“Persons to Be Decorated…”

We were flying our asses off in the summer of ’76, and it was hot at Vance AFB, OK that year.  But it was fun!  Little did we know how much fun it really was…

One day General John Roberts, Commander of Air Training Command (ATC), showed up for a visit.  After his visit, he taxied out in a T-38A for his flight back to San Antonio.  As he approached Runway 17C for departure, a local T-38 showed up with an emergency of some kind or another.  General Roberts had to hold for the subsequent recovery.  Apparently our Wing Commander had followed General Roberts out in his staff car.  While the General was content to sit and watch the operation, our wing commander was having somewhat of a “hissy fit.”  He wanted to ensure General Roberts received preferential treatment, with respect to departure sequencing.

As it turned out, the runway supervisory unit (RSU) controller was a ‘junior officer,’ a first lieutenant.  Learning this only fueled the wing commander’s angst.  Soon thereafter, he directed all first lieutenant controllers be relieved of RSU Controller duties!  This really crippled our operations, as these guys, while relatively ‘young,’ were very capable.  But nonetheless, they were all taken off RSU Controller orders.

In August 1976 we had a change of command of wing commanders.  A parade was called for.  There are few things I know of uglier than marching pilots!  Lt. Col. Jerry Hodgson, our beloved Ops Officer, was put in charge of the parade.  I don’t know what the hell he did, but, oh well…

We practiced for two or three days before the actual change of command.  Flying was terminated just before noon for us to muster on the parade field.  The practices began about 1300 hrs., and it was HOT out there!  The first day was a disaster.  Jerry just sat in the viewing stands, shaking his head, watching his career go South!  After practice, we headed over to a base cafeteria and with a few beers, began to get everything sorted out.  Day Two went much better out on the parade field.  There was hope…

On Day Three it was all coming together.  The squadron formations all looked great.  Jerry looked pleased.  Then came the command; “Persons to be decorated” was shouted out, and some lackey from behind me responded, “All First Lieutenant RSU Controllers!” – and the formation busted up!  Jerry just put his face in his hands, and we all laughed our asses off!

Maybe you had to have been there.  For those of us who were, it was funny as hell!

 

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1 Response to “Persons to Be Decorated…”

  1. Jerry Hodgson says:

    I don’t remember that episode, but in ’76, I was in Bootstrap at Phillips University, at Enid. But then again, I’m now 77 years old, and I scarcely remember what I had for breakfast this morning. Jerr

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