With all due respect to our leaders in Washington, I think Operation Noble Eagle has run its course [“The Years of Noble Eagle,” June, p. 50]. I can see them wanting to keep our cities safe, but, to me, it has been a waste of money that could have been better spent to inspect the cargo that comes into our ports.
I think that the next terrorist attack will be with a “dirty bomb” and in the same two cities that got hit on 9/11. I hope that I’m wrong, but it would be my worst nightmare if it does happen, as I’ve got three of my kids who work in Manhattan and in high target places.
Your article proved once again that some of our shameful acceptances after WWII of Nazis (and, please, don’t insult my intelligence by trying to claim that Wernher von Braun and his crew were not Nazis) were justified because of the communist insurgence in Eastern and Southern Europe [“Project Paperclip,” June, p. 70]. As someone who served in USAF during the heyday of Curtis LeMay and Strategic Air Command (as the major deterrent during the Cold War and especially the 1950s), as a member of LeMay’s personal intelligence team (PIT) at Offutt AFB [Neb.], I saw how many of these “former” Nazis were lauded beyond words.
Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe (G-2 section) had a number of [its] men captured, brought to this country, and later, during the Korean War years, used as “interrogators” by our Air Force training center located at Stead Air Force Base (Survival Training Center), Nev., where all aircrews were sent prior to embarking for Korea.
These men, in order to establish their “creds,” all claimed that they were not Nazis. Be that as it may, I went through that center and was exposed to the same kind of attitude that I am sure many of our WWII people faced.
But what impressed me the most is that Gen. George Patton got into incredible hot water when he said that he was using “ex-Nazis” as part of the postwar rebuilding of Austria and Germany. Yet, these other Nazis were used gladly by us.
So, if you think that sugar-coating von Braun is OK, then I suggest that you think about the nearly 30 million human beings killed and slaughtered by his fellow Nazis.
Von Braun was brilliant, no one doubted that. But he was a Nazi through and through whom we saved because we felt he was needed. But think about this: We built a functional atomic bomb. We developed the delivery system. We were already working on jet engine capability. Do you honestly believe that we could not have entered the jet age without Von Braun?
A Toll Too High
So now the Air Force lets it all hang out. Sadly, the news [of personnel cuts to pay for equipment recapitalization] has a very familiar theme [“Aerospace World: Readiness Falling, Keys Reports,” June, p. 14; “For the Air Force, the Bill Comes Due,” April, p. 28; and “The Risk Goes Up,” April, p. 34]. We have been there before—the old “yes, sir, we can do more with less” lie. Sooner or later, no matter how many people you cut—even if you get to a point when just the aircrews and maintenance people are left and they are performing all other tasks as “additional duties”—you can’t generate enough money from the people cuts to pay for the refurbishing of the older aircraft and the purchase of the new aircraft and other things that are needed.
More than a quarter-century ago, after many rounds of cuts, it was found we couldn’t do it that way. Ultimately, for all the services, the toll of the higher operations tempo our forces are now in without sufficient equipment and people to back them up will prove costly. You can’t expect those who are serving to be able to do everything the larger force did before the cuts—except that is the mentality that will prevail from the top down. Result: Even more personnel losses will occur as members of the force left after the cuts realize they are being abused and leave when their commitments are up— patriotism, service loyalty, and career desires only go so far.
What is really being hidden by our national leaders in the White House and Congress, and even the military, is a failure to adequately fund new equipment purchases, maintenance, and a force of people in uniform, both active and reserve, of sufficient size to meet the military tasks we have taken on; they think that wouldn’t sit well with the voters.
Sadly, most of the American public doesn’t realize or care that we are in a very real global war against militant Islam that goes back long before the current Bush or previous Clinton Administration policies and responses and, that instead of contracting, we need to expand and shape our military both in personnel and equipment to meet that threat.
But, I’m just an old retired guy who hasn’t worn the blue suit in a quarter-century, so I probably have it all wrong vis-a-vis the thinking of those in the Puzzle Palace on the Potomac, the Hill, and the White House.
Lt. Col. John G. Terino, USAF (Ret.)
Forty-Eighth Is First
In your June 2007 edition of Air Force Magazine you have an article on p. 17 titled “Little Rock Gains Squadron” [“Aerospace World”]. There is one error in the article. It states, “The 41st is the first active duty squadron to fly the new C-130J Hercules.”
The first active duty squadron to fly the C-130J actually is the 48th Airlift Squadron assigned to the 314th Airlift Wing (AETC), also based at Little Rock AFB. The 48th AS stood up on Dec. 5, 2003 and has seven C-130Js assigned. The mission of the 48th AS is C-130J training for DOD and some allied nations.
Col. Rudolph T. Byrne,
Commander, 314th Operations Group
Little Rock AFB, Ark.
I enjoy your “Airpower Classics” series and have a correction for your A-1 feature in June.
Capt. Walter F. Draeger Jr. was left off of your list of Air Force Cross recipients who flew the A-1. He was shot down in North Vietnam on April 4, 1965 while flying RESCAP for a downed VNAF flight leader and protecting a duck-butt. Walt was, I believe, the first Air Force Cross recipient of the Vietnam War.
Col. Ray Jones, USAF (Ret.)
More on “Old Shaky”
I read your article about “Old Shaky” and this brought back some memories [“Letters,” June, p. 9, and “Airpower Classics: C-124 Globemaster II,” February, p. 96]. I was with the 1st SSS (SAC), Biggs AFB. The aircraft was tail No. 5095. We went to Thule, Greenland, to pick up a KC-97 TDY group and bring them back to Missouri. Everything went well on the trip up to Thule, but the return was another [story]. Our flight plan called for us to [fly to] Ernest Harmon AFB, Newfoundland, then on to Missouri. We left with a p.m. crew time. The six months of darkness had set in and that was a strange sight. [It was] dark all day. We left and on the way there it was time for an engine check. I went downstairs, opened the hatch to No. 3 and 4 engines. I climbed out on the catwalk and opened the door to No.3 then on to No. 4. I went back out the hatch to check 1 and 2.
I opened the hatch and smoke bellowed out and filled the lower compartment. I radioed the pilot that we were on fire. No. 2 engine had a broken pushrod from an exhaust stack. Oil was causing smoke throughout the aircraft. I got on the catwalk over the main gear and through the hatch. The pilot made sure I was clear, then hit No. 2 with the CO2 bottles. No. 2 was feathered. We were over the Arctic Ocean. We then lost No. 4 and feathered it. We had a heavy load of engines and troops.
We finally made it to Newfoundland, secured the aircraft, and caught some sleep. First thing in the morning we went to the flight line to assess the damage. Low and behold the KC-97 crew proceeded to remove the cowling themselves. I will never forget this, although I never received any recognition for my actions, but then this was my job.
I thank God every day I checked those engines and we did not end up in the Arctic Ocean. Thanks for the memories.
I read [retired] Col. Bob Straughan’s account of a C-124 double loaded with PSP, in the June 2007 issue of Air Force Magazine [“Letters: Old Shaky,” p. 9], with a nostalgic tear in my eye. I recall a similar happening in a C-130A. Unfortunately (or fortunately for those responsible) such record-breaking accomplishments are not found in the official record books.
Circa 1970, a C-130A being flown by someone based somewhere in Southeast Asia, and flying from somewhere in Southeast Asia to somewhere else in Southeast Asia, was double loaded with “hard rice” during a loading crew shift change. The result was a new unofficial lifting record for the A model of 50,000 pounds, and a new unofficial takeoff gross weight record of 150,000 pounds, as opposed to the normal max TOGW of 124,200 pounds. As I recall, the crew somehow got the machine off the ground and flew it around the pattern at max power (bleeds off) to a new unofficial A model landing GW record.
Such “thank you, Mr. Lockheed” stories are still being written—and will be for some time to come.
Lt. Col. Dave Harmon, USAF (Ret.)
I served in the 85th ATS with Dick Rutan. I take strong exception to the letter referring to Dick Rutan “riding” in a C-124. Old Shaky had a lot of seats because it took the concerted efforts of all the crew members to safely and efficiently complete the mission. I crossed the pond in Old Shaky many times and it struck me that the “riders” were the pilots just waiting for the next position report from the navigator so they would have something to do.
Maj. Walt Drowns, USAF (Ret.)
Universal City, Tex.
USAFE’s NATO Command
In Air Force Magazine’s May 2007 USAF Almanac, the organization charts on p. 103, showing USAFE’s NATO command relationships and sub-units, should have presented the following information:
At the top is Supreme HQ Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Mons, Belgium. Next down is JFC Brunssum, in Brunssum, Netherlands; followed by the Commander, Allied Air Component (CC-Air) Gen. William T. Hobbins, USAF, Ramstein, Germany. Under General Hobbins are the following combined air operations centers: CAOC 1, Finderup, Denmark; CAOC 2, Uedem, Germany; below CAOC 2 is the Interim Deployable CAOC, Ramstein, Germany; CAOC 3, Reitan, Norway; CAOC 4, Messtetten, Germany; and CAOC 9, High Wycombe, UK.
A second wire chart to the right should have depicted the Supreme Allied Command Transformation, Norfolk, Va.; below SACT is the Director, Joint Air Power Competence Center, Gen. William T. Hobbins, USAF, Kalkar AB, Germany.
Gen. William T. Hobbins, Commander
US Air Forces in Europe
Ramstein AB, Germany
Airplane Commander vs. Pilot
I was very interested in your June article on Medal of Honor recipient Henry Erwin [“A Brave Man at the Right Time,” p. 62], especially since my father was a radar observer in a B-29 from the 39th Bomb Group, “Double Trouble,” which made the longest nonstop combat mission of the war (23:00 hours), as recorded in my father’s diary he was not supposed to be keeping (he “hid” mission data in his New Testament).
Since I am a Marine reservist who visited Iwo Jima in 1995 for the battle’s 50th commemoration, I was also interested to know that Staff Sergeant Erwin received care on Iwo.
I question, however, the article’s generic listing of B-29 crew members, stating that it had a pilot and copilot. According to William Wolf’s superb, definitive book on B-29s (Boeing B-29 Superfortress, The Ultimate Look: From Drawing Board to VJ-Day), the officer we know as the pilot (left seat) was in fact called, in B-29s, the “airplane commander,” while the officer we know as the co-pilot (right seat) was called the “pilot.” This terminology is why one often sees “A/C” painted just before the airplane commander’s name on the fuselage just under his window. In any event, I regret this true hero, Staff Sergeant Erwin, is no longer with us.
Col. Charles A. Jones,
Colonel Jones is right about the official designation of the aircrew positions. However, the terms “pilot” and “copilot” also continued in everyday use. The senior aviator on B-29s sometimes referred to themselves as airplane commanders, sometimes as pilots.—John T. Correll