to go out again in fifteen. You're my number three again.”

“Yes, Sir....,” grumbled the Major.

“And Major? If you write anyone up for a uniform violation who's working on the ramp, I'll put it right where it belongs,” Rivers nodded.

“Very good, Sir!”

“In the office shredder,” Rivers said, seeing Carson's face deflate. “Now get ready to go out.”

“Yes, Sir.,” Carson saluted and headed to his own aircraft in a fit of the sulks.

“Now that's out of the way,” Rivers said. “Here's where you guys are headed.” He pulled out a TPC chart of Central New Mexico. “Right here...” Rivers pointed to a town called White Lakes, north of I-40 on U.S. 285.

“What's the target, Sir?” Guru asked.

“Supply dump and truck park. Right now their whole front in this part of New Mexico is coming apart, and III Corps is going forward a lot faster than they thought,” Rivers said. “Keep up the pressure, and don't give 'em time to regroup.”

“And if we don't find the dump? It could be empty by the time we get there.”

“Look for any military traffic on either 285 or State Highway 41. Stay away from I-40. The Army wants it intact,” Rivers said.

“Understood,” Guru said. “Sir, what's the threat?”

“Threat is mainly MANPADS and light flak-mainly ZU-23s. The SA-3 site at Clines Corners is down-the Weasels got there this morning,” The CO said.

“Good to hear, Boss,” Guru said. “Oh, Dave Golen's probably looking for you. I think he wants some stick time.”

“General Tanner sent something in case he wanted some,” Rivers said. “ID, dog tags, insignia, all of it. If he gets shot down, as far as everyone's concerned, he's one of us.”

'Yes, Sir.” Guru said.

“Okay, get something to eat, hit the latrine, because you're headed out as soon as you're turned around,” Rivers said.”And one other thing: good luck.”

“Thanks, Boss,” Guru said.

Colonel Rivers nodded as he headed off to get ready for his next flight.

Kara nodded as she got a Gatorade from the cooler. “Why hasn't he kicked Carson out?”

“Like it or not, he's qualified,” Guru said. “We still need warm bodies, even if he did barely qualify.”

“In the air, he could get somebody killed-or himself,” Sweaty pointed out. “Who qualified him?”

“Not sure,” Guru admitted. “I'll check his file.” As squadron Exec, he could do that. He went to the cooler and got a bottle of water. “What's the temperature?”

“Air or ramp?” Goalie asked. She had gotten out of the top half of her flight suit, as had Kara, Sweaty, and “KT” Thornton, and everyone else, for that matter. All had their T-Shirts and sports bras on, of course, but the sweat made sure that didn't help hide things. Much.

“Either one,” he said as he downed some water.

“How does 92 degrees sound? Or here on the ramp, it's probably 105.”

“Ugh,” Kara said as she picked at another sandwich. “Stay away from the brown stuff.”

“Why?” Sweaty's WSO, Preacher Simmonds, asked.

“One of those just moved.”

“Don't be surprised if somebody got a BLT from those jarheads and the tomato looked back at you.” Goalie said as she chomped down on a turkey sandwich, and the crews laughed.

Guru had just finished his water and a turkey sandwich when Sergeant Crowley came over. “Sir, all four birds are ready to go.”

“Thanks, Sergeant,” Guru said. He turned to his flight. “Take care of any business at the latrine, then we'll brief and launch.”

After everyone had come back from the latrine, and back into their flight suits and G-Suits, Guru gave his brief. “I'll keep this short. We're looking for a supply dump and truck park, north of I-40 on 285. The local SA-3 site is down, so we're good on that score. If the dump and park are empty, we look for military traffic on either 285 or Highway 41. Stay away from I-40, like the Boss said.”

“They want a Cannonball Run to the Texas State Line, and the freeway's the best way to do it,” Kara nodded.

“Right on that,” Guru said. “Any other questions?” There were none. “All right; let's go.” He picked up his helmet and went to his mount, 512, with Goalie right behind him. After a quick walkaround, they mounted their aircraft and ran through the preflight, and ran up their J-79 engines. After receiving permission to taxi, they taxied to the end of the runway, where the armorers pulled off the weapon safety pins. Once that was done, the F-4s taxied onto the runway, where the tower flashed a green light, and all four rumbled down the runway and into the air.


Over East-Central New Mexico; 1130 Hours:


Corvette Flight was once again over familiar territory, having flown numerous strikes into this part of New Mexico. Only this time, they were at 10,000 feet, and not having to worry about SAM activity, for both the EW and SEAD effort had paid off, and the ComBloc's air defense network in this area had been taken apart. Now the aircrews were looking for the truck park and supply dump that they had been tasked to hit. “Anything?” Guru asked Goalie, who was scanning the ground below with binoculars.

“Nothing yet. This might be a wild-goose chase,” she replied.

“Wouldn't surprise me if these guys just pulled up and left,” Guru said.

“Guru, Sweaty,” was the call over his radio. “We've got something.”

“Where?” Guru asked.

“Eleven O’clock low,” came the reply. “Look for the truck tracks.”

“Got it!” Goalie said.

“I see it,” replied Guru. “One pass: CBUs only. See if we can find the supply dump.”

“Copy,” Sweaty replied.

“Two, on me,” Guru called, and he saw Starbuck coming into formation in a right echelon. “One pass, east to west.”

“Roger that,” Kara replied.

“Copy, two,” said Guru. “Set us up: wing stations have the CBUs.”

“Got it,” Goalie replied, stowing the binoculars. She worked the armament switches. “You're set.”

“Time to go,” Guru said. “Lead's in hot!” He turned and rolled down the chute, lining up on the truck tracks below.


Below, the truck drivers and their MVD escorts were deciding what to do. Some of the truck drivers' destinations were now rumored to be in enemy hands, and the last thing the drivers-most of whom had been in the military twenty or twenty-five years earlier-wanted to do was keep going and run into the Americans. Others, including their MVD escorts, wanted to keep going, and at least find someone in authority to get further instructions from. They were still arguing with each other when an MVD lieutenant pointed skyward.

“Steady, steady,” Guru called, “HACK!” He hit the pickle button and six Rockeye CBUs came off the wing stations. He pulled up and leveled off, glad to have no return fire. “Lead off target.”

Six Rockeye CBUs have 1,482 bomblets. Guru's run effectively covered most of the truck park with the bomblets, and some of the trucks had fuel or ammunition as cargo....

“Two in hot!” Kara called. She saw the secondary explosions on the ground, as well as Guru's plane as it pulled up and away, rolling off to the right. “HACK!” She called, placing her CBUs to the right of her lead's, and careful to keep any of the bomblets away from the road. Even though they hadn't been told to avoid hitting 285, the chances were pretty good that friendlies might be coming down this road soon, and so....”Two's off target.”

“Three's in!” Sweaty called. She rolled in and laid her CBUs between Guru's and Kara's, and she noted that Kara's had also caused some secondary explosions. “Three's off target,” she said as she pulled up and away.

“Four in hot!” Hoser said. He wanted to lay his Rockeyes just to the south of where Guru had put his, and as he went in, he noticed some tracers coming up. Someone down there was shooting back. Mentally, he changed his mission from “attack” to “post-strike flak suppression.” Hoser centered his pipper on the tracers and released, calling, “Four off target.”

Down below, some of the MVD troops were firing back at the attacking aircraft. Though most of them had AKMs, they also had a BTR-152 and a DshK machine gun, and two of the MVD were manning the gun. Then Hoser's F-4 flew over them, and they saw the CBUs open, then hell came down on them as the bomblets detonated, killing and wounding many, and exploding the BTR as well (it being an open-topped vehicle, several bomblets landed inside the track....).


“Good work, Four,” Guru called. “You got secondaries.”

“Thanks, Lead,” Hoser replied.

“Guru, Starbuck. You want to go back and use the '82s?” Kara called her flight leader.

“Negative,” Guru replied. “Let's check out Highway 41. Maybe we can find something there.” He didn't want to go back to 285, because all they had found was the truck park, and no sign of the supply dump.

Back at the remains of the truck park, the survivors picked themselves up, and were deciding what to do. The highway known as “Interstate 40” was only a few kilometers away, and there was a traffic-control point there, one that many had passed through. Maybe they could get some help, or maybe a ride back to their units. Some were hesitant, but exploding trucks and delayed-action bomblets going off as well convinced them that staying around wasn't a good idea.


Up above, the four Phantoms regrouped and headed west. The crews knew the next major north-south road was State Route 41, and with this push on, that road was likely to be jammed with enemy traffic, either reinforcements headed to the front, or those trying to get away. Guru decided to call the AWACS and see if there was not only any threat in the area, but if a FAC or two were working nearby. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Two-One.”

“Corvette Two-One, Crystal Palace. Go ahead,” the controller replied.

“Crystal Palace, say bogey dope.”

“Corvette Two-One, Crystal Palace, negative bogeys.”

“Copy that. Any Nails working the area?” Guru asked. Nail was the usual FAC call sign.

“Stand by,” the controller said. After a few seconds, the controller returned. “Corvette, contact either Nail Three-One or Nail Three-Seven.”

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “Say closest?”

“Corvette, Crystal Palace, Nail Three-Seven is closest your posit.”

“Copy,” Guru replied. “Nail Three-Seven, Corvette Two-One with four Foxtrot Fours, inbound from the east.”

“Roger, Corvette, say type of ordnance?” The FAC called.

“Nail, Corvette. Six Mark-eight-twos and full guns each airplane.”

“Copy that. Route Four-One is full. Anything moving there is a target. Free strike,” the FAC replied.

Guru looked ahead and saw an A-7 orbiting. “Roger, Nail. Say ground threat?”

“Corvette, triple-A is the only threat, apart from MANPADS. No heavy stuff.”

Hearing that, Goalie called her pilot on the intercom. “Somebody must've took out the SA-2 south of here.”

“Not complaining about that,” Guru said. “Roger, Nail.”

Corvette Flight came in, and they could see the road was full of traffic. What looked like rear-echelon types headed south, and some armor headed north, towards U.S. 285. “Lead, Sweaty. How do you want it?”

“One pass, northeast to southwest,” Guru said. “Follow me in.”

“Copy,” Sweaty replied.

“Starbuck, Lead. On me.”

“Right with you, Lead,” Kara replied.

“Flight, Lead, Let's go to work.” Guru called over the radio. Then he told Goalie, “Switches set.”

“Copy,” she said. “Centerline set. You're hot.”

“Roger,” Guru said. “Flight, Lead's in hot!” He then rolled in on the attack run.

Below, on Highway 41, it was a traffic jam. The Soviet traffic regulators were trying to sort out the rear-services vehicles, who had been ordered to head for Interstate 40 and proceed east from the reinforcements headed in both directions. Tanks and APCs from one division were headed north to block the Americans coming from that direction, while an independent Motor-Rifle Regiment was headed south, to try and shore up the Cubans, who were being torn apart by the U.S. Marines. No one seemed to be paying attention to the sky, and that would prove to be a big mistake.

“Steady, steady,” Guru said to himself as he lined the pipper up on a crossroads. It looked like a small county road was intersecting with the state highway. Oh, well...your bad day, Ivan. “HACK!” He pushed the pickle button, and six Mark-82s came off the centerline rack. “Lead off target.”

Guru's bombs landed right on a traffic control point, and the bombs tore apart several trucks and flipped a BTR-70 over, as well as killing and wounding a number of the truck drivers and traffic regulators. No one even heard the F-4 come in. Then a trucker pointed east. A second plane was coming in...

“Two's in!” Was the call from Starbuck. She put her bombs just to the south of Guru's, and as she pulled away and rolled, she and Brainac saw secondary explosions. Somebody had something that went boom....”Two off target.”

Kara's bombs had landed on several supply trucks belonging to the motor-rifle regiment, and in particular, the artillery battalion. Her Mark-82s set off 122-mm artillery ammo, and there were several large secondaries as a result.

Now it was Sweaty's turn. “Three rolling in hot!” She called as she rolled in. Sweaty saw the explosions down below, and she put her bombs to the north of that. Her bombs landed on some armor headed north, and flipped a T-62 and tore apart several BMPs. But this time, as she pulled out, she saw an SA-7 or -14 coming up. “Three off, with a SAM at Seven O'clock.”

Just north of where Sweaty had dropped her bombs, several BMPs had pulled off the highway, and their infantry had deployed. One of them had an Strela-3 (SA-14) launcher, and he locked up the F-4 and fired.

“Preacher, dump some flares,” Sweaty said as she pulled into a tight turn.

“Gotcha,” he replied, pumping out a number of flares, and trying to see the missile.

“Sweaty, Starbuck,” Kara called. “SAM just hit a flare.”

“Copy,” Sweaty said.

“Four's in hot!” Hoser called. He had seen where the SAM had been launched from, and decided that nobody shoots at his element leader and gets away with it. He rolled in, and saw the dissipating smoke trail, and lined it up in his pipper. “HACK!” He called as he dropped his bombs.

Hoser's bombs landed in the middle of the BMPs, tossing several like toys, and killing or wounding most of the infantrymen around the vehicles. Unlike his element leader, he drew no fire as he pulled out.

“Four's off target,” Hoser called.

“Roger that,” Guru called. “Form on me. One pass is all we get.”

“Still got guns,” Kara reminded her flight leader.

“Not with those Grails around,” Guru said. Grails meant MANPADS to any aircrew.

“Copy,” Kara replied.

“Nail, Corvette, we are Winchester and headed out,” Guru called the FAC.

“Copy, Corvette,” the FAC replied. “Good bombs on target.”

Corvette Flight reformed and headed west. As they cleared the Sandia Mountains north of Albuquerque, they saw the sky over the city full of helicopters, and to their north, I-25 was full of American armor. Both sights were deeply satisfying to the aircrews. As they crossed the Rio Grande, Guru called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Two-One crossing the fence.”

“Copy, Corvette,” the controller replied. “Do you need a vector to the tankers?”

“Roger, Crystal Palace.”

The controller gave the flight a vector to the tanker track over the Continental Divide. This time, they hooked up with a KC-135, and the tankers were just as busy as they had been in the early morning. After refueling, they headed back to Williams, and after waiting a few minutes for outbound traffic to leave, they came in and landed. As they taxied in, the crews saw several Marine A-6s preparing to go out, and they were loaded with laser-guided bombs. There was a term going around those who used LGBs, and that was “tank plinking.” “Looks like the Jarheads are going to plink some tanks,” Goalie commented.

“Wish we could do that more often,” Guru said. Their squadron only had two Pave Spike Pods, and two Pave Tack pods, though several crews were qualified to use both types of pods. Both Guru and Goalie could count on one hand the number of times they'd flown a laser bomb mission.

The flight taxied in to their dispersal area, and shut down. Guru popped his canopy, and let out a big sigh. He checked his watch. “Four missions and it's already 1230.”

“How many more?” Goalie asked as she popped her canopy.

“However many they tell us,” Guru said as the ground crew brought the crew ladders. “Thanks, guys.”

“How'd it go, Sir?” Sergeant Crowley asked as both Guru and Goalie climbed down.

“Ripped up a truck park, and ripped up some armor,” Guru replied. “What's up next?”

Crowley nodded at his pilot. “Ordnance guys will be here in fifteen minutes, Sir. They need a break.”

“They, you guys, and everybody else,” Goalie said.

“Yes, Ma'am,” Crowley said.

“Nothing wrong with the bird, Sergeant,” Guru said as they did a postflight walk around. “No holes that we can see.”

“Thanks, Sir,” Crowley said. “They brought some more stuff for the cooler and more coffee.”

“All right, Sergeant,” Guru said. He headed to the Hummer, and found Mark Ellis and Darren Licion waiting. “Guys.”

Ellis put out his hand. “How'd it go, Guru?”

“Not bad,” Guru replied as the rest of the flight came over. “Tore up the truck park, but there was no sign of the supply depot.”

“What?” Licon asked, clearly surprised. “It was on the photos, clear as day.”

“Probably a dummy,” Sweaty chimed in. “Not the first time somebody got fooled that way.”

“I'll go along with that,” Kara added. “But the truck park....lots of secondaries there.”

“I'll check the strike footage,” Licon said. “What else?”

“We hit traffic on Route 41,” Guru added. “Lots of armor and trucks. Tanks, APCs, supply vehicles, that sort of thing.”

“FAC directed?” Licon wanted to know.

“You got it. Nail Three-Seven was his call sign.”

“Okay, I'll find out from him, and look at the strike footage,” Licon said. “Any threats?”

“Sweaty had a SA-7 shot at her,” Hoser said. “I put my stuff down on those guys.”

“Close call?” Mark Ellis asked.

“No, it went after a flare,” Kara said. “I don't think Sweaty even saw it.”

“We didn't,” Sweaty confirmed. “But the flares did their job.”

“Okay, I'll check with the FAC, and go over your strike footage,” Licon said. “Thanks, guys.” He then went off to debrief another returning flight.

“What's next, Mark?” Guru asked.

“On-call CAS again, but not until 1400. You guys deserve a break,” Ellis said. “Rivers said so.”

“He here?” Guru asked, reaching for the cooler and a bottle of water.

“No, he went out ten minutes ago,” Ellis said. “And Dave Golen was flying with him.”

“Carson with the Boss?”

“Yep,” Ellis said. “With Golen as element lead. Carson's number two to Dave.”

“Let's hope Frank learns something from him,” Guru said. “Though I doubt it.”

“Right on that,” Ellis said. “Oh, don't go into the squadron's building. The power's out, and thus the A/C.”

“What happened?” Sweaty asked. “Sabotage?”

Ellis shook his head. “Still checking. Power company says a transformer blew, but the FBI and OSI are out, making sure.”

“With this push on,” Kara said, “some sleeper agent must've decided to go active.”

“Probably,” Ellis admitted. “They still don't know yet.”

“Okay, Mark,” Guru said. “If anyone needs to see me, send 'em over this way.”

“Gotcha,” said Ellis.

While they were waiting for their birds to be turned around, the crews helped themselves to some more cool drinks, and the Marine mess people came around with some hot meals for lunch. “Captain, want something hot?” A Marine Mess Sergeant asked. “Hot steak and cheese sandwiches, burgers and fries, or fried chicken?”

The crews had lunch while sitting under a tarp that someone had strung up from the Hummer to a tie-down position. And to Guru's relief, no one asked about squadron business, only what they'd seen and done. So a lot of swapping stories, and comparing notes went on, and while that was going on, the turnaround process began. So far, the 335th had not lost any aircraft or crews, but since they had half a day to go, that could easily change. About halfway through the break, Colonel Rivers' flight landed. After he debriefed, Rivers and Dave Golen came over. “Guru,” Rivers said.

“Boss,” Guru replied. “How's it going?”

“Well, First Cav is in Santa Fe, and they're headed for Highways 285, and 84 if they can. They want to get to I-40 and pocket what's left of Albuquerque's defenders.”

“Then who's in Albuquerque?” Kara asked.

“That's 23rd ID and the 11th Airborne. Fifth Marine Division to the south, and the rest of Sixth Army. The Rio Grande line just collapsed, and the ComBloc is headed east. And we're right behind 'em,” Rivers said.

“Good to hear, Sir,” Goalie said. “What's going on to the north?”

“Denver's relieved, and the whole ComBloc line in Colorado's starting to come apart. Not as fast as here, but...” Rivers said.

“Yeah,” Guru said. “Boss, we still got half a day to go.”

“Right on that,” Rivers nodded. He noticed the ordnance crews bringing ordnance to Guru's flight. “And you guys are going first.”

Guru and his flight noticed the ordnance. Napalm tanks and Mark-82s with fuze extenders. The old Vietnam “Shake and bake” load. “Barbeque time,” he observed.

“Yep,” Rivers said. He turned to Dave Golen. “Look familiar?”

“Like the Yom Kippur War, as I said to the Captain, but with a difference,” Golen remarked.

“What's that?”

“You're winning.”

“Can't argue with that,” Kara quipped.

Master Sergeant Michael Ross, the squadron's senior NCO, came over. “Colonel,” he said to Rivers. “The power's back on. Along with the A/C.”

“Thanks, Sergeant,” Rivers said. “Now to see if Carson left anything on my desk.”

“If he did, Boss, may I suggest making good on that promise?” Guru asked. He was barely concealing his loathing for the overzealous Major.

“You may, Guru,” Rivers said. “And I'll make good on it.” He shook Guru's hand. “Good luck on the next one.”

“Thanks, Boss.”

Rivers then shook hands with the rest of the flight, and headed back to the squadron offices with Ross. Golen stayed, since he had his one mission for the day, and watched as the ordnance crews finished. “Your people are starting to slow down,” he observed.

“They were working when we got here,” Goalie said. “No wonder.”

Sergeant Crowley came over. “Captain Wiser, the birds are locked and cocked. Ready to go.”

Guru nodded. “Thanks.” He finished a bottle of water, then turned to the flight. “Hit the latrines, then come back here.”

Everyone headed off, did their business at the portable latrines, then came back to the Hummer. “What's next?” Sweaty asked.

“On-call CAS,” Guru replied. “Call AWACS, and they tell us which FAC to go to.”

“Great,” Hoser said. “No way to know where?”

“Nope,” Guru replied. “North or south, wherever the controller sends us.”

“Lovely,” Kara spat.

“I'd rather go and bust up an airfield-like Cannon or Holloman, but not our call,” Guru reminded everyone. “Anything else?” Heads shook no. He picked up his helmet. “Let's hit it.”

The crews headed to their aircraft, and though the walkaround was normal, the preflight in the cockpit was one that their flight instructors would have had fits over. After engine start, the tower cleared them to taxi, then the flight taxied to the runway. There, the armorers removed the safety pins on the weapons. After taxiing onto the runway, the tower flashed a green light, and the F-4s rumbled down the runway and into the air.
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  #549  
Old 04-06-2020, 10:37 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Auberry, CA
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The day goes on.....


Over Central New Mexico, 1340 Hours:


Corvette Flight was orbiting just west of the Rio Grande, southwest of Albuquerque. With nervous Army air-defense units down below with HAWK and Patriot SAM batteries, everyone made sure their IFF was on, and that when they entered or left enemy territory, the safe-passage lanes were being used.
Then there was the sight down below, as the Army's 11th Airborne Division kept up the effort by helicopter, grounding down the defenders, who were half Soviet and half Nicaraguan. The latter had folded up pretty quick, but the Soviets had dug themselves into the northeastern part of the city, and had to be blasted out. It also meant that both Kirtland AFB and Albuquerque IAP were still not open for fixed-wing operations, let alone helicopters, because there were still shells landing near the runways, and the AF needed the RED HORSE teams to get in, assess the condition of the runways and ramp, before it could be opened, and the Army had to drive the Russians out of artillery range at least before that could happen.

Guru was looking down from 17,000 feet. “Man, that part of town's getting torn up.”

“Seen worse,” Goalie reminded her pilot. “Denver.”

“Yeah,” Guru said. “But a siege is different. Nobody going forward on either side. Today...”

Goalie smiled under her oxygen mask. “Lot different. Those guys down there don't want to give up.”

“Nowhere to go, and penned up against the Mountains,” Guru noted.

“Corvette Two-One, Aladdin,” the voice over the radio said. Aladdin was the call sign for an EC-130E Airborne Command Post (ABCCC). “We have tasking for you.”

“Aladdin, Corvette, “ Guru replied. “Go.”

“Corvette, we have a ground FAC along Highway 41, requesting CAS. Contact Covey Two-Six.”

“Copy, Aladdin. Covey Two-Six,” Guru replied. “Covey Two-Six, Corvette Two-One.”

“Corvette, Covey Two-Six.” Replied the FAC. “Say aircraft and type of ordnance?”

“Covey, we have four Foxtrot-Fours with a shake'n bake load.” Guru told the FAC.

“Roger, Corvette. Hostiles along the highway. Infantry and APCs. We are taking mortar fire.” The sound of an explosion came over the radio, clearly describing the FAC's situation.

“Copy that,” Guru replied. “Say surface-to-air threat.”

“Corvette, unknown Sierra Alpha threat,” the FAC responded.

“Roger that, Covey. Corvette Flight inbound.” Guru said. “Flight, lead. Follow me and let's go. Folks on the ground need some help.”

“Roger, Lead,” Sweaty called. And the flight of four Phantoms went in again into enemy territory. Though if things kept going the way they were, it wouldn't for long.

“Covey Two-Six, Corvette Lead. Say your posit.” Guru called, asking for the FAC's position.

“Corvette,” Covey replied. “Two miles north of Stanley on 41. We are on the east side. Bad guys to the west and along the road.”

“Copy,” Guru said. “Can you mark the target?”

“That's affirm,” Covey replied. “Will mark with Willie Pete.”

Down below, three puffs of White Phosphorous marked the target. And the F-4 crews could see them from their new altitude of 7,000 feet. “Have visual on Willie Pete,” Guru said. “How do you want it?' Shake first, or bake?”

“Corvette, Shake'em up first. Bad guys are Alpha Lima Alpha,” Covey replied. That meant ALA.

“Roger that,” Guru said. He did the switches himself. Centerline first. “Goalie, get set.”

“Ready back here,” Goalie replied. “Let's teach those scumbags a lesson.”

“Let's do it,” Guru agreed. “Flight, Lead. Follow me in. South to North.” Then he rolled in on the bomb run. “Lead in hot!”

“Lead, Two, right behind you,” Kara called.


Guru went down the chute, and lined up on the WP smoke. He pulled level at 700 feet AGL and released as he went over the WP smoke. “Lead's off target.”

Below, the ALA's 122nd Security Battalion was engaging what their commander called “bandits and counterrevolutionaries.” They had a KGB company with them, and not just to offer advice, but to “stiffen” their resolve. They had no air-defense weapons other than machine guns and a few Strela-2 (SA-7) missiles. And Guru's run had taken them by surprise as his F-4 flew over, then five-hundred pound bombs came off the aircraft, and exploded among the ALA troopers.

“Corvette, Covey,” the FAC called. “Good hits!”

“Copy, Covey,” Guru replied.

“Two's in hot!” Kara called, rolling in on her run. She had heard the target description, and these ALA scum fully deserved whatever came to them. Kara lined up on the northern WP smoke, releasing as she passed over. “Two off target.”

The ALA troopers had been caught by surprise, and a few of them saw Kara's F-4 rolling in. They took cover in a roadside ditch, but many of their comrade did not, or would not. The Mark-82s killed or wounded a number of ALA troopers, and flipped an old BTR-40 APC over.

“Three's in hot!” Sweaty called. She put her bombs to the west of the highway, and unknown to her, her aimpoint was where the mortar positions were. Sweaty saw the trucks as she leveled out, then released her bombs. “Three's off target.”

“Corvette,” Covey called. “Great hits! You got the mortars, fella.”

“You're welcome, buddy,” Sweaty replied.

“Four's in hot!” Hoser said. He came down onto the southern WP smoke, and the FAC-and the SF team he was with- watched as Hoser's bombs ripped into several of the ALA's vehicles, and tossed troopers' bodies like rags. “Four's off target.”

“Covey, Corvette Lead,” Guru called the FAC. “You want some barbeque time?” That meant napalm.

“Roger that,” the FAC replied. “Same target area.”

“Copy,” Guru replied. He came around for his second run. “Flight, Lead. Follow me and drop in trail.” Then he called Goalie. “Set us up.”

“Roger, Lead,” Sweaty replied.

:”You're set,” Goalie told her pilot. “Wing pylons armed.”

“Then let's fry these bastards,” Guru said with deadly seriousness. “Lead's in.”

Corvette Flight then came in trail, with Guru, Kara, Sweaty, and Hoser all in line. Each F-4 came over and released four BLU-27 napalm bombs, and many of the ALA (and some KGB) who had survived the first pass were incinerated by the second. And the strike took the fight out of the survivors, who began trickling away in both directions.

“Corvette, Covey,” the FAC called. “Good hits on target. Thanks, fellas.”

“Glad to be of help,” Guru called. And we gave those scum a taste of hell that's waiting for 'em, he thought. “Flight, form on me, and let's get out of here.”

Corvette Flight reformed and headed west, over the Sandias. They gave Albuquerque a wide berth, because not only were there helicopters in abundance, but also artillery shells, and a 155 shell in flight didn't care whether or not you were a friendly. The flight headed to the tanker track, and as they were waiting to refuel, heard something ominous over the radio. “Dodge Three-Two is down.”

“Oh, shit!' Guru said.

“Cory Hatcher and Bob Hall,” Goalie said. She knew Hall, he'd been in her WSO class at the RTU. Hatcher, though, was a new guy, and per squadron policy, had been teamed up with an experienced WSO.

“Dodge Three-Three, Crystal Palace,” the AWACS called. “Any chutes?”

“Negative,” Three-One replied. “Sierra Alpha one-one.” That meant the SA-11 Gadfly, and was usually bad news.

“Copy,” the AWACS controller said.

The tanker hookup was subdued, and there was hardly any banter as the flight returned to Williams. Two of their friends were gone, but there was nothing they could do about it. Fight now, mourn later, was the mantra, and there would be time later, if not that day, for them to mourn their lost friends.

After landing, their mood went from exuberant to quiet seriousness. Word had spread that a squadron plane was down, and that the crew hadn't gotten out. “Sir,” Sergeant Crowley said. “How'd it go?”

“Gave some ALA a shake'n bake,” Guru said as he got down from his aircraft. “Nothing wrong with the airplane, though.”

“That's good, Sir,” Crowley said. “Colonel's waiting by the Hummer.”

Nodding, Guru led the members of his flight to the Hummer they had been using in between flights as a rest area. “Colonel,” Guru said.

“I heard,” Colonel Rivers said. “Mike Engle and Joe Putnam called it in. They were near Las Vegas on I-25. First Cav found the crash site.”

“Only good thing about it,” Guru said. “They're not MIA.”

“Yeah. Doesn't make the letter-writing any easier, XO,” Rivers reminded him. “It's worse when both crew don't get out.”

“Was it like that for you when Tony Carpenter and I went down?” Guru asked.

“It was.” Rivers said. “Just hope this war gets over and done before you have to write any.”

“To be hoped for,” Guru said. “Anyway, this one went fine. Ground FAC wanted some ALA to go to hell and gone, and we sent them there.”

“Ground FAC?” Rivers asked, getting back into mission mode.

Guru and the other pilots nodded. “That deep, had to be SF,” Kara said.

Sweaty chimed in. “I'll go along with that.”

“Call sign?” Rivers asked. “I'll pass it along to Intel.”

“Covey Two-Six,” Guru said. “Had to be an ETAC.” That meant an Enlisted Tactical Air Controller.

“Don't forget about those STS guys,” Kara said. She was referring to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, who were highly trained AF personnel who went in with SF teams to act as FACs if the mission called for it.

“Snake-eaters,” Hoser quipped.

“Be careful,” Guru reminded him. “Those 'snake-eaters' have brought quite a few guys out, so keep that in mind.”

“XO's right,” Rivers said. “Okay, ordnance will be here in a half-hour, and you guys go out as soon as they're done.”

“Where to this time?” Guru asked. “Uh...Sir?” Right now, he didn't care if he appeared to be insubordinate, because he was tired.

“Don't blame you at all, XO, if you're getting tired,” Rivers said. “You're headed to Estancia, south of Moriarty. Their Municipal Airport has some Soviet Hinds and Hips, and maybe even Su-25s, and we can't have that. The briefing packet has everything you need,” Rivers handed a packet of material to Guru. “Get something to eat, get some rest, because you're out again in an hour.”

“Got it,” Guru said.

“And good luck,” Rivers said as he went off to get ready for his next mission.

“You heard him,” Guru said.

And with that, the crews helped themselves to sandwiches and cold drinks. There was the usual griping about the “suggestion of meat” in some of them, but everyone had a good laugh about that. “At least it's not like one episode of M*A*S*H,” KT quipped.

“What do you mean?” Kara asked.

“Potter tells a friend, 'I had a hamburger last night that whinnied.', or something like that.”

“Remember the one where Hawkeye ordered ribs from Chicago?” Guru said. “The only thing Colonel Blake was upset with was that Hawk forgot to order the Cole Slaw.”

Goalie nodded. “Yeah, and there was another one where Hawkeye told a nurse how bad the food was: 'I wonder how the cook got off at Nuremberg.' Or the time when the whole camp came down with food poisoning?”

“Yeah, that was a good one, “ Guru said. “Winchester's doing laundry-which he thinks is beneath his stature, Hawkeye and BJ are lost, and a North Korean's trying to surrender to them, and follows them back to camp, and the only other staff members not sick are either Hot Lips or Father Mulchahy.”

Brainac laughed. “One of my favorites? When Frank Burns took a tank for a ride.”

“That's a hoot!” Kara said. “Potter puts his jeep out of its misery after Frank runs over it. He also took out the Swamp and the Nurses' Shower.”

Prewar memories, several of them knew. “Wonder if someone will do a show like that for this war?”
Hoser asked.

“Somebody in Hollyweird's probably got story ideas,” Guru said. “When this is over, it won't take long.”

Goalie nodded, then she pointed. “Speaking of Frank Burns...here comes Carson.”

The despised Major came over, and he didn't like what he was seeing. Ground crew clearly out of uniform, and aircrews going around with their flight suits half off. Some of the male crews had taken off their T-Shirts, while the women had done the same, leaving their sports bras on. “Aren't you going to do anything?” Carson asked Guru.

“About what, Frank?” Guru replied.

“The airmen out of uniform!”

“So what?” Guru shot back. “If you're expecting me to side with you on this, forget it. Anything to keep cool and comfortable on a day like this. In case you're in a dream world, it's 115 here on the ramp.” And to punctuate that, he poured a bottle of water over Goalie's head. She grinned, and smiled her thanks.

“I'm taking this to a higher authority,” Carson grumbled.

“Can't be Tanner, or the Chief of Staff,” Kara grinned.

“He'll probably call his Mom or Dad again,” said Sweaty, and everybody laughed, including some nearby ground crew, who overheard the conversation.

“Oh, phoney baloney,” Carson grumbled as he sulked off.

“Don't know if I've said this before,” Kara said. “But he's as bad as Tigh.”

“Colonel Tigh up at Kingsley Field?” Guru asked. “I saw him once, the day I requalified after coming back from the E&E. Grumpy, coarse, and an all-around asshole.”

“That's him,” Kara smiled. “And Carson would fit right in with him.”

“Tigh didn't have anything to do with WSOs,” Goalie nodded. “If you didn't have pilot's wings, he didn't want much to do with you.”

“I'll go along with that,” KT said. “Navs, he hardly had much to say. Other than when you passed, 'Congratulations.'”

Nodding, Guru opened the briefing packet, as he saw the ordnance people arrive with their munitions. Six 750-pound M-117 bombs and six Mark-82s again. “Okay,” he said as he laid out the materials on the hood of the Hummer. “Here we go.”

“Same drill as that other field this morning?” Sweaty asked.

“Yep,” Guru said. “We go east along the Chupadera Mesa, pick up State Route 42. Once we do that, turn north to U.S. 60. One minute after passing U.S. 60, turn west, and that will take us to Estancia.”

“One pass, as usual?” Kara asked.

“Correct,” Guru nodded. “Once we're clear, head for the mountains due west. Clear those, then head right for the Rio Grande. Make sure your IFF is on once you clear the mountains.”

“You know those Army SAM guys: 'shoot 'em down and let God sort them out.'” Hoser said.

“No shock there,” Guru said. “Now, the threat is a mix of guns, either ZU-23s or 37-mm, plus MANPADS. Though watch out; with their lines breaking, anything's possible. Including SA-6, -8, or -11.”

“No flak or SAM suppressors?” Kara wanted to know.

“Right on that. They're all busy, so we have to use speed, surprise, and our ECM pods,” Guru told everyone.

“So,” Sweaty commented. “One pass, get out due west, clear the mountains, and head for the river?”

“That's it,” Guru said.

Then Sergeant Crowley came over. “Sir, your birds are locked and cocked.”

“Thanks, Sergeant,” Guru said. “Hit the latrines, and get ready to fly.”

After htting the latrines, and getting ready, Guru called them around. “Any last-minute questions?”

“Yeah,” Kara asked. “How many more today?”

“Who knows? Two, maybe three,” Guru said. “Any others?” There were none. “Okay, let's hit it.”

The crews did their preflight walkarounds, then after mounting their aircraft, ran through their cockpit preflights. Then came engine start, and clearance to taxi. They held short of the runway to allow the armorers to pull the weapon safeties, then the F-4s taxied to the runway itself. The tower flashed a green light, giving the Crews clearance to take off. Then Corvette Flight rumbled down the runway in pairs, and lifted into the air.



Over Central New Mexico: 1520 Hours:



Corvette Flight's four F-4s were headed east over the Chupadra Mesa, and to everyone's surprise, the only radars so far coming up were friendly. “Where is Ivan?” Guru asked his GIB. (Guy-or in this case, Girl, In Back) “No MiGs since this morning.”

“Damned if I know,” Goalie said. “I'm not complaining, though.”

“Me neither,” Guru said. “How long to turn?”

“One minute,”

“Roger that,” Guru replied. He was swiveling his head left to right, keeping an eye out for any threats. That had been drummed into his head at the RTU before the war, and no one got complacent in a fighter cockpit if one expected to come back from a mission. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Two-One. Any bogey dope?”

“Corvette, Crystal Palace,” the controller replied. “Negative bogeys.”

“Copy,” Guru replied.

“Stand by,” Goalie said. “And turn.”

Guru turned the F-4 to the northeast, headed for U.S. 60, and the others in the flight kept formation with him. “Time to the next turn point?”

“One minute thirty,” Goalie replied.

“Roger that,” Guru said. The four F-4s headed on, and as they approached U.S. 60, the crews noticed enemy traffic headed east, with some armor and APCs headed west. They blew over the road, and down below, the Cubans and Nicaraguans fleeing east were relieved that the four aircraft didn't attack them.

“And turn.” Goalie called as they reached the highway.

“Turning,” Guru said. They were now navigating by time and distance, classic dead reckoning, for there was no real landmark in this part of New Mexico, apart from a dry lakebed east of the target area.

“One minute, mark.”

“Mark, one minute,” Guru said. “Flight, lead. One minute to IP.”

“Two,” Kara.

“Three,” Sweaty.

“Four,” Hoser.

“Switches on, and set 'em up!” Guru called.

“You're set,” Goalie said. “Thirty seconds.”

“Copy,” Guru said. “Get ready.”

“Now!” Goalie called. “IP and turn.”

“Flight, Lead,” Guru said. “Pull, and turn. One minute to target.”

Corvette flight turned on its attack run, pulling up to 2000 feet AGL.

“So far, so good,” Goalie said. “Thirty seconds.”

“Copy,” Guru said. Then he saw it. “Flight, Lead. Target in sight. Lead is in hot.” He then rolled in on his attack run.


At Estancia Municipal, the commander of the 45th Independent Helicopter Regiment was having a fit. His unit had been established a year prior to the war, and two years of combat had taken its toll. His unit nominally had three squadrons, two of Mi-24V (NATO designation Hind-E) gunships, and one of Mi-8MT transport helicopters. But now, due to enemy action and accidents, he was down to one squadron of Mi-24s and a half-dozen Mi-8s, and two of those were down for battle-damage repair. Furthermore, four Su-25s had landed at the field, due to their own base having had its runways bombed, and one of those planes had run off the runway. A maintenance section and a recovery vehicle were now trying to get the aircraft out, so that it could be repaired. As for defenses.....all he had at the base was a battery of ZU-23s that were Cuban-manned, along with the Strela missiles that his ground staff had been trained to use. Then he noticed someone pointing to the northeast. Smoke in the air, coming closer. He knew right away what it was. “Air Raid warning!” He shouted, then he jumped into a slit trench.

Guru lined up on where two Su-25s were parked, along with a pair of Hinds. “Steady, steady,” he said, almost to himself. “HACK!” And six each of retarded Mark-82s and M-117s came off his Phantom. Then he turned west, and called, “Lead off target,” doing a low-level flyover of the town of Estancia as he did so.

Guru's bombs landed amongst the two Su-25s and the two Mi-8s, and all four were blown apart. A couple of the Mark-82s landed among some supply trucks, adding to the general destruction, and one bomb wrecked the communications tent.

“Two in hot!” Starbuck called. Kara saw where Lead's bombs had landed, and decided to walk hers to the left. She picked out where four Mi-24s were parked, and lined them up in the pipper. “HACK!” Was the call as her bombs came off her aircraft, and she turned west, following Lead over the town. “Two off target.”

Kara's bombs ripped apart two of the Hinds, and wrecked the other two. Her bombs also took out several fuel trucks, exploding them in fireballs, and two of her bombs also holed the runway, which meant that the Mi-24s could not use rolling takeoffs, as well as grounding any remaining Su-25s.

“Three's in hot!” Called Sweaty. She laid down her bombs to the right of where Guru's had landed, and she saw another pair of Su-25s, surrounded by vehicles, as well as a Hip helicopter. Lining them up, she called “HACK!”, and released her bombs. As she pulled away, she noticed tracer fire coming up; 23-mm by the looks of it, but it was falling behind her aircraft. “Three off safe.”

Sweaty's load blew the Su-25s and the servicing vehicles apart, and one of the bombs landed right on top of the Hip, obliterating it. Several of her Mark-82s landed in the tent area where the base personnel lived, blasting the tents apart, while two bombs landed in the motor pool, turning it into a junkyard.

“Four in hot!” Hoser called. He saw the fireballs erupting from Sweaty's run, and decided to put his bombs on the runway. So he made his pass from due east to west, and laid down a perfect pattern, putting multiple holes in the runway, and drawing some fire from the 23-mm guns on the way out. Unknown to him, one of his Mark-82s landed at the west end of the runway, where the last Su-25 sat, with the retrieval crew trying to pull the aircraft from its tail-high position. Hoser's bomb solved their problem, blasting both the recovery vehicle and the aircraft. “Four off safe,” he called as he buzzed the town.

“Copy, Hoser,” Guru replied. “Flight, on me, and let's get the hell out of here.”

All four Phantoms joined up and headed west. They got over the mountains between Bosque Peak to the north and Capilla Peak to the south. When they got into the Rio Grande Valley, Guru called. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Two-One, Corvette Flight across the fence.”

“Roger, Corvette Two-One,” the controller replied. “Do you need a vector to tankers?”

“Negative,” Guru replied. “We can make home plate.”

“Copy,” said the controller.

Once they cleared the valley, the F-4s climbed back to 12,000 feet, and headed for Williams. On the return flight, Goalie asked, “Where's the Soviet Air Force? Or the Cuban AF?”

“That,” Guru said. “Is a very good question.”




Alamogordo Regional Airport, New Mexico; 1550 Hours:


The SAF Colonel was practically in tears. Earlier that morning, his Regiment, the 190th Fighter Aviation Regiment (IAP), had three squadrons of MiG-23MF fighters. Now, he had at most, eight aircraft left in the whole regiment, and three of those were undergoing repair. He surveyed the wreckage around him, and thought, was it like this on the first day of the war against the Fascisti in 1941? He had good reason to think that.

That morning, at 0430, his men had been awakened by the sound of the alert siren going off, then explosions, as low-flying aircraft had bombed the runway. F-111s, he thought, but wasn't sure. His deputy commander had gotten the repair crews out, and they had started work on filling the bomb craters, when A-6s came over at 0600, laying down cluster munitions all around the ramp and the dispersal area, turning MiG-23s into burning wrecks as their fuel and ordnance exploded with the aircraft.

Finally, around midmorning, he had led a dozen surviving MiGs into the air, only to run into F-16s. Four of the MiG-23s were shot down, and two more damaged. After he landed, two more MiGs took off, but only one returned, as the flight had been jumped by F-5s, and though the wingman had returned with several 20-mm holes in his aircraft, he had not seen what happened to his flight leader, who had gone north, along the east side of the Sandias.

Then, that afternoon, several more A-6s had come in, again dropping cluster bombs, and adding to the misery of the repair crews. Now the runway was closed while explosives experts went around, marking the bomblets that hadn't gone off, and then a sharpshooter would go out with a rifle and shoot them until they detonated. Then his intelligence officer arrived.

“Comrade Colonel?”

“You told me this wouldn't happen! That most of their aircraft in this theater were sent to Kansas and Missouri! Now look at what they have done!”

“Comrade Colonel,” the intelligence man replied. “I was only passing what I received from higher.”

“I know, Comrade Major,” the colonel said. “Still, I have to blame someone. Any other news?”

“Nothing definite, but both Holloman and the Alamo Midway Airport have also been attacked and neutralized. Rumors are going around that American Rangers have seized the White Sands Space Harbor.”

“It won't be long until we get orders to leave,” the colonel replied. “Soon,the front will be in Texas.”

“I'm afraid so, Comrade Colonel,” replied the intelligence officer.

Several bomblets exploded off in the distance. Then a harried air force engineering officer came to the Colonel. “Comrade Colonel, the political officer-”

“What about our dear Party Comrade?” The Colonel asked.

“He's dead. The Zampolit was berating me and my men for not being energetic enough in clearing the area of munitions and debris, when a delayed-action bomblet exploded next to him.”

“No great loss,” the Colonel said. “People like him are what got us into this mess anyway. Get the runway operational as soon as possible.”

“Comrade Colonel.”


Near Williams AFB, AZ; 1600 Hours:

Corvette Flight was approaching the base, and Guru called for landing instructions. This time, the pattern was clear, and the flight was cleared for landing. After they landed, the flight taxied over to their dispersal area, and shut down. As he climbed down from the cockpit, Guru told Goalie, “Good one.”

“I'll take it,” she replied. “What happened to those SAMs the brief told us about?”

“Maybe the Weasels got there ahead of us?” Kara said as she came over. “Or they got jammed off the air?”

Guru nodded. “Whatever happened, I'm happy with it.” Then they walked over to the Hummer, where Colonel Rivers and Lieutenant Licon were waiting. “Boss.”

“How'd it go?” Colonel Rivers asked.

“Hardly any flak, and no SAM activity,” Guru said.

“How about the bombing?”

Just as Rivers asked that, Sweaty and Preacher came over, with Hoser and KT not far behind, though Hoser was limping, favoring his right ankle. “Sir.”

“What happened to you?” Rivers asked.

“Twisted my ankle getting down from the crew ladder,” Hoser said. “I'm fine.”

“Not until Doc Waters has a look. Consider yourself grounded for the rest of the day,” siad Rivers. “Now, how was the strike?”

“Tore that place up pretty good,” Guru said. “Intel was right about Su-25s; they had several there.”

“Choppers?” Licon asked. “Intel said Hips and Hinds.”

“They were there,” Sweaty said. “We took out most of them.”

“I'll check the strike footage and see what we get. BDA from other sources should be available tomorrow,” Licon said. “Any surface-to-air activity?”

“Except for light flak?” Kara asked, seeing the intel officer nod. “I didn't see any.”

“Me neither,” Guru said, and Goalie nodded. “Then again, we were first in and out.”

“No MANPADS that I could see,” Hoser said.

KT nodded. “I'll confirm that.”

“Okay,” Licon said. “I'll pass that all up the line. Thanks, everybody.” Then the intel headed on to debrief another flight.

“Good run,” Rivers said to everyone. “Now,” he said, pointing to Hoser. “As for you....” He pulled from a flight suit pocket a walkie-talkie. “Doc, come over to 512's dispersal.”

“On the way,” a voice responded.

“Colonel...” Hoser said. “I can manage.”

“Not if you have to eject,” Rivers said firmly. “No flying until Doc has a look and clears you. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir,” Hoser replied, though none too happily.

A Dodge Crew-Cab pickup came over to the Hummer, and both Doc Waters and one of his medics came over. “You asked for me, Colonel?” Doc asked.

“Hoser twisted his ankle getting out of his plane,” Rivers said. “Take him and check him out.”

“Come on, Lieutenant,” Doc said. “No more flying today, and maybe tomorrow as well.”

“Okay, Doc.” Hoser said. He walked to the truck, but he was clearly favoring his right ankle.

Watching that, KT said, “That leaves me without a pilot.”

Rivers nodded. “Any suggestions, XO?” He asked Guru.

“Haven't seen him in the air,” Guru said. “But this might be a good time to find out. How about Dave Golen?”

“Done. I'll send him over here,” Rivers said. “Anything you want to know about him?”

“Only one thing,” Guru said. “Any problems flying with KT, or flying as Sweaty's wingman? The IDF doesn't allow female aircrew..”

“I don't think he'll have any,” Rivers said. “I'll get him over here. You're going out again in forty-five minutes. This will be your last one of the day.”

“What's the mission?”

“CAS. On-call again,” said Rivers. “You know the drill. I'll get Dave over here, and you guys can hash it out.”

“Roger that, Boss,” Guru said.

“Good luck,” Rivers nodded, then he headed off to the squadron offices.

After Rivers left, the crews grabbed some more food from the cooler, and found that more drinks had been added to the ice chest. Bottled water and iced tea were preferred, as no one wanted to have gas from a Coke or Pepsi while in the air. While they ate and drank, Dave Golen came over in a USAF flight suit, and with helmet and G-Suit. “Guru,” he said.

“Dave,” Guru said, remembering the Israeli habit of calling officers by their first names. “You know everybody?”

“I do, and nice to be flying with you,” Golen said. He shook hands with KT, and said, “A pleasure to be flying with you.”

“Thanks, Major,” KT replied. “Hope you don't mind a girl in back, instead of a guy.”

“Not at all,” Golen replied.

Guru nodded. “Good, Dave, because you're flying as Sweaty's wingman.”

“Experience leads,” Golen nodded. “Just as we do it.”

“Actually,” Goalie said. “Just as Robin Olds did it in Southeast Asia.”

“I see...the legendary Robin Olds has a continuing legacy.”

Both Guru and Kara nodded. “He does,” Kara replied with an evil-looking grin.

Golen nodded himself. “So, then. What's the mission?”

“CAS, on call,” Guru said. “We check in with AWACS and they pass us on to a C-130 ABCCC, then they hand us off to a FAC.”

“Understood. Anything else I should know?”

“Only this: unless the FAC asks for it, one pass only.” Guru said. “We learned that the hard way.”

Golen nodded. It was the same thing in the Israeli AF. “Ordnance?”

“To be determined,” Goalie said. “They bring us whatever's available.”

The crews were talking and trying to stay cool when the ordnance crew arrived. This time, the crews noticed the load before the arming process began. All CBUs, and they were Rockeyes. “Looks like we may be going after armor,” Sweaty observed.

“We'll know, only when we get there,” Guru said.

It took twenty minutes to arm the flight. Then Sergeant Crowley came over to the Hummer. “Captain,” he said to Guru. “Birds are locked and cocked.”

“All right,” Guru said. “Hit the latrine, and then get ready to fly.”

After the crews did their business there, they gathered at the Hummer again. “Where to this time?” Kara asked.

“AWACS or ABCCC tells us,” Guru said. He turned to Golen. “Any special questions?”

Golen shook his head. “None.”

“Good, Dave. Just follow Sweaty's lead, and you'll be fine.” Guru said. He turned to the rest of the flight. “Any other questions?”

“This our last one, right?” Sweaty asked.

“It should be,” Guru nodded. “Anything else?” There wasn't. He grabbed his helmet. “Let's hit it.”

The crews went to their aircraft, and did a quick walk-around, then got into their planes. The cockpit preflights were rushed once again, and then it came time for engine start. After run-up, it was time to taxi. As usual, once they got to the runway, the armorers pulled off the arming pins, then the flight was cleared to taxi onto the runway. The tower again flashed a green light, and the flight took off by elements, rumbling down the runway and into the air.
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  #550  
Old 04-06-2020, 10:41 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The last mission of the day:



Over Central New Mexico: 1705 Hours:


Corvette Flight had come in just north of Albuquerque, and after checking in with AWACS, had been told to wait. They were high enough that, as they orbited, could see the Northeastern part of Albuquerque rapidly turning into a mini-Stalingrad, as the Soviet defenders made their last stand. Penned up against the Sandia Mountains, with no way out now that I-40 was under American control, and so they were fighting it out, with the 11th Airborne and parts of the 23rd ID having a real fight on their hands, while two brigades from the 23rd were pushing east along I-40. With all the artillery in the air, fixed-wing aircraft were staying clear, and even the Army helicopters from both divisions were keeping south of I-40 and west of I-25.

“One thing,” Guru said to Goalie on the intercom. “When the Russians run out of ammo...”

“They surrender,” she replied. “They're not the Japanese from World War II, or the North Koreans up in Canada.”

“Yeah,” Guru said. Then the C-130 ABCCC came on the line.

“Corvette Flight, Hillsboro,” the controller called. “Proceed heading Zero-nine-zero, then contact Nail 41.”

“Roger, Hillsboro,” Guru called. He led the flight due east, giving the battle area a wide berth. He then contacted Nail 41. “Nail Four-One, Corvette Two-One.”

“Corvette, Nail,” the FAC replied. “Say type of aircraft and ordnance.”

“Nail, four Foxtrot-Fours with one dozen Rockeye CBUs and full load twenty mike-mike,” replied Guru.

“Roger, Corvette. I see you,” the FAC responded.

As they came in, the flight could see yet another A-7K orbiting. “Nail, Corvette, what have you got for us?”

“Corvette, we have troops in contact, Highway 285 south of the Highway 41 intersection. Enemy armor and APCs headed their way. Can you make those go away?”

“Nail, Corvette,” Guru replied. “Roger that. Say Sierra-Alpha threat?”

“Corvette, Nail. Expect regimental air defense threat,” the FAC said. That meant SA-9s or -13s, and ZSU-23s, plus whatever MANPADS that the infantrymen were carrying.

“Copy,” Guru replied. “Can you mark the target?”

“Stand by, Corvette,” the FAC responded. “Steer One-Five-Zero.”

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “Flight, Lead. Stick with me.”

All four F-4s made the turn, and they were headed southeast, parallel to U.S. 285, and they could see the road below. The WSOs were scanning with binoculars, and they could see the elements of the First Cavalry Division spreading out on both sides of the highway. And about two miles south of them, White Phosphorous exploded along the breadth of the road. “There's your target area,”

Guru nodded in his cockpit. “Flight, Lead. One pass, south to north. Come around, and follow me in.”

“Roger, Lead,” Sweaty called.

“Nail, Corvette,” Guru said. “One pass is all we can give you. Can you ask the ground pounders to take out any air defense assets?”

“Wait one, Corvette.” the FAC said. Then he came back. “Corvette, Nail. That's affirm.”

Down below, several vehicles exploded in fireballs. That should make things a little easier, Guru thought. “Nail, Corvette, we're headed in. Flight, Lead. Time to go to work.”

“Right with you, Lead,” Sweaty replied.

Guru brought his F-4 around, and started his run in. “Goalie,set things up. Everything in one pass.”

“Gotcha,” she said. “You're set.”

Guru took a last look at his EW repeater. Still clear. He switched on his ECM pod. “Music's on. Lead in hot.” He rolled in on his bomb run. As he lost altitude, he could see T-72 tanks down below, and BTR type APCs. Your bad day, Ivan,.....”HACK!” Guru called as he pushed the pickle button.

Down below, the 363rd Independent Motor-Rifle Regiment was moving north on Route 285. The Regimental Commander had received orders from what was left of the 13th Army HQ to stabilize the Army's right flank. With no other information, the Colonel moved his regiment north, past the wreckage of American air attacks, and to his surprise, his regiment had not been hit by American aircraft. Then, all of a sudden, white phosphorous burst around his regiment, and he ordered his battalions to deploy and move north along the road. He was caught totally by surprise as several of his vehicles took American fire and exploded, and clearly, the Americans were closer than Army thought. The howl of an aircraft came over him, and he saw an F-4 moving north at low level. Then CBU bomblets began to explode, and then his BTR-60 command vehicle exploded around him....

“Lead's off target,” Guru called.

“Two's in,” Kara said. She went in to the left of the road, picking out what looked like a battalion's worth of APCs. She hit the pickle button. “HACK!”, she called, and a dozen Rockeye CBUs came off her aircraft, exploding a number of BTR-70s, and she egressed north. “Two's off target.”

“Three's in hot!” Sweaty called. She decided to hit the right of the road, and she, too, picked up some BTRs. As she rolled in, Sweaty noticed some tracers going up after Kara's F-4, but the tracers fell away No SAMs, Sweaty was pleased to see. She lined up the BTRs in the pipper....”HACK!” And a dozen more CBUs came off her Phantom, and a number of BTRs exploded. “Three's off target.”

“Four on target,” Dave Golen called. He'd done this quite a few times in Sinai in '73, and to him, it was like old home week. As he came in, he could see the Soviet artillery battalion deploying, and to him, that was a worthy target. He picked out a battery, and lined them up. “Now!” He called to KT, and again, Rockeye CBUs exploded on target, knocking out several of the 2S1 artillery pieces, and also exploding several ammo trucks. Golen buzzed the regiment on the way out, and as he came out, there was tracer fire coming up not only after his element leader, but around his aircraft. But the plane wasn't hit, and as he pulled up, KT in the back seat dumped some flares to confuse any MANPADS. Then he banked hard and headed west. “Four off target.”

“Copy, Four,” Guru said. “Nail, Corvette Two-One. How'd we do?”

“Corvette, Nail. Good bombs on target. Watch for Warthogs coming in from the west,” the FAC said. “The Army says thanks.”

“Tell 'em 'You're welcome,'” Guru replied. “Flight, Lead. Form on me and let's head home.”

The other three Phantoms formed on Guru's bird, and all four headed west. They managed to get to the tanker track without any help from the AWACS, and after refueling, headed back to Williams. As it turned out, they were the last flight to return, period, for the last Marine F-4 or Hornet flight had returned a good ten minutes earlier. The sun was beginning to go low on the horizon when Corvette Flight came in and landed. After they taxied to their dispersal and shut down, Guru said to Goalie. “That's a record. Seven missions in one day. For us, anyway.”

“Want to bet those Hog drivers had more?” She replied. “Let's get this debriefed, then get something to eat.”

“Always listen to your WSO's advice, my RTU instructor once said.” Guru replied. “Seems like a lifetime ago.”

“Yeah,” she said as the ground crew brought the crew ladders and the crew popped their canopies. Then they got out of the aircraft, dead tired.

“How'd it go, Sir?” Sergeant Crowley asked.

“No holes,” Guru said. “Made a bunch of tanks and APCs go up.”

“All right! Uh, Sir,” Crowley said. “CO and Lieutenant Licon by the Hummer.”

Guru nodded, and led his crews back to the Hummer. “Boss,” he said, sketching a salute.

“Welcome back,” said Colonel Rivers. “How'd Dave do?”

“Did all right,” Guru said. “Isn't that right, KT?”

“He did,” KT replied. “I'd have him in the cockpit again anytime.”

“If you want him, you got him,” Rivers said. “Hoser's grounded for at least another day.”

“Then we'll take him,” Guru said. “How's that sound?”

“Sounds good to me,” Golen replied.

“What was the target?” Licon wanted to know.

“Regimental-sized force on 285,” Guru replied. “Tanks and APCs.”

“Any SAMs?”

“None that we could see,” Sweaty said. “There was some tracer fire coming up, though.”

“No heavy stuff, not even MANPADS,” Kara nodded. “The Army did take some of that out, though.”

“Major?” Licon asked Dave Golen. “Did you see any?”

“None at all,” Golen replied. “Just some tracer fire, and that was all.”

“What did the FAC say?” Rivers asked.

“He said we had good bombs on target,” Guru replied. “Some A-10s were coming in as we left, and that was all.”

“I'll check your strike camera footage,” Licon nodded.

“Lots of secondaries on a couple runs,” Sweaty noted. “Guru and Starbuck had some.”

“And so did you,” Golen said.

“All right,” Licon said. “Thanks, everybody.” He then went off to the intel office.

“Okay,” Rivers said. “Dave, you fly with these guys tomorrow.” He saw Golen nod. “Get something to eat, and get over to the Sheraton. Wake up is at 0400, with first wheels up at 0600.”

“Boss,” Guru said. “Almost like today?”

“Not as much,” Rivers told the flight. “If the ComBloc hadn't collapsed as much as they did, yeah, but..”

“But this whole part of the front's coming apart,” Goalie noted.

“That's right,” Rivers admitted. “Get out of your gear, get some food, then over to billeting. Curfew is at 2100.”

“And the twelve-hour rule's already in effect,” Kara noted sourly.

“It is,” Rivers said. “Sorry, Captain.”

“All right, people,” Guru said. “You heard the CO. Get something to eat, and get to the Sheraton.”

As the flight broke up, Goalie noted that her pilot was hanging back with Colonel Rivers. “You're coming, right?”

Guru nodded. “In a minute.” He turned to Colonel Rivers. “Glad I didn't have to use that packet.”

“So am I,” Rivers said. “But keep in mind, it's still going to be a long war. You might need something like that later on.”

“Let's talk about that later, Boss,” Guru said. “I need some food, and then some shut-eye.”

“You're not the only one, XO,” Rivers nodded. “Come on and eat.” He pointed to the Marines' mess tent.

After eating, the aircrews headed back to the Sheraton, and they found their beds. Because it wouldn't be long until 0400, and they would do it again on the second day of PRAIRIE FIRE......
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Old 04-06-2020, 10:47 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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A couple of notes:

1) This is Dave Golen's first appearance. He has been in the squadron for two weeks, and has been taking his role as an observer seriously. His orders, though, let him fly at his discretion, and this day is his first mission with the squadron. He wears a USAF flight suit, has a USAF ID, and so on, so that if he's shot down and captured, for all intents and purposes, he's an American.

2) The ALA (American Liberation Army) is the Collaborationist Government's own army. They are raised from people who are literally press-ganged into service, those who join to get more food for their families, criminals looking for reduced sentences and a lot of power, and the true-believers, of course. After the war, the first two groups are pitied, and given amnesty. The last two are viewed with nothing but contempt, and many are still in prison for collaboration, Treason, and war crimes convictions.
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Old 04-08-2020, 10:01 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Questions or comments before the next one?
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Old 04-09-2020, 01:45 PM
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Well, being a former infantryman, I'd like to see more of what's going on on the ground.
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Old 04-09-2020, 04:42 PM
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have you thought about a POV of the SR-71 or U2 Pilots. also maybe from the POV of a US sub off cuba?
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Old 04-09-2020, 10:07 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Here's one for Paul: not quite a grunt's point of view, but more T2K in style. Downed aircrew getting back to friendly lines with some help from guerillas. And a cameo from a character from the original movie....read and enjoy!


Out of the Mountains



1420 Hours Mountain Time: 8 May 1986; The San Isabel National Forest, Northwest of Walsenberg, Colorado:



It wasn't much to look at, but to the camp's occupants, it was home. Sort of, anyway. Several parachutes had been converted into tents, and others had made shelters out of pine boughs and branches, just like what the survival school instructors had taught. For the camp's military and guerrilla occupants, it had been enough, though higher up in altitude was a camp that was more secure. At that camp were wounded guerillas, families who had fled the Soviet-bloc invasion, and even some hikers who'd been up in the high country, and had been shocked to find that the worst had happened, and the Russians had come.

To the military personnel there, though they had helped the guerillas the best they could, all were anxious to get to the other side of the Rockies as soon as the weather and melting snow permitted. Of the camp's fourteen military personnel, a dozen were downed aircrew members from all four services, and the other two were escaped POWs. The rumor mill had said that there were Army troops somewhere to the northwest, along U.S. Highway 50, and all were hoping to get there, find friendly troops, and somehow, get back to their squadrons and back in the air.

For Air Force Lieutenants Matt Wiser and Tony Carpenter, five months with the Resistance was more than enough. They had been shot down in their F-4 near Walsenberg, to the southeast, back in January, and had been lucky enough to find a rural church, where the preacher was willing to hide them in a tornado shelter. Then they'd been passed along to the Sheppard Ranch, west of Walsenberg proper, where the family had sheltered them for a few days, until their eldest daughter Lori could take them into the mountains. They had been in the mountains all of two days when Lori came back, tears running down her face. After they'd left, the Soviets had come to the ranch. Someone, somewhere, had either been caught and broken, or the escape line had been betrayed. Lori had ridden down from the Mountains to find the ranch house and barn burned to the ground, the animals taken away, and in the driveway, the bodies of her parents, younger brother, and younger sister. All had been shot in the back of the head, and both her mother and sister had been.....used, so to speak, by the Russians before they had been killed. She had buried her family, and ridden back into the hills, and bringing with her a desire for revenge.

Over the past few months, the guerillas had made themselves known to the Russians and their Cuban and Nicaraguan lackeys, ambushing convoys, raiding outposts, cutting phone lines, and so on. Not only had they lived off the land, but also off of the enemy, taking whatever they could find, whether it was food, weapons, ammo, medical supplies, or whatever. But now, with the spring melt, Lori knew that she needed to do two things: first, get the downed pilots over the Rockies to friendly lines, and second, see if the rumors were true, and that there were Special Forces teams helping guerrilla bands with supplies, advisors, and so much else. For up in the high country there was a family camp, with refugees who'd fled into the hills, some family members of guerrillas, some escapees from labor or “re-education” camps, people who really needed to be on the other side.

Lori gathered the downed pilots around a campfire. All were dirty, grubby, and showed the effects of living in the wilderness. But all had taken part in raids against the invaders, even if the two Marines and the single Army aviator had any kind of infantry training. They had gotten to be good at it, the hard way. “OK, good news. Mike Jensen just rode down from the Family Camp. They say the snow melt's made a trip over the pass a lot easier. So we're leaving today.”

“About time, Lori,” Major Mark Adams said. He was one of the two Marines there: an A-6 driver who'd gone down the same time as the two F-4 crewers. He'd been in unofficial command, though he deferred to Lori, as she was the leader of the band. But he was the senior ranking military officer there.
He, like the other military evadees, had his flight suit, but worn over that was a Soviet airborne camo outfit, and then on top of that was a Soviet winter camo suit. And given how cold it got at night this high up, everyone was glad to have the multiple layers of clothing.

“I'll second that,” Capt. Bill Andrews quipped. A former member of the Thunderbirds, he had been shot down the previous December, and had escaped from the Cubans after a week in their custody. Given what he saw during his brief captivity, he had no qualms about killing Russians or Cubans, period.

“How far to friendlies?” Lieutenant Wiser asked.

“Good question,” Adams said. “Best guess it that it'll take a week or so. On foot the whole way.”

“Lovely,” Tony Carpenter said. “At least we'll get out of here and back to our units. If I wanted to be SF, I would've joined the Army.”

Adams nodded. He knew the feeling. Even though he'd been trained as an infantry officer before going to flight school, being a grunt was the last thing he expected. “Any other questions?” There weren't any. “That's it, then. Grab your weapons, get your gear, and we're gone.”

The two AF Lieutenants went to their tent. Though they had buried their chutes after bailout, they had found chutes belonging to downed pilots who hadn't survived: a parachute landing in the forest was a dicey proposition, and several airmen had died in their landings. The two gathered up their tent, and picked up their rifles. Both had AKMs, but Wiser also had an AK-74 that he'd picked up off a dead Soviet recon trooper, and wanted to keep it as a souvenir. Tony Carpenter also had a war trophy he wanted to keep: an SVD sniper rifle that he'd killed a Cuban to get. Like the others, they had made homemade packs from parachute harnesses, just like they'd been taught in SERE.

The party made their last-minute checks. For food, they had home-made deer or elk jerky, and some civilian canned goods that they had found when cleaning up a supply convoy they had ambushed. However much they had, it would have to last a week.

It wouldn't just be the evadees going out: Lori was coming with them. Not only as a guide, but she wanted to find out for herself if the rumors were true, and there were SF operating in the area. Not only did she want an SF Team to come into the area, with weapons, ammo, food, and above all, medical supplies, but to evacuate the family camp. That place had been an old logging camp in the 1920s, and though the civilians and others hiding there had food and shelter, they really needed to be evacuated. Not to mention that their doctor, who prewar had been a dermatologist from Denver, was really in over his head for the most part. He'd been on a hiking trip when the invasion happened, and the only medical supplies he had were what had been “acquired” after an ambush. If a helicopter pickup to get the civilians out could be arranged, she was all for it, and was eager to get going. She not only had an AKMS rifle, but she also had a Winchester Model 70, and that .270 slug could take down just about anything: and they had seen just how good a shot Lori was. Not only had she shot some deer or elk, but in raids, she used that rifle as a sniper rifle, and Lori had killed her fair share of Russians and Cubans with the weapon.

The evadees and a few guerrillas who'd be coming along were all set to go, and a few minutes later, Lori and Major Adams came up. “Everybody set?” Lori asked. Though Adams was the senior military officer, she ran the guerrillas, and was in charge. “OK, let's go.”


Somewhere in the Rockies: 10 May 1986: 0730 Mountain Time:

The first day and night had passed quietly for the most part, though most of the evadees were too keyed up to sleep. The prospect of freedom, and being able to climb back into a cockpit, meant that hardly anyone got more than four hours' sleep. As for breakfast, some Elk jerky and a raw pop tart, along with a canteen of water, had to do.

“Another week of this,” Tony Carpenter grumbled. “And I'm an outdoors type.”

Lieutenant Wiser looked at his WSO. “Where?”

“Oregon. Some little town between Salem and the Cascades. Got an appointment to the Academy, which kept me from being a logger, and look where I am now.”

“Let me guess: a lot of hunting and fishing?” Wiser asked.

“Yep. Never thought all of that would come back.” Carpenter said.

“You must've breezed through the field portion of SERE.”

“I did. And the instructors didn't like that at all.”

Major Adams came up. “All right, people, fill your canteens from the spring, and let's get going. If anyone gets winded, call out. We're getting into higher elevation today.”

There was the usual grumbling, but everyone got ready, and moved out. Lori wanted to bypass the family camp, and Adams had agreed wholeheartedly. If anyone was following them, best to stay away.

Five hours later, there was a break. As they got higher up, there was still snow on the ground, though it was patchy. Some places still had several inches of snow on the ground, while others, more exposed to the sun, had spring plants in full bloom. But there was one thing everyone was noticing: the lack of forest sounds. It was quiet. Lori, for all her time in the woods prewar, had never experienced anything like this, and neither had Tony Carpenter, or the other guerrillas. “I don't like this, Major,” she said.

“Neither do I.” Adams agreed. He motioned to Army WO Kyle Lewis. “Drop back about a hundred yards, and bring up the rear. See if anyone's following us. Take one of the guerrillas with you.”

“Gotcha, Major,” the UH-1 pilot said. He'd been an enlisted solider for five years before going to Fort Rucker and getting his wings as a Warrant Officer. Not to mention that he was Ranger qualified, and that experience had come in very handy, not just in teaching ground tactics to the guerrillas and most of the airmen, but in combat.
Adams then turned to his B/N, First Lieutenant Neal Brandon. “Neil, take point.”

He nodded, and headed on out. After he'd gone about fifty yards, the rest of the group followed.

A couple hours later, Lori called a halt. Neal had found nothing up ahead, but he couldn't shake a feeling that they were being watched. Major Adams felt the same way, along with Lori, and for that matter, everyone else. Someone was watching them, but who? If it was Spetsnatz, they might be following them until they made camp, then attack. “Two hours of daylight left.” Adams said. “We'd better find a spot to make camp.”

After a half-hour of searching, the party found a nice campsite, only a hundred yards or so from a small lake. After getting a fire going, and boiling some drinking water, everyone sat down to eat. The canned goods that the ComBloc had looted came in handy, for canned beef stew, pork and beans, or raviolis had to make do. But as the party ate, everyone still had the sinking feeling that someone was watching them.

“Major, I think we'd better have a patrol-just to look around,” Lori said to Major Adams.

“I think you're right,” Adams agreed. “Guru, Neal, Tony.”

Wiser's head shot up. Guru was his call sign. “Major?”

“You three, have a look around. No further than a thousand yards. Check around the lake, and down the trail. If you find anyone, fire a few shots into the air, and try and hold 'em. We'll be there ASAP.”

“Will do, Major,” Guru said. Brandon was the Marine, so he led the little patrol. They checked out the lake, and went back down the trail. They found nothing, but still.....the hair stood up on the backs of all three. Something was in the forest, off the trail somewhere, and watching them. They saw nothing, and returned to camp just as twilight was coming.

“What'd you find?” Lori asked. Major Adams was with her.

“Nothing,” Neal Brandon said. “We checked around the lake, no tracks, other than animals. They were old, by the way.” He went on, “And we went down the trail a ways. Didn't see anything, but....”

“But what, Lieutenant?” Adams asked.

“But, Major,” Guru said. “Something's there, because we all felt like we were being watched. And my hair stood up on the back of my neck.” And the other two nodded affirmatively.

“Mountain Lion, maybe?” Adams wondered aloud.

“Could be, and the other animals know there's a predator around, so that's why they're quiet,” Lori commented. “Major,if there is a big cat nearby, we'd better have two or three on watch, instead of one.”

“Agreed. Two on watch at all times. I'll take the first, with Neal.”


That night, everyone went to sleep-or tried to, anyway. The possibility of a mountain lion or a bobcat coming into camp had everyone nervous. Spetsnatz or other Soviets, they could deal with. But a big cat coming in and trying to drag one of them off? That was something else entirely. Even if one was sleeping in a parachute tent or just spread the chute on the ground, no one went to sleep without weapons close at hand. There being a full moon didn't help one's nerves any, for a shadow in the moonlight could be an enemy-or a big cat looking for a meal.

Guru had taken the 10-to-12 watch, along with Tony, and they had turned things over to Capt. Mark Bailey, an AF F-16 pilot from the 388th at Hill, and Joel Wambach, one of the guerrillas. The two F-4 crewmen then went into their tent, and after checking for snakes, went to sleep.

It was just after 0300 when it happened. The two on watch, one of the ex-POWs and a guerrilla, were sitting by the fire, trying to stay warm in the cold night air, when one of them heard something. They were footsteps-big ones. The two decided not to wake anyone, and simply waited by the fire for the intruder-whoever or whatever it was, to go away.

In their tent, Guru and Tony were sleeping when Tony suddenly woke up. He shook his pilot awake. “Guru, wake up!” Carpenter hissed.

“Huh,? What?” Guru said, “Tony, what the...”

“Something's out there,” he said. “Smell that?”

“I don't...wait. Now I do. Rotten-egg smell?”

“Yeah.”

Then the two felt footsteps on the ground. Big ones. “What the hell...” Guru said. He poked his head out the tent, and saw the two on watch huddled around the fire, looking very afraid. Then they got up and slipped behind the tent Major Andrews and Neal Brandon shared. Then he-and Tony-saw it.

In the moonlight, and the firelight, a large shape came walking into the camp. In the moonlight, they couldn't see much, but the creature, whatever it was, was at least eight feet tall. It strode into camp, and started looking around. It found Lori's tent-a prewar dome-style camping tent, and seemed to be looking inside. Then a tent flap opened, and two of their fellow airmen looked out. And Guru heard safeties being clicked off. “Oh, shit!'” He whispered to Tony, reaching for his own AKM.

Before anyone could shoot, Lori woke up and saw the huge shadow looming over her tent. She didn't make a sound, but reached for the first weapon she could-her Winchester rifle, and took the safety off. Then all hell broke loose as Neal Brandon came out of his tent and saw the creature looming over Lori's tent. “The hell is that?” Then the shooting started.

Nobody remembered who started firing, but once someone started to fire, everyone did. The creature turned and ran off towards the lake, waving its arms as if to repel a swarm of bees, as shots flew all around it. Even after the creature was out of sight, there was still shooting. “CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE!” Adams yelled.

“What the hell was that?” Several people asked at once.

Tony Carpenter knew, or thought he did. “If we were in the Pacific Northwest, I'd say that was a Bigfoot.”

“Well, we aren't in the Pacific Northwest,” Lori Sheppard quipped. “And that sure as hell looked like a Bigfoot.”

Mike Jensen, one of the guerrillas, nodded. “They call it the Snowbeast. At least that's what I heard before the war. He's our Bigfoot. And he's a lot bigger and meaner than the one in the Northwest.”

“Snowbeast or Bigfoot, or whatever that...thing was,” Adams said, “Soon as we can after first light, we're getting the hell out of here. No telling who heard all that shooting.”

The party had passed a sleepless rest of the night. As dawn broke, two of them went to the lake with a couple of buckets to get water to boil to fill their canteens with, while everyone else was busy breaking camp. The two returned with the water, but were shaken. They had found tracks by the shoreline-big ones. Eighteen inches long, they thought, and very deep. “I'll take your word for it,” Andrews said. “Let's get that water boiled, and eat. Then we're getting out of here.”
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  #556  
Old 04-09-2020, 10:11 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Part II:



14 May 1986: 1400 Mountain Time:



Three days had passed since the encounter with, whatever that beast had been, and everyone had settled down. They had to stop more often, as the party was getting higher and higher, then they had passed the treeline into open ground, which didn't make anyone comfortable. Anyone on high ground could be watching them, and there wasn't a thing they could do about it. But the pass was just ahead.

“Finally!” Guru said. He'd been on point with Neal Brandon.

“Oh, yeah,” Brandon agreed. “Cross that, and it's all downhill.”

“I'll stay here, Neal.” Guru said. “Go get the Major and Lori.”

Brandon nodded, and went back. A few minutes later, the party was with him. Adams was checking his map-an old U.S. Forest Service map that Lori had loaned him. “That the pass?”

“That's it, Major,” Lori said. “Another three or four days, then maybe we can find some civilization.”

“Not today: we've only three hours or so of daylight. Let's get back to the treeline, and make camp. We'll cross in the morning.”


The next morning, the party was fed, rested, and ready to go. As they approached the pass, everyone was keyed up. If there was going to be an ambush, this would be a good spot to spring one: the group out in the open, and whatever attackers would have high ground and concealment among the rocks.

The party approached the pass, and Navy Lt. Lyle Branson, an A-7 pilot, glanced to the right. “I'd swear there was something up there.”

“Still jumpy after that...thing, Lyle?” Neal Brandon kidded.

He shook his head. “No, but I thought I saw sunlight reflecting off of something.”

“If somebody was up there, they would've opened fire by now.” Lori said. “I would, if I were up there.”

“Don't worry about it, Lyle,” Adams said. “Let's get to the other side of the pass, then we're in the homestretch.”

As the party approached the pass, and crossed it, they were being watched. Unknown to them, a Spetsnatz team was watching the pass. They were under orders to observe and report, and one of the Soviets, the team's second-in-command, had a 35-mm camera with a telephoto lens. He was snapping pictures of the party as they moved to the pass. He was certain that he got faces, but would have to wait until the photos were developed to make sure. The team commander knew he could have set an ambush here, and wiped out the guerrillas, but those were not his orders. The Front intelligence directorate wanted to know who was using the mountain passes and how often, to determine guerrilla supply lines, as well as to identify particular individuals. He'd been told to stay hidden, observe, take photographs, and report. And to give a detailed report to the local commander upon extraction.

On the other side, it was level for a bit, then it was downhill, just as had been hoped. They camped for the night about three miles from the pass, and for the first time since setting out, everyone was relieved.


17 May 1986: 0930 Mountain Time:

It had been a relatively easy two days since crossing the pass, and Lori's map showed several hiking trails that led down the west side of the mountains. Though the trails were obvious, and if one wanted to set ambushes, there would be no better place to set some, it beat using game trails or just plain going through the woods. Not to mention the fact that after nearly a week on the trail, people were getting tired. Breaks were more frequent, much to Major Andrews' displeasure-and Lori's for that matter, but there was no getting around it.

The party had stopped for a break, having been on the trail for two hours, when the point element, Neal Brandon and Mike Jensen, went on ahead. They thought they'd seen something, and went to investigate. They came running back, breathless. “Major, Lori, you'd never guess what we just found.”

“What?” Lori asked.

“There's a Forest Service station. Nobody's there, but there's a garage, and what looks like an office.”

Lori checked her map, and Andrews did too. There was a dirt road nearby, and they had been hoping to get to that road and follow it. It would be a lot easier to just follow the road, even if it exposed them to ambush. But there had been no sign of enemy-or friendlies for that matter. “Major, if there's a garage, there might be a truck or two there. If it hasn't been looted, there's probably gas there, too.”

“And just drive on out of here?” Adams asked. “We'd be easy targets.”

“Got a better idea?” Lori shot back. “At this rate, we'll be out of food before we can walk out.”

The Major knew she was right, and simply nodded. The group headed on to the station. And both were surprised: the station wasn't on their map. Lori checked the date of issue on the map: 1974. “Great. How many other surprises are there?”

“Let's check this out first,” Adams said. “Guru, Neal, Tony: Check this place out. Give a wave if it's clear.”

“Right,” Guru said. He collected the other two, and the trio headed to the station. The station looked deserted, but the doors were locked, and the windows shut. “Guru, I don't like this.” Neal Brandon said.

“Think it's a trap?”

“Yeah, I do. But whose?” The Marine asked.

“Let's check it out. Go on ahead, Neal. Tony, cover the both of us. I'll be right behind Neal.”

Both nodded, then the Marine went in, and Guru, his AKM at the ready, was right behind him. Neal went around the building, checking for any booby traps or mines, and finding nothing obvious. Still suspicious, he decided the best way to get in was to break a window. “Guru, I think we can get in by a window.”

“Break a window?” Guru asked. “Still think there's a reception committee around?”

“Don't think so now, but if there's something rigged on the doors.....”

“Say no more.” Guru nodded. “Do it.”

Neal took his AKM and broke one of the rear windows, and Guru helped him in. Neal looked around, and found the place musty, damp, and abandoned. He tried flipping a light switch, but nothing came one. “No power.”

“This far back?” Guru asked. “They probably have a generator. Anything on the doors?”

Neal went to the back door, and checked it. Nothing. He opened it, and waved to Guru. “Clear back.”

Guru went on in, and headed straight for the front door. Nothing. He opened it, and waved to Tony. Then he went into the garage, while Neal checked the office. Inside the garage, he found two Ford King Cab pickups, and then went into one of the trucks. There was a two-way radio, and he looked around for the keys. Sure enough, tucked in the driver's side sun visor, the keys came out. Then he went to the other truck, and found the other set of keys. He went back into the office, and found Neal waiting for him. “What'd you find?”

“There's a break room, but the refrigerator's empty, and the vending machines look OK.” Brandon said.

“All right. This place is clear,” Guru said. He went and waved Tony over. “Tony, wave the others in.”

“Gotcha.”

Carpenter walked into the road and waved the party in. Lori and the Major were surprised to see the two trucks. “These two have gas?” Adams asked.

“There's a gas tank in the back, but I haven't started the trucks,” Guru said, handing Major Andrews the keys. “We'll have to open the garage doors.”

Nodding, Adams told two of the other evadees to open the garage doors, which could be done without power. Then he started one of the trucks. It turned over easily, and the same went for the other.
“The tanks are full. Now I wouldn't mind riding out of here.”

Lori was inside the office, checking the desks. The calendar said September 5, 1985. The day after the invasion had begun. “Someone was here. They must've just closed up shop and left in some other vehicle,” she observed.

“Any supplies? Food, or whatever?” Adams asked.

“Nothing, Major.” Guru said. “They cleaned the place out before turning off the generator.”

Adams nodded. “See if there's any empty gas cans here. Check the big tank, see if it's got gas. If it does, fill those gas cans, then we're taking these trucks.”

Guru nodded, then collected a couple of the others, and sure enough, there was gas in the big tank behind the station. After filling the cans, he asked, “What about this place?”

“Leave it,” Lori said. “There might be someone else who can use this, even if it's just for shelter.”

“Check the desks,” Adams ordered. “See if there's a better map.”

A search of the three desks and their drawers found nothing useful. Though a search of a storage shed found several tarps, along with some tools: axes, shovels, Ponderosas (a combination of ax and scraper-used by woodland fire-fighting teams), and so on. Andrews ordered the gear brought along, just in case, then he had the gas tank behind the garage punctured. “No sense in leaving that gas for Ivan if he comes this way.”

After that had been taken care of, the group piled into the two trucks and pulled out of the station. In the lead truck, Neal Brandon was driving, with Lori beside him, two guerrillas in the back seats, and half of the party in the bed of the truck. “Follow the road, Neal. There's another forest road about five miles away, then we take that. Then that should lead us to a county road, then that takes us to State Highway 69.”

“Just hope Ivan doesn't have any Su-25s doing armed recon on the roads.”

After two hours of driving, and two roads later, they came to Colorado Highway 69. The sign at the intersection said “Westcliffe 20”, and Neal knew to take the right. Turning left only took them back towards enemy territory.

In the second truck, Guru was driving, with the Major beside him. Tony Carpenter and Mike Jensen were in the back seats, and the others were in the bed of the truck. “Ever think we'd be driving out of here, Major?” Guru asked.
“No, but right now, I'm not complaining. We just covered in three hours what would've taken a day on foot.”

Guru nodded. “Major, neither am I.”

Thirty minutes later, they rolled into Westcliffe. Or what had been Westcliffe. The town had been hit from the air, apparently, and there was nothing but burned-out buildings, wrecked cars and pickup trucks, and rubble. They stopped at the intersection of Highway 69 and State Route 96. A sign was still standing: it said, “Hillside 14; Texas Creek/Jct. U.S. 50 25”. The party got out to search the nearby buildings. Nothing was salvageable, and there were remains of bodies all over. The town still smelled of death, even though they had no idea of when the town had been attacked. “No sign of anything military around: no wrecked vehicles, nothing,” Tony Carpenter noted when he came back to the Major. “What'd they hit?”

“Want to bet there was a guerrilla band out of here, and Ivan decided to hit the town in reprisal?” Adams said.

“No takers,” Lori said. “This place is giving me the creeps.”

“You're not the only one,” Mike Jensen said. “I say we get the hell out of here.”

Adams nodded. “Okay, people! Mount up and let's go.”


Twenty minutes of driving, and they came to Hillside. That town, too, had been hit, and there was nothing standing. Lori and the Major talked over the truck radios, and decided not to stop, but keep going. A few miles down the road, they came to a local road. The sign there said, “Cotopaxi 6; TO Jct U.S. 50 West.”

They stopped, and everyone got out to stretch their legs. It had been so long since anyone had been in a car or truck, and they were unused to being in a vehicle. Lori was checking her map. “That's a dirt road, and want to bet it hasn't seen a repair crew in ages?”

Most everyone nodded, but one of the guerrillas, Sean Weston, who'd been a Colorado Department of Transportation road engineer prewar, went over to the road. He could tell someone had been working on the road. “Somebody's been here. There's dozer tracks, and they're about a week old. And the road looks like it's been worked on.”

“Got to be friendlies,” Brandon said. “Has to be.”

“Yeah, but that road likely doesn't have bridges: there's a couple of creeks on the map, and that road crosses them,” Lori said, pointing at the map.

“If someone's been working on the road, they've probably taken care of that,” Adams said. “All right: let's take the short cut.”
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Old 04-09-2020, 10:15 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Part III:



17 May 1986: 1500 Mountain Time, Calumet, CO

Colonel Ernesto Bella was sitting in his office at the City Hall. He'd been the local military governor since the invasion, and though the first month had gone well, those infernal Wolverines had been a major problem. Not only had they repeatedly struck at the liberating forces, but had inspired others to begin their own guerrilla activities, and this sector of Colorado, which for a month had been considered pacified, was now a mess. Though the Wolverines had been dealt with after their final attack on the town, other bands had not ceased their depredations. It didn't help matters that his second-in-command, a Nicaraguan Captain, had been killed in the attack, along with a Soviet Spetsnatz Colonel, who'd been brought in to deal with the guerrilla problem once and for all. The only bright spot had been the death of his superior, General Vassily Bratchenko, in the attack, and though Bella had to sing the General's praises at the memorial service, privately, he, and a number of other officers, had been glad that....butcher had met his end.

Colonel Bella had submitted his resignation, but he'd heard nothing so far, and given the war “emergency”, his request was likely to be denied. So, he'd been gathering material, for he'd made a decision that he knew was the right one: when the opportunity came, he would defect. Then there was a knock on the office door. He had taken over the Mayor's office, and was actually glad that he no longer had to deal with that man. What was the American term? “Ass-kisser”, someone had said. Well, a month after the Wolverines' attack, there had been one more attack on the town, only this time, it had been swift and silent. A number of those who'd been cooperating with the liberating forces had met with violent ends, and among them had been the Mayor. Bella now dealt with the civilian population through the prewar City Manager, and the fellow, though he could tell was not too thrilled about cooperating with the Socialist Forces, did what was necessary to keep the population under control. There was a second knock. “Come in,”

“Comrade Colonel,” his new deputy, a Cuban Army Captain, said. “Major Volshov is here.”

“Volshov?”

“Spetsnatz, Comrade Colonel,” the Captain said.

“Ah, yes. Send him in, please, Ricardo.”

Nodding, the Captain ushered in the Soviet officer. He had been Colonel Strenlikov's deputy commander, until the man's death, and now ran the 779th Independent Spetsnatz Battalion. “Comrade Colonel.”

“What do you have, Volshov?” Bella asked. “Your men knew their orders, correct?”

“Absolutely, Comrade Colonel!” Volshov said. “They avoided contact with the enemy, and brought back some photographs. The patrol only saw one party going through the pass, headed west.” The Spetsnatz officer opened a manila folder and showed Bella the photos.

“Hmm....Good enough to identify people,” Bella was impressed. “Any idea who these....people are?”

“No, Comrade Colonel. My intelligence officer has access to records on known guerrillas, and none of them are familiar to him,” Volshov told his superior.

“What were the patrol leader's observations?”

“He noted that most of those observed seemed to have a military bearing. They may have been downed airmen, perhaps?”

Bella nodded. “Still, Major, once one becomes a guerrilla, they develop a military bearing very quickly. But, given the number of aircraft that have gone down in this area, you may be right.”

“Yes, Comrade Colonel,” Volshov said.

“You do have copies of these photographs?” Bella asked.

“Of course, Comrade Colonel,” nodded Volshov. “Your own military intelligence people may be able to make use of them. As would the DGI.”

“Thank you, Comrade Major,” Bella said. “They certainly will. That'll be all.”

The Spetsnatz officer saluted and left the office.

Bella took the photos and scanned them once more. Yes, some of them looked like they were downed pilots. What was the term? A “rat line?” Yes, this might be such a line, where the guerrillas conducted downed pilots and others who were escaping the Soviets over the Rocky Mountains and to American lines. It was more of an outpost war on the other side, his intelligence briefings said. Soviet-bloc outposts on the other side were few and far between, and often could not be held. Bella took the photos, and put them back in the folder, before putting them in his briefcase, where they joined a number of other documents that the Americans would clearly love to get their hands on.

He made his decision. Then and there. “Ricardo!”

Bella's deputy came in. “Comrade Colonel?”

“Get my driver and jeep. I'm going to one of the outposts.”

“Is that wise, Comrade Colonel?”

“Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Still, I need some fresh air. Being stuck in this office for a while makes one long for the outdoors.” Bella said.

“Comrade Colonel,” the man said.

A few minutes later, Bella's UAZ-469 jeep pulled up to City Hall. He took his briefcase-which his deputy was curious about, but said nothing. The ways of Field-grade officers were a mystery to him, just as they were to junior officers the world over. “When will you be back, Comrade Colonel?”

“A few hours, Ricardo. I may even have dinner with the men at the outpost. A gesture of solidarity with the men on the line, you might say,” said the Colonel. Bella got into the jeep. “Keep things going here until I return.”

The deputy clicked his heels and smartly saluted. “Comrade Colonel!”



17 May 1986, 1545 Mountain Time: County Road 85, near Cotopaxi, Colorado:


Guru was driving the second truck, keeping his eye on the first, and trying to avoid bumps and dips. “Major, whoever worked this road hasn't been here in a while.”

“No kidding!” Adams responded. “If it was the Army, they just did the bare essentials.”

Then the radio crackled to life. “Major, this is Lori.”

Andrews picked up the talker. “Go ahead.”

“Looks like a military camp up ahead. There's a flag flying, but I can't tell whose from this distance.” At the same time, her truck stopped.

Guru stopped behind Lori's truck and everyone got out. Several pairs of binoculars were soon in use. “Looks like ours,” Tony Carpenter said.

“I'll go along with that,” Guru said.

“Problem is, that collaborationist force, the ALA, has a flag similar to ours,” Lori said. “Someone's got to get close and see who they are.”

“I'll go,” WO Kyle Lewis said.

Adams nodded. Lewis was the best of the aviators, and was Ranger-qualified. “All right, we'll cover you.”

Lewis took off his Soviet gear, taking only two things: his AKM rifle, and his winter camo suit. If need be, he'd wave it at whoever it was to ID himself.

The party watched through binoculars as he approached the camp. “If they're hostiles?” Lori asked.

“If they are, we get in those trucks and hightail it out of here. Then we find some other way around that location,” Adams decided.


Lewis took his time in getting close. He could see that the brush had been cleared away to give the outpost's defenders a clear field of fire, except where they hadn't. And a trick he'd been taught at Ranger school came back. If grass wasn't being cleared, that was a sure sign there were mines around. He looked at the flagpole: it was the Stars and Stripes, but was it the good guys? Those ALA scum had a variation of it that you needed to get real close to see. He crept in closer, taking care to check for booby traps. If they're ours, there's Claymores around, and he didn't want to trip one if he could help it.


In the outpost, a very bored soldier was standing watch. He was wondering what his platoon was doing here, watching a road that no one had traveled on for months, apart from those engineers who took their heavy equipment there for a couple of weeks. Rumor had it some kind of push might be happening and the higher-ups wanted the road in at least passable shape. He shouldered his M-16 and took off his helmet. When are we getting those Kevlar helmets? The airborne mafia has theirs, so when do we get ours? Then he heard something. He raised his rifle, and called for his squad leader.

“Damn it!” Lewis whispered to himself. He'd found some wire, and attached to the wire were cans of varying types and sizes. An old Vietnam trick to alert bases that there were intruders in the wire. And that meant that this camp had friendlies. Then he heard a shout:

“HALT! Identify yourself!”

“You Americans?” Lewis yelled.

“Who are you?” The voice yelled back.

“Make sure you're Americans,” Lewis yelled. “Where did the Dodgers play baseball before going to L.A.?”

“Brooklyn,” the voice said. “Now, how many Oscars did John Wayne win?”

They were Americans, Lewis knew. Though he didn't know himself, he did have a ready answer. “Not enough!”

“Well, Sarge, do we shoot him or not?”

“He's right, though,” A soldier stood up. “Stand up and come on in.”

Lewis stood up and waved his camo suit. The soldiers waved him in, though he was careful to keep his hands visible, and nowhere near his rifle. Then he saw the flag. The genuine article. “WO Kyle Lewis, United States Army,”

“Staff Sergeant Clay Haswell, 2-17 Infantry, 7th ID,” the solider said. He pointed to a gap in the wire, and Lewis got into the camp. “Where did you come from, uh, Sir?”

“Been on the other side with the guerrillas,” Lewis said. He pointed to the specks in the distance where the party was. “There's a whole bunch of us: downed pilots and guerrillas. We've been looking for friendlies for over a week.”

“Well, Sir, you found 'em,” Sergeant Haswell replied. “Carter, Walsh! Go with Mr. Lewis, and escort the rest of his party in,”

Two soldiers nodded, while Lewis shook Haswell's hand. “Where's your platoon leader?

“Dead. Got himself killed on a patrol a week ago. And they haven't sent us a new shavetail yet.”

Nodding, Lewis told the two GIs to follow him back down the road.


“He's coming back,” Tony Carpenter observed. “And he's got two people with him.”

Everyone reached for their rifles, and took cover beside the road. “Don't fire unless I give the word,” Adams ordered.

People nodded, as they raised their weapons. Then Kyle yelled. “Major! We've got friendlies!” He motioned the two soldiers to go ahead of him.

Major Adams and Lori stood up. “What's your unit?”

One of the soldiers responded, “7th ID. 2-17 Infantry, 2nd Brigade.”

“Major Mark Adams, United States Marine Corps,” Major Adams said. “Lori, here, she's in charge of the guerrillas.”

The two soldiers saluted, then Carter, a Spec 4, said. “Sir, let's go.”

Nodding, Andrews ordered everyone into the trucks, and they drove to the outpost. And for the first time in months, the evadees saw an American flag flying, and by habit, they saluted. Then Sergeant Haswell came in. He saw Major Adams and saluted. “Major,”

“Sergeant,” Adams said, glad to return the salute. “Are we glad to see you.”

“Sir.” Haswell said. “I've called my company commander, and we should have vehicles coming to take you guys and gals”-he saw Lori Sheppard and two other female guerrillas-”to the rear.” He looked at the USFS trucks. “Guess you won't be needing those anymore, Sir.”

Both Adams and Lori tossed him the keys. “If you can use 'em, Sergeant, they're yours.”

“Yes, Sir,” Haswell said. “We'll find a use for 'em.”

A few minutes later, a pair of 6x6 GMC trucks arrived. An Army Captain climbed down from one of them. “Major Adams? I'm Captain Dale Logan. These trucks'll be taking your party back to Division.”

“Where's that?” Adams asked.

“Salida, Sir. If you and your party will get on the trucks, Sir.”

Nodding, Adams waved to the group. “Let's go, people!”


1610 Mountain Time. County Road 44, west of Calumet, CO



Colonel Bella's UAZ-469 jeep headed west, towards one of his forward outposts. A Soviet motor-rifle brigade, one that had been pulled from Afghanistan and sent here, had the outpost line in this area. He knew the brigade commander, and both knew that there wasn't much chance of a push over the mountains in force. Now, guerrillas sallying from the mountains to raise whatever hell they could, that was a totally different story, and the guerrillas knew full well not to attack the company-sized outposts. Shooting up patrols, or ambushing supply convoys, now, that was a different matter. But Bella knew, though his driver didn't, that they'd never get to the outpost. Knowing the dispositions of the Soviet and Cuban forces in the area, he knew where to cross into No-Man's Land and then get to American lines. The jeep pulled up to an intersection, complete with STOP signs.

“Almost there, Comrade Colonel,” the driver said.

“Yes,” Bella agreed. He took out his service pistol. “Now, Corporal, you will get out and walk, back the headquarters,” he said, pointing the Makarov in the driver's face. “Get out and start walking. NOW.”

Thoroughly frightened, the driver got out, and tried to take his weapon.

“Leave your weapon in the vehicle,” Bella said, and the driver left his AKM in the jeep. Bella then got out himself, still covering the driver, and pointing the pistol at the driver, ordered him to get going. And the man ran away. Smiling, Bella got back into the jeep, pulled out his own map, and started taking back roads. It would be a day, maybe two, before he found a road across the mountains, but, even if he had to take logging roads or what the Americans called “four-wheel drive trails”, he'd get to where he was going. And he knew of a couple of caches that he had put there: he'd found a couple of isolated, but abandoned, cabins that would be perfect for his purposes. Bella had placed the caches shortly after the Wolverines' final raid, stocking them with food, fuel, and ammunition. Even a couple of AK rifles in each. Now, he thought as he headed towards one of them, did the guerrillas find the caches first?


1750 Mountain Time: Salida, CO:


The two GMC trucks bringing the evadees to Salida pulled into town. The canvas covers on the trucks hadn't been put on, and everyone had a view. As they got closer to Salida, the number of outposts increased, and a couple looked like Vietnam-era firebases, even. When they got into town, seeing armed troops on the streets, along with armed locals, was no surprise. The trucks pulled up to City Hall: it was Division HQ. Several officers, and a number of soldiers, were waiting. One of the officers came up to Major Adams.

“Major Adams?”

“That's right.”

“I'm Colonel Mitch Drummond, G-2, 7th ID. Welcome back to Free America.”

Adams saluted. “Sir, glad to be back.”

“Now, we'll have to verify the evadees' identity, just to make sure. The air liaisons have all of the aircrews' personal verification questions,” Drummond told the Major. The aircrews overheard that, and knew why. With the ALA, and Soviet intelligence probably inserting agents disguised as either refugees or evadees, verification was a necessary part of life.

“After that?”

“You all can get cleaned up, and something to eat,” Drummond said. “Then my intel people want to have a talk with all of you.”

“Colonel, with all due respect, after we eat, we need to sleep. We've been running on adrenalin for over a week, and, Sir, we need to crash someplace.”

The intelligence officer nodded understanding. “All right, Major.” He looked at the aircrew and the guerrillas, and all were clearly tired. “The debriefs can wait until morning.”


After the aircrews' identities had been verified, and they had vouched for the guerrillas, the party was taken to a reception center set up at the local High School. There, they were able to get out of their dirty clothes, and have a hot shower and decent shave for the first time in months. The chow hall was open, and the Army mess people told everyone that there was more variety there than at the cafes in town. Knowing mess people, the military evadees took that with a grain of salt, with more than one “Yeah, right,” being uttered. Since classes were still being held at the school, there were tents set up, and the party, in clean Army OD fatigues, but still keeping their weapons, fell down on the cots and went to sleep.


The next afternoon, Colonel Drummond came by the tents. He was wondering why no one from the group had shown up at Division HQ to talk with his people. The Officer-in-Charge of the reception center simply took the Colonel to the tents, and showed him why. All were still asleep, nearly twenty-four hours after their arrival. The Colonel nodded. “Anyone try to wake them, Captain?”

“No, Sir,” the officer replied. “They've all got their weapons with them, and if we try to shake one of them awake, they might shoot one or two of my people.”

Drummond laughed. “Well, we can't have that, can we, Captain?”

The captain smiled. “No, Sir. I'll just notify you when they wake up.”
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Old USMC Adage
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  #558  
Old 04-09-2020, 10:25 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Part IV:


19 May 1986, 1530 Mountain Time, 7th Infantry Division, Salida, CO:


Guru and Tony came out of the Division's G-2 shop. They had spent several hours with not only the Army intel people, but an Air Force Intelligence Officer had also debriefed them. Everything had been gone over, from shootdown, to those who had helped them, to their time in the mountains, and the trip out. It wasn't enough that they had told the same story to the Army pukes, but the AF wanted it firsthand from them as well. And that intel weenie was going to be busy, for there were six AF evadees in all, and he'd be busy into the night and the next day.

Glad to be out of the intel weenies, and dressed in new BDUs, Guru turned to Tony. “Want something to eat? There's a cafe not that far away.”

“Yeah, a late lunch sounds good,” Tony said. “Hey, there's Lori.”

Lori Sheppard came towards them. She waved them over. She was in new BDUs as well. She had spent the morning not with the Division's intelligence people, but with Special Forces. There was a Special Forces Base nearby, and she had been anxious to talk to the Green Berets. “Hey, guys!”

“Lori, how's the Army treating you?”

“Couldn't ask for anything more. They'll be sending some SF in, and my people as well, to the Family Camp. We'll evacuate those people by chopper, and they're going to be with us the rest of the way,” she said. “However long that is.”

“One thing my Squadron CO told me, Lori, on Day Two: 'It'll be a long war.'” Guru said.

Tony Carpenter nodded in the direction of the cafe. “Lunch?”

“Yeah,” Lori agreed. “I can use a late lunch.”

“Where's your .270?” Guru asked. He saw that she had her AKM instead.

“Oh, the SF guys are taking care of it. Their gunsmith was practically in heaven. He's drooling at the thought of customizing it for me, but I told him no. It's a family heirloom, and right now, it's my only family connection.”

Guru and Tony knew all too well what she meant. “Sorry...”

“Don't be,” Lori replied. “Not your fault. And if someone talked, I'll find whoever it is. And kill them myself.”

The two pilots understood, and they also knew that she meant what she said. Then they walked to the cafe. A sign at the entrance asked that all civilians check their long guns at the door, but military personnel could keep theirs. And they saw several of their fellow evadees sitting down at a table. “Guys, come on in,” Neal Brandon waved.

“Thanks,” Tony said. And the trio joined their friends. The waitress came over with menus for the new arrivals. “You guys just ordered?”

“Yeah,” Bill Andrews said. “Most of the beef, though, it's unavailable. Even if they do have it, you need a ration coupon to order.”

“Let me guess: chicken, pork, elk, deer?” Lori asked.

“You got it,” Neal Brandon said.

“I've had enough deer and elk that if I ate one more bite,I'll start growing antlers,” Guru quipped. “Pork chops and eggs is good enough for me.”

“Same here,” Lori said. “I can do without for a few more days. Remember, prewar, I hunted a lot.”

“Seconded,” Tony said.

After the new arrivals had ordered, Guru noticed something. He saw a very healthy looking busboy cleaning up a table. “Shouldn't he be in uniform?”

“We asked the waitress that same question when we got here,” Bill Andrews said. “He can't join up.”

“What?”

“He's diabetic, she said. Needs insulin every day, and the Army's the area's only supply.” Andrews said.

“Oh, boy.” Guru sighed. Then he noticed the boy was packing a Colt .357 Magnum in a shoulder holster. “Everybody's carrying.”

“Yep,” Brandon said. “And that kid does his part: they have a mounted posse, and he rides with 'em. He may be diabetic, but he still does his part for the war effort.”

“Sorry to change the subject, but did you guys hear about when we're leaving?” Bill Andrews asked.

“The AF liaison said we'd have something in a day or two. Family notifications have to go first,” Tony Carpenter said. “Then we get two weeks' leave, then refresher training, and back to our original units.”

Andrews smiled. He raised his glass of ice water. “Here's to that,”

Clink

The waitress brought the original party's order, and said to the new arrivals, “Your meals are coming. Be a few more minutes.” And Guru, Tony, and Lori watched with envy as their friends tore into their food. Lori was drooling, and looked at Neal Brandon as if possessed. Then she saw him jerk his head up with a start. “What's up?”

“The front door.”

“What are you..” Lori asked, turning to look. Guru and Tony turned as well, just as a Cuban Colonel, in full uniform, came into the cafe. And everyone at the table, not to mention several Army personnel at other tables, reached for their rifles. And as safeties were being clicked off, an Army officer came running in.

“Hey, don't shoot! He's a defector.”

“Prove it,” An SF trooper at a nearby table said, pointing a CAR-15 at the Cuban.

Everyone at Guru's table had their AKMs out, waiting. Then another officer came in-a light colonel, this one, and said, “People, he's a defector, it's OK.” And weapons began to be lowered. As the Cuban entered, it was obvious that he was what they said he was. Several SF officers were right behind him, and in plain BDUs, a couple of others, who looked to be “OGA” types, followed the officers. The party sat down at another table, and after ordering coffee, started to talk to the Cuban. He took one look at Guru's table and asked, in English, “Is this how you welcome guests?”

One of the officers laughed. “Colonel, with that group, it probably is. They just came out of the mountains a few days ago.”

“I see...” the Cuban said. Then he switched to a language that no one, other than the SF men, could understand.

Unable to follow the conversation, Guru's party ate. As they got up to leave, the Cuban was still at it. “Want to bet they'll be at it all night?” Neal Brandon asked.

“No takers,” Tony said. “Maybe they'll be so busy with him, they'll tell us, 'We're done with you guys.'”

After paying for his meal, Lori's, and Tony's, Guru went outside. There, he found an AF Sergeant, part of the liaison team, waiting. “Sergeant?”

He turned. “Lieutenant Wiser?” Then he saluted.

Guru returned it. “That's right.”

“Sir, I've got movement and travel orders for you and Lieutenant Carpenter.” He looked behind Guru. “Is Captain Andrews in there? I've got something for him as well.”

Tony came out, with Lori right behind him . “Who's asking?”

“He is,” Guru pointed to the Sergeant. “He's got one for you, Tony,” Guru said as he opened the envelope. “Two weeks' leave. Movement and travel to Castle AFB is authorized, civilian train transportation to Fresno....” Home for two weeks, Guru noticed. “Can't beat that.”

“Same here,” Tony said. “Two days on a train to Oregon, though,” he saw.

Lori shook their hands. “At least you guys have a home to go back to. When this is over, I have to start all over.” She looked at them “And so do a lot of others.”

“Yeah.” Guru knew full well what she meant. He held out his hand “Lori, when this is all over, you're welcome at our unit reunions. You've earned it.”

She shook his hand, then embraced Guru. “Thanks, Matt.” Then she did the same with Tony. “You guys take care, and do me, and all of us up in the hills a favor.”

“Just say it, Lori,” Guru said.

“Kill as many of those bastards you want. Shoot them down or blow 'em up on the ground, I don't care.” Lori told both of them with all seriousness.

“We'll do that.”


24 June 1985, 1400 Mountain War Time; Williams AFB, AZ.


Lieutenant Matt Wiser got off the C-130 that had flown him, via Beale AFB and Nellis, from Kingsley Field to Williams. Just as he'd hoped, he was rejoining the Chiefs, the 335th TFS, and getting back into the fight. He looked around, and saw the familiar: F-4s, painted in either SEA camouflage or or Navy/Marine Corps grey, A-4s and A-6s, AF Jolly Green Giant rescue choppers, and a couple of other C-130s. Just another day.

He'd enjoyed the two weeks at his home in Auberry, in the Southern Sierra Nevada foothills. His family was doing OK, and rationing, though it had bitten, wasn't hitting rural folks as hard as it did in cities, for nearly everyone who could had a garden. Though trips to Fresno were still common, people knew to combine trips, and shop for a neighbor if that person only needed one or two things.

Word had gotten around that he was back, and he'd been asked to talk to school assemblies, the local VFW, the Shaver Lake Chamber of Commerce, and so on. Recounting his experiences, some of which he still didn't want to talk about, went easier than he thought, and he wished he had more time at home with his mom and grandparents, but the two weeks went by fast, and it was time to get to the Fresno Air Guard Base. There, he'd gotten his travel orders to go to Kingsley Field, and that meant space-available again on a C-130. When he got to Kingsley Field, to his surprise, he had very little to do with Colonel Saul Tigh, the CO of the RTU there, but things he'd heard about the man came back: he was stubborn, irascible, grumpy, and just an overall asshole. When Guru had said as much to one of his instructors, the man-who had flown with Tigh in Vietnam before going to the Reserves, simply said, “You only have him for two weeks. I put up with him in SEA for a year.”

His RTU time went by fast, and on his final check ride, he'd maxed the flight. His instructor was beaming on landing, and was ready to pronounce Guru requalified. Tigh was on the ramp, and when the instructor brought Tigh the form to sign, with Guru there, Tigh had simply signed it, made some kind of grunt, then went off. Guru turned to the instructor, a Captain, and said, “That's it? No 'Welcome back to the Air Force?' Or 'Glad to have you back in the fight?'”

“That's it, Lieutenant.”

The only down side: Tony Carpenter, once he requalified, was being kept on as an instructor. When they were in the O-Club that afternoon, Guru was celebrating, while Tony was drowning his sorrows. “Tony, it won't last forever. You'll be back in the fight.”

“Yeah, but for at least a year, I have to put up with this asshole.” Carpenter grumbled.

“Well....what else can I say?” Guru held out his hand. “I'm glad to have flown with you, and see you at the reunion.”

“Guru, I'm glad to have known you,” Tony said, shaking his hand. “I'll see you around. Take care, and check six.”


Now, as he got off the C-130, a wave of heat hit him. He was in his dress blues, as per regs, and it was hot on the ramp. Guru looked around, and saw the 335th was still in its old location. He went to check back in with his squadron, glad to be back. He opened the door to the old T-37 flying training squadron offices that the 335th had taken over, and he saw a few familiar faces. And one of them recognized him: Captain Tim Cain, one of the backseaters left from Day One. “Guru!”

“Tim,” Guru said. “Glad to be back.”

“We heard you were coming back, man. How bad was it with the Resistance?”

“Don't ask. It was bad enough,” Guru replied. “If you want to know, it should be in the SERE Bulletin.”

“Yeah,” Cain responded.

“Colonel Rivers still the CO?” Guru asked.

“He is. He'll want to see you.”

Guru nodded. “All right.”

He picked up his bag and went to the CO's office. Several of his friends had recognized him, but there were more than a few unfamiliar faces. And he knew why. People he'd flown with were KIA, MIA, POW, or were in the hospital. Or worse: they might be going through what he'd experienced. Shaking his head at the thought, he knocked on the CO's door. “Come in.”

Guru went into the office and saluted. “Colonel, one lost sheep back to the 335th.”

“Guru!” Lt. Col. Dean Rivers said, getting up and shaking his hand. “Glad to have you back.”

“Good to be back, Sir.” Guru replied.

“Before you have a seat, you're out of uniform,” Rivers told Guru.

Guru was confused. They'd reoutfitted him at Castle before he went home, and he found out the AF had sent his personal belongings home after he'd been reported MIA. “Sir?”

Rivers gave him a small case, like a jeweler would use. “Open it.”

Guru did. “Captain?” He stared at the CO with a dumb look on his face. “Sir, I don't have enough time in grade.”

“Things are different in wartime, Guru. Lot of things happened while you were doing the SERE course for real.”

“We heard. Some botched counterattack, then Ivan pushed north again, and they got stopped short of the Mississippi and I-90.” Guru replied. “We saw Stars and Stripes when we came out of the mountains.”

Rivers nodded. “Yeah. And we just started pushing them back. Chances are, we go right back to where they were in January.”

“Lovely,” Guru said.

“Anyway, sorry about Tony not coming back. I asked for both of you, but they wanted an Academy grad as an instructor there,” Rivers admitted. “But I've got you a new WSO. A week out of the RTU, but no combat yet.”

“Captain's bars and a new WSO in the same day,” Guru noted. “Be careful of what you ask for, because you might just get it.”

Rivers let out a laugh. “There is that. Ready to meet your new backseater?”

“Might as well,” Guru said. Not that he had much choice.

Rivers went to the office door and motioned for someone to come in. A female 1st Lieutenant came in, with wavy blonde hair as long as regs permitted, and even in a flight suit, she was a looker. “First Lieutenant Lisa Eichhorn reporting, Sir.” she said, saluting.

Rivers nodded and returned the salute. “Lieutenant,.” He turned to Guru. “Lieutenant Eichhorn, meet Captain Matt Wiser, your new pilot.”

Guru was surprised. This had to be a welcome-back joke. But what if it wasn't? When had they tossed the ban on women flying combat? “Sir?”

“Guru, they tossed the ban on women flying combat in November, but we were all too busy to notice,” Rivers reminded the new Captain. “She's in the first crop of female pilots and WSOs to come out of the RTU.”

Well, then, that answers that. “Just like Ivan did, forty years ago,” Guru observed. He put out his hand. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Eichhorn replied.

“How'd you do at Kingsley Field?”

“First in my WSO class,” Eichhorn said with pride.

Guru noticed her Academy ring. “Any problems flying with an OTS grad?”

“Not at all,” Eichhorn replied. “Right now, the only thing I care about is my pilot wearing Air Force Blue.”

Guru nodded, then turned to Rivers, who made a habit of not wearing his class ring. “Boss, I think we'll get along just fine.” He turned to Eichhorn. “What's your call sign?”

“Goalie,” she replied.

“A guru and a goalie,” Rivers observed. “You two will make a good team. Now, Guru, I'll want a check ride with you in the morning, then you two can fly a fam hop to the Goldwater range to shake down. Because in three days, we're back on the firing line.”

“Yes, Sir.” Guru said.

“All right, find Mark Ellis, Guru, and see about billeting. We're still in the Mesa Sheraton, but he'll find you a roomie.”

Guru nodded.

“Anything else?” Rivers asked. Both shook their heads. “Dismissed.”

Back in the squadron offices, several old hands welcomed Guru back. And they reminded him of the obligatory promotion party! “Tomorrow night, guys,” Guru said. He walked out of the building, with Goalie right behind him. He turned to her. “Let's say we go to the Club, and talk things over. I think we'll make a good team.”

She nodded. “Suits me just fine. As long as the new Captain is paying.”

Guru laughed. “You know what? We'll get along just fine. And I am.”

It was her turn to laugh. “Then let's go.”
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  #559  
Old 04-09-2020, 10:30 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Epilogue:


14 October, 2011. Victory Day Air Show, Scott AFB, IL.



Colonels Matt Wiser and Lisa Eichhorn were sitting in the shade, which their F-15E Strike Eagles could provide. He had flown his Wing King bird from Hill AFB in Utah, where he commanded the 419th TFW of the AF Reserve, while Colonel Eichhorn flew her Wing King bird from Mountain Home AFB in Idaho, where she ran the 366th TFW “The Gunfighters.” They were the first married couple in the Air Force to be wing commanders at the same time, and flying the same aircraft, so there was naturally some publicity. They had been specifically requested by the Air Force to bring themselves and their aircraft to the show, and to have one other aircraft from their unit come, flown by veterans of World War III if at all possible, or the recent Baja War if not. Colonel Wiser had brought his WSO, who was too young to be in the Big War, but had flown with him in Mexico, and Colonel Eichhorn had done the same. But their wingmates had been in the big one: Colonel Wiser's was Lt. Col. Kelly Ann Ray, who had been a POW in Cuba during the war, while Colonel Eichhorn had brought along Lt. Col. Kara Thrace, who had been in the 335th during the war, and was now commanding the 390th TFS. All of their respective WSOs had flown in Mexico, when both units had deployed to Baja for that brief war.

This year's Victory Day Air Show was big, and for two reasons. First, it was the biggest show of the season, and all of the military's demonstration teams participated: the Thunderbirds from the Air Force, the Blue Angels from the Navy, the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, and the services' respective Heritage Flights. Second, it was the final Victory Day show to be held at Scott, because the following year, Andrews AFB would formally reopen, along with the rededicated and rebuilt Washington, D.C, and the show would move to Andrews on a permanent basis, much to the disappointment of the Greater St. Louis area, which looked forward to the show visitors pumping a lot of money into the local economy every year.

That was not a concern to the two colonels, who noted that a lot of vets were in attendance. Though this day was more of a practice day, with the teams having practice runs, it was also the day when VIPs could attend, without the extra security, and it was also the day that civic and veterans' organizations, as well as special needs visitors, could be there as well. The “Make-a-wish” kids often came on the practice days, and these days were less crowded.

Looking around, Guru saw the F-15Es from Seymour-Johnson, and he had a soft spot for his old wing, and the 335th, which was still part of the 4th TFW. Then there were the F-22s, and he knew full well that Kara and Kelly had a score to settle with the CO of the 357th TFW, who had “shot down” both of them in a Red Flag, and they had promised revenge, even if he was a one-star. The bombers were out, with B-52s and B-1s on the ramp, with the B-1C known as Cleopatra and its all-female crew being spotlighted, and a B-2 flyby from Whiteman was on the agenda. Just about every type of fighter, bomber, or transport was represented, and that was just the AF! All of the other services were well represented, with Navy, Marine, and Army aircraft and helicopters there, and the RCAF also came down as usual.

Guru and Goalie were talking with some cub scouts, signing autographs, and showing the kids around the F-15Es, while Kelly Ann Ray was signing books: her book Down in Cuba had become a best-seller, and had been made into a movie that had done well on Showtime, and was coming to DVD. Then Goalie looked around. “Where's Kara?

“She went to put some decals in the wheel well of that one-star's F-22,” Guru said. “Notice I said the wheel well. She knows full well not to put it on the outside.”

“Does she?” Goalie asked her husband. “I don't want my pay docked to pay for the paint job.”

Kara then came back. “Mission accomplished.”

“Youdid did put them in the wheel well?” Goalie asked.

“Yes, Ma'am,” Kara said. “I may be crazy but I'm not stupid. Besides, I want that one-star's crew chief to have a coronary-along with said one-star.”

“That's our Kara,” Colonel Ray quipped. And everyone knew she wasn't kidding.

The cub scouts had just gone on, when a Cuban-accented voice spoke up. “Colonel Wiser, we meet at last.”

“Huh?” Guru turned and saw someone he hadn't seen personally since that long-ago day in that cafe in Colorado. But he'd seen the man on Larry King Live, being interviewed along with Erica Mason, one of the two surviving Wolverines, and now Governor of Colorado. “Well, now. Not every day you see a man you almost shot.”

“What?” Goalie asked. And the expressions on Kara's face and Kelly's were just as surprised.

“Ah,” Colonel Ernesto Bella, Cuban Army (ret.), said. “Yes, your Colonel here almost shot me in a cafe after my defection.” He explained the event to the Eagle crews.

“Ernesto, you didn't tell me about this?” a woman's voice said.

“Forgive me,” Colonel, meet my wife, Manuela, and my children, Jose, Pedro, and Sofia,” Bella said, introducing his wife, teenage son, and year-old twins.

“Pleased to meet you,” Guru said, and the other Eagle crews were just as pleasant.

“Now, what's this about nearly shooting him in a cafe?” Mrs. Bella asked.

Guru nodded. “Well, Ma'am, your husband came into the cafe still in his Cuban Army uniform, complete with beret, and everyone reacted out of reflex. It wasn't just us; almost everyone in there was carrying a weapon of one sort or another.”

Bella laughed. “Yes, and I remarked to one of the intelligence officers that 'Is this how you welcome guests?'”

“That I heard,” Guru said. “What brings you here, Colonel?”

“I have something for you,” Bella said. He motioned behind him, and a young woman came and handed him a folder, and getting by the bodyguards that always accompanied Bella. “My publicist. After my book's success, hiring one was mandatory.” He handed Guru the folder. “I suggest you have a look.”

Guru opened the folder. Several photos came out. They showed a party walking single-file, towards a mountain pass. All were dressed in Soviet winter suits, and had AK rifles at the ready, except for one, who had a hunting rifle. “I recognize the one with the rifle. Lori Sheppard: that's a .270 Winchester she's carrying.”

“Yes, I saw her at the cafe,” Bella said. “Now,look at the close-ups.”

Guru flipped through the photos. There were several 8x10 close-ups, all clearly enlargements. “OK, Neal Brandon, Lori Sheppard, and....” He looked at Bella. “This isn't possible.”

“It is, Colonel,” Bella replied.

“Let me see,” Goalie asked. She looked over Guru's shoulder. “What?! Guru, that's you!”

“Yeah,” Guru said. He looked at Bella. “Who took these?”

“A Spetsnatz team. They had orders to observe and report about whoever was using the pass. The Front intelligence directorate wanted to know about possible guerrilla supply lines, escape routes, that sort of thing. They had orders to observe and report only, and to avoid combat,” Bella said, matter of factly.

“How'd they know we were there?”

“They didn't,” responded Bella. “They had been up there for nine days, and were on the last day of their mission,”

“God...they're good enough to recognize everybody,” Guru noted. “Excuse me, Colonel, but I need to make a phone call.” He reached into one of his flight suit pockets and pulled out his cell phone.

“Who are you calling?” Goalie asked.

“Sheriff Lori Sheppard.” was the reply. Guru had her number, and he made the call.

“Sheriff Sheppard,” Lori said after picking up. “What's up, Colonel?”

“Lori,” Guru said. “I'm at the Victory Day Air Show, and there's a certain former Cuban colonel who's got some nice pictures. They're of us, going over the pass.”

“WHAT?”

“Colonel Bella says there was a Spetsnatz team keeping tabs on the pass. They got some nice pictures of all of us. Good enough to get ID on everybody.” Guru told the Sheriff.

“Who talked? Colonel, if someone was a rat, they'll wish they had never been born!” Lori was practically shouting into the phone.

“Nobody talked,” Guru said. “Bella said they were watching the pass, and we just came into range of their camera...”

“NOT GOOD ENOUGH!” Lori yelled. “I'll find the snitch, whoever it was, and watch as the Feds hang him or her! Colonel, I'll call you back. My chief of detectives is going to be busy for a while.” And with that, Lori hung up.

Guru went back to where Goalie was, with Colonel Bella. “Well?” Goalie asked.

“Great. Lori's gone ballistic. I told her about the Spetsnatz team and the photos, and she went ape. She's convinced someone was a traitor, and she's going after someone who doesn't exist. I do not want to be her chief of detectives right now.”

“Ah,” Bella said. “She has to satisfy herself that there wasn't a traitor, but will make life miserable for her subordinates in the meantime.”

“Exactly,” Guru said.

“Well, then.” Bella said. He turned to Colonel Ray. “Colonel Ray, I have read your book.”

She was surprised. “And how did you like it?”

“A very harrowing read, I must say.” Bella said. “Your treatment was most unforgivable, and totally reprehensible. I trust the guilty parties will pay?”

“A couple have, Colonel. The rest, well once the appeals are done, it's time to measure them for the correct drop,” replied Colonel Ray.

“Quite so,” Bella agreed. “Please accept my apologies as a Cuban. You and your fellow prisoners deserved much better treatment.” He put out her hand.

“You're not one of them, Colonel.” Ray said. “So you're okay in my book.” And the two of them shook hands.

“Ernesto, we should be going,” Mrs. Bella reminded her husband. “There's a lot more to see.”

“Yes, we should.” Bella turned to Guru. “You may keep the photographs, Colonel. Consider them a gift. And a reminder of a close shave.”

Guru nodded.

Bella then shook hands with the Eagle drivers, then he and his party-bodyguards included, moved on.

“Well....” Goalie said. “Not every day you meet someone like him.”

“Yeah,” Kara said. “He's still in shape, though: I read his book: the man's ex-Cuban SF. Experience in Nicaragua, Angola, Cambodia, El Salvador, and Mexico. He probably doesn't need the bodyguards.”

“There's enough ex-DGI types around who might still try to whack him,” Capt. Jody Tucker, Kelly Ray's WSO, commented. “He'll have them for a while longer.

Kelly nodded. “You know one thing?”

“What?” Guru asked.

“He's the first Cuban to actually apologize for what happened to me, personally,” Kelly replied. “He's okay in my book.”

Nodding, Goalie looked at the photos again. “Man, they were close.”

Her husband nodded. “Yeah. Now I have to do one more thing. But not until Monday.”

“What's that?” Kara asked.

“See if Lori's climbed down from the ceiling and calmed down,” Guru remarked dryly.

“Why Monday?” Goalie asked.

“It'll take her that long to settle down,” Guru said.


And with that, the show went on, for the rest of the day, and the whole weekend.
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  #560  
Old 04-14-2020, 10:12 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Guys, here's the first fact file. In tribute to Satellite Down, it's about the Virginia-class CGNs:



The Virginia Class Cruisers in World War III



The Virginia class guided-missile cruisers were the largest class of nuclear surface combatants built for the U.S. Navy, until the postwar Puget Sound class strike cruisers. At the outbreak of war, they were the most capable nuclear cruisers in the U.S. Navy, primarily being employed as escorts for carrier battle groups. Planned as a five-ship class, only four were built, while the fifth, which was hoped to be equipped with AEGIS, was never funded.

The ships had an active war, escorting carrier battle groups, protecting their charges from air and submarine attack, and all four survived the war.


U.S.S. Virginia (CGN-38): Commissioned in 1976, she was active in the Atlantic Fleet at the beginning of the war, she had escorted the Eisenhower battle group on its last peacetime deployment. She remained with Eisenhower throughout the war, seeing combat during raids against Soviet-occupied Iceland, the liberation of Iceland, the Kola Raid, and operations in the Gulf of Mexico (GULF HAMMER and the reduction of the Brownsville Pocket). A brief yard period in 1986 had the “Fem Mods” (accommodations for female officers and crew) added. Virginia participated in the sinkings of three Soviet submarines: the Victor-I class SSN K-147 off Norfolk on 27 November 1985, the November-class SSN K-60 during the Liberation of Iceland in May, 1987, and the Tango-class SS B-319 on 8 June 1989, during the transit from Norfolk to the Gulf of Mexico. Virginia, during Gulf of Mexico operations, also took SAM shots at Soviet aircraft engaged in the airlift to Texas and Mexico, scoring several kills in the process. She was overhauled and refueled from 1994-1997, and after routine deployments with both the Sixth Fleet and the Fourth Fleet in the Caribbean, Virginia was decommissioned and stricken in 2014, and has been sold for scrap after defueling and all nuclear components removed.


U.S.S. Texas (CGN-39): Commissioned in 1977, she was active in the Pacific Fleet at the outbreak of war, as part of the Carl Vinson Battle Group. The group had returned from a WestPac deployment when war began, and as soon as war began, deployed to protect the California coast, and conducted carrier air strikes against targets in Baja California. Later, Texas participated in operations against Soviet convoys on the Alaska run, and in strikes against occupied Alaska and the Kamchatka Peninsula, protecting the carrier from Soviet air, submarine, and missile attack on several occasions. A brief yard period at San Diego followed, with the “Fem Mods” being added. Later, as part of the Vinson group, Texas also participated in the final reduction of the Soviet base at Cam Ranh Bay, before taking part in further raids against Kamchatka, the Kuriles, and Alaska, as well as covering the movement of forces into Alaska after the Soviet surrender in the Northern Theater in October, 1989. During the war, she sank three Soviet submarines: an unknown Whiskey-class SS on 24 March, 1986, the Juliett-class SSG K-63 during the Cam Ranh Bay strike, and the Charlie-I class SSGN K-25 on 6 October, 1989. (This was the last Soviet submarine sunk by USN surface vessels in the war) Overhauled and refueled in 1995-98, Texas resumed WestPac and Indian Ocean deployments with the Abraham Lincoln carrier group, before being decommissioned and stricken in 2015. She will be scrapped after defueling and all nuclear components have been removed.


U.S.S. Mississippi (CGN-40): Commissioned in 1978, she was part of the Nimitz carrier battle group in the Mediterranean when the war began, and she, along with the other escorts, was able to successfully defend the carrier against a “First Salvo” attack by the Soviet Mediterranean Squadron. The battle group then attacked the Soviet squadron, sinking several ships, before being diverted to attack targets in Libya, after the Soviet/Libyan occupation of Gibraltar. Mississippi then participated, with the battle group, in operations in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean for much of 1986-7, taking part in the Liberation of Gibraltar and strikes against Libya and Soviet naval facilities in Syria. She also participated in strikes against both Cuba and Occupied Iceland, before the Liberation of Iceland and the Kola Raid, serving as AAW “Gatekeeper” to Nimitz. After Kola, a brief yard period followed, where she received the “Fem Mods” for female officers and crew. Mississippi then served with the carrier during operations against Cuba, before the Nimitz shifted to the Pacific Fleet, but she remained in the Atlantic Fleet. During her time with the Nimitz group, she sank three Soviet submarines: the Juliett class SSG K-67 on 6 September 1985, the Echo-II SSGN K-22 during the Iceland campaign, and the Foxtrot-class SS B-2 on 7 August 1987. She next provided AAW cover for the amphibious force in Operation GULF HAMMER, and again during the reduction of the Brownsville Pocket. After supporting the Cuba Blockade, she was part of the Theodore Roosevelt battle group, before her nuclear refueling and overhaul from 1997-2000.

After her yard period, Mississippi became part of the America battle group, seeing combat in the Cuba intervention and in the Baja War, supporting operations against the Mexican Gulf Coast. During the fall of the Rump USSR, the America battle group went to sea after DEFCON-3 was called, but saw no action. Mississippi is expected to decommission in FY 2017, and then she will be defueled, have her nuclear components removed, and then scrapped.


USS Arkansas (CGN-41): Commissioned in 1980, she was active in the Pacific Fleet as part of the Carl Vinson battle group. She participated in all of the Battle Group's actions in the initial part of the war, before being shifted to the Enterprise Battle Group in 1987, and the “Fem Mods” added during a brief yard period in San Diego. Arkansas participated in operations against Alaska, Kamchatka, and the Kuriles, and also covered the movement into Alaska after the Soviet surrender in October, 1989. The Enterprise group then participated in Operation FORAGER II, the Liberation of Guam from North Korean occupation in November-December, 1989. After the war, she resumed normal deployments to WestPac and the Indian Ocean, with occasional anti-piracy operations in both Indonesian and Chinese waters. During the war, she participated in the sinking of two Soviet submarines: the November-class K-11, on 5 June 1987, during a raid on Alaska, and the Echo-I class SSN K-259 during the Kamchatka Raid. Arkansas also fired Tomahawks in that operation, and during FORAGER-II, sank an unidentified North Korean Romeo-class SS.

After her refueling and overhaul from 1998-2001, she returned to the Pacific Fleet, joining the Nimitz Battle Group. Arkansas participated in the Baja War in 2010, supporting the blockade of Mexico's Pacific Coast, and firing Tomahawk Cruise Missiles against targets in Mexico. The battle group put to sea during the fall of the Rump USSR, but saw no action. Arkansas is expected to decommission in FY 2018. She will be defueled, have all nuclear components removed, and then scrapped.


Class statistics:

Displacement: 11,300 full load

Length: 585 feet

Beam: 63 feet

Draft: 29.5 feet

Propulsion: 2 steam turbines driving two shafts for 60,000 shp

Reactors: 2 GE D2G Pressurized Water Reactors

Speed: 30+ knots

Crew:

CGN-38: 565 (45 Officers and 520 Enlisted)

CGN-39: 572 (39 Officers and 533 Enlisted)

CGN-40: 613 34 Officers and 579 Enlisted)

CGN-41: 562 (39 Officers and 523 Enlisted)

Missiles:

2 twin Mk 26 launchers for Standard-MR SAM

2 quad Mk 141 Harpoon SSM launchers

2 quad ABL launchers for Tomahawk SSM/TLAM

Guns:

2 single 5-inch 54 Mk 45 guns

2 20-mm Phalanx CIWS

Several pintle mounts for .50 caliber machine guns or Mk 19 AGL

ASW Weapons:

ASROC fired from forward Mk 26 launcher

2 triple Mk 32 torpedo tubes for Mk 46 torpedoes

Radars:

SPS-40B air search

SPS-48A 3-D search in GGN-38, 39, SPS-48C in CGN-40, 41

SPS-55 surface search

Sonar: SQS-53A bow-mounted

Helicopter: VERTREP area only: helicopter hangar with elevator originally provided. Issues with elevators and keeping the hangar watertight resulted in the hangar being sealed, and Tomahawk ABLs installed.

Fire-Control:

1 SWG-2 Tomahawk FCS

1 Mk 13 Weapon-direction system (replaced by Mk 14 WDS)

1 Mk 86 GFCS with SPG-60 and SPQ-9A radars

1 Mk 74 Missile FCS

1 MK 116 ASW FCS

2 SPG-51D radars

EW:

SLQ-25 Nixie

SLQ-32 (V)3 EW
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  #561  
Old 04-14-2020, 10:49 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Another USN fact file: the "one-off" nuclear cruisers:


The U.S. Navy's “One-off” Nuclear Cruisers in World War III



The U.S. Navy had three “one-off” nuclear-powered Guided Missile Cruisers operational upon the outbreak of the Third World War in 1985, and all three saw extensive war service. From escorting convoys, to providing anti-air warfare and ASW protection for carrier battle groups or amphibious forces, the three cruisers performed as well as their conventionally powered cousins. All three cruisers survived the war, and were retired in the 1990s.


U.S.S. Long Beach (CGN-9): The world's first nuclear-powered surface warship, and the first surface warship constructed with guided missiles as the main battery. She was commissioned in 1961, and saw service in the Vietnam War. She had completed an overhaul from 1981-83 at the Bremerton Navy Yard, and was active in the Pacific Fleet on the outbreak of war.

Long Beach was at Naval Base San Diego when hostilities began, preparing for workups prior to a scheduled WestPac deployment in May, 1986. After recalling as many crew as possible who were on leave, and taking on crew from two other ships that were in port for yard periods, the ship sailed on 5 September 1985, setting course for a rendezvous with the carrier Kitty Hawk and her battle group. She performed the role of AAW escort, defending the ship against two Backfire strikes during operations against Soviet forces in Alaska. During these operations, Long Beach became the battle group's primary AAW ship after the sinking of the cruiser U.S.S Horne (CG-30) after the second Backfire attack.

After a brief yard period, Long Beach returned to sea with the Kitty Hawk group, and participated in the Battle of Puget Sound. She assisted in the sinking of the Soviet Echo-II class submarine K-557 during the battle, and after, provided AAW cover to destroyers and frigates in the mop-up phase, dealing with Soviet stragglers. Long Beach engaged and sank the damaged Soviet cruiser Admiral Fokin (Kynda-class CG) with Harpoon SSMs after the Soviet ship was caught by air attack by aircraft from Kitty Hawk. She also covered the mop-up phase on the San Juan Islands before rejoining the carrier group.

In October, 1986, Long Beach was with Kitty Hawk when she was attacked by a three-regiment Backfire strike and seriously damaged. Though the carrier survived, she limped into San Diego with all four catapults knocked out, her hangar largely burned out, and one elevator wrecked. Long Beach was not damaged in the attack, and she escorted the carrier back to San Diego, where Kitty Hawk was declared a Constructive Total Loss and later scrapped.

With Kitty Hawk knocked out of the war, Long Beach was reassigned as part of an ASW group with the amphibious carrier Pelileu, which embarked ASW helicopters in the Sea Control Ship role, and primarily worked the convoy routes between Japan, South Korea, and the West Coast. During her convoy duty, she defended convoys from Backfire attack and also provided ASW support, taking part in the sinkings of three Soviet submarines; the November-class SSN K-42 on Christmas Day, 1986; the Foxtrot-class SS B-85 on 20 March 1987, and the Echo II-class SSGN K-94 on 8 June, 1987.

After eight months of convoy duty, Long Beach went into San Diego for a yard period, and after receiving the “Fem Mods” for female officers and crew, she returned to duty, being assigned to the Enterprise Carrier Battle Group. Long Beach participated in the carrier group's actions against the Soviet Far East and Occupied Alaska, taking part in the Kamchatka and Kurils raids, successfully defending the carrier against a strike by Backfire and Badger bombers, as well as firing Tomahawk TLAM-C and -D cruise missiles against targets in the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Long Beach then supported the carrier group's operations against Alaska, and covered the arrival of American ground forces into Alaska following the surrender of Soviet forces in the Northern Theater in October, 1989. Her next combat was during Operation FORAGER II, the liberation of Guam, before returning to San Diego in January, 1990.

One final WestPac deployment followed in 1991-2, before returning to San Diego. At that time, a decision had to be made as to whether to keep her in service as another nuclear fueling would be needed in 1994. Given the new cruiser construction underway to replace wartime attrition, the age of her nuclear power plant, and the worn out condition of the ship, it was decided to retire the ship. Long Beach was decommissioned at Bremerton Navy Yard on 9 September 1994, the thirty-third anniversary of her original commissioning. She has since been defueled and after nuclear components removed, sold for scrap.


Displacement: 14,200 tons standard, 17,100 tons full load.

Length: 721.5 feet.

Beam: 73 ¼ feet.

Draft: 29 feet

Propulsion: Four GE steam turbines with 80,000 shp; 2 shafts.

Reactors: Two Westinghouse C1W PWR.

Speed: 30+ knots.

Crew: 958 (65 officers, 893 enlisted), plus a Marine detachment (1 officer and 44 enlisted).

Helicopters: Landing area only for VERTREP.

Missiles; Two twin Mark 10 Mod 2 launchers for Standard-2 ER and Terrier BT-N (nuclear) SAMs

Two quad Mark 141 Harpoon launchers

Two quad Mark 143 Tomahawk ABL.

Guns: Two single 5-inch 38 DP Mark 30

Two 20-mm Phalanx CIWS

Several pintle mounts for .50 caliber machine guns or Mark-19 Grenade Launchers.

ASW Weapons: One eight-cell ASROC launcher Mark 16 (no reloads)

Two triple Mark-32 ASW torpedo tubes.

Radars:

SPS-48C 3-D Search

SPS-49 Air Search

SPS-67 Surface Search

Sonar: SQQ-23 keel mounted.

Fire Control: One SWG-2(V)5 Tomahawk FCS

One Mark 14 weapon-direction system

Two Mark 56 GFCS with Mk 35 radar

Four Mark 76 Missile FCS

One Mark 111 ASW FCS

Two SPG-49B radars

Four SPG-55B radars

Two SPW-2B radars

EW: One SLQ-32(V)3



U.S.S. Bainbridge (CGN-25)


U.S.S. Bainbridge was the U.S. Navy's third nuclear-powered surface ship, commissioned in October, 1962. A “double-end” ship, with missile launchers fore and aft, she had no 5-inch gun or helicopter support capability. She was in the Pacific Fleet when war began, having just emerged from a two-year modernization and refueling at Bremerton Navy Yard, and was actually at sea off Northern California when word came of the outbreak of war. She proceeded to a point off of San Francisco Bay, and proceeded to conduct anti-submarine operations. Bainbridge scored one of the Pacific Fleet's first kills, when on 5 September, 1985, she used ASROC to sink the Foxtrot-class SS B-143, 75 miles off the Golden Gate. She then formed up with the Carl Vinson Carrier Battle Group, and provided AAW and ASW screening to the carrier.

Bainbridge screened the carrier for the remainder of 1985-6, and participated in the Battle of Puget Sound, as well as raids against Occupied Alaska and the Kamchatka Peninsula. During Puget Sound, she provided AAW screening, serving as AAW “Gatekeeper” to the carrier, and successfully defended the carrier against a Backfire strike, in company with the AEGIS cruiser Vincennes. During the mop-up, Bainbridge remained with the carrier, and contributed to the sinking of the Victor-I SSN K-370, in cooperation with SH-3 helicopters from the carrier.

After a yard period in San Diego, where the “Fem Mods” were added, Bainbridge returned to sea, working as part of an ASW group centered on the amphibious assault ship Okinawa, providing ASW cover to convoys on the Trans-Pacific route. She was involved when the Okinawa group was attacked by the Charlie-I class SSGN K-212 on 27 February, 1987, north of Marcus Island, and Okinawa was hit by two SS-N-7 Starbright SSMs. Bainbridge continued to provide AAW screening while other ships picked up survivors from the burning ship. Just as the last escort moved away with survivors, the Akula-I SSN K-284 closed in and fired a Type-65 torpedo to send Okinawa to the bottom.

After returning to San Diego, Bainbridge was reassigned to the Constellation Battle Group, and remained with the carrier for the remainder of the war. She took part in raids on Alaska, Kamchatka, and the Kuriles, as well as covering the movement of forces to take the Soviet surrender in Alaska after the Armistice. During these operations, she sank two Soviet submarines: the Echo-I SSN K-259 on 11 August 1988, and she settled an old score, sinking the K-212 on 24 June 1989. Bainbridge was then assigned to provide AAW support for the amphibious forces taking part in Operation FORAGER II, the liberation of Guam, before returning to San Diego in March, 1990.

Bainbridge then transferred to the Atlantic Fleet, going via WestPac in June, 1991. During this cruise, she supported the cruiser Salem on an anti-piracy patrol, while also “showing the flag” in a cruise along the African coast, and through Suez into the Mediterranean. Her final cruise was in January, 1993, with a Sixth Fleet deployment and anti-piracy operations off of East Africa.

When she returned, the question of an overhaul and refueling arose, and, as with Long Beach, new cruiser construction, the age of the nuclear power plant, and the fact that the ship was worn out after over thirty years' service meant that retirement was the best option. After a cruise to West Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean, the decision was taken to retire the ship. Accordingly, Bainbridge was decommissioned on 22 September, 1996, and after defueling and being stripped of nuclear components, was scrapped.



Displacement: 7,700 tons standard, 8,580 full load

Length: 565 feet

Beam: 56 feet

Draft: 29 feet

Propulsion: Two steam turbines for 60,000 SHP, two shafts.

Reactors: 2 GE D2G PWR

Speed: 30 knots

Crew: 556 (42 officers, 516 enlisted)

Helicopter: VERTREP area only

Missiles: Two twin Mark 10 Mod 6 launchers for SM-2ER and Terrier BTN SAMs (80 missiles)

Two quad Mk 141 Harpoon SSM launchers

Guns: Two 20-mm Phalanx CIWS, several pintle mounts for .50 Caliber machine guns or Mark-19 AGLs as needed.

ASW Weapons: One eight-cell ASROC Mark 16 launcher (no reloads)

Torpedoes: Two triple Mark 32 torpedo tubes

Radar: SPS-48 3-D Search

SPS-49 Air Search

SPS-67 Surface Search

Sonar: SQQ-23 bow mounted

Fire Control: One Mark 14 weapon-direction system

Four Mark 76 Missile FCS

One Mark 111 ASW FCS

Four SPG-55B radars

EW: SLQ-32(V)3


U.S.S. Truxtun (CGN-35):


U.S.S. Truxtun was the Navy's fourth nuclear-powered surface ship, built to a modified Belknap-class design, with five-inch gun mount forward and missile launcher aft. Commissioned in 1967, she was the only nuclear cruiser that had a helicopter capability, with an embarked SH-2F LAMPS I ASW helicopter. Active in the Pacific Fleet when war began, she was home-ported at San Diego, and was in port when war began.

Of the nuclear cruisers based at San Diego, Truxtun's war began with a Spetsnatz attack on Naval Base San Diego, and after the attack was repulsed, crew who were living ashore with their families reported in. The ship's power plant was started up when power from shore was cut, and once the two reactors were going, the ship's radars and weapons systems went active. Truxtun provided AAW support for the San Diego area once she got underway, firing SM-2ER missiles at a number of enemy aircraft that were over the San Diego area, and even some that were still over Mexico. She also provided NGFS to the defenders of the National City-Chula Vista area, throwing 275 5-inch rounds at Mexican and Cuban forces moving up Interstate 5. After the invaders were repulsed, Truxtun received orders to join up with the Enterprise battle group once munitions were replenished. She joined the carrier group at sea on the afternoon of 7 September, and she assumed the duties of Anti-Air Warfare Commander for the Battle Group.

Truxtun screened the Enterprise for the duration of the war, taking part in all of the “Big E's” wartime operations, from carrier air strikes against Baja and the Mexican Pacific Coast, to operations against Occupied Alaska and the Soviet Far East. In her role as AAW Command Ship, Truxtun CIC directed the air defense of the battle group against air or missile attack, and though escorting frigates and destroyers were sometimes hit, the carrier and the “close-in” ships were never touched.

Truxtun thus screened the Enterprise during the Battle of Puget Sound, and during the engagement, her SH-2 helicopter sank the Soviet Juliett class SSG K-120. While engaged with mop-up, Truxtun herself fired an ASROC that crippled the Victor-I SSN K-367, which was finished off by an SH-3 from the carrier.

While Enterprise was in San Diego in between deployments, Truxtun herself was often at sea, leading local ASW groups along the Southern California coast. During two of these patrols, she encountered Soviet submarines, sinking the Foxtrot-class SS B-101 off of Catalina Island on 22 November, 1986, and a similar patrol on 11 October, 1987, sank the Victor-II class SSN K-517 off San Diego. This was the first confirmation of a Soviet submarine from the Northern Fleet being transferred to the Pacific, as two crewmen were able to escape the submarine before it went to the bottom, and were picked up by Truxtun. During this time, a brief yard period in San Diego resulted in the “Fem Mods” being installed.

Operations against Alaska, Kamchatka, and the Kuriles followed, and though she was relieved as AAW command ship by the new AEGIS cruiser Mobile Bay, Truxtun alternated as AAW “Gatekeeper” for the Big E, sharing the duty with the cruiser Arkansas. During a Kuiles raid, her SH-2 sank the Yankee-Notch SSGN K-408, and the ship herself engaged a KGB-manned Krivak IV class frigate with Harpoon SSMs, sending the Imeni XXVII Sezda KPSS to the bottom.

Truxtun covered the Enterprise during the final operations in the Pacific, including the peaceful liberation of Alaska following the Soviet surrender in the Northern Theater, and she was busy escorting amphibious ships with Marines to the Aleutians to take the surrender of Soviet forces in the islands.

Next up was FORAGER-II, the Liberation of Guam, and following that operation, the Enterprise Battle Group returned to Pearl Harbor to wait out the Armistice Flu, which had affected their home port in San Diego. After returning to a Hero's Welcome in San Diego, the ship returned to peacetime routine.

A WestPac deployment followed in 1992, with anti-piracy duty along the China Coast and in Indonesian Waters. A second WestPac in 1994 was the ship's last major deployment, with exercises with the ROK Navy, the ROC Navy, the JMSDF, and the RAN, as well as an anti-piracy cruise. During this final deployment, Truxtun supported SEAL operations against pirates, as well as providing NGFS to a SEAL operation.

The ship's age was catching up, and, as with her other “one-off” counterparts, it was decided to retire the ship. Truxtun was decommissioned and stricken on 8 August, 1996, at Bremerton Navy Yard. She was defueled and had all nuclear components removed, being sold for scrap in 2004.


Displacement: 8,200 tons standard, 8,800 full load

Length: 564 feet

Beam: 56 feet

Draft: 31 feet

Propulsion: two steam turbines with 60,000 shp, two shafts.

Reactors: Two GE D2G PWR.

Speed: 30+ knots

Crew: 591 (39 officers, 552 enlisted)

Helicopter: 1 SH-2F LAMPS I

Missiles: One twin Mark 10 Mod 8 launcher for Standard-2ER/BTN Terrier SAMs (60 missiles)

Two quad Mark 141 Harpoon SSM launchers

Guns: One 5-inch Mark 54 DP Mk 42

Two 20-mm Phalanx CIWS

Several pintle mounts for .50 caliber machine guns or Mark-19 AGL

ASW Weapons: ASROC fired from Mark 10 launcher

Four Mark 32 torpedo tubes (four fixed single mounts)

Radars: SPS-40D air search

SPS-48 3-D search

SPS-67 surface search

Sonar: SQS-26BX bow mounted

Fire Control: One Mark-14 weapon-direction system

One Mark 68 GFCS with SPG-53F radar

Two Mark 76 Missile FCS

One Mark 114 ASW FCS

Two SPG-55B radars

EW: SLQ-32(V)3
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  #562  
Old 04-16-2020, 09:07 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Here's another fact file: the Des Moines class heavy cruisers in the war. Those who are familiar with RDF Sourcebook will recognize the second unit, USS Salem (CA-139):


The Des Moines Class Heavy Cruisers in World War III



The Des Moines class were the last heavy cruisers built by any navy, were the only heavy cruisers in existence in 1985, and were the largest non-missile cruisers afloat. The class was originally planned as a 12-unit class, and only three were completed. The three units built were too late for World War II service, but saw extensive postwar service. Two were decommissioned in 1959-61, while the third unit was decommissioned in 1975 after extensive service in the Vietnam War. Two units were in Mobilization Category B, which meant available for reactivation within 180 days. The third unit had suffered an explosion in its No. 2 main turret in 1972, and had been stricken in 1978, but was retained in storage as a potential parts source for the other two in the event of their reactivation. A plan had been considered in 1981-2 to reactivate the two survivors as part of the initial defense buildup begun by the Reagan Administration, but had been turned down by Congress. However, once war began, orders were quickly issued to the Philadelphia Navy Yard to reactivate the two available ships.


U.S.S. Des Moines (CA-134): Laid down in 1945 and commissioned in 1948, she often served as a Fleet Flagship before being decommissioned in 1961. Placed in reserve at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, she was maintained as a mobilization asset available for reactivation within 180 days. The order to reactivate her was issued only three days after the outbreak of war in September, 1985. Recommissioned in April, 1986, the ship initially saw service escorting convoys from the Mediterranean to the East Coast, and in one famous incident, was covering Convoy AHN-30 (Alexandria/Haifa-Norfolk) when a Soviet convoy en route to Cuba was encountered, and escorts from both convoys engaged each other. The Soviet escorts were distracted by the American and British destroyers and frigates long enough for Des Moines to get into the Soviet convoy and sink five ships. She saw action supporting the Liberation of Iceland in 1987, and also supported the Kola Raid in company with her sister ship Salem, often getting in close to shore to engage Soviet defenses and formations at nearly point-blank range.

After the Kola Raid, Des Moines put into the Philadelphia Navy Yard for a brief refit. The 3-inch 50 AA guns were removed and two quad Mark-141 Harpoon launchers and two Super RBOC Chaff launchers being installed in place of the amidships guns. Two new lattice masts were installed to house new radars and ECM equipment, along with NTDS. The Phalanx system was also installed with two mounts taken from damaged ships, and CEC was installed in the former Flag spaces to control the Harpoons and the ECM equipment. In addition, the “Fem mods” (crew spaces for female officers and crew) prepared. The ship was ready for sea in January, 1988, and Des Moines resumed convoy duty.

Her next combat was in support of Operation GULF HAMMER in 1988, providing Naval Gunfire Support to Marine landings along the Texas coast, and in support of Army and Marine forces operating within range of her guns. Des Moines then saw service interdicting shipping between Cuban ports, Brownsville, and Mexico, and also provided fire support during the final reduction of the Brownsville Pocket. She then participated in several bombardments of targets in Cuba that were intended as preparatory to the planned invasion of Cuba, and was tasked to provide fire support for Marines landing at Tarara Beach, east of Havana, but Castro's acceptance of the Armistice rendered the invasion plan moot.

Though considered for deactivation in 1991, events in the Middle East and Africa reared their head, and Des Moines was retained in service indefinitely. Deployments to Yemen and off the Somali coast followed, escorting shipping threatened by local pirates, and on occasion, bombarding pirate strongholds with her 8-inch guns. In one incident in 1996, a group of Somali pirates at night mistook the cruiser for a tanker, and tried to board her. The pirates were swiftly dealt with, and their mother ship (a captured fishing boat) was destroyed with 5-inch gunfire. Des Moines made her home port in San Diego, switching places with her sister, Salem, in 2000. Her most recent combat duty was in the Baja War in 2010. She is still in service, and when retired, it is planned to donate her to either Seattle or San Francisco as a war memorial.


U.S.S. Salem (CA-139): Laid down in 1945 and commissioned in 1949, Salem served not only as a Fleet Flagship at times during her active service, but also played the German Pocket Battleship Graf Spee in a 1956 movie about the Battle of the River Plate. She was decommissioned in 1959, and maintained at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in Mobilization Category B alongside her sister ship Des Moines. She, too, was considered for reactivation in the early 1980s, but remained in mothballs until the outbreak of war, when she was reactivated in September, 1985. Receiving the same minor upgrade as her sister, Salem was recommissioned in May, 1986, and after working up with her sister ship, began duty as a convoy escort. She escorted convoys from the Mediterranean to the East Coast, before taking part in the Naval Gunfire Support Force for both the Liberation of Iceland and the Kola Raid. Salem was so close to shore that at one point, her 3-inch 50 AA guns were used against Soviet ground troops and light armor. After Kola, the ship received a refit identical to her sister, Des Moines.

Salem did not participate in Operation GULF HAMMER, as she was needed in the Pacific, and transited the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet in January, 1988. She took part in several bombardment runs along the Alaska coast, and provided Naval Gunfire Support to the raid on the Kamchatka Peninsula, along with raider hunts in the North Pacific. Salem also took part in a raid on Itirup Island in the Kuriles, bombarding a minor Soviet naval base and a PVO airfield, with SEALS calling in the naval gunfire. She then participated in several bombardment missions along the Mexican Pacific Coast, before once again transiting the Canal and rejoining the Atlantic Fleet for the planned invasion of Cuba. After the Castro Regime's acceptance of the Armistice, Salem was sent back to the Pacific, for anti-piracy operations along the China Coast and in Indonesian waters.

Salem made several deployments to WestPac, with her Home Port at Pearl Harbor, before returning to the East Coast in 2000. She was involved in a number of anti-piracy operations, bombarding a number of pirate strongholds in her WestPac cruises. When she returned to the East Coast, Salem returned to deployments with the Sixth Fleet, with occasional service off of Somalia and Yemen. Salem did not see combat in the Cuban Intervention, or in the Baja War, but was at sea during the Fall of the Rump USSR, though she saw no action. She is still in service, and when she is retired in 2020, she will be donated to the city of Quincy, Massachusetts, as a war memorial, and close to her namesake city.


U.S.S. Newport News (CA-148): Laid down in 1945 and commissioned in 1949, she was the last heavy cruiser in commission anywhere when she was decommissioned in 1975. Serving as a fleet flagship, she saw service in the Sixth Fleet and during both the Cuban Missile Crisis and the 1965 Dominican Republic Crisis, then had three deployments to Vietnam between 1967 and 1972. An accidental explosion in her Number Two turret, resulting in the center gun being blown out, and nineteen men were killed and ten wounded. The damage was not repaired, and the turret was sealed off for the remainder of her service. Decommissioned in 1975, she saw no further service, and was used as a parts source for her two sister ships when they were reactivated in 1985. Newport News is still retained as a parts hulk, and is expected to be scrapped when the cruisers are retired. A request from the Mariner's Museum in Norfolk to retain parts of the ship, such as her bridge, as a memorial to the ship and crew is likely to be granted by the Navy.


Ship statistics:


Displacement: 17,000 tons standard, 21,500 full load

Length: 716.5 feet

Beam: 76 feet

Draft: 26 feet

Propulsion: Four GE steam turbines producing 120,000 Shaft Horsepower; 4 shafts.

Boilers: 4 Babcock and Wilcox at 600 psi each

Range: 10,500 Nautical Miles at 15 Knots

Top speed: 32 Knots

Crew: 1,800 (115 Officers and 1,685 Enlisted)

Armament (World War III):

9x 8-inch 55 Mark 16 guns in three triple turrets

12x 5-inch 38 DP Mark 32 guns in six twin turrets

12x 3-inch 50 AA Mark 27 in six twin mounts (removed Fall 1987)

8x Harpoon SSM launchers Mark 141 in four quad mounts (installed Fall 1987)

2x 20-mm Phalanx CIWS mounts (installed Fall 1987)

Several mounts for .50 caliber machine guns or Mark 19 Automatic Grenade Launchers

Helicopters: Pad only with no hangar. UH-1N or SH-2F embarked on occasion.
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  #563  
Old 04-22-2020, 10:31 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The Forrest Sherman class destroyers in the war: some of the units will be familiar from Challenge and from the East Africa Sourcebook:




The Forrest Sherman Class Destroyers in World War III


The Forrest Sherman class destroyers were the first large class of post-World War II destroyers built for the U.S. Navy. Originally numbering eighteen ships, four were converted to guided missile destroyers with the Tartar SAM replacing the aft 5-inch gun mounts (treated separately), while eight were given ASW modifications, with an ASROC launcher replacing the number two 5-inch turret and having an SQS-35 Variable-depth Sonar installed. Except for the Edson (DD-946), serving as a Naval Reserve Force/OCS training ship at Newport, RI, all were in mothballs in 1985, with three having already been stricken. Two were laid up at Bremerton Navy Yard in Washington State, one at Pearl Harbor, while the remainder were laid up on the East Coast. Within days of the outbreak of war in 1985, orders were issued to reactivate the ships. All eleven ships that were reactivated saw war service, with several becoming war losses. Some of the surviving ships are preserved as war memorials.


USS Forrest Sherman (DD-931): The lead ship of the class, commissioned in 1955 and decommissioned in 1982, she never received the ASW modifications. Laid up at Philadelphia Navy Yard, she was reactivated beginning in September, 1985. Recommissioned in 1986, she mainly served as a convoy escort along the East Coast for much of the war, but accompanied the cruisers Salem and Des Moines for both the Liberation of Iceland and the Kola Raid in the fire-support role. She subsequently served in Operation GULF HAMMER, the Cuba Blockade, and the reduction of the Brownsville Pocket, escorting the cruiser Des Moines. Forrest Sherman also escorted the battleships, escorting Iowa, New Jersey, and North Carolina on occasion, and participated in several bombardment missions along the Cuban coast in preparation for the planned invasion. She served for several years in the Sixth Fleet, frequently on anti-piracy operations off Somalia and Yemen, where her gun power was valued. Decommissioned in 2000, she was moored at Wilmington, Delaware, as a war memorial.

USS Davis (DD-937): Commissioned in 1957, decommissioned in 1982, and laid up at Philadelphia Navy Yard, she was one of the ships that received the ASW modification package. Reactivated in October, 1985, she was recommissioned in 1986 and assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. With her ASW suite, she was used mainly as a convoy escort, escorting not only Transatlantic Convoys, but Convoys along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. She sank a Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine while on convoy duty north of Bermuda, but she was sunk 20 miles NNE of Cape Hatteras on 12 January 1987 by the Soviet Charlie-I class submarine K-25 (two SS-N-7 “Starbright” SSMs), with 226 fatalities out of a crew of 309.

USS Manley (DD-940): Commissioned in 1957 and decommissioned in 1982, she, too, received the ASW mission package. Reactivated in October, 1985 and recommissioned in 1986, like her sister Davis, she mainly served as an ASW escort. Manley escorted numerous convoys, and when not on Convoy Duty, she provided ASW cover to destroyers on the Cuba blockade line in 1988-9. Manley also participated in several bombardment missions with other destroyers, After the Castro regime accepted the Armistice, Manley then made a number of deployments with the Sixth Fleet, before being decommissioned in 1999. She was stricken in 2006 and sunk as a target in 2009.

USS Dupont (DD-941): Commissioned in 1957 and decommissioned in 1983, she, too,was laid up at Philadelphia. Reactivated in September, 1985 and recommissioned in May, 1986, Dupont was one of the ASW modified ships. With her ASW package, she was used on convoy duty, though she also escorted the battleship North Carolina on her Mediterranean deployment, sinking a Libyan Foxtrot-class submarine north of Tripoli with ASROC. Returning to convoy duty, Dupont escorted both coastal and transatlantic convoys, sharing a kill of a November-class SSN with a P-3 Orion 220 miles East of Bermuda on 12 December, 1986. However, she was sunk on 22 July 1987, while escorting a Norfolk-Alexandria/Haifa convoy 400 miles west of Gibraltar by the Soviet Sierra-class SSN K-236. Of her crew of 309, 85 were lost.

USS Bigelow (DD-942): Commissioned in 1957 and decommissioned in 1982, she was laid up at Philadelphia. Reactivated in 1985 and recommissioned in May, 1986, Bigelow was one of the unmodified all-gun units of the class. Though limited in her ASW capabilities, she was useful in the naval gunfire support role, participating in Libya, Gibraltar, Iceland and Kola operations, She escorted the cruiser Des Moines for Iceland and Kola, and like the cruiser, got in very close to shore to provide close-in fire support to Marines and SEALs on shore. Bigelow also formed part of the NGFS force for Operation GULF HAMMER, before serving on the Cuba Patrol. Bigelow took part in several bombardments of Cuba, as well as sinking a Cuban coastal freighter and an escorting patrol boat. She, too, was tapped for fire-support duties in the planned invasion. After Castro's acceptance of the Armistice, Bigelow transferred to the Pacific Fleet, where she participated in several deployments to Far East and Indonesian waters, escorting convoys and taking part in several anti-piracy operations. She was transferred to the Naval Reserve Force in 1998 and decommissioned in 2003, before being sunk as a target in an exercise off Hawaii in 2008.

USS Blandy (DD-943): Commissioned in 1957 and decommissioned in 1982, she was laid up in Philadelphia, before being reactivated in September, 1985. Recommissioned in May, 1986, she was one of the ASW optimized ships, and was assigned to convoy duty. She escorted numerous convoys between East Coast Ports and the Mediterranean, and Blandy was among the ships escorting Convoy A/HN-30 when the convoy came across a Soviet convoy bound for Cuba. She engaged and sank a Koltin-class destroyer with her 5-inch guns, before sinking two freighters (one Soviet, one Polish) with her guns. Blandy was involved with convoy duty right up to the end of the war, and sank the Juliett-class SSG K-78 on 11 November, 1987 off of Delaware Bay. After the war, she made regular deployments to the Caribbean and the Sixth Fleet, before being decommissioned in 1999. She was sold for scrap in 2007.

USS Mullinix (DD-944): Commissioned in 1958 and decommissioned in 1983, she was laid up at Philadelphia. Reactivated in October, 1985 and recommissioned in April, 1986, she was one of the all-gun destroyers. Mullinix accompanied her sister Bigelow on the gun line for Libya, Gibraltar, Iceland, but at Kola, she was engaged by a Soviet Nanchuka-class missile corvette and hit by a single SS-N-9 SSM in the bow. The missile explosion set off the forward 5-inch magazine in a sympathetic detonation, which destroyed the forward part of the ship. The ship had to be abandoned, and after the survivors were rescued, the hulk was sunk by 5-inch gunfire from the cruiser Salem. Of 326 crew, there were 185 fatalities.

USS Edson (DD-946): Commissioned in 1958, she was the only active unit of the class at the beginning of the war, being used as an NRF/OCS training ship, home-ported at Newport, RI. One of the all-gun destroyers, she was active in local patrols from Newport from the outbreak of war until June, 1986, when she joined the North Carolina Surface Group. She was sunk by the Soviet Victor-II class submarine K-488 (Type 65 wake-homing torpedo) on 15 September, 1986, during an attack on a Soviet Convoy while escorting the battleship North Carolina, with the loss of 195 crew.

USS Morton (DD-948) Commissioned in 1959 and decommissioned in 1982, she was moored at Bremerton Navy Yard in Washington. One of the ASW modified ships, she was reactivated in September, 1985 and recommissioned in April, 1986, she mainly served as a convoy escort for the Trans-Pacific and Australia runs, She engaged Soviet submarines on three occasions, sinking the Juliett-class SSG K-63 on 17 December 1986 425 miles north of Midway Island, the Echo-II class SSGN K-23 on 4 July 1987, 800 miles SSW of San Francisco, and the Echo-I class SSN K-122 375 miles SSW of Pearl Harbor on 23 March, 1988. Morton also provided ASW escort to the Kamchatka Raid, escorting the cruiser Salem as a close-in ASW escort, while also adding her 5-inch guns to those of the NGFS force bombarding Petropavalosk. She also participated in the raid on Itirup Island, before resuming convoy duty. Morton was at sea when hostilities ended with the Soviet Union in 1989, but continued convoy duty until 1990. She made several WestPac deployments in the '90s on anti-piracy duties, before being decommissioned in 2001. Morton was put on display as a war memorial at San Francisco's Pier 41, alongside the WW II submarine USS Pampanito (SS-383).

USS Richard S. Edwards (DD-950): Commissioned in 1959 and decommissioned in 1982, she was laid up at Pearl Harbor. Reactivated in September, 1985 and recommissioned in March, 1986, Edwards was one of the ASW-modified ships. She mainly served as a convoy escort on the Yokohama-San Francisco route, and shared in the sinking of the Echo-I class SSN K-45 on 12 October, 1986, while escorting Convoy SFY-26, 700 miles West of San Francisco. Edwards was sunk on 19 March, 1987, 700 miles northwest of Midway Island by AS-4 (Kh-22) Kitchen Anti-ship missiles fired from a Soviet Naval Air Force Backfire bomber. Only twelve of 324 crew survived the sinking.


USS Turner Joy (DD-951): Commissioned in 1959 and decommissioned in 1982, she was one of the ships involved in the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident. She was laid up at Bremerton Navy Yard, and was reactivated in September, 1985, with her recommissioning in March, 1986. She was the last of the all-gun units of the class, and she mainly operated in Puget Sound and in Canadian waters, providing NGFS to the defenders of Vancouver. Turner Joy was in Puget Sound during the failed Soviet amphibious operation in 1986, and though only armed with her 5-inch guns, her captain charged into the Soviet force, using the confusion of air strikes and the numerous islands in Puget Sound as cover. She managed to get into the Soviet amphibious force, sinking an Alligator-class LST and a captured Alaska car ferry, while forcing another Soviet freighter to run aground on Sinclair Island, where the freighter was later destroyed by air attack. Turner Joy participated in mopping-up operations, escorting ships carrying elements of the 3rd Marine Division to secure islands where Soviet survivors-many of whom were armed, had come ashore, and she provided NGFS on several occasions. After Puget Sound, Turner Joy resumed support of the Canadian defense of Vancouver until the Soviet surrender in February, 1987. After the arrival in the Pacific of the heavy cruiser Salem, Turner Joy escorted the cruiser, and participated in both the Kamchatka and Kurile Islands raids, and also sank a Soviet Poti-class ASW corvette with gunfire during the Kamchatka raid. Turner Joy remained in the Pacific, participating in operations along the coastlines of British Columbia and Alaska, and she was the first U.S. Navy ship to enter the port of Juneau to accept the surrender of Soviet forces there on 17 October, 1989. Turner Joy remained active after the war, making a number of WestPac deployments in company with the cruiser Salem. She bombarded a number of pirate strongholds in Indonesian waters, and did the same along the South China Coast, in cooperation with elements of the Royal Navy. Turner Joy was decommissioned in 1998, and she is currently moored at Bremerton Navy Yard as a war memorial.


Specifications:

Displacement: 2,800 standard, 4,800 full load.

Length: 418 feet overall

Beam: 45 feet

Draft: 22 feet

Propulsion: GE Steam Turbines (Westinghouse in DD-931); 70,000 SHP, 2 shafts

Boilers: 4 Foster and Wheeler (Babcock and Wilcox in DD-937, 943, 944, 948), 1200 Psi

Speed: 32.5 Knots

Range: 4,500 Nautical Miles at 20 knots

Crew: 319-332 (19 officers and 300-313 enlisted in all gun destroyers), 309 (17 officers and 292 enlisted) in ASW-configured ships.

Missiles: None

Guns: 3x 5-inch 54 DP Mk 42 (3 single in all-gun configuration), 2x 5-inch 54 DP in ASW-configured ships. Several pintle mounts added for .50 caliber machine guns or Mark-19 Automatic Grenade Launchers.

ASW: 1x8-cell ASROC launcher Mk 16 in ASW configured ships; 2 triple Mk 32 torpedo tubes for Mark-44 or-46 ASW torpedoes

Helicopters: VERTREP area only

Sonar: SQS-23 keel mounted on all units; SQS-35 IVDS (variable-depth sonar) in ASW ships.

Radars: SPS-10 surface search

SPS-37 air search in DD-940, 942, 946, 951.

SPS-40 in remainder of class
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:18 AM
cawest cawest is offline
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do you think that they might have tried to make the WW II submarine USS Pampanito (SS-383) back into service. How would she do and what mission would she take?
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:32 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Apart from being used in war bond and Navy recruiting ads? Not much. The last time she dived was in the '60s.
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Old 04-25-2020, 06:04 PM
cawest cawest is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Wiser View Post
Apart from being used in war bond and Navy recruiting ads? Not much. The last time she dived was in the '60s.
I was thinking that she could run smuggling mission to Baja or something like that. same could be true of AK. Skista (sp) is land locked but has a port.
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Old 04-25-2020, 10:48 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The Navy had two converted SSBNs and a converted SSN (Parche) for "special projects" and SOF support.
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Old 04-26-2020, 12:48 PM
Olefin Olefin is offline
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USS Pampanito (SS-383) is still capable of diving and actually has one working torpedo tube. The modifications they made so she could be toured did not damage the pressure hull as was done on other tourist submarines. However she would have needed more work. I could see her used in a Twilight 2000 scenario where the Navy, having no other choice, puts her back into service - but she would most likely be only capable of shallow dives - say less than a hundred feet - and only in an emergency. Remember subs of her type were more surface vessels that could submerge as needed versus true submersibles that could stay down for months at a time.

She was used for the movie Down Periscope but the shots of her underway were done under tow. However her engines and periscope do work and her hull is structurally sound.

FYI there were still subs of her class operating with Turkey and Taiwan both during the Red Dawn timeline and the Twilight 2000 timeline - which means there would have been the ability to repair her to operational condition if they could get the parts. In Red Dawn timeline they never took the sub losses that the US did in T2K. Given that I would think if she is operational it would be much more likely as happening in T2K with the Navy desperate for any kind of warship that could be made operational.
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Old 04-27-2020, 10:16 AM
cawest cawest is offline
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she would be a lot better at smuggling than the cocaine subs. all she would need is that one tube. use the other five in the bow for storing reloads. that would free up the aft tubes and whole aft torpedo room, and most of the forward torpedo room for people (SF, refugees, recovered aircrew) and supplies. just an idea.
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Old 04-29-2020, 08:54 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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With my character in the timeline being an F-4 driver, here's the F-4 fact file:


F-4 Phantom Variants of the Third World War:

The McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom, though largely superseded in USAF service by the F-15 Eagle in the air superiority role, proved to be an able and worthy fighter in the Third World War, in the fighter, reconnaissance, and “Wild Weasel” variants. Though out of production at the beginning of the war, Mitsubishi in Japan reopened the production line, and subcontractors in the U.S were able to produce spare parts for the aircraft, as were foreign suppliers such as IAI in Israel.

A list of Phantom variants and users follows:

F-4B: Out of USN/MC service at the beginning of the war. Survivors converted to F-4N versions. USMC Reserve squadrons still operated the aircraft at war's outbreak. Remained in USMC service throughout the war, until replacement by the F/A-18A Hornet.

F-4C: Original USAF version. Out of front-line USAF service, but in ANG service in the fighter and fighter-interceptor roles. Heavy wartime attrition resulted in losses replaced by either new-build E models from Japan, or by the Northrop F-20A Tigershark.

F-4D: Improved C version. Still in active USAF service, as well as ANG and AFRES. Wartime attrition replaced by E models from Japan, or by F-20, though some did convert to F-15C postwar. Also used by ROK AF (replaced by F-15K)

F-4E: Ultimate USAF fighter version, with internal M-61A1 Vulcan cannon. Regular AF and ANG service, with attrition replacement via the Japanese production line. USAF versions from Japan often delivered without bombing computer or air-to-ground weapons capability, to satisfy Japanese export law, but such features installed at the USAF Depot at Hill AFB prior to delivery to USAF squadrons.
A number of E models also saw RAF service in North America during the war. JMSDF operated F-4EJ for air defense of Japan. ROK AF operated Es for Air Defense during the war, and during the fall of North Korea in 2010. Turkish AF also operated Es for air defense during “armed neutrality” period, as did the Greek AF.

F-4F: Luftwaffe version of E, originally delivered without Sparrow missile capability. Saw combat during GDR campaign in 1989.

F-4G: “Wild Weasel” SEAD variant. Fitted for and carried Shrike, Standard-ARM, and HARM missiles. Active USAF only during the war, ANG service (Idaho ANG and Nevada ANG) postwar. Attrition replaced via Japan, with SEAD equipment installed at Hill Aerospace Depot at Hill AFB, UT, prior to delivery.

F-4J: USN version from 1968 onward. Upgraded to F-4S configuration. F-4J (UK) in RAF service during the war.

F-4N: Upgraded F-4B. In service with four USN squadrons (VF-21, VF-154, VF-151, VF-161) at war's outbreak; remainder in storage. Served throughout the war, from both carriers and land bases. Replaced by F-14 in all four squadrons postwar.

F-4S: Upgraded F-4J. In USN Reserve, USMC active, and USMC Reserve service at outbreak of war. Replaced during and after the war by F/A-18 in USN and USMC.

Phantom FGR.2: Main RAF variant, used in UK Air Defense, until replaced by Tornado F.3.

RF-4B: USMC Reconnaissance version, used in VMFP-3 throughout the war. Replaced in USMC service by RF-18D.

RF-4C: USAF Reconnaissance version; in USAF and ANG service at beginning of the war. Attrition replacement via Mitsubishi in Japan. Replaced postwar by RF-16C. Export version RF-4E.

WW III Operators:

USAF

USN

USMC

RAF

Luftwaffe (1989 only)

JASDF

ROKAF

Greek AF

Turkish AF .


Three major users of the F-4 did not officially take part in wartime combat operations: Both Israel and Egypt were “non-belligerents”, that is, neutrals favoring the U.S. Both IAF and EAF Phantoms flew air sovereignty missions to guard their airspace. Iranian Phantoms continued to fly combat missions against Iraq until the Iran-Iraq War petered out in 1986.
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