My First Duty Assignment

I showed up at Nellis AFB, NV, just North of Las Vegas, in mid-January 1969.  I signed in and was assigned to the 430th tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS), F-111A, as an Aerospace Munitions Officer.  When I got to the squadron the next day I was subsequently assigned as the squadron Weapons Loading Officer.  In this capacity I had 105 airmen assigned to me right away!

In the 430th “Load Shop” we had two Chief Master Sergeants:  Chief Edwards and Chief Lundwall.  I don’t know their first names – it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway.  These guys were “Chiefs,” and new 2nd Lieutenants didn’t call Chiefs by their first names.

I think my childhood as an “Air Force Brat” served me well later as an officer.  I knew how to treat the Enlisted folks – with respect.  Furthermore, these two guys were old enough to be my grandfathers!  And there was no way I could call them anything else but “Sir.”  (But I also knew you don’t call a senior enlisted man ‘Sir’ if you are an officer; you call him “Chief!”)

Anyway, these two guys were great for a brand new 2nd Lieutenant.  At the time, the 430th was in a training posture.  We were just receiving our asssigned aircraft – brand new F-111As, straight from the factory.

It wasn’t long before I picked up on Chief Edwards’ and Chief Lundwall’s “routine.”  These two guys would show up in the squadron somewhere between 0700 and 0715.  They would make coffee, then walk over to the break room to check up on the training schedule and see how things were going.  Once satisfied, they would return to our office.

These two guys had butted their desks up against each other.  After they settled in, out came the morning paper.  One of them would begin reading the paper, and the other began work on the crossword puzzle.  Sometime around 0930 or so every day these guys would head over to the NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer’s) Club – for a coffee break!

When they returned they would sit down at their respective desks and swap tasks with the morning paper.  Soon it would be time for lunch, so back to the NCO Club these two would go.

After the Chiefs returned from lunch, they would make early afternoon rounds to check on everything.   By 2:30 or so, it was back to the NCO Club once again, for a mid-afternoon cold beer.  Returning around 3:15 or so it was time for them to begin closing shop so they cold make it to the NCO Club for Happy Hour.  Helluva a deal!

While on the surface it may have looked like these two were kinda lackadaisical – make no mistake, they had an “iron grip” on the operation.  And everyone knew it!

I have no idea what ever happened to either one of them, but I do know that I became a better officer for having worked with them!


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