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Old 07-29-2016, 10:29 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And more of a stand-down day:



335th TFS, Sheppard AFB, TX; 1150 Hours Central War Time:


Guru and Goalie left the CO's office and went to the Ops Office, where they found both Van Loan and Kara. “Don,” Guru nodded. “And Kara.”

“How'd the interview go, Boss?” Van Loan asked.

“Actually, it went pretty well,” the CO said. “And the two of us probably aren't done yet.”

Kara looked at her CO. “She wants you again?”

“Yep,” Guru replied. “She wants to do a story on the Day One vets-those of us who are still left, and by the way, Don, that includes you.”

“Thanks a heap, Major,” Van Loan said. “And that means Mark as well.”

“You got it.”

Goalie then turned to Kara. “And she wants to have a go at you, Kara.”

“Thanks a bunch!” Kara shot back. “What the hell for?”

“She's going to do a story on the women,” Goalie said. “Not just aircrew, but ground people as well. They already talked to Ryan Blanchard.”

Kara looked at Goalie, then her CO. “They ask about that R&R story? I mean.....Ryan chasing down a Cuban wearing only an M-16 and combat boots?”

Guru grinned. “That one. And yeah, she confirmed it. Not to mention that Goalie and I were there.”

“So, we all have to play the gracious host, then,” Kara nodded. By her tone, it wasn't a question.

“That we do,” Guru said. “Now, to business. Any word on a contingency ATO?”

Van Loan shook his head. “Negative, Boss. Not with this weather. And before you ask, no weather update yet.”

“Fair enough,” said the CO . “Any word from Kev O'Donnell?”

“Not yet.”

“Okay....Frank come in yet? His element's sitting Zulu Alert in five minutes.”

“Not yet,” Van Loan said. Just after he said that, Major Frank Carson came into Ops to sign in for his alert stint.

“Major,” Carson said, being barely polite. “Captain,” He said to Van Loan. “I”m here to sign in.”

Van Loan handed him a clipboard. “Here's the form, and just so you know, the weather's still bad, and chances are, that siren won't sound.”

“Just be ready if it does,” Guru said. “Got it?”

“Yes......sir.” Carson replied, not trying to hide his contempt for the CO.

“Frank, just don't be rank. And be prepared for two hours of boredom. Get a book or a few magazines, or a Walkman. Take a nap, write a letter home, whatever. Otherwise, it's two hours of twiddling your thumbs.”

“Yes...sir,” Carson said. “Sir, what's this about giving Captain Collins something that I should be doing?”

“He's doing a special project for me. Anything else?”

“No...sir.”

“Good. Then enjoy your Zulu stint.”

Carson turned, but a temptation got the better of him. “I see you have the two sluts with you.”

“Careful, Frank....” Goalie said, her words as cold as ice. “I'd keep my mouth shut, because either Kara or I can pick up that phone on Ops' desk and call JAG.”

“There'd be a sexual harassment charge coming from either one of us,” added Kara.

Carson gave out an exasperated “Ughh,” then turned to the CO . “Is that all, sir?”

“Just this,” Guru opened his flight suit pocket and took out a folded letter. “I'd check the last two paragraphs.” It was the note from Sundown Cunningham.

Carson took the paper, scanned it, then looked at the CO. “He can't be serious.”

“He is,” Guru said. “And when the Vice-Chief of Staff says the squadron's in good hands? That counts more than your overinflated opinion. Anything else?”

“No...sir.”

“Good. Now beat it, and enjoy the next two hours.”

Carson shook his head, then left the Ops Office in a fit of the sulks, slamming the door behind him.

“That is not a happy person, Boss.” Van Loan observed.

“Yeah, well....his problem,” said Guru. “Have lunch yet?”

“In a few, Boss,” the Ops Officer said.

“Kara?”

“My desk's clear,” Kara grinned. “Sure, I could use some lunch.”

“Good. Don? Before you go, remind folks that if they haven't yet? Find some time to spend in the Fitness Center,” the CO told the Ops Officer.

“Will do,” Van Loan replied.

“Okay, let's go.”


After lunch, and a run-in with Doc, who reminded all of them to spend some time getting in shape, they went back to the squadron offices. Guru went to his, and found Kerry Collins waiting for him. “Kerry,”

“Boss,” Collins said. “Got some news for you. And I know you won't like it.”

“Come on into the office,” Guru said. “And close the door.” The CO went in, and Collins followed, closing the door behind him. Guru went to his desk and nodded. “Okay, Kerry. Lay it on me.”

“Half of our Sparrows are near, at, or past their shelf life.”

The CO's face got red, then he slammed a fist on his desk. “Damn it!” He looked at Collins. “You're sure about this?”

“Double-checked all of 'em, Boss,” Collins said. “And even with this, it'll be a few days, at least, before we get any Fs.”

“Lovely,” the CO growled. “I'd like to meet the genius who thought that strike Phantoms didn't need Fs. And kick his ass six ways from Sunday.”

“You'd probably have to get in line for that, Boss,” Collins pointed out.

“And watch me find a way to cut to the front of the line,” Guru said. “I don't care who I have to trample, mutilate, go through, over, on top, or underneath to find this asshole.”

“To be wished for, Boss,” said Collins. “So, what now?”

Guru thought for a minute. “We can't pull the bad ones, right?” He saw Collins nod, then continued. “Okay, mix the bad with the good if at all possible. It's better than going out with one, or worse, none at all. Unless you've got a better idea.”

“Can't think of anything, Major. I know the missile maintenance guys aren't cutting any corners.”

“They working on the bad ones now?”

“As we speak, Boss,” Collins replied.

“Okay, tell 'em to do their best. And like I said earlier: don't make any promises you can't keep,” the CO said. And Collins could tell by the tone of his voice that the CO was serious. “I'll talk to General Olds either this afternoon or tonight, and see if he can't get the ball rolling on getting us some AIM-7Fs.”

“And we can forget about Ms, because F-14s and F-15s also have priority on those, and AIM-120? Dream on.”

“You've got that right. That's at least a year away, and when it does come out? F-15s and F-16s get them first before anyone else. That's the scuttlebutt, anyway,” sighed Guru.

“We don't have the radars, anyway. That takes APG-63 or better: F-15, F-16, F/A-18, F-20, or F-14, Boss.”

Guru nodded. 'Unfortunately.” Then there was a knock at the door. “Come on in and show yourself!”

The door opened, and General Olds came in with his aide. “Major,” he said. “And Captain.”

Both the CO and Collins drew themselves to something resembling attention. “General,” Guru said. “Something I can do for you, sir?”

“Just decided to get ready for the interview,” Olds said. “It'll be here, that Marine PAO said. You don't have an Air Force one?”

“No, sir,” Major Wiser said. “We had one, but he was killed on Day Three of PRAIRIE FIRE, and the Air Force hasn't seen fit to send us anyone qualified to take his place. Namely, a pilot with some PAO training or experience. And sir, before you ask, my Chief Sergeant has been trying to find us one. He knows people in Officer Detailing.”

Olds nodded. “People like that find what they're looking for, sooner or later, Major. And who's the Captain here?” He nodded at Collins.

“Sir, Captain Kerry Collins. I'm the Assistant Ordnance Officer. And sir, it's an honor to meet you.”

“I've had more people say that yesterday and today than I probably ever have,” Olds observed. “Assistant Ordnance Officer, hm? This have something to do what that issue we discussed earlier, Major?”

The CO nodded. “Yes, sir. Kerry, you tell the General what you told me just a few minutes ago.”

“Major,” Collins said, then he spoke for five minutes. “And that's that, sir,” he said when finished.

The CO and Collins looked at the General, who had a scowl on his face. “I've heard similar complaints from the ex-IIAF guys at Amarillo, same thing from Reese and Cannon, as well. So...how do you plan to deal with it?”

“Sir, best we can do,” Collins said, 'is this: My missile guys are going over the bad ones, seeing what they can replace, but that's only an interim solution. Bottom line, sir, is we need AIM-7F.”

“That's what I've been told elsewhere, and this just reinforces that. I'll talk to General Tanner this afternoon or evening, and see if we can't light a fire under someone's ass and get you people some decent BVR weapons.”

Guru nodded. “Thank you, sir. And my....scroungers?”

“Hold off on that, Major. Like I said, let's see if Tenth Air Force can't get things moving. If not....we'll tell you to turn your guys loose.”

“Yes, sir,” Major Wiser said. “Sir, if you don't mind my saying, I'd like to find whoever decided strike Phantoms didn't need AIM-7F and kick his ass over the moon.”

Hearing that, General Olds let out a laugh. “Major, you are not the only squadron CO to say something like that. Got an earful of that on my previous stops. That's a mighty long line you're talking about. And Major? If General Tanner can't get things going, I do know someone who can.”

Both 335th officers looked at each other, then the CO asked, “Sir, you don't mean Sundown Cunningham?”

“That's exactly who I mean, Major. He's a former subordinate, and we've kept in touch. One way or another, Major, this will be sorted out. And somebody's balls will get crunched.”

Guru and Collins looked at each other again. General Cunningham's reputation throughout the Air Force was well known, and as far as they were concerned, richly deserved. “He will do that, sir, though I'd rather see whoever is responsible shoveling snow.”

Olds laughed again. “Major, I'd like to see that myself. But....we'll settle for somebody getting a job more suited to their talents, won't we. And speaking of which, another old hand got called up for this one: Chuck Yeager's back at Edwards. He's in charge of the F-20 program. Don't be surprised if he brings a couple of Tigersharks out here in a month or two.”

“If you say so, sir,” Guru replied. He looked out the office window to the main office,and saw the reporter and camera crew coming. “General, our friends from the Fourth Estate are here. Looks like I'll have to make myself scarce.”

Olds and his aide looked out the window. “Looks like you will, Major. How much warning did you get?”

“Two minutes, sir. If that. And sir? Good luck with Ms. Wendt.”

“Thanks Major. Guess I'll see you later. And Captain? Keep up the good work.”

“Yes, sir!” Collins said.

“General,” Guru nodded, then both he and Collins left the office. They immediately ran into Ms.Wendt. “He's all yours, Ms. Wendt.”

“Thank you, Major,” Wendt said. “My second General, and a for-real hero in two wars.”

“Keep this in mind, though,” Guru said. “He's the only pilot I know of who has piston-engined fighters and supersonic jets in his kill sheet. He killed Me-109s and Fw-190s over Europe, and MiG-17s and MiG-21s over North Vietnam. Nobody else can claim that.”

The reporter nodded. 'I'll keep that in mind.”

“And when we say he's an Air Force legend? He is. So, good luck with the General.”

“Thank you again, Major,” Ms. Wendt said, then she and her crew went into the CO's office.

Guru then turned to Collins. “Kerry, get back to your missile techs. I don't care how you do it, but I want each bird to have two Sparrows for the morning.”

“We'll get it done, Major,” Collins said. “You can take it to the bank.”

“Said it before, but I'll repeat it. Don't make any promises you can't keep,” Guru reminded him.

Collins looked at his CO. “We'll have 'em for you, Boss.”

“Don't waste any more time talking to me, Kerry. Just get it done.”

“On my way.” Collins then left for the ordnance shop.

Goalie then came over to the CO. “Looks like the General's doing his interview.”

“He is,” Guru said. “I'm headed for a workout. You coming?”

“Shortly,” Goalie said.

“Okay, if anyone needs the CO, tell'em he's working up a sweat.”

“Will do.”

Guru nodded. “See you over there.”


A few minutes later, Guru was in the Fitness Tent. When he got there, he noticed one of Doc Water's medics with a clipboard. “Checking off names?”

The sergeant nodded. “Yes, sir. Doc's orders. And he specifically said to keep an eye out for you, the Exec, Ops, and a few others.”

“All right.” The CO shrugged, then headed for a treadmill to get in his four miles. He had just done a mile and a half when Kara and Goalie came in, and sure enough, there were a few eyes watching the both of them in their sports bras. An icy stare from Kara made the starers find something else to look at, and the CO smiled. Then the Exec came in, and got on the treadmill next to him. “Mark.”

“Boss,” the Exec said as he got started. “Kerry filled me in.”

“Good. Now you know what's up with our Sparrows.”

“And you want to kick someone's ass-literally,” the Exec smiled. “Mind if I get in line behind you?”

“Lots in front, and Sundown Cunningham is probably at the head of it,” the CO pointed out.

“Yeah. And what'd Frank say about this?”

“He wasn't happy about being bypassed, but I told him Kerry was doing this on my orders, and if he didn't like it, well, that's his problem. Among many.”

Ellis nodded as they kept running, and both Kara and Goalie came to get in their runs. Again, a few stopped to watch Kara and Goalie run, but they paid no attention this time. “You probably saw a lot of Goalie last night.”

“You saw us?” Guru asked.

“You two going off to your tent an hour before last call? Don't need to be an intel officer to know what you two did when you got there. Same thing with Don and Sweaty.”

“Seeing anyone?”

“Not here, but on R&R? I've got an old college friend. She's a C-130 driver, and flew quite a bit into Denver. If she ever comes by, she's got some stories about flying into Stapeleton or Lowry that'll make your hair stand on end.”

“Goalie flew into Denver when the siege got going,” Guru recalled as he hit the two-mile mark. “She's got a few....flying into Stapleton or one of the other airports. At night, especially. Try doing it in a snowstorm when they're shooting at you. You name it, it flew into there. C-5s and -141s, rarely, but others? If it could fly cargo in and people out? It was there.”

“Wouldn't be surprised if there were C-47s,” Ellis joked.

Goalie overheard that. “There were. Don't ask me where they came from, but there were a few. Not warbirds,I can tell you that. Going in by the seat of their pants, no EW gear or radar warning receiver, basic nav aids, and they got in and out. They had guts, and I mean a lot of guts.”

Guru nodded. “That'll be an interesting book,some day.”

“It will,” Goalie admitted.

Guru went on and finished his four miles. After he got off the treadmill, he went over to Kara. “Any potential victims?”

“A few,” she replied. “Word's gotten around, I bet.”

“No bets,” the CO said. “They value their unbroken noses and intact wallets.”

Kara let out an evil-looking grin. 'They do.”

The CO smiled at that, then went on to finish his workout. As he went to take a shower, he noticed the rain had let up, and the sky off to the west was lightening up. That meant the weather would soon be clearing, and that also meant that it was back in the saddle come morning. After his shower, he then went back to the squadron office, and found his maintenance officer, Capt. Kevin O'Donnell. “Kev,”

“Major,” O'Donnell said. “Got some good news for you.”

Major Wiser looked at him. “Lay it on me, Kev.”

“Maintenance report. Twenty birds, full mission-capable,” the maintenance officer handed the CO the paper. “All ready for the morning.”

“Good work,” the CO said. “Pass that on to your people. Maybe we'll get a two-day next time due to weather, and your people can sleep in.”

O'Donnell nodded. “We'll sleep in when this war's over.”

Then one of the Ops NCOs came over. “Major? This just came in.” The female Staff Sergeant handed the CO a paper.

“Thank you,” Guru said, then he scanned the paper. “Weather update. Rain turning to showers, with a 50% chance of VFR conditions after 1900, 100% chance of VFR after midnight.”

“Looks like we're flying tomorrow,” the maintenance officer observed.

Major Wiser nodded. “That we are. Twenty birds, locked and cocked, thanks to you and your people.”

“You fly 'em, we'll fix 'em, Major.”

“That we do,” said Guru. “Thanks, Kev.”

O' Donnell nodded, then went back to the maintenance office. The CO went on to his office,and found the interview had been over for a while, for neither General Olds, nor the news crew, were there. The Major checked his IN box, and found a couple of small things there, but nothing that really required his attention. He took care of the papers, then went to his office window. He heard the roar of engines, and saw a C-141B coming in for a landing. The CO left his office and found Sweaty outside. She worked for Van Loan when not flying, just as Kara did. “Sweaty? Get your workout in?”

She nodded. “This morning, Boss.”

“Good. Then you can do something for me. Get on out to that C-141 and see if there's anything or anyone on it for us.”

“On my way,” She went out the door and headed for the transit ramp.

Mark Ellis then came over to the CO with a clipboard in hand. “Boss.”

“Mark, what have you got?” Guru asked.

“Just the usual end-of-day admin stuff,” the Exec replied. “Kev O'Donnell says we'll have twenty birds for the morning.”

Guru nodded. “Told me the same thing not long ago. What else?”

“Status report for MAG-11, and the same thing we send off to Tenth Air Force.”

The CO nodded as he signed the forms. “Okay, anything else that I need to know?”

“Ross asked if you have any special 'scrounging' requests,” Ellis told Guru.

“Nothing right now, but he may get a really special one in a few days. See if he knows where we can find some AIM-7Fs. But hold off on the actual, uh, acquisition for now.”

“You sure?” The Exec asked. “That's munitions we're talking about.”

“Kerry Collins told me a bunch of our AIM-7s are at, near, or past, their shelf life. We need BVR missiles that work. Well, most of the time.”

“Gotcha,” Ellis nodded. “I'll let him know.”

Guru looked at his Exec. “General Olds will talk about this with General Tanner, and see if they can't get things going on that end. But if they can't....”

“Understood.”

“Have you found a new Night-shift SDO?”

“Fridge,” replied the Exec. “He doesn't have a pilot yet, and so...”

“Okay,” Guru said. “We all did this at one point as Lieutenants.”

Ellis nodded. “That we did, Boss.”

“That it?”

“It is for now,”

The CO looked at the wall clock, then his Exec. “Twenty minutes until we're off the clock. See you in the Club.”

“I'll be there,” said Ellis, then he headed back to his office. He was flipping through a week-old copy of Air Force Times when there was another knock on the door. “Come on in and show yourself!”

Sweaty came in, followed by Goalie. “Nothing on the -141 for us. Everything was either for the Marines or for the air base group that runs this base. A bunch of people did come off, though. EOD.”

“What are they doing here?” Goalie asked.

Guru looked at his GIB. “The big reason we're not using the base gym? Half of the buildings on this base aren't usable due to booby traps, and that's one of them.” He turned to Sweaty. “These people bringing dogs?”

Sweaty nodded. “They did. Half a dozen bomb-sniffing dogs and a whole bunch of equipment.”

“Okay, tell the Exec, and pass the word to stay out of their way, and if they come here? We do exactly what they tell us. Period.”

“On my way,” Sweaty said. She went out the door to find the Exec.

Goalie shook her head. “What kind of nut makes a career of sweet-talking explosives?”

“Somebody with more guts than everyone in this squadron put together,” Guru told her. “The tent city's been swept, but don't be surprised if they go over it again with the dogs.”

“And the rest of the base?”

Guru had a grim smile. “Remember what that Seabee officer said when we got here? 'The Cubans must've learned how to set booby traps from the North Vietnamese.' Russians flew out of here, but when they left, the Cubans came in to try and make a stand.”

“And they had time enough to set plenty,” Goalie observed.

“They did,” Guru acknowledged. He looked at the clock on his office wall. 1650. “Ten minutes and we're off the clock.” He thought for a minute. “I just thought of something. Let's find Mark, then we're off the clock.”

The two left the office, and as they did, they found the Exec and Sweaty talking. “Boss,” Ellis said. “Sweaty filled me in on the EOD guys. They didn't waste any time getting to work. They're checking the tent city right now.”

“Okay, the CO said. “If they come here....”

“They called. Fifteen minutes' advance notice. The sweep should take about an hour.”

“Fair enough,” the Major said. “One more thing: you did tell Fridge he's night-shift SDO?”

“I did, Boss,” Ellis replied.

“Good. Find Saber and tell him he has it tomorrow night. He and Fridge alternate. Saber is Hacksaw's GIB and since Hacksaw is day-shift SDO....”

“And we don't have a pilot for Fridge,” Ellis nodded. “I'll let him know.”

The CO nodded approval. “1701: we're off the clock. Time to hit the Club. Only difference from last night?”

“Everybody's under Twelve-Hour,” Goalie said.

“That we are.”
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  #302  
Old 07-29-2016, 10:30 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And things in the O-Club, because another day, and another round of flight pay, is coming:



Sheppard AFB Officer's Club Tent: 1715 Hours Central War Time:


Guru and Goalie went into the Officer's Club Tent, and found the place already filling up. One of the first people they found was Fridge Byrant, who was chatting up a female Marine Officer. And getting the cold shoulder. “Fridge, glad I found you.”

“Major?” The ex-football player said.

“Got some bad news for you. Until we find you a pilot, you're night shift SDO,” Major Wiser said. “And take it from me, I've 'been there, done that.'”

Fridge nodded. His OTS instructors had told him there'd be times like this, and so had his brother. Junior officer, new to the squadron. One got the shit details. “I understand, Major. How long?”

“Can't say for sure because, frankly? I don't know. When we get a new pilot, I'll pair the two of you up. Hopefully, we'll get a veteran who's a former IP or was in the hospital and then the replacement pool,” the CO said. Then he turned to his GIB. “Goalie? Find Saber and get him over here.”

“I'm off,” Goalie said.

“'Saber?'” Fridge asked. “How'd he get that?”

Guru looked at his still relatively-new Lieutenant. “He was on his college fencing team. And before you ask, no, it wasn't some Ivy League school. He went to Notre Dame.”

A couple of minutes later, Goalie brought back a tall, strapping, shaven-headed officer in a flight suit. “Here he is.”

“Major,” First Lieutenant Pat Ellison said. “What's up?”

“Got same bad news: you and Fridge here are going to alternate as Night-shift SDO. Fridge has it tonight, and you've got it tomorrow night. This lasts until Hacksaw is released by Doc and is back on the flight schedule,” the CO said.

“Gotcha, Boss,” Ellison said. “At least I get tonight.”

“That you do,” Guru said. “Okay, Fridge, you get yourself something to eat when they bring dinner in, then get over to the squadron office. Hacksaw will fill you in on the drill.”

“Will do, Major,” Fridge nodded. 'My brother told me there'd be times like this.”

“Your brother?”

“Yeah. He flies F-4s. He was at Moody prewar, so I bet he's still in the Southeast. His call sign's Thunder.”

“Never heard that one before,” Guru said. “If I didn't see him at Homestead or Seymour-Johnson prewar...”

Fridge nodded understanding. “Maybe after the war, Major.”

“If he survives,” Goalie pointed out. “If we all do.”

Saber nodded. “There is that little detail.”

“That there is,” the CO said. “Okay, any questions? Neither Fridge or Saber had any. Saber? You enjoy tonight, and Fridge? You get some food inside you, then get over to the office. And I'll see about getting you a pilot as soon as I can. Any questions, both of you?” The two shook their heads. “That's it.”

Both officers nodded, then went their ways.

“All I can say, is, 'Been there, done that,'” Goalie said. “Did my share at Little Rock.”

“And at Seymour-Johnson,” Guru added. “Don, Mark, and I were the three juniormost officers in the squadron then......All right, that's done. Let's get ourselves a table.”

After they got one, Kara, Brainiac, Sweaty, and the rest of their flight came to join them. After the CO bought a round, Sweaty asked, “So what'll we drink to?”

“How about a good flying day tomorrow?” Kara said.

“I'll drink to that, because we've got every bird FMC for the morning, and half the time after that happens, we lose somebody,” Guru said

Preacher nodded, “Amen.”

After hoisting their bottles, Hoser looked to the tent entrance, and saw General Olds coming in with Colonel Brady. “Boss, General Olds and Colonel Brady.”

“Guess I'd better pay my respects,” Guru said. He got up and went to the bar, where the General and Colonel were chatting, “General,” he said to General Olds. “Colonel,”

Major,” Olds replied. “I see the two of us had an encounter with the Fourth Estate today.”

“Yes, sir,” Major Wiser said.

“How'd it go?” Colonel Brady asked.

“Mine went all right, it seemed,” Olds replied. “I got the impression she knew what to ask, and more importantly, what not to ask. Unlike some reporters.”

“That was my impression as well, sir,” said Guru. “It went pretty well.”

Both Olds and Brady nodded. “Well, General, and Major,” Brady said. “You two were in the hot seat today. My turn tomorrow. She'll get a former POW's view of all this.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Major,” General Olds said. “She told me that you'll be in the hot seat again.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Guru. “She'll be doing a story on the Day One crews, those of us who are still around. And she plans another story on the women.”

“Aircrew, Major?”

“Yes, sir. And ground staff as well,” Guru said. “Probably more than one story. Cosmo and Revlon, our all-female crew, probably get their own story.”

“No doubt, Major,” Colonel Brady said.

“Major, tell your people I'll be sitting down with some of them tomorrow night. I'll be here at least a couple more days.”

“Yes, sir,” Guru said. A chance to share a table with an AF legend.....

Olds nodded. “You and your people have a good evening. The two of us Vietnam Vets still have some stories to swap.”

Guru nodded.

“You have a good evening, Major,” Olds said. “I'll see you later.” And Colonel Brady nodded.

“Yes, sir,” Guru said. He went back to the table, just as Ms. Wendt and the rest of the news people came in. “Well, General Olds will be sitting down with us tomorrow night.”

Heads turned at that. “You're kidding, right?” Kara asked.

“Nope,” Guru said. “He'll be here at least a couple more days.”

Sweaty grinned. “A chance to ask him about Operation BOLO....culling out half the MiG-21s in North Vietnam.”

Hoser nodded. “Maybe he got more than five MiGs....” His voice trailed off.

“We'll find out, or maybe not,” Kara said. “Won't we?”

“You've got that right,” Guru grinned.

Just then, the mess people came in. And there was a treat. “People,” one of the civilian restauranteurs said. “We've got Chicken-Fried Steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, and the trimmings. Just as we do it here in Texas. Don't ask us how we got it, but it's real steak.”

After getting their food, everyone dug in. “Real Steak?” Dave Golen asked.

“Sure tastes like it,” Hoser said.

While everyone was eating, the CBS Evening News came on. Evidently it was a slow news day, even in wartime. “Not much happening down here today,” Sweaty observed. “Mother Nature was in charge.”

“Back in the saddle tomorrow,” Goalie pointed out.

Then someone shouted, “Turn it up!” The barkeep obliged, and CBS News' Bill Plante, who was their Chief Congressional Correspondent, was giving a report.

“An aide to Wisconsin Democratic Senator William Proxmire was arrested by the FBI after returning from a trip to Paris, and Congressional sources say that the aide was engaged with contacts at the Cuban Embassy in Paris. So far, the Senator's office denies any wrongdoing on behalf of the Senator, but FBI sources say that the Senator himself has traveled to Paris on several occasions, and that his name has come up in the investigation. The Senate Democratic leadership, so far, has refused to comment, but in a statement, they promise 'Full cooperation' with the FBI investigation. Bill Plante, CBS News, Senate Hall, in Philadelphia.”

“Proxmire....” Goalie spat. “That creep. You name the military program, he's been against it. F-15, B-1, AH-64, supercarriers, MX Missile, you name it. And he's been anti-NASA. He was against Shuttle, and killed any NASA research into space colonies.”

From the next table, Cosmo added, “Lot of astronomers weren't too happy with him. He tried to kill the Hubble Space Telescope, and blocked funding for SETI.”

“SETI?” Dave Golen asked. “What's that?”

“Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Take a radio telescope, point it at a star, and see if there's any artificial radio signals coming from it. One astronomer said after Proxmire blocked SETI funding, 'Give him membership in the Flat Earth Society.'”

Mark Ellis observed, “He may not get that, but he may get himself a six-by-nine at Marion Federal Prison. Think about it: his aide got arrested, and that may not stop there. If this aide starts talking, and names some people, including this Senator.....”

“I'll drink to that,” Hoser said, and quite a few bottles or glasses were raised in affirmation.

After the news, attention shifted to a preseason college basketball game between Cal Berkeley and USF on ESPN, while others turned to the Pool Table or poker games. But Sweaty had brought some newspapers off the C-141, and people were reading either Stars and Stripes, The Los Angeles Times, or USA Today. “Anything?” Kara asked before heading off to the pool table.

“Not much in the LA Times,” Guru said. “Though they have the best comics page in California. Probably the West Coast.”

Goalie smiled, “Which is the most important part of the paper.” She perused Stars and Stripes. “Not much here, either.”

“There's an Op-ed in USA Today,” Sweaty said. “From former Senator George McGovern.”

“He lost to Nixon in '72, right?” Brainiac asked.

Guru nodded. “That's right. Second greatest landslide in American history, after Reagan's in '84. What's he saying, Sweaty?”

His second element leader glanced at the paper. “If you cut out the 1970s' peacenik talk? He's calling for a cease-fire with the Soviets, negotiations, and so on. “We must give our enemies a face-saving way to end the war. As John Kennedy once said, 'We must not negotiate out of fear, but we must not fear to negotiate.' Even if talks fail, at least we will have gone the extra mile for peace.”

“Where was he on invasion day?” Kara asked, incredulously. “There were a dozen or so nuclear strikes in his home state. Minuteman LCCs, remember?”

“And Sioux Falls is close enough to not miss the fireball from Omaha,” Hoser added. “He in a '70s time warp?”

“Looks that way,” Guru noted. “He's thinking this is 1972 all over again.”

Goalie shook her head. “Never thought I'd see this from an ex-Senator. He's so fixated on 'peace', that he's willing to sacrifice anything to get it. Even if it means living under a jackboot.”

“And nobody in his own party will listen,” Guru observed.

Mark Ellis, who was at another nearby table, nodded. “That's a given.”


Kara then went to the pool table that she held court at, and Guru went to get a plate of nachos from the bar. While he was waiting for the order, he saw something he hoped not to see. General Olds went to Kara's pool table and laid down his money. So did Kara, and both combatants went at it. Guru's order was filled, and he brought the nachos back to the table. “Kara's going after the General, or vice-versa.”

Goalie looked at him. “You noticed.”

“Yeah. And I'm watching out of morbid curiosity.”

It wasn't long until General Olds' skills showed themselves, and as with General Tanner on his visit, Kara found herself losing. She smiled, paid the $50.00, and went over to the table. Not quite in a rage, but close.

“Well?” Sweaty asked.

“That's three times a general has out-hustled me at pool. And no, I'm not happy,” Kara growled.

“He's been doing this since World War II,” Guru pointed out. “Get your revenge tomorrow night.”

“I will,” Kara vowed. “It's my money. And I want it back.” She then went to the bar in a fit of the sulks.

KT noted, “He'll probably take her again tomorrow night. The General's got a lot more experience.”

“Look at it this way,” said Guru. “She's got ten minutes to get sloppy drunk.”

“Ten minutes?”

Guru pointed at the clock, which said 1850. “That's when Twelve-Hour kicks in.”

Kara went back to the pool table, finished her third beer, and proceeded to teach a Marine F-4 WSO a lesson. She pocketed her winnings, then went to the poker table just as Doc Waters rang the bell. “Twelve-Hour Rule now in effect!”

People grumbled, but either poured their drinks out or turned them in. At Guru's table, and everyone else's, sodas were the drink of choice, as people talked about what was up the next day. “Well,” Guru said. “Menana, we're back in the saddle.”

“Look at it this way,” Flossy said. “Another day, another round of flight pay.”

“If you live to spend it,” Preacher noted. “Half of the time, we come off a stand-down and wind up losing people.”

“Not always,” Brainiac reminded him.


Things went on until 2100, when one of the Navy flight surgeons rang the bell. “Aircrew Curfew now in effect!”

With that, those on the morning's flight schedule headed off to their tents to get some sleep. For tomorrow would be back to the grind, and another day on the firing line. Or, as one anonymous Marine aviator said, “Another day in a long war.”
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Old 08-08-2016, 07:47 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Some artwork: a captured 2S1 (SO-122) in U.S. service:
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Old 08-08-2016, 07:49 PM
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A pair of MTLBs: one a standard MTLB, and the other is the antitank version with the AT-6 Spiral ATGM.
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:13 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The next one:



335th TFS Squadron Offices, 0515 Hours Central War Time, 6 November, 1987:

Major Matt Wiser was walking to the squadron offices when he glanced to the east. The eastern horizons was starting to brighten, and a glance upwards revealed only a few scattered clouds in the sky. It promised good flying weather, and the Major smiled. Good. He went into the squadron's office and found Fridge at the SDO's desk. “Fridge,”

“Major,” Fridge said, starting to rise.

“That'll be enough of that,” the CO said. “We're in a war zone, and we can do without the jumping-up-and-down nonsense. There's a time and place for that, and this ain't either one.”

“Yes, sir. Habit.”

“And they're hard to break,” the Major noted. “The XO in?” He glanced towards his office.

“No, sir, not yet,” Fridge said. “I'll have him come your way.”

“Good,” said the CO. He noted what was coming over the radio on the SDO desk. “Wolfman Jack still going strong?”

“Yes, sir. Still 3:30 in L.A., and he's got another hour and a half to go.”

The CO nodded. “Yeah. Remember what I said, though. As soon as we get a new pilot, you're paired with that person and you're on the flight schedule.”

“Can't wait, sir,” Fridge said. He saw the CO's scowl. “Uh, Major, what I meant was...”

Guru took a look at the new Lieutenant. “I know, you want to put your training to use, and see how you'll do in combat. Don't worry about missing out on the show right now, because you're not missing a thing. Understand me?”

“I do, sir.”

“Good. Now, let me know when the XO comes in, and when Hacksaw arrives to take over for you. Get something to eat, get some sleep, and you'll still have a free afternoon for the most part.”

“Yes, sir.”

Guru nodded, then spoke to a few of the night-shift enlisted people, then went to his office. He went to a filing cabinet, looked for a particular form, He was busy filing it out when there was a knock on the door. “Yeah?”

The door opened and Fridge was there.”Major? The Exec's here.”

“Thanks, Fridge,” the CO said as the Exec came in. “Morning, Mark.”

“Boss,” the XO said as he came in. As usual, he had a clipboard with the admin stuff and was balancing two cups of hot liquid. “You're in early. Normally, I'm the one waiting for you.”

“Got something that I wanted to get going on before I forget,” Guru said, taking a cup that Ellis offered him. “Cocoa?”

“As is the new usual,” the XO nodded. 'So, what's the 'something?'”

The CO showed Ellis the form. “An Article 15 on Frank.”

Ellis took the form, and scanned it. “You're not kidding. For what?”

“He called Goalie and Kara sluts, and in front of witnesses, mind. Not just me, but Don, and practically everyone in the Ops Office.”

Ellis returned the form the the CO. “He's never been known for any kind of common sense when it comes to keeping his mouth shut. Or anything else, for that matter.”

“Exactly,” Guru said. “And at the very least, he gets a letter of reprimand in his file, and the O-5 promotion board will see it, and there's no way he'd make Lieutenant Colonel. Which means he never gets his squadron command, and he leaves the Air Force as a Major.”

“Only one problem with that, Boss. The Academy Old-Boy Network might see things differently, and he may have friends who'll sweep it under the rug,” Ellis pointed out.

Guru nodded. “Well, we'll see how that goes,” he said. “I want to get this to JAG today.”

“And he can't go to JAG himself and claim retaliation, because there's witnesses, and any claim from him is considered frivolous,” the Exec said. “And last I heard, the JAG office on base has exactly one officer and a handful of enlisted, and they're knee-deep in paper.”

“Lovely,” Guru said. “Ask around-discretely, mind, if they're getting any more bodies in that office. The sooner they have more bodies, the sooner this gets processed. Meanwhile, I'll talk to Colonel Brady and ask his advice. I know-he's a Marine and we're Air Force, but he's probably done this before. One thing about the war, we're both missing out on Squadron Officer School, and getting our squadron level education the hard way.”

Ellis nodded, “Well, General Tanner did say when he was here that the School of Hard Knocks did turn out some pretty good O-4s and O-5s in WW II.”

“I remember him saying that,” the CO said. “Okay, what do you have for me?”

“Morning Report for MAG-11 and Tenth Air Force,” the Exec replied.

Guru nodded, then signed the papers. “That's taken care of. What's next?”

“Aircraft Status Sheet,” Ellis said. “We still have twenty for the morning.”

“For now,” the CO said. “Weather?”

“Here's the forecast. Partly to mostly sunny, VFR conditions predominating, highs in the low to mid '60s.”

“Any other admin stuff?”

“Supply requisitions,” said Ellis as he handed him the form. “Some avionics parts, brake and hydraulic fluid, that sort of thing. Nothing major.”

“For a change,” Guru said as he signed off on the requisition. “What else?”

“A list of who's on the R&R Rotation,” said the XO. “No aircrew on it, though.”

Guru nodded “Okay. Any marriage requests?”

“Not this time, Boss. And that's it for the morning.”

There was a knock on the door, and the CO said, “Come in and show yourself.”

The door opened and Goalie came in, balancing two cups of hot liquid, one on top of the other. “Morning, Boss.”

“Goalie,” Guru said. “Let me guess; my second cup of cocoa of the morning?”

“What's wrong with wanting my pilot fully awake and alert?” Goalie shot back with mock indignation.

“Nothing,” the CO said as she handed him the top cup. “And how was last night?”

“Slept like a baby, and ready to get back to the job.”

Guru nodded approval. “Good, and so did I. Now, just so you know: I'm starting the ball rolling on an Article 15 for Frank.” He took the cup and proceeded to drain it.

His GIB's eyes widened. “For what he said yesterday?” She saw the CO nod, then added. “Good. And since there's a whole room full of people who heard him say that, and there's no way he can say he was misunderstood or misconstrued. Congratulations: you just torpedoed his career.”

“Not necessarily,” the Exec said. He reminded both of them, “Remember the Academy Old-boy Network? They may not get him O-5 on the first try, but the second? Even money bet they do.”

“So they give him O-5 as one last favor, and he'll have enough time so that he can stretch things out so that he retires as a Light Colonel.”

“If he survives the postwar RIF,” Guru said. He glanced at the wall clock. 0550. “Chow tent opens in ten minutes. Let's get over there. I need to let Kara know, then talk to Colonel Brady so I can get his advice.”


A few minutes later, the 335th trio arrived at the Officer's Mess Tent. People were milling about, waiting for the mess people to open up, and among those waiting were General Olds and Colonel Brady. “Major,” Olds said.

“General,” Guru replied, saluting. “And Colonel,” he nodded. “Looks like we've got a busy day ahead.”

“Reminds me of Operation BOLO,” Olds said. “We had a twenty-four hour delay due to weather before that one. And we would up kicking some ass that day.”

“You did, sir,” Major Wiser said. “Sir, may I speak with Colonel Brady for a moment? Privately.”

Olds nodded, and Brady went off with Guru for a moment. “What is it, Major?” Brady asked.

“Sir, for your information, I've started the ball rolling on an Article 15 for one Major Frank Carson.”

“All I can say is, about damned time,” Brady said, a smile forming on his face. “What's the offense?”

Guru explained for a minute. “And in front of witnesses, sir. The paperwork will be forwarded to the Air Force JAG office on base today. However, there's no guess as to when it'll be processed. The office is understaffed and is knee-deep in paper, my Exec tells me.”

“Well, that's a bit of good news to start the morning off. Not enough for you to kick him out, but between you and me, you've sunk his career.”

“Unless the Academy Old-Boy Network does something if he goes before an O-5 promotion board, sir. And sir, you know as well as I do that every service has such an organization, even if not officially recognized.”

Brady nodded. “Unfortunately, Major, that's quite true. They'd probably make sure he serves out his twenty, and retires as a Light Colonel. And nothing anyone can do about it. Still, he's made many enemies, and not just in your squadron, but in MAG-11, and probably everywhere we've been.”

“Yes, sir. That's one thing he's good at,” Major Wiser said.

“That's true,” Brady agreed. “Keep me informed on how things go.”

“Yes, sir.”

The two went back, and found General Olds talking with some 335th officers. “General, getting started with the boys and girls?” Brady said.

“Yep. Told them about the time in a P-38 where I scored a kill while in the glide mode,” Olds said. “Two P-38s against 50-60 Me-109s.”

“And when he dropped his wing tanks, he forgot to switch to internal fuel,” Kara added. “But what the hell, he shot anyway.”

Guru had a smile, “Well, sir, a kill's a kill, no matter how you do it.”

“That it is, Major,” Olds said. Then he told them how he killed another 109, and nearly getting killed himself when he put his P-38 in too steep of a dive going after two 109s chasing a P-51. Then pulling out barely above a wheat field, then turning the tables on a pursuing 109, killing it, making him an ace.

“Well, sir, too bad your Me-262 was only a damage, then you'd have jet kills in two wars,” Sweaty pointed out.

“Maybe somebody can go and check the Luftwaffe records. National Archives has all of that somewhere,” Mark Ellis said.

“Even after the bomb in D.C.?” Hoser asked.

“Even then,” Judge said. “Saw on CNN once where they sent in special teams to clear out the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, National Archives, all of that. I'll bet they're going to decontaminate what needs to be, then rebuild those museums some day.”

“Another way to stick it to Ivan,” Olds said approvingly.

“Yes, sir,” Guru said. “Sir, excuse me. I need to talk to Captain Thrace.” Guru then went to Kara and motioned with his head. After getting away from the group, Guru turned to Kara. “Got some news for you. It's about Frank.”

Kara smiled. “He's leaving?”

“No, but it's the next best thing. He's getting an Article 15. For yesterday's remarks about you and Goalie.”

“Oh, happy day,” Kara grinned. “Couldn't happen to a more deserving asshole.”

“Yep,” the CO said. “It should be processed in a couple weeks-or longer, depending on how the JAG office can dig itself out of the paper they're busy with already.”

“Boss, you just made my day.”

“One more nail in his coffin,” Major Wiser nodded. “And for sure, he's out by New Year's. One way or another. And with this? He never sees O-5.”

“Hopefully,” Kara replied. “But today....some Russians and Cubans get to pay for his sins.”

“Convenience, “ the CO said. Just then the Marine Mess Officer flipped the sign over the entrance from CLOSED to OPEN. “Come on. Let's go eat, then we make some Russians burn, bleed, and blow up.”



After breakfast, the various aircrews assembled in their briefing rooms, while the flight or element leaders (if a two-ship) got their mission packets. Major Wiser went to the Ops Office, and found the Ops Officer a very busy man. “Don,” he nodded to Capt. Don Van Loan.

“Boss,” Van Loan replied. “Got yours, and I see Dave Golen's right behind you. Maj. Dave Golen was their IDF “Observer” though he'd been doing a lot more than just observing. “Got your packets right here.” He handed one to the CO, and another to Golen. This time, they wouldn't be going out as a six-ship, as had happened in the past.

Guru opened his, and noted the location. “Tolar, southwest of Granbury. This is the East German sector, right?”

“It is, Boss,” Van Loan said. “And Dave? You and Flossy are headed south of there, place called Paluxy. They're not sure what it is, but it's a suspected RDF site. Lots of vehicles with antennas, you get the idea.”

“About ten miles south,” Golen noted. “We'll take them out.”

Guru looked at a recon photo. “Any idea whose choppers these are?” His target was a helicopter dispersal field.

“No idea, Boss. Could be Soviet, East German, or Nicaraguan,” Van Loan said.

Both the CO and Golen checked their threat listings. They were pretty much the same. “Threats are pretty much the same, Dave. Okay....You and Flossy launch, then join up with us. You guys stick with us until time for you to peel off on your own.”

Golen nodded understanding. “Got you.”

“And your call sign if you get into trouble?”

“Mustang.”

Guru nodded. “We're Camaro. All right, if you hit trouble, holler. We'll be there.”

“And so will we,” Golen said.

“Good,” the CO said. “Okay, brief up, and meet us outside.”

“Will do,” Golen nodded, then he went off to talk to his element.

Guru looked at Van Loan. “Don? You have a good one, and you've been told about the Sparrows?”

“Sure have, and, Boss.....whoever gave us those Sparrows needs a kick in the ass to Goose Bay.”

“Somebody needs to shovel snow, I'll grant you,” the CO said. “Okay, you guys be careful.”

The Ops Officer nodded. “You too, Boss.”

Guru nodded, then went to the former classroom that his flight used as a briefing room. “Okay, folks, we've got a mission.”

“What's up?” Kara asked.

“Some East Germans, or maybe Russians, that's who's going up,” Guru said. “In pieces.” He took out a TPC map and showed the target area. “Right here, town called Tolar. Nine miles southwest of Granbury on U.S. 67. There's a chopper dispersal area a half-mile south of the town on F.M. We make it go away.”

Sweaty took a look at the map. “This is the East German sector. They'll be doing a lot of shooting.”

“They will,” the CO nodded. “This is a Divisional HQ, and it may be the same people the Army shredded a couple days ago, so the threat level may not be as bad as it looks.”

“Shredded with our help,” KT said.

“True, but they may have been pulled off the line and somebody else took their place,” Guru pointed out. “Assume they're fully up and ready. Divisional level means SA-6 or -8,” he reminded them. “There's probably ZSU-23s around, and there are ZU-23s around the field. Then there's the MANPADS and small arms threat. Throw in Army-level SA-4 and maybe 57-mm AAA and it might be a rough ride.”

“We getting Weasels?” Goalie asked.

“Not on this one. As for MiGs?” the CO asked, and he saw he had their total attention. “MiG-21s are at the old Connelly AFB near Waco, and Brownwood, while -23s are at Robert Mueller Municipal in Austin, and again at Brownwood. MiG-29s are at Gray AAF, Fort Hood, and at Bergstrom AFB, Austin. And Su-27s are there as well.”

Kara nodded. “Any word on who the Flanker drivers are?”

“Nope. They cold be Frontal Aviation, or Voyska PVO,” replied Guru. Frontal Aviation was the Soviet Air Force's equivalent to TAC, while Voyska PVO was their Air Defense Force.

“Ordnance load?” Hoser asked.

“Everyone's got the same loadout for once,” the CO said. “Everyone gets twelve Mark-82 Snakeyes, with the wing TERs having the Daisy Cutter fuze extensions. Four AIM-9Ps, two AIM-7s-” and Guru paused, seeing the skeptical looks coming his way. “Yeah, I know, but we've got no choice. Full load 20-mike-mike, with Element leads having ALQ-119, while wingmates have ALQ-101.”

“What's the weather?” Sweaty wanted to know.

“VFR all day long,” Guru replied. “And the usual on Jolly Greens and bailout areas. Anyplace rural and away from the roads.” He saw heads nod. “Okay, one last thing: Dave and Flossy are coming with us for part of the way: they have their own target. After the tankers, we go in low and fast. We get out the same way. Anything else?”

“What about the Sparrows?” Goalie asked.

“Good question. Kerry Collins had the missile techs mix the bad with the good, and that's the best he can do until we get Fs. Now, General Olds has informed General Tanner, and they're working on getting F model Sparrows, but that might take a few days.”

Hoser shook his head. “At least.”

The CO nodded. “You're probably right on that,” he said. “ Anything else?”

“How many today?” Brainiac asked.

“Plan on at least four,” the CO said. “That it?” Heads nodded. “Okay, gear up. We'll meet at 512. Time to go to work, people.”

The crews went off to their locker rooms and geared up, and when the CO left the Men's, he found Goalie waiting for him in full flight gear. “Ready?” She asked.

“Time to go earn our flight pay,” Guru said. “And make some Russians or East Germans burn, bleed, and blow up.”

They went outside, and found Dave Golen with his GIB, and both Flossy and Digger, waiting. “Guru,”

“Dave,” the CO nodded. “You all ready?”

“As we'll ever be.”

“Let's go.”

Then they went to 512's revetment, and found the rest of the CO's flight there, waiting. “Dave, Flossy,' Kara said.

“Kara,” Golen said, while Flossy nodded. “I see you're ready to get it done,”

“Got nothing else planned for the morning,” Kara quipped, and everyone laughed.

The CO smiled at that: nothing wrong with a little pre-mission humor. But now, it was game time. “Okay, people, listen up.” Everyone gathered for Guru's final instructions. “Okay, the usual. Mission code to AWACS and other interested parties. Call signs between us.”

“Gotcha, Boss,” Sweaty said.

“Now, given that we've got Sparrows more crappy than usual? NO trolling for MiGs, people! Now, if you come across a recon run or a strike flight, that's one thing. But unless AWACS vectors us onto somebody, we decline combat. Not until we get some AIM-7Fs.”

“So,” Kara said. “We don't hassle with MiGs unless AWACS tells us to, or we jump recon or strike birds?”

“That's it. Not until we get those F Sparrows and have BVR stuff that actually works. Well, half of the time.”

“So they say,” said Hoser.

“Yeah,” Guru said. “Anything else?” Heads shook no. The CO clapped his hands. “All right: let's hit it.”

The crews headed for their aircraft, as Guru and Goalie went into the revetment and found Staff Sergeant Crowley, 512's crew chief. “Major,” Crowley said, snapping a salute. “She's ready to go. 512's locked and cocked.”

“Thanks, Sarge,” Guru said. He and Goalie did their preflight walk-around, and when they checked the two Sparrow missiles they both exchanged nervous glances. Pilot and GIB finished the preflight, then mounted the aircraft.

While they went through the cockpit checklist, Goalie asked, “You nervous about the Sparrows?”

“That is an understatement,” Guru replied. “Hope we don't need them.”

“You're not the only one thinking that,” she said.

They finished the preflight, then Sergeant Crowley gave the “Start Engines” signal. One, then the other, J-79 engines started, and after the warm-up, Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Camaro Lead with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

The Tower replied immediately. “Camaro Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi to Runway Three-three Lima. Hold prior to the Active.”

“Roger, Tower. Camaro Lead rolling.” Guru gave the thumbs-up to his Crew Chief. The ground crew pulled away the chocks from the wheels, and Sergeant Crowley gave the signal to taxi. Guru taxied 512 out of the revetment, and as he got onto the taxiway, Crowley snapped a perfect salute. Both Guru and Goalie returned it, and 512 taxied to the runway, with the other three F-4s in the flight following, with Mustang Flight right behind them. They held prior to the runway so that the armorers could remove the weapon safeties. Then Guru called the Tower again.”Tower, Camaro Flight with Four, requesting takeoff instructions.”

“Camaro Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are two-seven-four at six,” the controller replied.

“Roger, Tower.” Guru taxied 512 onto the runway, and Kara in 520 followed, pulling neatly into position at his Four O'clock. The two crews exchanged thumbs-ups, then Guru called the Tower again. “Tower, Camaro Flight ready for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower flashed a green light to signal clear for takeoff.

“Ready?” Guru asked his GIB.

“Let her rip,” Goalie replied.

“Canopy coming down,” Guru said, pulling down and locking his canopy, and Goalie followed suit. He glanced to his right, and saw 520 all set for takeoff. “Then let's go.” He went to full power on the throttles, released the brakes, then 512 rolled down the runway and into the air, with Kara's 520 right with him. Sweaty and Hoser followed, and after that, Dave and Flossy. Then they all set course south.
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Old 08-18-2016, 10:48 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The first mission of the day:



Over Central Texas, 0745 Hours Central War Time:


The six-ship formation of F-4s had cleared the I-20 line and was headed south. After the tanker rendezvous, the flight had gone in via the Brazos River, the dividing line between the East German sector to the west, and the Nicaraguan II Corps to the East. In the cockpits, the GIBs handled the navigation, with the ARN-101 “Arnie” system, though they were all doing the stopwatch and map method as backup, while the pilots not only flew, but kept their eyes out for threats. Going in on the river meant the Nicaraguans hardly shot at them, while the East Germans had their radars up and active. And it wasn't just enemy air or air defense that could be a threat, for power lines and radio or TV transmitter towers could also be a problem.

“How we doing?” Guru called from 512's front seat.

Goalie replied, “Thirty seconds to Granbury.”

“Roger that,” Guru said. “Flight, Lead. Granbury ahead. Watch for flak.”

“Roger, Lead,” Kara replied, and the others followed suit.

“And....now,” Goalie called, and sure enough, some light flak began to come up. These chumps were awake, at least, as 23-mm and 37-mm flak at the U.S. 377 bridge as well as the often-attacked municipal airport, opened up on the F-4s, which flew right on by, unscathed. “And one minute to Glen Rose, then we turn.”

“Copy,” said Guru as he waggled his wings to the people down below.


In Granbury, the curfew had lifted at 6:00 AM, as usual, and the locals were beginning to go about their business. Although the west side of the city was technically in the East German sector, the Nicaraguans made up the garrison, and the local residents were actually glad to have the Nicaraguans, for they were much more....forgiving than the Soviets or East Germans were. Many had heard that an entire Nicaraguan Corps had been destroyed in Colorado, and the residents noticed that their occupiers were suddenly developing a wish to be someplace else, instead of Texas. The Mayor was actually talking outside City Hall with the garrison commander, a Nicaraguan Major, when Guru's strike flight came over. To his-and everyone else's amusement, the Major, along with many of his soldiers, ran for the nearest shelter. He also looked up and saw the lead F-4 waggling its wings, as well as the antiaircraft fire that came up, which missed. Today was shaping up, and if the rumor mill was right, the East Germans got a drubbing two days earlier, and maybe the U.S. Army would be showing up soon.


“Time to turn?” Guru asked as he headed south.

“Thirty seconds,” Goalie replied. “And that's where Dave and Flossy peel away.”

“Roger that.” As Guru made the call, more flak opened up to their right. The Comanche Creek Nuclear Power Plant, though offline and having been sabotaged back in '85, still had AAA around it, and the flak batteries opened up, though the strike flight was nearly out of range. “Flak to the right, and watch for more up ahead.”

“Copy that. Stand by to turn,” Goalie called. Up ahead, the town of Glen Rose grew larger as they closed in. Sure enough, the flak around the U.S. 67 bridge opened up. “And...turn!”

Guru put 512 into a hard right turn, and the rest of Camaro Flight followed, leaving the flak well behind. As they did, Mustang Flight went on their own course towards their target. “Mustang, Camaro. Good luck.”

“Roger,” Dave Golen replied. “Good luck yourselves.”

Camaro Flight then turned north, roughly following F.M. 56. “One minute,” Goalie said. “Set 'em up?”

“You read my mind,” said Guru. “Flight, Lead. Switches on, music on, and stand by to pull.” That call meant to arm their weapons, turn on their ECM pods, and get ready for their attack run.

“Roger, Lead,” Kara replied.

“Three copies,” added Sweaty.

“Four, ready,” Hoser said.

In 512's back seat, Goalie worked the weapons control panel. “Switches set. You're hot.”

“Roger that,” replied Guru as he turned on the ALQ-119 ECM pod. “Music's playing.”

“Fifteen seconds,” Goalie said. “Stand by.....and....PULL!”

Guru pulled back on the stick, and 512 began to climb. As it did so, several radars came up on the EW repeater, just as Guru looked ahead and to the right. Sure enough, there were the helos. What kind, he couldn't tell, but no matter if they were Hips or Hinds. They'd all blow up just the same. “Flight, Lead. Target in sight. Time to go to work!”

“Right with you, Lead,” Sweaty replied.

“Ready?” Guru asked Goalie

“As I'll ever be,” she replied.

“Time to go,” Guru said as he rolled in on his attack run.



In Tolar, the local garrison, which had mainly been concerned with keeping U.S. 377 open and keeping the local population under control, had been a company from the 231st Rear-Area Protection Division out of Minsk, and the company, made of of mainly overage reservists, had been content to stay within the town. The company was mounted in captured American trucks, and with no artillery other than their own mortars, was content to stay right where they were. Now, the remnants of the East German 20th Motor-Rifle Division had pulled back to the town, while the Soviet 138th Tank Regiment, which had also taken a beating two days earlier, was a few miles to the west, in and around the town of Bluff Dale. Right away, the Soviet garrison commander had not gotten along with the East German colonel who now commanded the 20th MRD, telling the East German that though he was a Captain, he answered to his own chain of command, and until he was ordered otherwise, no, he would not be conducting any anti-guerrilla patrols, as there had been hardly any signs of the counterrevolutionary bandits, and the last thing he wanted was to generate such activity.

For his part, the East German Colonel had been the 20th MRD's deputy commander, until the General had been killed, and now he had the division. Or more correctly, what was left of the division. All three motor-rifle regiments had been badly mauled, the tank regiment was no better off, and both divisional artillery and air defense were in the same shape as the line combat regiments. To make matters worse, some genius had decided to locate a forward refueling and rearming point for the Army's attack helicopter regiment south of the town, and a flight of Mi-24Ds, with a couple of Mi-8s, had flown in the previous day, during a break in the weather. From what he'd heard, such forward points often attracted attention from either American aircraft, their insidious Special Forces, or the bandits who called themselves the Resistance. And the air force men insisted that his division provide troops for security around the field, and Army had told him to do so. Shaking his head, the Colonel left division headquarters, in what had been a bank, to talk to his air-defense commander. Their 2K12 (NATO SA-6) missiles had been hard hit, and the Major now in command of the air-defense regiment was insistent on getting replacements for both personnel and equipment. The Colonel glanced to the south, down the road known as F.M. 56, when he saw what looked liked aircraft, then the AA guns around the helicopter field opened fire. “AIR RAID ALARM!” The Colonel shouted, then he ran for a shelter.


“Lead's in hot!” Guru called as he rolled in on his bomb run. As he did, he noticed the flak starting to come up. A quick glance at the RWR showed nothing locked on, but there was a lot of Triple-A coming up. Had somebody spotted them and gotten a warning off by radio or field phone? No matter....it was too late. Guru spotted a pair of what looked like Hinds, and one of them was spooling up. Too late, whoever you are...He lined up one of the helos in his pipper. “Steady....and.....HACK!” Guru hit the pickle button, and a dozen Mark-82 Snakeyes came off of 512's racks. He pulled level, then accelerated to the north, overflying the town of Tolar on the way out. “Lead's off safe.”

At the dispersal field, an East German AF Major was not having a good morning. Two of his Mi-24s were down with mechanical issues, and wouldn't be ready until noon at least. Then there was the attitude of the Army, who seemed not that interested in providing ground security for his helicopters, even though it was their responsibility, though the soldiers who were manning the perimeter and operating the shoulder-fired missiles seemed competent. At least the air force was responsible for the antiaircraft guns, and the ZU-23s had been manned at first light. Suddenly, two of the guns tracked to the south and opened fire. The Major took a look, and saw an F-4 coming right at him. “TAKE COVER!” He shouted, then he ran for a slit trench, and jumped in.

“GOOD HITS!” Goalie called from 512's back seat.

“What'd we get?” Guru asked as tracers came up after his aircraft, only to fall short or wide of the mark. Though an SA-7 type missile did get too close for comfort, passing below and to the right of the Phantom.

“Not sure, but there's a couple of secondaries.”

“I'll take that,” the CO said as he headed north for I-20 and the FLOT.


“Two in hot!” Kara called. She rolled 520 down onto the target, and saw Guru walk his bombs across the field, taking out a pair of helos-probably Hinds, she thought. Two more helos were spooling up on the south side of the field, but she could only take out one. You'll do, she said to herself, selecting a Hip that was in the process of warming up for takeoff. “And....HACK!” Kara hit her pickle button, sending another dozen Mark-82s down onto the field. She pulled up and away, calling, “Two off safe,” as she did so.

At the field, the East German Major huddled in the trench with several pilots, weapons officers,and ground crew. They heard the bombs going off from Guru's run, then Kara's, and several secondary explosions followed. He lifted his head as Kara's F-4 flew away, and he saw two Mi-24s and a Mi-8 burning, While another Mi-24 was in the process of preparing to take off. The Major started to get up, then he saw the ZU-23s swivel back to the south, then they resumed firing. That told him more aircraft were coming in, and he ducked back into the trench.


“SHACK!” Brainiac yelled from 520's back seat. “We got secondaries!”

“We get the Hip?' Asked Kara, who was jinking to avoid some of the flak that followed her out. And like the CO, an SA-7 flew past her F-4 as she headed north.

“Can't tell, but I think so.”

“Even a near-miss is as good as a hit,” Kara grinned underneath her oxygen mask. Celebrate later, she knew. Still got a way to go before home plate.


“Three's in!” Sweaty called as she rolled in. She noticed a Hind parked close to a man-made pond in the northeast corner of the field, and the Hind was spooling up. Sweaty noticed where Kara's bombs landed, and she saw a fireball as something blew up. She ignored the tracers coming up as she lined up the Hind in her pipper. “Steady...and...and.....HACK!” Sweaty hit the pickle button and twelve more Mark-82s fell onto the field. She pulled off and away, dodging some flak as she did. 'Three's off target.”


In his slit trench, the East German Major huddled next to another officer. He glanced at the man, and noticed his Political Officer, and that the man was praying. Well, now....the man regularly preached otherwise, but here he is. Then he heard the rumble of an aircraft, and a whoosh as Sweaty's F-4 flew by. Those in the trench felt the bombs going off, then the roar of a much larger explosion. But the Major didn't lift his head this time, for if there were three Imperialist aircraft, then there had to be four....


Preacher looked back as the F-4 pulled away, and saw the explosions-and a couple of fireballs. “SHACK!”

“What'd we hit?” Sweaty asked, jinking as she did so. Tracers were coming up, and missing. Which was good.

“Can't tell, but there were a couple of secondaries.”

“We'll take 'em,” replied Sweaty as a missile-probably another SA-7, flew over the F-4. She dropped the nose, gained speed, and headed north.


“Four in hot!” Hoser called. He rolled in, and saw the explosions from his element lead's bombs going off. With all the smoke, he had a hard time picking out a good drop point, but then he noticed some trucks at the south edge of the field. Fuel or munitions trucks? Didn't matter. He lined them up in the pipper, ignoring the flak and an SA-7 that someone had launched head-on, hoping for a lucky shot. “Steady....and....HACK!” Hoser hit his pickle button, and sent another dozen bombs going down on the target. He pulled off and away, and called, “Four off safe.”


The East German Major huddled in his trench as Hoser's F-4 flew by, there there was the sound of not only his bombs going off, but secondary explosions. He lifted his head out of the trench, and saw that his fuel trucks, or more correctly, what was left of them, were in the middle of a large fire. The fire had spread to several pallets of fuel drums, and those were currently exploding as well. Shaking his head, he got up and turned to the Political Officer. The man was white as a sheet, and this was the first time he had been bombed. That was his problem, the Major decided, The damage wrought by the Verdamnt Amis, though....he started barking out orders. Time to get some kind of order out of this madhouse.

“GOOD HITS!” KT yelled from her backseat perch. “You got the fuel dump!”

“Righteous, as Preacher would say,” Hoser replied. He, too, was jinking to avoid flak, and grimaced as a missile, probably an SA-7, flew right in front of their F-4. “Time to get the hell out of Dodge.”


“Four in, four out,” Goalie said from 512's back seat. “All off safe.”

“Not yet,” Guru reminded her. “Still got a game on until the I-20.”

“Camaro, Mustang,” Dave Golen called. “We're off target and on our way out.”

“Copy that, Mustang,” Guru replied. “See you at the tankers.” Then he called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Camaro One-one. Say threat?”

“Stand by,” the AWACS controller-this one female, replied. “Camaro One-one, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-seven-five for sixty. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing Two-zero-zero for seventy-five, Medium, going away. Third threat bearing One-six-five for eighty, Medium, closing.”

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “Say bogey dope?”

“Camaro One-one, Crystal Palace. Closest bogeys are Fishbeds.” That meant MiG-21s.

“Copy.” Guru then glanced to his right. Kara in 520 was right with him in combat spread, and he knew that Sweaty and Hoser weren't that far behind. “Sweaty, Guru. You there?”

“Right behind you, Boss,” Sweaty replied. “Got eyeballs on you and Starbuck.”

“Roger that. If these Fishbeds want to play, we'll lead 'em to a wall of Eagles.”

“One minute to the fence,” Goalie reported. That meant the I-20 line, which defined the battle lines for the most part in this part of Texas.

Guru nodded, still keeping his eye out for threats. Even as they were on their way out, it wasn't just the East Germans who might be a threat. The Army sometimes had the idea of “Shoot them down and sort them out on the ground.” Though they'd never lost anyone to friendly fire, it had happened to others, he knew. “Flight, Lead. Verify IFF is on, out.” He reached for the IFF switch and turned it on.

“Approaching the fence......Now,” Goalie said. Just then, I-20 appeared, then disappeared as they flew past.

“Crystal Palace, Camaro One-one,” Guru called the AWACS. “Say threat?”

“Threat bearing One-seven-five for forty-five,” AWACS replied. “Medium, now....going away.”

“Lead, Two,” Kara called. “Looks like they don't want to play.”

“Maybe next time,” Guru said. And maybe we'll have some decent Sparrows, he thought.

Camaro Flight then climbed to altitude, and joined up on the tankers. As they joined up, Mustang Flight came in, and they, too, took their turn at the KC-135s. This time, everyone came back, but from talking to the AZ ANG's tanker crews when they were based at Williams, the tanker crews were naturally curious as to what the fighters were doing. But it was a heartbreaker when they refueled a four-ship going out, and three, or even two, came back. And it was a strict rule that the tanker crews never asked what happened to the missing aircraft. After the refueling, the two flights headed back to Sheppard.

When they got to Sheppard's traffic pattern, the pattern was busy with both incoming and outgoing flights. Camaro and Mustang had to wait their turn, And it was about fifteen minutes until their turn came, but both flights came in and landed. As they taxied in, the crews noticed the news crew filming them. 'Looks like we'll be on TV again,” Goalie said.

“You, me, and quite a few other people, remember?” Guru replied.

“Sure do,” Goalie said.

Guru taxied in to the squadron's dispersal, and found 512's revetment. He taxied in, and then shut down. The ground crew brought the crew ladder, and both pilot and GIB unstrapped and took off their helmets. Then they climbed down from the aircraft. “One and done,” he said. “Three more, at least.”

“Just as long as nobody starts hollering for CAS,” Goalie nodded as their assistant crew chief handed her a bottle of water. “Then we fly five or six more.”

The CO grimaced. “Don't say it.” Then Sergeant Crowley, the Crew Chief, came over with a bottle of water for him. “Sarge,”

Crowley was beaming. “How'd it go, sir?”

“Made some Hinds or Hips go away, Sarge,” Guru said. “On the ground, though.”

“Shit hot! Uh, you know what I mean, sir.”

The CO grinned. “I do, Sarge. If you have to use that language when we come back from a strike, I'm the last person who'd be complaining.”

“Thank you, sir!” Crowley said. “Major? Any problems I need to know?”

“No issues, and no battle damage,” Guru replied. “Let's not waste any more time. Get her turned around for the next one.”

“You got it, Major!” Crowley said. He turned to the ground crew. “Okay, you heard the man. Let's get the CO's bird turned around.”

Guru and Goalie walked to the revetment's entrance, and Goalie asked, “Still want to send him on the R&R Rotation early?”

“If I can,” the CO replied. “He does work for Kev O'Donnell, and I'll talk to him and find out when it's Crowley's turn. I don't want to have to give him his R&R papers and say 'Here's your two weeks. Go to Vegas, or San Diego, Hilton Head, or go to Tahoe and ski. Or take the two weeks at home with your family. Enjoy yourself. Oh, by the way, that's an order.””

“Don't blame you,” Goalie said.

They got to the revetment's entrance and found Kara with Brainiac, waiting. Then Sweaty, Preacher, Hoser, and KT showed up. “One and done,” Kara said. “Too bad we don't count ground kills. Because I saw you get two.”

“And you got one,” Sweaty told Kara.

Dave Golen, Flossy, and their GIBs then showed up. “Guru,” Golen said.

“Dave,” the CO nodded. “How'd it go with you guys?”

“Don't know what that was that we hit. Headquarters or a RDF site, I have no idea,” Golen replied. “Just a lot of vehicles with antennas.”

“And there's a junkyard there now,” Flossy added.

“No doubt,” Sweaty said.

“Come on: let's get the debriefs done,” Guru said, putting his CO face on. “We've got forty-five to an hour, then time to go back out.”

Heads nodded, and they headed back to the squadron's offices. When they got there, Hacksaw, the day-shift SDO, was there. “Boss,” he said. And he remembered not to stand up.

“Hacksaw,” Guru nodded. “Anything I need to know?”

“Nothing much, Major,” Hacksaw replied. He then sneezed right after. “Damned cold.”

Guru nodded sympathetically. “Listen to Doc, take your pills, and you'll be back in the saddle in no time,” he said.

“That I am, Boss.”

“Anything I need to know?”

“No, Boss,” replied Hacksaw. “And no message traffic, either.”

“Okay, thanks,” Guru said. The crews went to the locker rooms to get out of their flight gear, then they went to their briefing room. They found Sin Licon, their Squadron's Intelligence Officer, waiting for them..

“Major,” Licon nodded as he unfolded a TPC chart “How'd things go?”

“Pretty good, I'd say,” Guru replied. He showed their ingress route, and where they had drawn flak.

“And you put your bombs where?” Licon asked, indicating a recon photo.

The CO tapped with a pen. “Right here.”

“Got a couple of secondaries,” added Goalie. “Not sure what they were.”

“Hinds or Hips,” Kara said. “Saw them go up as I came in.” She pointed where her bombs had landed.

“Same here,” Sweaty nodded. She pointed to the pond where a Hind had been parked nearby.

Hoser nodded. “She got that, and we had the best for last.”

KT grinned. “We got the fuel dump.”

Licon nodded. “Secondaries?”

KT replied, “Big ones. When fuel goes up, you know.”

The intel nodded. “Okay, Major It looks like this place is out of business for a while. I'm assessing four choppers destroyed, maybe one or two damaged. And as Hoser and KT indicated, the fuel dump went sky-high.” Licon turned to Dave Golen. “Major Golen? How was your strike?”

Golen nodded, and pointed to the map, and a recon photo of his target area. “There were a dozen or so vehicles in that field, and most of them had antennas deployed.”

Flossy added, “Were there. We left that place a junkyard.”

“Secondaries?” Licon asked.

“Some,” Digger said. “But what they were....”

“Okay,” the Intel nodded. “How were the defenses for both of you?”

Guru pointed to a photo of his target area. “Plenty of flak, and shoulder-fired missiles. But no heavy flak, and no radar missiles or radar-guided flak.”

“Same here,” Sweaty noted. “A lot of shooting, but not accurate.”

“We had the same thing,” Golen added. “Twenty-three millimeter or machine guns, but no heavy SAMs.”

“And no MiGs?” Licon asked,and he saw both flight leaders shake their heads. “Okay, I'll write these up and get them sent off. Thanks, Boss, and Major Golen.” The Intel gathered up his materials and left the room.

“Now what?” Kara asked.

“The usual,” Guru said. “Get something to eat or drink, check your desks, because in forty-five or so, we get ready to do it again.”

Flossy nodded. “And with full VFR, we're doing this all day.”

“That's a given.” A knock on the door followed, and the CO said, “Come on in and show yourself!”

One of the Ops NCOs came in. “Major, this just came in for you.” The Staff Sergeant handed the CO a message form..

Major Wiser took it. 'Thank you,” he said, then he scanned the form. “Well, well. This is interesting.”

“What is?” Goalie asked.

“We're getting company. The RAF is coming to our little corner of the war,” the CO said.

The rest of the crews looked at each other, then it was Kara who said what was on everyone's mind. “What? This on the level?”

“Says here it is,” Guru said. “It's for Colonel Brady, but information to every other Squadron CO on this base. We're getting a liaison team today, and in about ten days, we get aircraft.”

Several of the crews looked at each other again, then at the CO. “Boss,” Sweaty asked, “What kind of birds we getting? Or can you tell us?”

Guru looked at the form. “Doesn't say, but I'll bet it's their F-4s. Given that at least half of the birds on this base were built in St. Louis by McDonnell-Douglas....but if they bring their Tornados, the F-111s and A-6s will appreciate the help.”

“Maybe,” Digger said. He'd been offered a chance to fly as a WSO on either F-111s or the AF-operated A-6s, but stuck with Double-Ugly.

Guru nodded agreement. “Maybe is right. Still, that's in the future. Get something to eat and drink, check your desks, because we're all back at it in forty-five to an hour.”

Heads nodded, then Kara said, “You heard him.”
Hearing that, everyone filed out. Except for Goalie. Not only was she his GIB and lover, but she was his closest confidante in the squadron. “Well?”

“The Brits,” Guru said. “Never thought we'd see them coming this way. All of their action has been up north or defending the UK.”

His GIB nodded. “Well, two people separated by a common language and all that,” she said. “They won't be the only allies down here.”

Guru nodded back. “The ROKs out of Roswell and Carlsbad in New Mexico. And they're very good, as we know. And if the Brits are bringing F-4s, then I have an idea for 'em.”

“Let me guess: strike escort. And in full air-to-air mode.”

“Right you are. It could be two weeks, or two months,for that matter, before we get AIM-7F, and having those guys with Sky Flash would be a plus. If, that is, they're bringing F-4s. If it's the Tornado, then the deep-strike guys get some help.”

“Well, we'll know soon enough,” Goalie said.

Guru nodded. “That's right.” He looked at the wall clock. 0910. “I better check my desk and see if there's any CO stuff to take care of. You do the same, then we get together and do this all over again.”


The two went to their respective offices, and Guru found a couple of minor things requiring his attention. He took care of the paperwork, then went through yesterday's USA Today. He had just finished when there was a knock on his office door. “Yeah?”

The door opened, and his Exec came in. “Boss.”

“Mark,” the CO nodded. “You've heard?” He waved the message form.

“Sure did,” the Exec. “Well, they'll make good company, and we can use the help.”

The CO looked at his Exec. “That we can,” he said. “And I've got an idea how they can help.” He told Ellis what he'd told Goalie.

Ellis nodded. “Dedicated strike escort? That's something we all can use.”

“It is,” said Guru. He noticed the clipboard in his Exec's right hand. “What have you got?”

“Frank's filed another couple of complaints.”

The CO frowned. “Now what? The girls flash him again coming out of the shower?”

“That,” Ellis nodded. “And some NCOs have a still going, he thinks.”

“Our NCOs?” Guru asked. “Anyone drinking on duty?”

Ellis shook his head. “No, but Frank's convinced there's a still going someplace.”

The CO did the same, then said, “Remember, Marines have a habit of making 'Jungle Juice' as they said back in the day. Hell, even in Southeast Asia, much less WW II or Korea. Still.....if anybody wants to have a still a la Hawkeye, B.J., or Trapper? As long as they enjoy the fruits of their labor-pardon the pun-off duty only, I'm not getting involved.”

Ellis nodded. “I'll have Ross pass the word to be discrete.”

“Do that,” Guru said.

“And Frank's complaints?”

The CO nodded towards the shredder. “You know where they go.”

Ellis fed the papers to the shredder. “That's that.”

“Okay,” said Guru. “That's it?”

“It is for now,” Guru said. He saw Ellis nod, and get ready to leave. “Mark? You be careful out there. I'd hate to have to break in Don as Exec.”

“Will do, Boss.” the XO replied with a smile, then he left. Guru nodded, then went to his office window. The sight of F-4s, A-4s, and A-7s taking off and landing was music to his ears. Then he went to the squadron's break room and got himself a chicken sandwich. Though filled from breakfast, he made it a rule to always eat something before flying a mission, for if he was shot down, he wanted to have a full stomach that could last a couple of days, if necessary. Or longer. And Goalie understood, for she had taken up her pilot's suggestion. The CO finished the sandwich, then went to the Ops Office. Before he got there, Kara came out with a briefing packet. “Kara,” he said. “That ours?”

“Just coming to get you. We've got our next mission,” she replied.

“Okay, round everybody up. I'll be right there.”

“Got you.” Kara said, then she went off to get the other members of their flight.

The CO opened the packet and looked at the target. Well, haven't had one of these in a while, he thought. He waited a few minutes, then went to the briefing room, and found everyone in the flight there. “People, we've got a new mission.”

“What's next?” Sweaty asked.

Guru took out the briefing material. “Town called Comanche, halfway between Stephenville and Brownwood on U.S. 67-377. We're going for the county airport north of town and ripping it up.”

“Who's based there?” Asked Hoser.

The CO looked at the briefing sheet. “Says here transports; An-24s or -26s, plus Czech-made Let 410s. But probable Su-25s as well. And get this: this is also a probable FOL for fighters. We may catch some MiGs on the ground.”

“Beats killing them in the air,” Goalie said.

“It does. This is on the border between the Soviet 32nd Army and the East Germans, so we might have both to worry about on the way in and out.”

“Lovely,” Preacher nodded. “We getting Weasels?”

“Good question,” Kara said.

Guru nodded. “We are. Coors Flight will meet us up at the tankers. And before you ask, we're only getting two of them.”

“What's the defenses like?” KT wanted to know.

“Getting to that,” the CO said. “There's at least two 23-mm batteries, and there's a couple of 57-mm as well. Not to mention small-arms and MANPADS. Throw in an SA-2 site, and the Army-level stuff from Brownwood and Stephenville, and we'll be glad we've got the Weasels. Even if we only have two. An EF-111 will do standoff jamming, not just for us, mind, but several other strikes. And before you ask, MiG threat is unchanged from this morning.”

Heads nodded at that. “Ordnance load?” Goalie asked.

“Element leads have a dozen Rockeyes,” the CO said. “Wingies get six Mark-82s and six M-117s in Snakeye mode. Full load air-to-air, and the usual ECM pods.” He then pulled out a recon photo, and it looked like an SR-71 shot to him. “Okay, here's the deal on the target area. Notice the prewar ramp area?” The CO pointed to a couple of small hangars and a couple other buildings close to the southern end of the runway. “That's where the transports are. There's a couple An-24s or -26s there, and what looks like a Let-410. They've built a new ramp area to the north and a dispersal area to the northwest, which is where the Frogfoots are. On the east side of the runway is another new ramp area. It's empty on this shot, but if there are fighters there now? That's where they'll be.”

Sweaty looked at her CO. “So who hits what?”

Guru looked at the photo, and thought for a minute. “Okay. I'll take the suspected fighter ramp to the east side. Kara?” He looked at his wingmate. “You have Mark-82s and -117s. Take out the runway. If I miss a fighter, I don't want anyone getting airborne.”

Kara nodded. “Got you.”

Sweaty asked, “And the second element?”

“The Frogfoot ramp area? It's yours,” Guru said, tapping with a pen on the photo. “You've got the second round of CBUs, so make them go away.'

“My pleasure,” Sweaty grinned.

“Good. Make it your pleasure,” nodded Guru. “Hoser? Take the prewar ramp area. Kill any transports, and rip up the hangars.”

Hoser looked at the photo, then at the Major. “Can do, Boss.”

There was a knock on the door, and the CO said, “Show yourself and come on in!” The door opened and Dave Golen, Flossy, and their GIBs came in. “Dave, what can I do for you?”

“You going to an airfield?” Golen asked. “We've been tasked to follow up a strike.” He showed the CO their mission order.

Guru looked at his mission orders, and Golen's. “You're going in ten minutes after we are, and to an alerted airfield,” he said. “No way. You and Flossy are coming with us.”

“What about the ATO, Major?” Flossy asked.

“Screw the ATO,” the CO said firmly. “I'm not losing people because some bastard idiot at Tenth Air Force thought it was a good idea to send you in on a target that's waiting for you because we just went there. What's your ordnance load?”

“Ten CBUs with Gator mines,” Golen said.

“Twelve Snakeyes,” Flossy added. “Six Mark-82, six M-117.”

The CO nodded. “You guys discuss targeting, or were you waiting to talk with me first?” He asked.

“The latter,” Golen said, and Flossy nodded agreement.

“All right,” Guru said. “Dave? You angle your run so that you cover the ramp areas and runway with your mines. Flossy?” He tapped the fuel dump to the east of the runway. “Get the fuel dump.”

Golen nodded. “Got you,” and Flossy nodded again.

“Good,” the CO said. “Now, you fellows go ahead and gear up. I need to talk to the girls for a moment about something that happened this morning. Flossy, this includes you.” He nodded at her. “When I'm finished, we all gear up, and meet at 512.”

The male officers nodded, and headed out of the room. Hoser closed the door behind him, and then Kara asked, “What's up?”

“I got a complaint from Frank about you guys,” Guru said, in CO mode. “And not just about you all, but Ryan Blanchard, plus Cosmo and Revlon. Did you all have to flash him when you came out of the shower? Again?”

“Well, Major,” Kara said with a grin. “We can't slug him, however much he deserves it, because that's a Court-Martial. So this is the next best thing.”

Major Wiser looked at his wingmate. “Let me guess: he said his 'trailer trash' remark again.” It wasn't a question.

“He did,” Goalie said. “Not worth another Article 15, though.”

“Article 15?” Flossy asked. “For what?”

“He made some ill-advised remarks about Kara and Goalie yesterday, and in the presence of everybody in the Ops Office,” Major Wiser said. “His career's sunk, and with luck, Frank never sees O-5. Then remember, he's out come New Year's-or sooner-if he fucks up big time. And Sundown Cunningham may be coming sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and if Frank's still around? Sundown may do us all a favor, and send him packing.”

“That may be worth the wait,” Sweaty said.

“Yeah,” the CO nodded. “Okay, do me a favor. Don't show any more of your anatomy to him than is necessary. If he opens his mouth again? Just moon him.”

“What if he complains about that?” KT asked.

“Any complaints he sends me get fed to the office shredder,” Major Wiser replied. “So screw him.”

“No thanks,” said Flossy, her arms folded in front of her chest. “Once was enough, mind.”

The CO nodded again. “No offense, Flossy, and you know what I mean.”

“None taken, Major, and I do know what you're talking about,” Flossy smiled. “I'll be watching when Sundown Cunningham kicks his ass out of here.”

“We all will,” Kara said.

“Happily,” Major Wiser said. “Just remember what I said, Okay?” Heads nodded at that. “All right, gear up. We got a mission to fly.”

Everyone headed for their locker rooms, and when Guru came out of the Men's, he found Goalie waiting for him, as usual. “You ready?” She asked.

“Time to go to work,” he nodded. “Let's go.”

Before CO and GIB left the office, they found Don Van Loan, the Ops Officer. “Boss,” Van Loan nodded.

“Don, the ATOs come from Tenth AF, right? No MAG-11 involvement.”

“Righto, Boss,” Van Loan said. “What's up?'

“Some genius there programmed Dave and Flossy to hit our target ten minutes after us,” the CO growled. “Somebody's had a brain fade.”

The Ops Officer looked at him. “Boss, that's asking for it,” he said. Van Loan knew that somebody might get killed or captured as a result of that kind of mission planning. “So what are you guys doing?”

“Dave and Flossy are coming with us,” Major Wiser said. “Instead of ten minutes, it'll be thirty seconds.”

“Somebody probably thought it was a good idea to hit them while they were busy cleaning up,” Van Loan pointed out. “Still.....”

“I know. Get to my briefing room and gather my briefing material and Dave's. Hang onto it. Because we'll need to talk about this. Get Colonel Brady involved, and General Olds, too. Then we'll notify General Tanner, and see if we can't get somebody's balls crunched.”

Van Loan knew what the CO had in mind. “Boss, if I found out this was happening to me? I'd want somebody's balls crunched as well.”

Major Wiser nodded. “We're on the same page, then,” he said. “Okay, you can tell Mark, but nobody else for now.” Then the CO turned to his GIB with a questioning look on his face.

“Lips are sealed,” Goalie replied.

“Good. And Don?” Major Wiser turned to Ops. “You be careful out there. If anything happens to you, you do know who your successor is.”

“Kara,” Van Loan replied. “And we all know paperwork is not her strong suit.”

“No, it isn't,” Guru replied, knowing from experience. “You have a good mission.”

Ops nodded. “You too, Boss.”

Guru nodded, then he and Goalie headed on out to the dispersal area, and found the rest of their flight at 512's revetment. “People,” Guru said.

“What took you so long?” Brainiac asked.

The CO smiled. “Had to have a talk with the girls about not showing any more of their anatomy to Frank than is necessary.”

Preacher asked, “They flashed him again?” He saw the expressions on Sweaty's, Kara's, and Goalie's faces grow coy, and he knew the answer. “Figures.”

“And we had a talk with Don about whoever screwed up the ATO,” Guru said. “Somebody had a brain fade, and they need their balls crunched for that.”

“Good for them,” Hoser said.

“It is,” the CO said. “Dave? You and Flossy got the same brief we did about defenses, MiG threat, and so on, correct?” He saw their IDF “Observer” nod agreement, and Flossy did as well, along with their GIBs. “So we're all on the same page, then.” They nodded again, “Good. Mission code to AWACS and other interested parties. Call signs between us.”

Kara nodded, then said, “Boss, what if somebody, like the Weasels, asks why we're a six-ship when we're briefed as a four-ship?”

“Use any convenient excuse: mix-up in the ATO, comms failure, or whatever. They were ready, so they launched with us,” Guru replied. “Got it?”

“Hook, line, and sinker,” Sweaty grinned.

“Good,” Major Wiser nodded. “Anything else?” Heads shook no. “Game time. Let's hit it.”

The crews headed to their aircraft, while Guru and Goalie went to 512. They found Sergeant Crowley and the ground crew wrapping up final checks. “Major,” Crowley said, snapping a salute. “She's all ready for you, sir.”

“Thanks, Sarge,” Guru said. He and Goalie did the walk-around, then he signed for the aircraft. Then they mounted 512 and got themselves strapped in. They were going through the preflight checks when he asked. “How about another case of 'fold, spindle, bend, or mutilate'. Something General Olds would approve.”

“He'll probably say you didn't follow the letter of the ATO, but the spirit is what counts,” Goalie said. “Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom, check yours. And that's what counts. Arnie?” Guru asked, referring to the ARN-101 DMAS system.

“All set and ready. We're good to go. Preflight checklist complete.”

Guru nodded, then gave his Crew Chief the thumbs-up. Sergeant Crowley responded by giving the “Start Engines” signal. One, then two, J-79 engines started, and went through the warm-up. He checked his control panels. No problems with hydraulics, engine temp, or whatever. Everything was good to go. Then Guru called the tower. “Tower, Camaro Lead with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Camaro Lead, Tower,” the controller replied. “Clear to taxi to Runway Three-three Charlie. Hold prior to the Active. You will be number three in line.”

“Roger, Tower,” Guru called. “Camaro Lead rolling.” He gave another thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who then gestured to the ground crew. They pulled the chocks away from the landing gear, then Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal. Guru taxied 512 out of the revetment, and as he cleared the revetment, Crowley snapped a salute. Guru and Goalie returned it, and as 512 headed down the taxiway, the other three in the flight, plus Dave and Flossy in Mustang Flight, followed. As they taxied, the crews noticed the news crew getting them on tape, and besides Kodak Griffith, there was another observer: General Olds.

“Wish you were going with them, General?” Kodak asked.

“Part of me wishes I was,” Olds nodded. “The other part of me knows that combat's a young one's game these days. I'd have been glad to have them with me in the Wolfpack, twenty years ago, going Downtown and fighting MiGs.” Olds pointed to Kara's bird, 520. “But it's their turn now, and they're doing just fine.”

“Yes, sir,” Griffith said, nodding agreement.

Olds nodded, then looked at the Marine. “And you'll be back in the saddle soon enough. Don't worry about missing out on the action, because you're not missing a damn thing.”

Guru taxied out, and waited his turn as a Marine F-4 flight, then a Marine Hornet flight, took off, then it was their turn. He taxied just short of the Active and held there so that the armorers could remove the weapon safeties. It was time.....”Tower, Camaro Lead with four, requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Camaro Lead, clear for takeoff. Winds are two-seven-eight for ten.”

“Roger, Tower,” replied Guru. He taxied 512 onto the runway, and Kara followed in 520. Guru went through a final check with Goalie, and glanced over to Kara and Brainiac in their bird. They gave the CO and Goalie a thumbs-up, and both Guru and Goalie returned it. Then it was time. “Tower, Camaro Lead requesting clearance for takeoff.”

The Tower, as usual, didn't reply on the radio, but flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Ready?” Guru asked his GIB.

“Ready to rock. Let's go,” Goalie replied.

“Canopy coming down.” Guru pulled his canopy down, closing and locking it, and Goalie did the same. Guru did a quick glance over at Kara's bird, and saw they were ready. “Time to go.” he said. Then he went to full power, released the brakes, and 512 rolled down the runway and into the air. Kara did the same in 520, going with the CO. It was then Sweaty's and Hoser's turn, and as Camaro Flight orbited, Dave Golen's Mustang Flight followed. They formed up, then the six-ship headed down towards the I-20 and the front lines.
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  #307  
Old 08-18-2016, 11:41 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Tearing up a MiG field, and finding out another AF legend is coming:



1015 Hours Central War Time, Over Central Texas:



Camaro Flight, with Mustang right behind, was heading south, after the pre-strike refueling at the tanker track, and Coors One-Five and One-Six had joined them. The Weasel crews had been briefed that they would be giving cover to a four-ship, and when six had joined up, the Weasels were naturally curious. When told that there had been a screwup on the ATO, the Weasel leader said, “Not the first time. Had a pair of Weasels briefed to cover a four-ship once, turned out to be eight. Some ride.”

Now, they were going into enemy territory, right along the boundary for the Soviet 32nd Army to the west, and the East Germans to the east. Both formations had their Army-level air defense radars up, though at 450 feet AGL, the strike flight was, so far, unmolested. While the pilots flew the aircraft, the GIBs handled the navigation and monitored the EW repeaters. So far, so good.

“De Leon dead ahead,” Goalie called from 512's back seat. The town was at the junction of State Routes 6 and 16, and just south of the town was Proctor Lake.

“Roger that,” Guru replied. He was not only busy flying the aircraft, but keeping his eyes peeled for threats, both on the ground and in the air. “Flight, Lead. Watch for flak at the town.”

“Two copies,” Kara replied, and the others did so in turn.

“And...now,” Goalie called, and the flight flew past the town. To their surprise, there wasn't a shot fired.

In the town, the Commander of the 155th Motor-Rifle Division was in his office at the City Hall. His division had managed to retire in good order from Kansas down through Oklahoma and into Texas, though they had been “smacked around”, as the Divisional Chief of Staff put it. The division was still combat-worthy, and though their equipment and personnel losses had been made good somewhat, the General wasn't sure how a division with a tank regiment equipped with T-72s and three motor-rifle regiments with modernized T-55s was going to perform, since their opposite numbers to the north, the American 23rd “Americal” Mechanized Division, was reported to now have M-1s instead of M-60s. Well, we'll see, thought the General as he went to his office window. He was surprised as anyone when the eight F-4s flew past, Only after the aircraft had passed by did the air defenses open up, as several Mi-24s were based at the little airstrip the locals called an airport. Too little, too late, he knew. As he went back to his desk, he heard some cheering out the open window. The local population had heard and seen the American aircraft fly by, and they were clearly hoping that the sight was an advance preview of the U.S. Army's return. Shaking his head, the General thought that maybe accepting this command, instead of a teaching position at the Omsk Higher Combined Arms Command School, hadn't been such a good idea. At least you slept in a soft bed every night and there were no risks to be taken. Not here.


“How long to Proctor Lake?” Guru asked. That was their next turn point.

“Thirty seconds,” came Goalie's reply. “EW still clear.” She had her own EW repeater.

“Gotcha,” Guru replied. Then he saw it, Proctor Lake dead ahead. He turned slightly to the left, intending to fly down the east side of the lake, towards the town of Proctor itself. As the flight matched him, they came over the small town of Proctor, and turned on a course of One-eight-zero.

In Proctor,which was more a collection of ruins than a town, though the grocery store and a mini-mart had survived, the local garrison was quite content to stay where they were. Soviets from the 231st Rear-Area Protection Division, they were a single platoon, with a single mortar and a heavy machine gun, they were told to keep U.S. 67-377 open, and they did so, by staying put, much to the disgust of the East Germans in the area, who were occasionally taking sniper fire, having improvised mines going off near their vehicles, and suffering phone outages due to lines being cut. The locals, the few townspeople who had survived, along with the local farmers and ranchers who came to town to get their rations, were pleased to see their occupiers arguing amongst themselves, and were actually rooting for these Soviets, who didn't want to get too involved, and their platoon leader actually agreed. The average age of his men was forty, and any kind of sustained effort in the field would rapidly render most of them hors de combat. So when Guru's strike flight flew overhead and the locals waved, the Senior Lieutenant simply ignored them. Which was much to the disgust of an East German counterpart who was passing through on a patrol with his BTR-60PB-equipped platoon.


“How long to next turn?” Guru asked.

“Newburg,” Goalie replied. “Just off of State Route 16. One minute thirty.”

“Copy. Crystal Palace, Camaro One-one. Say threat?” Guru was calling the AWACS.

“Camaro One-one, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing one-six-five for sixty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing Two-four-five, for fifty. Medium, going away. Third threat bearing One-six-five for forty-five. Medium, going away.”

“So far, so good...” Goalie commented. “One minute.”

“Don't say it,” Guru reminded her. “Still got a ways to go.”

“That we do,” Goalie said. “Thirty seconds. EW still clear.”

“Roger that.” The seconds flashed by, and the little town-this one more a crossroads and a church, went by beneath them. Guru turned to the north, just to the east of Route 16, on a heading that would take him right to the target.

Goalie checked the ARN-101. “Thirty seconds to pull.”

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “Flight, Lead. Switches on, Music on, and stand by to pull.” He turned on his ECM pod, and Goalie set up the ordnance.

“Copy, Lead.” Kara replied, and the others did so in turn.

“Fifteen seconds,” Goalie said. “Switches set. You're hot.”

“Coors, Camaro. Time for you guys to go to work.”

“Roger that, Camaro,” Coors One-five called. “Weasels in hot!” Radars came up, and “Magnum” calls came over the radio.”

“Five seconds to pull,” Goalie said. “Stand by...PULL!”

Guru pulled up, and as he did, the flak started to come up. As he glanced around, he saw the target. “Flight, lead. Time to go to work.”

“All set back here,” Goalie told him.”

“Let's go,” the CO replied, rolling in on his bomb run.


At the airport, Captain Alexander Zuyev of the 2nd Squadron, 176th IAP, was furious. Not just with his Regimental staff, but whoever designed the MiG-29A without the ability to be refueled in the air. So, he and his flight had to land at this airport, and though the runway had been lengthened and a ramp area built to support fighter operations, there were no protective revetments for the aircraft, and just a few slit trenches for personnel. His Regiment had been based in Georgia prewar, and though they had deployed via sea to Cuba in 1986, the Regiment was still new to North America, and at Gray AAF near Fort Hood, they had been told by pilots from the 33rd IAP, which had been in theater from the start, that things weren't as they had been briefed. There were very few of the original pilots left flying, and the others? Killed, wounded, or missing (no one dared use the term “Captured”, and yet several pilots had told Zuyev that some of their squadron mates had been taken prisoner, despite the Political Officer's misgivings. Though the area was relatively clear of the Resistance bandits, the occasional mortar attack or sniper activity showed that the American underground was still active. Then there were the Americans in the air, for not only was the USAF active, but also Marines, and even some land-based naval squadrons, and that included F-14s. The MiG-29A was still slightly inferior to the F-4, due to problems with the MiGs' NO19 radar, though the R-27T was felt to be better than the AIM-7, though the MiG-29 was more maneuverable. But the F-14s and F-15s were carrying an improved Sparrow, and it outranged the R-27. The AIM-9L that the newer American fighters were carrying easily outranged the R-60 and R-60M, though the MiG-29 had one advantage: a helmet-mounted sight.

Now, Zuyev and his flight were waiting for their aircraft to be refueled, while they watched the Su-25s based there going out on close air-support missions, and the occasional transport took off or landed. The base seemed to be well defended, with ZU-23 and S-60 57-mm batteries, the latter being radar-guided, while an S-125 site was a couple of kilometers away. The Army in the town also had its own air-defense assets, and so far, the field had not been hit in daylight, though the F-111s and A-6s did come over at night. He stepped out of the operations tent, where his squadron mates were playing dominoes, and glanced to the south. Zuyev saw the smoke clouds in the air, and they were getting closer. Then two of them revealed themselves to be F-4 Phantoms, and they began to fire missiles. He ran into the tent and yelled, “AIR RAID!” After coming out of the tent, he saw another F-4 coming in, and this one was headed right for their ramp area. Zuyev and his comrades, instead of running for their aircraft, which were still being refueled, ran for a slit trench and jumped in. Then the bombs began to fall.


“Lead's in!” Guru called from 512 as he rolled in on his bomb run. He easily picked out the fighter ramp area and saw four MiG-29s parked there. Well, now, he thought. If I can't get you in the air.....Guru lined them up in his pipper, and noticed the Triple-A starting to come up. Then an antiradar missile flew into one of the flak batteries, and that battery fell silent. A nearby SA-3 site came up, but a prompt “MAGNUM!” call from one of the Weasels, followed by a HARM, and the site went off the air. No way, Ivan....”Steady....steady....and HACK!” Guru hit the pickle button, and twelve Rockeye CBUs came off the bomb racks. He pulled up and away, calling, “Lead's off safe.”


In his trench, Zuyev heard the F-4 come by, and then what sounded like a thousand firecrackers going off as the CBU bomblets went off. Then he heard four loud explosions as the MiGs, and their fuel trucks, exploded. Zuyev poked his head out of the trench, and sure enough, all four MiG-29s had been blown apart and were burning, along with the fuel trucks. He saw one of the ZU-23 batteries shift fire to the south, and that meant another attacker. He briefly saw another F-4 coming in, and he ducked back down into the trench.

“SHACK!” Goalie yelled from 512's back seat. “And we got secondaries!”

“What kind of secondaries?” Guru asked as he headed north, jinking as he did so.

“Big ones!”

“I'll take 'em,” replied Guru, then he focused on the egress. Instead of flying for Uncle Sam, now it was for yourselves on the way out.


“Two's in hot!” Kara yelled over the radio as she put 520 on its bomb run. Ignoring the tracers coming up as the flak batteries let go on her, she lined up the runway in her pipper. She saw an Su-25 taxiing to the runway, and said to herself, Not today.....you're grounded, Ivan. “Steady......and....HACK!” Kara hit the pickle button, and sent a dozen Snakeye bombs down onto the runway. She pulled up and leveled out, going to afterburner as she did so, and called out, “Two's off target.”


Captain Zuyev, in his trench, heard Kara's F-4 fly by, and he not only heard the bombs going off, but felt the concussion, too. While the trench didn't collapse, it did shake from the concussion. He heard another explosion, and thought for a moment the attacker had been brought down, but as he peeked up, he was disappointed. For what had happened was that some of the CBU bomblets had been set for delayed detonation. And a GAZ-66 truck filled with base personnel trying to get to cover, had run over one. Shaking his head at the stupidity, he started to rise, but then noticed the ZU-23s tracking back to the south. Another pair of aircraft were coming in, he knew, without even looking. Zuyev dropped back into the trench, shouting, “It's not over yet!”

“GOOD HITS!” Brainiac called. He glanced back and saw the bombs going off the length of the runway. “You got it!”

“The runway?” Kara asked, setting course to follow the CO north.

“Got it!”

“And these chumps are grounded,” replied Kara, dodging some flak as she followed the CO's smoke trail.


“Three's in hot!” Sweaty called. She put her bird into the bomb run, and she had seen what Kara's bombs had done. Not only had they hit the runway, but an Su-25 had been caught in the bomb blasts and was now burning wreckage on the runway. Sweaty lined up the ramp where the Frogfoots were parked, and she could see at least a dozen of them, being refueled and armed. Not your day, Ivan......She lined the ramp in the pipper, not even noticing the 23-mm flak coming up, concentrating on the bomb run. “Steady......HACK!” Sweaty hit her pickle button, and a dozen Rockeyes came off the racks, unloading their CBU bomblets onto the Su-25 ramp. She pulled up and away, setting her course north to follow Kara and the CO. “Three's off safe.”

Again, Zuyev and his comrades huddled in the trench as another F-4 came by, and this time, the explosions were on the other side of the field. He poked his head up to take a look, and saw numerous explosions and fires in the Su-25 ramp area. Shaking his head, he glanced to the south, and saw another F-4 coming in. He ducked down as the aircraft released its bombs.


“SHACK!” Preacher called to Sweaty. “Lots of secondaries!”

“Those guys are grounded?” Sweaty replied, pitching up to avoid some tracers.

“Righteously grounded!”

“Good for them.” Sweaty then picked up Kara's bird as they headed for the I-20.


“Four's in!” Hoser called. He rolled his bird in, and saw the Triple-A shift fire to him. He picked out the hangars and the transport ramp, and there looked to be an An-26 parked there. Well, now....Hoser lined up the ramp area, intending to put his bombs between the hangars and the transport. “Wait....wait....and.....HACK!” A dozen more Snakeyes came off racks, and down onto the airport. Hoser pulled up and away, calling, “Four's off safe.”


Zuyev heard Hoser's F-4 come by, and a dozen more explosions as the bombs went off. Then there was another, louder. He glanced up, out of the trench, and saw an An-26 transport blown apart, with the tail blasted off and one wing missing, while the hangars had been blasted apart. Shaking his head, he started to get up when someone pointed to the south. More Americans coming in. He jumped back into the trench.

“Mustang Lead in hot!” Dave Golen called. He noticed the flak coming up, and saw the gunners were shooting behind. Golen ignored the flak, and an SA-7 that came up, and came in at an angle. He lined up the pipper between the runway and the transport ramp. “Steady....steady.....and NOW!” Golen hit the pickle button, and ten CBUs with their GATOR mines came off the racks, covering the ramp, taxiway, and the runway with the mines. He glanced to his right and saw an SA-7 fly past, hit his afterburner, and headed north. “Mustang Lead off target.”

Zuyev heard the fifth F-4 come by, and and wondered what the aircraft had dropped. There had been no explosions at first, then cries of “MINES!” from the ground staff came. GATOR mines, he knew. No matter what else happened, this field was out of action for a while. And it wasn't over yet....

“GOOD HITS!” Golen's GIB called.

“How good?” Golen replied. How would they know if the mines had been put where they were supposed to go? Unless...

“Somebody ran over one,” came the call back.

“That'll do,” Golen said as he headed north.


“Mustang Two's in!” Flossy called. Though the last one in, she saw the Weasels still orbiting, and they wouldn't be leaving until she called off target. There was a lot of flak coming, and she jinked, not wanting to give the gunners an easy target. Having nearly been shot down once already, she had no desire to go the full distance. Flossy lined up the fuel dump, just east of the fighter ramp, and not only saw the fuel tanks, but also some fuel trucks. Time to fry some Russians, and send some more sky-high, she thought. “Steady.....and.....HACK!” Flossy hit the pickle button, and sent a dozen more Snakeyes down on the field. She pulled up and away, calling as she did so, “Mustang Two off safe.”

In the trench, Zuyev heard Flossy's F-4 come in, and not only did he and his comrade hear and feel the bombs going off, but also the large explosions that followed in their wake. That meant the fuel depot, and it also meant this field was now out of action for a while. He stood up, and shook his head. Despite the mines, and the CBU bomblets, base personnel were trying to fight the fires and tend to the wounded. Wanting to help, he and his comrades asked a ground officer, “What can we do to help?”

“Stay in the trench! You pilots are too valuable!”

Not wanting to argue with the man,who was a Lieutenant Colonel, Zuyev and his flight sat back in the trench, wondering how in the hell they would get back to Grey AAF.


“GOOD HITS!” Digger called from 1639's back seat. “You got the fuel dump!”

Flossy grinned underneath her oxygen mask. “Good secondaries?”

“Big ones!”

“Shit hot!” She called as she followed the others north.


When he heard Flossy call “Off safe,” Guru called the Weasels. “Coors, Camaro. That's all of us.”

“Roger that,” Coors One-five replied. “MAGNUM!” He fired the last of his antiradar missiles, then added, “We're on our way out.”

“Copy that, fella.” Guru said. “How far to the fence?” That meant I-20 and the front lines.

“Six minutes,” Goalie replied.

“Roger that,” said Guru. “Crystal Palace, Camaro Lead. Say threat?”

“Camaro Lead, Crystal Palace, Threat bearing Two-two-zero for fifty. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-seven-zero for fifty-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing One-six-five for seventy. Medium, closing.”

“Copy, Cystal Palace. Say bogey dope on nearest threat?”

“Camaro, Crystal Palace. Inbounds are Blue Bandits.” That was an old Vietnam-era call that signaled MiG-21s.

“Roger that.”

Goalie was doing some quick calculations. “They'll get to us just at the Fence.”

“And they get a wall of Eagles,” Guru replied. He knew the F-15s would be waiting. “Coors, Camaro. You on us?”

“Right with you,” Coors One-five replied.

Guru then glanced over to his Five O'clock, and saw Kara in 520, already tucked in combat spread. “How'd it go, Starbuck?”

“Nobody's using that runway for a while,” Kara said.

“Copy. Sweaty?”

“On your six,” Sweaty replied. “Hoser's right with me.”

“Roger that, Sweaty,”

“Mustang's right behind Sweaty,” Dave Golen added.


As they headed north, they overflew elements of the Soviet 32nd Army. Though the Soviets were expecting air attacks, the last thing any of the air-defense elements at Division and Army expected were to see American aircraft coming from their rear. Coming low and fast, the strike flight had a clear run to the I-20, though some did shoot at the outbound aircraft, no one in the Phantoms noticed the SA-9s or SA-7s shot at them.

The flight approached the fence, and as I-20 appeared, Guru called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Camaro Lead. Can you get the Eagles on the Blue Bandits?”

“Affirmative, Camaro,” the controller replied. “Got a flight of four coming in.”

In their cockpits, the crews looked up, and saw four F-15s heading south above them. “Got visual,” Kara said. “Get some.”

“Camaro Lead, Rustler Lead. Got some Blue Bandits on your six? We'll get rid of 'em for you.”

“Roger that, Rustler Lead. And thank you!” Guru replied to the F-15 leader.

“Camaro Lead, Roger. FOX ONE!” Rustler Lead called as he sent an AIM-7M after a MiG-21, and the other three in his flight followed suit.

“Camaro, let's get out of here,” Guru said, and the whole package followed.


They hit the tankers for the post-strike refueling, then the Weasels broke off and headed back to their base at Reese AFB near Lubbock. “Maybe we can do this again,” Coors One-five had said as the F-4Gs turned for home.

“Likewise,” Guru replied.

The strike flight then headed back to Sheppard, and as usual, the pattern was busy. Outbound AF, Marine, and Navy flights, a Marine KC-130 coming in, and returning strike aircraft made the base a busy one. They were fifth in the landing pattern, and everyone hoped there wasn't a returning aircraft with battle damage, for they not only jumped to the head of the line, but belly landings had a habit of closing runways. This time, that didn't happen, and all six F-4s came in when their turn came. When they taxied in, canopies raised, the crews noticed the news crew filming them, as usual.

Ms. Wendt noticed no one holding up fingers as the six Phantoms taxied past. “Nobody was in a fight this time, looks like.”

Kodak Griffith heard that. “You're really catching on now, Ms. Wendt. Half of the people on this base expected you to last only a day or two.”

Hearing that, she laughed. “Really?”

“I wouldn't be surprised if there was a pool,” Kodak said. “How long you would last. If you weren't a newcomer to combat zones.....”

“People were that suspicious?” She asked. Wendt remembered what General Tanner and his PAO had told her at Nellis. The military was still wary of the media, even after two years of war. Old habits from the Vietnam days died hard, the General had said.

“Skeptical would be the term I'd use, Ma'am,” Kodak replied. “Nobody knew how you'd react to your first Scud attack or air alarm. You know what to do, and now, you people are familiar faces on the base.”

Wendt nodded. “Well, I'll set any skeptics straight tonight.”

Guru taxied 512 into its revetment, and after getting the “Shut Down” signal from Sergeant Crowley, his CC, he and Goalie went through the post-flight checklist. “Two and done,” he said as the ground crew brought the crew ladder.

“And how many more?” Goalie asked. “Don't want any more five- or six-mission days for a while.”

“You're not the only one. It's hard on us, and harder on the ground crews.” Guru then unstrapped, took off his helmet, and stood up in the cockpit. Then he got down and shook hands with Crowley.

His Crew Chief was beaming. “How'd it go, Major?”

“Tore up an airfield, and made some MiG-29s go away on the ground.”

“Hot damn! Uh, sir.”

Guru smiled. “Don't worry, Sergeant. That kind of language is proper on the ramp. No matter what that....other Major may think.”

“Yes, sir.”

Guru nodded, then he and Goalie did the post-flight walk-around. “No damage, Sergeant. She's working like a champ. Whatever you're doing with 512? Don't change a thing.”

“Major, we won't change a damn thing,” Crowley said. It was a source of pride to him that the CO's bird was in such fine shape. Even if, on occasion, the Major brought it back with a hole or two.

Guru nodded again. “Good, Sergeant. Before you get her turned around, get something to eat if you haven't already. That's an order.”

“Yes, sir!” Crowley turned to the ground crew. “You heard the CO! Finish up the post-flight, then we'll get some chow.” Then he turned back to the CO. “Major, don't worry. We'll have her turned around and ready.”

“Thanks, Sergeant.” Guru said, then he and Goalie headed out of the revetment. “Now, let's get the debrief out of the way, eat, and then....”

Goalie nodded. “Back at it,” she said. “Just hope they don't come and say, 'ATO's been tossed, you're on CAS.”

“Don't say it.”

They got to the edge of the revetment and found both Kara and Brainiac waiting. “Boss, you weren't quite a ground ace in a day, but close.”

“What?” Guru asked. “I know we got some of those MiGs.”

Kara grinned. “Too bad they don't count ground kills like in WW II, but you guys got all four Fulcrums. Saw them go up.”

Hearing that, CO and GIB grinned. “Nice cap to the morning,” Goalie said.

“It is that,” Guru said. “You did a number on the runway?”

Brainiac nodded. “That we did.”

“That Frogfoot ramp?” Sweaty said as her element came over. “We tore that up. And made some Su-25s go away.”

Hoser added, “Same thing for the hangars and a transport on that side.”

Dave Golen and his people came over. “Guru,” he nodded. “They won't be getting that base going again for a while. Not until they clear those mines.”

“They're good for that,” Kara said.

“Good work, Dave. And the fuel dump?” Guru asked.

“It was there....” Flossy nodded.

“Was is right,” Digger added.

“Okay,” the CO nodded. “Let's get the debrief done, then we can eat. You need to take care of squadron paperwork, if any, then we get ready and do it again.”

They walked back to the squadron offices, talking about anything but the war, and found everyone from the office waiting outside. Curious, Guru led his flight over, and found Mark Ellis, who noticed him. “Boss,”

“Mark,” Guru said. “What's going on?”

“EOD is sweeping the building. They started just as you guys taxied in. Be about twenty minutes,” the XO said. “And this came in for you. Colonel Brady knows, but you're the senior Air Force flying officer on this base. So does the base commander.” He handed the CO a message form. “And before you ask, I thought it was a joke. So did General Olds. He called Tenth Air Force. He didn't talk to General Tanner, but got his Ops Officer. It's the real deal.”

Guru read the form, then looked at his Exec. “You're not shitting me? This is for real?”

“For real,” said Ellis.

Guru reread the message. “We've already got one Air Force legend on base, and we're getting another one?”

“Steve Ritchie?” Kara asked.

“Not him,” Guru said. “Go back a bit further.”

“Boots Blesse or Ralph Parr?” Goalie ventured. Both were Korean War aces with ten kills each, and were among the ten AF aces in Korea who had made double ace.

Guru shook his head. “Just a WW II double ace who also happened to be the fastest man alive on several occasions at Edwards. And the best AF pilot who was never an astronaut.”

Heads turned at that, and quite a few people looked at the CO. Then it was Kara who broke the silence. “Yeager?”

Guru nodded. “The one and only. It'll be interesting with General Olds and General Yeager on base.”

“Yeager,” Goalie said firmly. It wasn't a question. “Chuck Yeager's coming here.”

“You got it.”
__________________
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  #308  
Old 08-18-2016, 11:43 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Location: Auberry, CA
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Next mission coming up:


335th TFS, Sheppard AFB, TX; 1125 Hours Central War Time:


Heads looked at Major Wiser as his words sunk in. The first man to go Mach 1 was coming to their corner of the war, and people were buzzing. “Settle down, people. Not just him coming.”

“What else?” Kara asked. To her, the F-20 seemed like a toy compared to the F-4, or the F-15E, which she-and almost everyone else in the squadron-hoped to transition to.

“He's bringing three single-seat C models and a D model two-seater. Three other pilots, plus a C-130 with some ground staff. You know, maintenance folks and the like, and some tech-reps from Northrop, GE, and Hughes.”

Sweaty looked at her CO. “Northrop and GE, I can understand-they make the airplane and the engine, but Hughes?”

“Radar,” Guru replied.

“Well,” Capt. Mark Ellis, the Exec, said. “What if they're doing a demo flight and one of Ivan's recon birds comes over?”

The CO turned to the Exec. “Then we see how good these birds are in combat.”


People were still milling about, fifteen minutes after the EOD team had gone in. They were just talking, though some were playing with Buddy, the squadron's mascot. He was a Golden Lab that had been adopted by the squadron while they were at Cannon. From what Guru remembered, several aircrew had gone over to the MASH near the base and while there, a nurse had asked them if they wanted a puppy. The hospital had adopted a mother dog and one of her pups, but needed a home for the other. The guys had immediately adopted the dog, and brought the pup to Guru, who as Exec, had to give his blessing. He had agreed at once, and then brought the pup to Colonel Rivers, who also agreed, feeling that having a mascot was good for squadron morale. Of course, Frank had objected, only to have Rivers give him another dressing-down. There were plenty of times when aircrew had come back from a hairy mission, and Buddy had jumped into their laps, and spirits rose as a result. Chief Ross was in charge of caring for the dog, and it was said in the squadron that if the dog sat in on a mission brief and slept through it, you would have a good mission. If, though, he paid attention, you would have a bad day.

“When's the last time he paid attention with us?” Goalie asked, coming up to Guru.

“Don't remember, but you might want to ask Revlon. He was with her and Razor before they went out.....”

Goalie nodded, recalling the last squadron combat loss. Capt. Paul “Razor” Gillette had been shot down on a CAS mission three days earlier, and had not gotten out of his dying bird. “Yeah. Well, even General Olds likes having a dog around.” She pointed to where the General was enjoying the dog's company.

Then the door opened to the squadron office, and the EOD techs, with their working dog, came out. One of the techs noticed Major Wiser, and came on over. “Major Wiser?”

“That's right,” Guru replied.

“Tech Sergeant Dunlap, Sir,” the tech replied. “You're clear.”

Guru breathed a sigh of relief. “Good to know, Sarge. You guys find anything?”

“No, sir. FYI, though, this is the fifth building we've checked this morning, and the first where we didn't find anything.”

“All right, Sergeant. Thanks.” Guru said gratefully. He put out his hand, and the EOD tech shook it.

“Just doin' our job, sir.”

“All right, people! Building's clear. Let's get back in the game,” Guru said.

People headed back in and got back to work. Guru's flight got out of their flight gear, and they went into their briefing room. A few minutes later, Sin Licon, their intelligence officer, came in. “Boss.”

“Sin,” the CO said. “You taking us first?”

“No, sir,” the Intel replied. “Got some debriefs done outside.” He unfolded a map and also had the prestrike photos. “Can we get going?”

The debrief was pretty straightforward, with crews showing their strike routes, and describing the damage believed inflicted.

“Well, sir,” the Intel said. “Looks like you got four MiG-29s on the ground. Too bad, though. Ground kills don't count.”

Kara and Sweaty looked at each other, then the Intel. “Whose bright idea was that?” Kara asked angrily.

“Don't blame me,” Licon protested. “I just pass on what they tell me. But they really haven't counted ground kills since WW II.”

“Steady,” Guru reminded the pair. “I'm just as upset at that as you are.” The CO was calm, but he was also upset at that rule. Still, taking out four MiG-29s on the ground.....”A lot easier to kill them on the ground than in the air.”

“They are that,” Dave Golen agreed. He was too young to have flown combat in June of 1967, but had flown with colleagues who had. Operation FOCUS was what every air force the world over dreamed of repeating.

“Okay, Darren,” the CO said. “How long to get this field back up and running?”

The Intel thought for a minute. “Sir, best guess only.”

“Do that.”

“Okay, sir. Best guess is, without the mines Major Golen dropped? Twenty-four to thirty-six hours. With the mines? Forty-eight hours at least.”

Major Wiser nodded. “Anything else?”

“No, sir. I'll have the strike film developed and get this off to Tenth Air Force. Thanks, Major.” The intel gathered up his materials and went to debrief the next flight.

“Now what?” KT asked.

“Get some lunch, check your desks and make sure your squadron paperwork's out of the way, because-” The CO checked his watch. 1145. “Chances are, by 1300, we do it again.”

“You heard him,” Kara said, and people headed on out.

Goalie turned to Guru and asked, “Lunch?”

“Yeah,” the CO nodded .”Get anything they're offering, other than the suggestion-of-pork tri-tip. Anyone who eats that is either foolhardy, stupid, or committing gastronomic suicide.”

“That bad?” Kara asked. “And I thought the Marines' BLTs were nasty.”

Guru took a look at his wingmate. “Take my advice, and don't even try. Feeding those to EPWs probably constitutes a war crime.”

“And we're supposed to be the good guys,” Kara grinned.

“That we are,” the CO said. He turned to Goalie “Check your own IN box before you go. The elves never take care of it.”

“Will do, and I'll be back with lunch. Something edible, I promise,” Goalie said.

The CO nodded, then headed for his own office. He nodded to his staff sergeant secretary, then went in. Checking the IN Box, he found a couple of things that required his attention, but a couple that the XO could handle instead. Guru went back to the Exec's desk, and found the XO on the phone. “Mark,”

Ellis talked into the phone, hung up, then turned to the CO. “Boss?”

Guru handed him the papers. “You can take care of these. Just sign 'For the Commanding Officer', and that'll be that.”

“Thanks a bunch.”

“Well, when you're a CO, you can make your Execs' life miserable,” Guru smiled. He thought for a moment. “You know, we're both missing out on PME.”

Ellis nodded. “You got it. We both should be in Squadron Officer School. Instead....the School of Hard Knocks, Class of 1987.”

“You, me, and a whole bunch of other guys,” Guru nodded. “Remember, though, what General Tanner said. That institution turned out a whole bunch of good squadron and group commanders in World War II. It's our turn now.”

“It is that,” the XO agreed. Then he handed Guru a paper. “That came in a couple of minutes ago.”

Guru looked at the paper. It was a fax from Tenth Air Force HQ. Then he scowled. “Yeager's bringing another C-130?”

“He is,” Ellis said. “Filled with spare parts, probably some additional maintenance people. Hell, maybe another F404 engine for all I know.”

Guru stared at his Exec. “We got billeting for these people?”

“Just.”

The CO sighed. “What is it about this base that suddenly attracts Air Force legends? Next thing we know, Robbie Risner or Gabby Gabreski will show up.”

“You got me, Boss,” the Exec said.

“All right,” the CO nodded. “That it?”

“For now,” Ellis nodded. “Lunchtime,” he said, getting up from his desk.

“Okay, but a word of advice: the Pork Tri-tip? Don't.”

“That bad?”

“Call it cruel and unusual nourishment,” Guru replied, heading back to his office.

When he got there, he found Goalie waiting with lunch and two bottles of water. “Beware of GIBs bearing gifts.”

“Isn't the saying 'Beware Romulans bearing gifts?” The CO asked.

“You a Trekkie?”

“No, but I've seen a few episodes. What's in the bag?”

“Hot turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy,” Goalie said. “And two bottles of water.”

They ate, and when they were finished, Guru told her, “We're getting another C-130 when Yeager shows.”

“What?” She asked, not sure if she'd heard right. “We have room for everybody?”

“Mark says just,” the CO said.

Goalie shook her head. “Well, that's that.”

“Just hope these tech-reps are ex-military for the most part,” the CO added. “They'd be used to tents. Because this ain't a Holiday Inn.”

“If we were back at Williams.....we all got used to bunking at the Sheraton,” Goalie said. “We got spoiled rotten.”

“That we did,” Guru acknowledged. “Though five months of a parachute turned tent was no fun,” he said, recalling his time with the Resistance.

Goalie shook her head. “No. You don't want to repeat it, and I sure as hell don't want to find out for myself.”

“Right you are. IF I ever go camping again, it'll be in an RV with all the bells and whistles. That's my idea of 'roughing it', as of when I came out.” There was a knock on the door, and Guru said, “Yeah? Come on in and show yourself.”

The door opened, and General Olds came in. “Major, Lieutenant,” he nodded as both Guru and Goalie came to attention.

“Sir,” Guru said very politely. “What can we do for you?”

“Just came by to let you know that I'll be staying until General Yeager leaves. I'd like to see a combat demo of the F-20 for myself. And, if Bob Tanner will let me, see if I can get a backseat ride in not only one of your F-4s, but Yeager's two-seater as well.”

Both Guru and Goalie exchanged looks, then Guru gulped. “Yes, sir. But you will have to be cleared by my Flight Surgeon. Just so you are aware of that, sir.”

“I know, Major. I'll have to wait until General Tanner gives the OK,” Olds said. He looked around. “Major, may I ask you something?”

Guru nodded. “Ask away, sir.”

“When are you getting rid of that snobby Major who comes across as a martinet and general, all around, pain in the ass?”

“General, I'd be lying if I said I could kick him out today. But I can't. The two of us here have a history with the man, and, well, sir, he can go to JAG and claim retaliation,” Major Wiser said.

Olds nodded. “Bob Tanner told me. This guy would fit right in with SAC, or as a supply officer, I must say. But we still need warm bodies. The training pipeline's just now starting to turn out the people we need. We've just been keeping pace with losses. But now, though.....”

Both CO and GIB nodded. 'Yes, sir. He does look good on paper, but when you read the details.....” Guru said. “He'll be out by New Year's, General. One way or another.”

“Especially if General Cunningham shows up, sir,” Goalie added.

Olds let out a laugh, and said, “Especially then. Major? I've seen how you're running this squadron, both on the ground and in the air. Take my advice: don't change a damned thing.”

“Yes, sir! And General, that's one order I'm glad to obey,” Major Wiser said.

“Good. And Lieutenant?” Olds turned to Goalie.

“Sir?” She said after taking a gulp.

“You take care of him in the air. I have a feeling both of you are going far in the Air Force when this war's over. You two are the kind who don't care about getting stars,. What both of you care about is flying. And you're the type who wants to fly as long as the flight surgeons will let you,” Olds said.

“Sir, the day the Flight Surgeon tells me I can't fly any more is the day I put in for retirement,” Goalie said.

“Same here, General,” Guru added.

Olds nodded. “I thought so. Okay, then. I'll see you at dinner, and I'll share your table. We've got some stories to swap. No doubt you'd like to hear about Operation BOLO first hand,”

“Yes,sir!” Guru said.

“I've got a few others, then I'd like to hear yours. First MiG-29 kills by an F-4 element in Tenth Air Force, Major. You and Lieutenant Blanchard. Bouncing a MiG-25 on takeoff, and getting a gun kill on a MiG-23.”

“Well, sir,” you'll hear those first hand.”

“Be glad to, Major. You guys be careful out there, and I'll see you tonight,” Olds said.

“Yes, sir,” Guru said.

Olds nodded, then left the office, and both CO and GIB breathed a huge sigh of relief.

“'Don't change a damn thing,' he said,” Goalie told her pilot and CO.

“Just what General Tanner told me. Not once, but twice. The first time was when he called, an hour after I got the squadron,” said Guru. “He said it again when he was here for Rivers' memorial service.”

Goalie nodded. “That he did.”

“He did,” Guru said. He looked at the wall clock. “1240. Let's go see Don. Time for a mission.”

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends,” Goalie replied.

“Yep. Just leave out that 'close up the walls with our dead,' crap.”


CO and GIB left the office, and went to the Ops Desk, where Capt. Don Van Loan, the Ops Officer, was waiting. “Just about to send Kara after you,” he said.

“Can't have that,” Guru replied. “What's on tap for us?”

Van Loan pulled out a newly-prepared briefing packet. “Hillsboro Municipal. North of town on I-35W.”

Guru took a look at the small map showing where the field was. “Right in the Cuban rear area,” he noted.

“And the 4th Guards Tank Army's down at Waco,” Goalie nodded, recalling previous missions flown in that vicinity.”

Van Loan nodded himself. “Worse. There's a division from 4th Guards based at Waco. They're SA-8 equipped.”

“Throw in Army-level SA-4s from both the Cubans and Russians, the flak around the airport, MANPADS, and oh, the Hillsboro SA-2,” Guru spat. “Tell me we're getting Weasels?”

“You are,” Van Loan said. “Coors One-three and One-four will meet you at the tankers.”

“Good,” Major Wiser said. He noted Van Loan's deputy. “Kara?”

“Boss?” His wingmate replied.

“Get everybody together. Briefing room in five,” the CO said.

Kara nodded, “On my way,” and she was out the door.

“Okay, Boss,” Van Loan said. “You have a good one.”

“You too,” Guru replied. “Dave and Flossy?”

“They've got one, and it's not as bad as yours,” the Ops Officer said.

“Good to know,” the CO said. He turned to Goalie. “Let's go.”


Guru and Goalie went to their flight's briefing room, and found everyone there. “What's up, Boss?” Sweaty asked.

“Hillsboro Municipal is what's up,” Guru replied. “We get to shut it down for a while.”

“That's where, the Cuban rear area?” KT asked.

'It is,” Guru said. “And a division from 4th Guards Tank Army is based at Hillsboro proper. So expect both Soviet and Cuban SA-4s. There's the light and medium flak around the airport, plus MANPADS, and the Hillsboro SA-2, and be glad we're getting Weasels. They join up with us at the tankers.”

“Ordnance load?” Kara wanted to know.

“You and I have Rockeyes,” Guru told his wingmate. He showed a current photo and a prewar one-where the intel folks found that, he had no idea. “I'll take this new ramp area, along the northeast side of the runway. You take this other new one, north of the prewar hangars.”

Kara nodded. “Got it.”

“Who's flying out of here?” Hoser asked.

“It's an FOL, so it could be empty at the moment, or there could be a Frogfoot and Hind convention,” Guru pointed out.

“A crap-shoot,” Goalie observed.

“It is,” the CO admitted. “Okay, Sweaty?” He saw he had his second element lead's close attention. “You and Hoser each have the Mark-82 and M-117 Snakeye combination. Get the runway.”

“With pleasure,” Sweaty said, and Preacher nodded. “We'll take it out.”

“Good,” Guru said. “Hoser?” The CO pointed to a spot on the photo. “You get the fuel dump here. Southeast of the runway threshold.”

Hoser looked at the photo, and nodded. “Got it,” he said, and KT nodded also.

“Okay. We all have the usual air-to-air load, plus ECM and tanks,” the CO said. “MiG threat is still the same, though we will be closer to the old Connelly AFB at Waco. That means MiG-21s and -23s. There's still MiG-23s and Su-27s at Bergstrom, and MiG-29s at Gray AAF. Still, NO trolling for MiGs, people! We engage only if there's no choice, AWACS tells us to, or we jump a recon or strike flight on our side of the line. Got it?”

Heads nodded, then Kara said, “Loud and clear, Major.” When she-or anyone else-used the CO's rank, he knew that they meant business, and understood what he wanted.

“That's good, Captain,” Guru replied, and in using her rank, that feeling was reciprocated, and they knew it. “Bailout areas are basically, anyplace rural and away from roads. Best place is north of the I-20, but if you have to get out? Hole up somewhere and wait for Jolly Green to get you at night. Most of the locals will help, but even those that don't want to will direct you to someone who will.”

Kara nodded, then asked, “Weather?”

“Still unchanged,” Guru said. “Anything else?”

“Yeah,” replied Sweaty. “How many more?”

Guru smiled. “Sweaty, knock on wood. One more.”

“We hope,” Goalie added.

“Amen,” Preacher added.

“Amen,” Guru said. “All right, anything else?” He looked around and saw people shaking their heads. “Good. Let's gear up. Time to get back to work.”


The flight crews went to their respective locker rooms and got into their flight gear-meaning G-suits, harnesses, and survival vests. When Guru came out of the Men's Locker Room, he found Goalie waiting for him, as usual. “Ready?”

“Ready to rock,” she replied. “Time to get things done.”

Guru nodded, then they went outside. There, one wouldn't know it had rained the night before. There was hardly a cloud in the sky, and it was bright and sunny. “Just thinking of something,” he said out loud.

“What?”

“Wouldn't be surprised if Ivan tried another strike here,” Guru said. “Been a few days.”

“Don't say it,” Goalie said. “But you're right.”

Guru nodded, then they went on to their dispersal area. As they did, both noticed four F-4s from the squadron taxiing out. “Mark's on the way,” he noted, and Goalie nodded.

They got to 512, and found their flight waiting for his final instructions. “Boss,” Kara said. “The usual?”

“It is. Mission code to AWACS and other parties. Call signs between us. And remember: NO trolling for MiGs.”

“Gotcha, Boss,” Sweaty replied.

The CO nodded. “Anything else?”

“Yeah,” KT said. “Another day, another dollar of flight pay.”

“Of which forty-five cents goes back to the government,” Brainiac said.

“It does,” Guru replied, and everyone laughed. “That all? He asked, and heads nodded. “Okay, time to go. Let's hit it.”

The crews broke up and headed to their aircraft, but before Guru and Goalie went to 512, Dave Golen and Flossy, with their GIBs, came by. “Guru,” Golen said. “Where are you headed?”

“Down near Hillsboro,” Guru replied. “You?”

“Near Cleburne,” Golen said. “You're still Camaro Flight?”

Guru nodded. “And you're still Mustang?” He saw Golen nod in reply, then added, “If you guys hit trouble, holler. We'll be there.”

“Same to you,” Golen said. “Good luck.”

“You too,” and both shook hands. Then the two flight leaders went to their aircraft. Goalie was waiting, along with Sergeant Crowley, the CC, who snapped off a salute. “Sergeant,” Guru said.

“Major,” Crowley replied. “Got 512 all ready for you, sir.”

Guru nodded, then he and Goalie did their preflight walk-around. Then both climbed the crew ladder and mounted the aircraft. They strapped in, put their helmets on, then went through the preflight. As they did, Goalie asked, “You waiting to hear some of General Olds' stories?”

“You betcha. Combat in two wars, Kills against the Luftwaffe and the North Vietnamese? Nobody else has that kind of record,” Guru said.

“And he wants to hear some of ours,” Goalie reminded him. “You going to tell the R&R story?”

“Only if he asks,” Guru said firmly. “But that's gone around the Air Force.”

“It has,” Goalie replied. “Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom,” Guru said. “Check yours. And it sure has.”

“That it has,” said Goalie. “Preflight checklist complete.”

“It is,” Guru acknowledged. He gave a thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. In quick succession, one, then two, J-79 engines were up and running, and during the warm-up, Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Camaro Flight with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Camaro Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi to Runway Three-three Lima. You are number four in line. Hold prior to the active.”

“Roger, Tower. Camaro Lead rolling.” Guru replied. He gave another thumbs-up to his CC, who motioned the ground crew to pull the chocks and get out of the way. That done, Crowley gave the “taxi” signal, and Guru taxied 512 out of its revetment. As he cleared the revetment, Sergeant Crowley snapped a perfect salute, and both pilot and GIB returned it.

Guru taxied to the runway, and waited in line as two Marine F-4 flights were ahead of him, then a flight of F/A-18s, and once they were away, it was his turn. He taxied up to the Holding Area, where the armorers removed the weapon safeties.

“Tower, Camaro Lead requesting taxi for takeoff,” Guru called.

“Camaro Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff,” the controller replied. “Winds are two-six-nine at five.”

“Roger, Tower,” replied Guru. He taxied 512 onto the runway, and held as Kara taxied 520 into his Five O'clock. Guru and Goalie glanced over at 520, and both Kara and Brainiac gave the thumbs-up. They returned it, then Guru called the tower again. “Tower, Camaro Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

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

“Ready?” Guru asked Goalie.

“All set here,” she replied. “Let's do it.”

“Copy that. Canopy coming down.” Guru closed his canopy, and Goalie did the same. He glanced over at 520, and saw Kara and Brainiac had done the same. Then he ran the engines up to full power, released the brakes, and 512 rolled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right with them. Thirty seconds later, it was Sweaty's and Hoser's turn. Once airborne, they formed up and headed for the tanker track to the south.
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  #309  
Old 08-18-2016, 11:50 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Next mission, a familiar character from RDF Sourcebook makes an appearance, and the 335th has company coming:



Over Central Texas, 1325 Hours Central War Time:


Camaro Flight was headed south, along the Brazos River. The dividing line between the Nicaraguan II Corps and the East German “Kampfgruppe Rosa Luxembourg”, it was one of the easiest routes into enemy territory. Though the East German air-defense assets were up and active, the Nicaraguans were not. Their enthusiasm for the war had been cooled significantly, and they only turned their radars on if directly threatened. Though they got their share of strikes, the surface-to-air threat wasn't as bad with them as it had been before Wichita, when they had been more than happy to shoot at any American aircraft. So their Corps boundary was a very good ingress/egress route for strikes into this part of Texas.

Camaro Flight had met up with the Weasels at the Mineral Wells tanker track, and now, they were at 450 feet AGL doing 500 knots, and so far, so good. In 512, Guru was concentrating on flying the airplane, switching back and forth between his instruments and keeping a visual lookout for possible threats. While Goalie was handling the navigation. Though they were using the ARN-101 system, she, like the other GIBs, was still doing in the old-fashioned way, through map, compass, and stopwatch.

They had passed not just the town of Granbury, but the Lake Granbury Dam, and as usual, they had drawn flak at the latter. But the strike flight was too fast, and they left the Triple-A behind them. “How long to Lake Whitney?” Guru asked.

“Three minutes,” Goalie replied. “Flak at the U.S. 67 and Route 174 bridges.”

“Roger that.” Guru replied. He was keeping his eye out for threats, and right now, flak was the one he was concerned about. Though one never knew if there was some lucky SOB out there with an SA-7 or -14.....”U.S. 67 bridge coming up.”

“Got it,” Goalie said. And sure enough....”Flak at eleven,” she called.

The strike flight flew past the dam, as Nicaraguan-manned 37-mm opened fire. They were too fast, and left the flak in their wake. “Crystal Palace, Camaro One-one. Say threat.”

The AWACS Controller got back to him right away. “Camaro One-one, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-nine-two, for sixty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-six-five, for seventy-two, Medium, closing.”

“Roger that,” Guru replied.

Goalie came up on the IC. “Thirty seconds to the 67 bridge.”

“Copy.”

Camaro Flight remained on course, and as they passed just east of the bridge, flak once again came up. This time, they saw a convoy crossing the bridge, north to south. “Lead, Two,” Kara called. “Wish we were on a free strike?”

“You bet, Two,” Guru replied. “Too bad.”


At the bridge, a convoy from the 231st Rear-Area Protection Division was crossing. The convoy was on its daily rounds, supplying the garrisons in the area, and the convoy commander was concerned about moving in broad daylight. Apart from small arms and a few Strela-2 (SA-7) missiles, all he had for air defense was a BTR-152 with a ZPU-2 mounted on top. The Major was actually relieved when Camaro Flight flew by, and though the Nicaraguan gunners opened fire, it was too little, too late. As the F-4s thundered off to the south, he got back to getting his convoy going. Whatever they attacked, as long as it wasn't his division's supply depot, wasn't his problem.


“How long to Lake Whitney?” Guru asked Goalie.

“Two minutes to the lake, three to the turn point proper,” Goalie replied. That was just short of the Lake Whitney Dam.

“Copy,” Guru said. “The 174 bridge?”

“One minute.”

The minute flew by fast, and when they got to the Route 174 bridge, the gunners there were alert. Clearly, word of inbound American aircraft had spread, for the Triple-A batteries opened fire as soon as they saw the strike flight. But the 23-mm and 37-mm was not well aimed, for the flak was either below or behind the strike birds, and they were past before anyone could shoot a Strela-2 missile.

“That's the bridge,” Guru said. “One minute to the lake?”

Goalie replied, “One minute. Two minutes to turn.”

“Camaro Flight, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-nine-two for fifty-five. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-seven-zero for sixty. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace,” Guru replied.

As they flew past Lakeside Village, the East Germans still garrisoned there were caught by surprise as Camaro Flight came over. The regimental air defense assets-ZSU-23-4s and Strela-1 (SA-9) SAMs never had a chance to fire. And much to the disgust of the East Germans, the Soviet garrison troops didn't even bother to react at all. Which only added to the mutual loathing the two units had for each other. And the locals, who hadn't been bothered much by the Soviet garrison, simply wanted the East Germans to move on, since they had a “live and let live” understanding with the Soviets, who were all overage reservists to begin with anyway, and the last thing they wanted was to chase any Resistance activity, either real or suspected.


Guru was concentrating on flying the plane when the Brazos River opened up. This was the northern part of Lake Whitney. “Here's the lake. Time to turn?”

“One minute,” Goalie replied. “Just short of the dam.”

“Copy,” said Guru. He looked up and ahead, where Coors One-three and One-four were, just ahead of the strike flight. Glancing to his right, Kara was tucked right in with him in 520, and a quick glance to his rear, and a check of the rear-view mirrors had Sweaty and Hoser right behind them. Wasn't long until the turn point. He was relying on Arnie, the ARN-101, and Goalie's navigation....”How long?”

“Fifteen seconds,” Goalie said. “Stand by...and turn!”

Guru put 512 into a left turn, and the rest of the flight followed. Their pop-up point was just west of Hillsboro. “And time to pull?”

“Forty-five seconds,” came the reply. “Switches on?”

“You got it. Everything in one pass.”

She quickly worked the armament controls and said, “You've got it.”

“Flight, Lead. Stand by to pull,” Guru called. “Switches on and music on, at my Mark.”

“Copy, Lead, “ Kara replied, and both Sweaty and Hoser followed suit.

“Steady....steady...and MARK!” Guru pulled up, and the rest followed. And their EW repeaters began to show radars. He turned on his ECM and called, “Coors, Camaro. Got some radars, fella.”

“Roger that, Camaro,” Coors One-three replied. “Time for us to go to work,” the Weasel element lead then called, “MAGNUM!” and a Standard-ARM left the rails of his F-4G.

As Guru climbed, off to the right was Hillsboro, with I-35, then the I-35W/35E interchange. To their left was I-35W, and then there it was. Hillsboro Municipal. “Flight, Lead. Target in sight. Time to go to work.” He rolled to the left, pitched down, and headed in.



In Hillsboro, Major General Andrei Rudinev was not a happy man. His division, the 6th Guards Motor-Rifle Division, had been directed by 4th Guards Tank Army to send a regiment into the Nicaraguan sector to the northwest, to cool things down between the Nicaraguans and the Libyans. Though he wouldn't mind if those black-assed Libyans got taught a lesson, the last thing anyone wanted was there to be some internecine blood-letting between the Socialist forces, not with the Americans to the north, who could resume their offensive any day, it seemed. His unit, along with the rest of the 4th GTA, was rebuilding after being severely mauled at Wichita and the withdrawal south. Though all three motor-rifle regiments and his tank regiment were present, the tank regiment was more like a company, for only a dozen tanks had survived the long haul south. His lone BMP regiment had barely finished its reconstitution when the order had come to send it off to keep the Libyans and Nicaraguans from killing each other, while the two BTR-equipped regiments were in no shape to do much of anything, as they were busy being reconstituted. His artillery and SAM regiments were in somewhat better shape, but all things considered, his division was in no shape to fight.
Now, he was sitting in his office, in what had been the Hillsboro City Hall, having displaced the local garrison commander, a Cuban, and on the orders of the Army Commander, had incorporated the garrison into his command for the duration of the division's stay in the town. Though the Cuban had protested, he was in no position to press the matter, for the man was only a Major. General Rudinev had dismissed the man's protests, and that was that. He was going over some papers when his Chief of Staff knocked on the door. “Yes?”

“Comrade General, General Suraykin is here.” Colonel General Piotyr Suraykin was the commander of the 4th GTA.

“Please, send him in,” Rudinev said. He came to attention as the Army Commander entered. “Comrade Army Commander,”

“Speeches are for the victory celebrations, Rudinev,” General Suraykin said. “I've come to check on your division. I know, you weren't happy with sending the 252nd Guards to keep our allies from killing each other, but there was no choice. How's the rest of your division?”

“Comrade General,” Rudinev said. “We're doing the best we can, but we are short on nearly everything. If the Navy-”

“I know, and you're not the only commander screaming for more of what he needs. The Navy is doing its best, but the Americans and the British are doing their damn best to cut the supply lines to the Rodina. Chances are, it'll be longer than we thought before you're back to full strength. And that goes for the rest of the Army.”

“Thank you, Comrade General. I-” Rudinev was then interrupted by the sound of an air raid alarm.”I think, Comrade General, we should go to the basement. They have a storm cellar here, in case of tornadoes, and it's our main command post at present.”

“Nonsense,” Suraykin said. “Let's get to the roof,” he said, and gestured for Rudinev to show the way.. The Army Commander, his aide, and bodyguards followed the divisional commander to the roof, and everyone began scanning the sky, looking for American aircraft. Several of the division's staff followed as well.

“There,” Suraykin's aide pointed north., and those on the roof saw several aircraft, with one rolling in on a target. “Looks like they're going for some target to the north.”

“That would be the municipal airport,” Rudinev told his Army Commander.

Suraykin grunted, then said, “I haven't seen an air show like this in a while. Let's see what happens.”


“Lead's in hot!” Guru called as he rolled in. He saw the 23-mm and 57-mm flak coming up, and the GUN warning on his EW repeater. Just then, a Standard-ARM came in and exploded the Firecan radar controlling the 57-mm guns, and not only did the radar go off the air, but the big missile's 214-lb warhead sent shrapnel into the gun positions, killing and wounding members of the gun crew. The flak lessened, but the 23-mm sites were still shooting, as he picked out the ramp area east of the runway. He only found what looked like an Mi-6 Hook or Mi-26 Halo there, along with a couple of smaller helos-Mi-2s, he thought. Oh, well, you'll do. Guru lined the big chopper in his pipper. “Steady.....steady...and....HACK!” He hit the pickle button, sending his dozen Rockeyes down onto the field. He leveled off, and headed to the northwest. “Lead's off target.”


On the rooftop of City Hall, Generals Suraykin and Rudinev watched as Guru's F-4 rolled in on its bomb run, and pulled away, ignoring the anti-aircraft fire, and then the hundreds of small explosions as the CBUs did their work, then a large explosion followed. “What's at the airport?” Suraykin wanted to know.

“It's a joint facility, Comrade Army Commander,' Rudinev's senior Forward Air Controller, an Air Force Major, said. “Used by both our aircraft and the Cubans. We've seen helicopters and Su-25s use the field.”

Both Generals nodded as a second F-4 came in, and another F-4, orbiting overhead, fired a missile, which headed off to the east, where the V-75 site was located.


“SHACK!” Goalie shouted from 512's back seat. “You got a big secondary!”

“What was it?” Guru wanted to know. He was heading back to the Brazos River and then the I-20.

“Dunno, but whatever it was, it blew.”


“Two's in!” Kara called. She rolled 520 in, and she picked out the western ramp. To her dismay, there was only a single aircraft there, a twin-engine transport, either an An-24/26 or a Let-410. She saw Guru's CBUs go off, and take out a large helo in a fireball, but two smaller ones didn't explode. Must not have been fueled, she mused. Oh, well....killing a transport and tearing up the ramp will have to do. Kara lined up the transport in her pipper. 'Steady....and.....NOW!' She hit the pickle button, and a dozen more CBUs went down onto the field. Ignoring the flak still coming up, she leveled out and headed after the CO. “Two off safe,” she called.


“Where is the Air Force?!” Suraykin yelled. He turned to the Forward Air Controller. “WHERE ARE OUR FIGHTERS?” He roared.

“Comrade Army Commander, I wish I knew,” the Air Force man replied. “Either they're on the ground refueling, or...”

“They are busy somewhere else,” Suraykin finished. “Who controls fighter air defense?”

“Air Army, Comrade Army Commander.”

Suraykin's aide pointed to the northwest. “Comrade Generals? There's two more coming in.”


“GOOD HIT!” Brainiac shouted from 520's back seat.

“We got the transport?” Kara asked. She grimaced as a missile flew over the F-4 about a hundred feet above. SA-7? Maybe, but she wasn't going to hang around and find out.

“Had to,” her GIB replied. “SAM! Five O'clock, BREAK!”

Kara broke left, and the missile, what kind she didn't know, flew past. Then she got back on course for the Brazos. “Close one.”

“Not close enough. When you read the serial number as it flies by? That's a close one.”


“Three's in!” Sweaty called. She rolled in, and as she did, the flak came her way. The 23-mm kept shooting, while one of the 57-mm guns was back firing, with the Firecan radar blown apart, its gun crew was aiming visually. Not enough, Ivan, she thought as she lined up the runway in her pipper. “Steady....and....and...HACK!” Sweaty hit her pickle button, and six Mark-82 and six M-117 Snakeyes came off her racks. She ignored the flak as she leveled off and pulled away, picking up Kara's smoke trail as she did so. Then Sweaty made the call, “Three off target.”

“That was the runway, Comrades,” the SAF Major said on the roof of Hillsboro's City Hall. “No secondary explosions.”

Nodding, both Generals Suraykin and Rudinev watched as another F-4 came in. “They're persistent. What's this one going to hit?” Rudinev asked.

The SAF man thought for a moment. “Either the hangars, or the fuel depot, Comrade Generals.”

Suraykin looked at him, though still angry. “What would you hit?”

“The fuel, Comrade Army Commander.”


“GOOD HITS!” Preacher shouted.

“How good?” Sweaty asked. She was following Kara's smoke trail, and was keeping a sharp eye out for threats.

“Good enough,” the ex-Seminary student replied.

“That's good enough for me,” Sweaty decided as she egressed the area.


“Four's in hot!” Hoser called. He was impressed with the gunners down below, who were still shooting. Hoser noticed a missile coming up, but it missed. Looked like from a vehicle, but nothing on the EW gear. SA-9 or SA-13, he thought as he lined up the fuel dump. Tracers came up, but he ignored them as he approached his release altitude. “And....and....HACK!” Hoser hit his pickle button, sending a dozen more Snakeyes onto the target. He leveled out and accelerated away. And neither he or KT saw the SA-9 that flew behind their tail. “Four's off,” Hoser called.


Sure enough, as the SAF man predicted, several large fireballs erupted from the fuel depot at the airport. General Suraykin muttered a few choice invectives, then turned to General Rudinev. “I'll talk to TVD, Rudinev. See if we can't get not just your division, but the rest of the Army, improved regimental and divisional level air-defense systems. We'll never get the S-300V (SA-12 Gladiator/Giant), and even the 2K11s (SA-4) aren't enough. Maybe Marshal Kribov will let us get some Buks (SA-11 Gadfly).”

“I understand, Comrade General,” Rudinev said. “Will those be made available at divisional level?”

“We'll see. Now, let's talk about getting your division ready.”


“SHACK!” KT called. “You got the fuel dump!”

“Big boom?” Hoser asked. He was banking left and following Sweaty out.

“Real big one!” She replied.

“I'll take it,” Hoser said, heading out.


“That's it,” Goalie said in 512's back seat. “Four in, four out.”

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “Coors One-three, Camaro Lead. Four in, four out.”

“Copy,” Coors One-three replied. “We're on our way out,” the Weasel element lead replied.

Guru hadn't paid much attention, but he did now. That Weasel leader was female, as the voice over the radio showed. “Know anybody who became a Weasel?” He asked Goalie.

“I know a couple,” she replied.

Guru nodded in his cockpit as he scanned around. So far, no more flak or missiles, and Kara was right with him in combat spread. “Glad to see you, Two.”

“Right with you, Boss,” Kara replied.

“Sweaty?”

“On your six, and Hoser's with me,” Sweaty called back.

“Copy.” Guru then asked Goalie. “How far to the fence?” That meant I-20.

“Three minutes,” she replied.

“Roger that,” Guru said. “Crystal Palace, Camaro Lead. Say threat?”

“Camaro Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-seven-five for fifty. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-nine-six for fifty-five. Medium, closing.”

“Looks like we've got company inbound,” Goalie said.

“What kind of company?” Guru asked. “Crystal Palace, Camaro. Say bogey dope.”

“Camaro, closest threats are Fishbeds at One-seven-five, second threat at One-nine-six are Floggers,” the controller replied. MiG-21s in the first group and MiG-23s in the second.

“Roger, Crystal Palace,” said. Guru. They were just east of the Brazos, in the Nicaraguan sector, and far enough from the bridges that the flak batteries couldn't touch them. And the Nicaraguan radars were not up and active. Nobody was complacent, though, Pilots and GIBs kept an eye out for threats, either guns or missiles, for one grunt with an SA-7 might get himself lucky, or a SA-9 vehicle's crew might find out their missiles did work-once in a great while.

“Two minutes,” Goalie said.

“Copy,” Guru replied.

“Camaro Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-seven-five for forty. Medium, Closing. Second threat bearing One-nine-five for forty-five. Medium, closing.”

“Not fast enough,” Guru said. He glanced at the EW repeater. Still clear.

“No,” Goalie said. She'd been doing the calculations in her head. “One minute to the Fence.”

“Lead, Two,” Kara called. “These guys ours?”

Just then, another voice came on the radio. “Camaro Lead, Rustler Two-one. Got some bad guys behind you?”

“Rustler, Camaro,” Guru replied. “Roger that. Can you take these chumps?”

“Copy that. Rustlers, let's light 'em up.” The F-15s turned their radars on and picked up the MiGs. “Confirmed Blue Bandits.” That was the old Vietnam-era call for MiG-21s.

“Steady...” Goalie told Guru. “And....crossing the Fence....Now!”

“Flight, Lead,” Guru called. “Verify IFF is on, out.” He immediately turned on his IFF.

“Two copies,” Kara replied.

“Three,” Sweaty.

“Four, copy,” Hoser.

Guru then looked up and saw the F-15s above, and they launched their Sparrows. It wasn't long until two of the pursuing MiG-21s were blotted out of the sky, and the other two turned to run. The MiG-23s also closed, and the F-4 crews listened in as three of the four MiG-23s fell to the Eagles.

“Eagles did their job,” Guru said.

“They did,” Goalie agreed.

The strike flight then joined up on the tankers, and after their post-strike refueling, split up. The Weasels headed for Reese, while Camaro Flight returned to Sheppard. When they got back, they found Dave Golen's Mustang Flight ahead of them, while two Marine F-4 flights were ahead of Mustang. They took their turn in the pattern, and when it was Camaro's turn, they came in and landed.

As they taxied in, the crews noticed their media guests filming them. With their canopies up, the crews waved as they taxied by. “You think they'll stay a while?” Goalie asked her CO.

“If she was going to run back to Nellis, she would've by now,” Guru admitted. “Thought she wouldn't last long myself.”

“Same here.”

Guru taxied 512 into its revetment, and after shutting down, both pilot and GIB went through the post-flight. The Crew Ladder was put in place by the ground crew, and both crew members dismounted from the aircraft. A quick post-flight walk-around found no holes, and Guru was pleased. As was his Crew Chief. “Major, how'd it go this time?”

“Ripped up another airfield,” Guru said. “Got a chopper on the ground. No MiGs, though.”

“Too bad, sir,” Sergeant Crowley said.

“Yeah. Well, 512's chugging along. Get her ready for the next one,” the CO said.

“Yes, sir!” Crowley said. “You heard the CO! Let's get this bird ready,” he told the ground crew.

Nodding, Guru and Goalie went to the entrance of the revetment. Their flght mates were there already, plus Dave Golen, Flossy, and their GIBs. “Well?”

“Boss, you got a Hook or a Halo,” Kara said. “That makes you a ground ace in a day.”

Guru shrugged. “Whatever you say, but those don't count officially, remember?”

“You know what I mean,” Kara grinned.

Guru nodded, then turned to Goalie. “How's it feel? Ground ace?”

“Sounds good, even if they don't recognize it,” Goalie said. They raised their bottles of water.

“How'd it go with you guys?” Sweaty asked Dave Golen.

“Now we know why there's only two aircraft going on ammunition dumps,” Golen said. “Four would be overkill.”

“Big booms?” Hoser asked.

Flossy grinned. “Late Fourth of July.”

“That it was,” her GIB, Digger, replied.

The CO nodded approval. “Always good have one of those,” he said. “Kara, were you looking for a fight with MiGs?”

“You know me, Boss. It's been a while since either one of us has gotten any. Don't want to get rusty,” Kara said earnestly.

“I know. And we've been cheated at least once,” Guru said, recalling an F-15 party-crasher who stole a kill from him.

“Ever find that guy?” Goalie asked.

“Not yet. Okay, let's go debrief our respective strikes, get something to eat, and-” the CO was interrupted by the wail of an air raid alarm. “What the....”

“Hasn't happened for a while,” KT said. “Air raid or missile attack?”

“No difference,” Guru said. He thought for a second. “Mount your aircraft!”
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  #310  
Old 08-25-2016, 09:43 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Sheppard gets a visit from Frontal Aviation:




Sheppard AFB, Texas, 1420 Hours Central War Time:


Heads turned to the CO. Even Kara stared at her flight lead open-mouthed. She'd never done this before. “Boss, we hear you right?”

“You did. Mount your birds! Remember Ken Taylor and George Welch at Pearl Harbor?' Guru shot back, running for his bird, with Goalie right behind him.

The rest of the flight looked at each other, then they scattered like human shrapnel, running for their respective mounts.

When Guru and Goalie got to 512, the ground crew hadn't even gotten started when the siren sounded, and they found Sergeant Crowley there, as if he knew what his CO would be doing. “Sir, you getting airborne?”

“You read my mind, Sergeant,” Guru said as he grabbed his helmet and climbed the crew ladder. “Soon as we're gone, get all of your asses to a bunker, Sergeant. That's an order!”

“Yes, sir!” Crowley said as Goalie got into the rear cockpit.

Both pilot and GIB got strapped into their seats in record time, it seemed, then they did a scramble checklist. “At least we're not wearing tuxedo pants,” Goalie quipped as she finished the checklist.

“What?” Guru asked as he gave the thumbs-up to the CC. “Starting engines.”

“Taylor and Welch. They didn't have time to change that morning, so they flew in what they were wearing.” she said. “Ready.”

Guru started the engines, and since the engines were still warm from the previous mission, it didn't take long to get them up and running. The ground crew pulled away the crew ladder, and Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Camaro Flight with four, requesting immediate taxi and combat takeoff.”

“Roger, Camaro Lead,” the controller replied. “Clear to taxi and takeoff on Runway Three-Three Lima. Winds are calm.”

“Roger, tower. We're rolling.” Guru replied. He waved to the ground crew and they pulled the chocks away. Crowley signaled him to taxi, and he taxied 512 out of the revetment, and as he did, the CC snapped a salute, as usual. Guru and Goalie returned it, then Guru taxied to the runway. He glanced behind him, and saw the other three in the flight, plus the two in Mustang, following him. Since the weapon safeties hadn't been put back on after landing, there was no need to hold prior to the active, he taxied onto the runway. “Canopy down,” he called.

“Got it,” Goalie said, pulling her canopy down. She glanced to the right, and east of the runways, eight fireballs erupted. “Holy.....” She looked around, not seeing any Soviet aircraft, then glanced up. “Can't see anything. Must be Foxbats.” referring to the MiG-25RBS reconnaissance bomber.

Guru nodded, then glanced at his Five O'clock. Kara and Brainiac had closed their canopies, and both gave a thumbs-up. Guru and Goalie returned them, then the Tower came over the radio.

“Camaro Flight clear for takeoff. Combat takeoff is authorized,” the controller said. “Good luck.”

“Roger, Tower. Flight, Lead. LET'S GO. Combat takeoffs are authorized,” called Guru. Then he went to burner, released the brakes, and 512,with Kara's 520 alongside, rolled down the runway and into the air. Barely fifteen seconds later, Sweaty and Hoser were rolling, and right on their tail were Dave and Flossy in Mustang Flight.

Colonel Brady had been getting ready to go on a strike of his own when the alarm sounded, and as he was taxiing himself to Runway 15-Charlie, he saw the six F-4s roll down the runway and into the air. He muttered, “Good luck, whoever you are,” then told his flight. “Knights, on me. GO.” Then four F/A-18s began their takeoff rolls.


Guru's lead element had just cleared I-44, northwest of the base, and had turned to the south when Goalie spotted the inbounds. “Got 'em! Bandits, Eleven O'clock and low.”

“Copy,” Guru replied. He saw them as well. “Going radar, and go boresight.”

“Got it,” Goalie replied.

“Flight, Lead. Let's go get 'em,” Guru called.

“Right with you, Boss,” Kara replied. Brainiac in the back was trying to lock up a target when she saw a bandit, which seemed to be an Su-17 Fitter, pulling in what appeared to be a lob-toss maneuver. Normally used for the delivery of tactical nuclear weapons, it was also used to deliver chemical bombs. “Go Boresight!” She told Brainiac. As her GIB did so, she set the pipper on the bandit, and got a missile lock. “FOX ONE!” Kara squeezed the trigger, sending an AIM-7E after the Fitter.

In that Su-17M4, the commander of the 2nd Squadron, 189th Guards Fighter-Bomber Regiment, was smiling. Though the escorting MiG-23s had run into a nest of F-15s, enough of the Su-17Ms and Su-24s following behind them had made it through. Though he wondered where the two Yak-28PP EW aircraft ahead of him had gone, for one had called out that it was taking ground fire, and the other had simply disappeared. No matter. His Vyuga targeting pod for the two Kh-58 (AS-11 Kilter) anti-radar missiles had picked out two I-HAWK radars and an air-search radar, and he decided to take one of the HAWKs and the air-search radar. The Lieutenant Colonel was just about to launch when his own RWR came on, and he saw a missile-probably a Sparrow, coming at him. The Colonel aborted his launch, and rolled down and away, hoping the Sparrow missed.

“Damn it!” Kara yelled over the radio. “Missed!”

“Easy, Starbuck,” Sweaty said. “I got him. FOX ONE!” Two AIM-7s came off of Sweaty's bird. One failed to guide and simply flew off to the south, but the second was running true. Then a missile came up from the ground and tracked the Fitter....

The Soviet Colonel was livid. Where was his wingman? And what in God's name did those MiG-25RBS clods hit? He had been told they were also going for the SAM sites, but it was clear they had not hit them. He saw Kara's Sparrow fly over him, then another Sparrow came his way. He rolled right, popping chaff, and as he did so, he wasn't paying attention to his Sirena-3 RWR display. Another radar had come up. The roll also ensured he didn't see the I-HAWK missile tracking his aircraft. The missile blew, and the Fitter was engulfed in a fireball. The Colonel never had a chance to scream.....and the AIM-7 that had been tracking his aircraft exploded in the fireball.

“What the hell?” Sweaty yelled over her IC. “Jarheads took our kill.”

Preacher was sympathetic, but he reminded his pilot. “That's what they're paid for.”


“Sweaty's going to have a talk with the Jarheads tonight,” Goalie noted. “Still trying to pick 'em up.”

“Try harder,” Guru replied. He saw another Fitter go down, this one from a late-scrambling Hornet, then he saw them. Tall tails, and wings swept back. It's been a while, he thought. Su-24 Fencers. “Flight, Lead. Fencers at Twelve O'clock.” He went back to boresight and used the auto-acquisition feature to get a full system lock. “Got him. FOX ONE!” Guru shouted as he fired two AIM-7s at a Fencer. Hoser followed suit, and Kara fired her remaining Sparrow.

On the base, those not involved with base defense or fire-fighting were taking shelter. With a few exceptions. General Olds had sent his aide into the 335's office, and the man came back with a pair of binoculars. “Sir, shouldn't you head for a bunker?'

“Never saw an air raid in World War II from this perspective, Major,” Olds replied calmly. “I have to see this.”

“Uh, yes, sir,” the Major replied, hoping he wouldn't have to explain to the Chief of Staff what happened if this went bad. A feeling of needing warm underwear went over him.

General Olds' feeling wasn't unique. Jana Wendt and her crew also scorned the air-raid shelters, preferring to remain outside and start filming. Kodak Griffith was amazed, and asked her, “Ma'am, shouldn't you be heading for the shelters?” He jabbed his finger in the direction of the 335th's office, which had a storm cellar beneath.

Wendt grinned. “Captain, times like this is what we came here for,” she said. Turning to Scott, her cameraman, “Get everything you can.”

“Got it, Jana.” He had gotten some footage of the F-4s scrambling, then four F/A-18s doing the same thing. Now it looked as if the Russians were getting close.

“Keep shooting,” she said. Wendt started to talk into a microphone, then she turned to Kodak. “Only one thing wrong with this.”

Amazed at the reporter's tenacity, the Marine asked, “What's that, Ma'am?”

“We're not live,” Wendt replied, then she resumed her commentary.

Shaking his head, the NFO turned temporary PAO picked up his own binoculars and scanned the sky to the south.


South of the base, the commander of the 89th Bomber Aviation Regiment was leading his Su-24s into action, as was his habit. He had hoped to mount a two-squadron strike on Sheppard, but Air Army had only authorized one. So he led the 1st Squadron, the best in the Regiment, personally. The Colonel was wondering where the Yak-28PPs were, and saw the Su-17s run into the SAM defenses, but no matter. The squadron was closing in on the target when their Sirena-3s went off. SAM radars and fighter radars ahead. His WSO turned on the internal ECM, only to see Sparrow missiles closing. He ordered the break, and got down even lower.

“God-damn it!” Guru yelled as first, his radar screen turned to hash as the Fencers' ECM came on, then both Sparrows missed. One went dumb almost immediately, flying through the Soviet formation, while the second appeared to track, then the jamming affected it, for the Sparrow flew past the intended victim and then fired its warhead. “Watch it, people! Their jammers are active.”

“You're telling me, Lead,” Kara replied. “Second miss.”

“Lead, Hoser. Ditto that.” Hoser said. His two Sparrows had also missed.

“Roger that,” said Guru. “Looks like we'll merge.”

Behind Camaro Flight, Dave Golen's Mustang Flight was trying to lock up the Su-24s. “Anything?” Golen asked his GIB.

“No joy,” the WSO replied. “Too much ground clutter, and they're jamming us.”

“Lead, Two!” Flossy called. “Floggers, Twelve O'clock high, coming down!”

“Camaro Lead, Mustang Lead. Break!” Golen called Guru.

Guru reacted at once. “Camaro Flight, break!” He went high and to the right, Kara low and to the left, while Sweaty and Hoser did the opposite.


In his MiG-23ML, the deputy commander of 3rd Squadron, 5th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment, was livid. A diversionary sweep by some MiG-21s was supposed to draw the F-15s away, but it hadn't worked, and the Eagles were all over his MiGs. Of a dozen aircraft, they had lost six to the F-15s, but the rest had stuck with their escort mission. Now, he saw the F-4s threatening the Su-24s, and he knew his duty. Turning on his Saphir radar, he picked out a target and tried to lock on. He didn't notice his Sirena-3 RWR warning him of another radar nearby.....

Guru heard the Beep-Beep over his headset and saw the radar strobe with a “23” on his RWR repeater, and reacted instantly. Turning on his ECM pod, he called, “Camaros, Lead. Music on and watch for Floggers.” He didn't wait for anyone to acknowledge, and then reversed, turning back into the threat. Then he heard a familiar voice on the radio.

“Knight Zero-one, FOX ONE!” It was Colonel Brady.

In his Hornet, Brady had locked up the lead MiG-23 as it dove onto the F-4s. Then he fired an AIM-7M. Unlike the older Es that his F-4s (and the 335th's) had been issued, this one worked on the first try, tracking to the MiG and spearing it just aft of the cockpit. The MiG fireballed, and both halves tumbled down in flames. To Brady, it looked like two miniature nuclear fireballs falling to the ground.

The SAF Major saw the F-4 and tried to lock on. Then his own radar turned to snow as the ECM affected it, He tried to pull around and get behind the F-4, but his wingman's panicked voice interrupted him. “Lead, Two, Crows at Nine O'clock!” Crows meant enemy fighters. He glanced to his right, saw an F/A-18 closing, and a Sparrow missile.....the missile hit, and the Major was engulfed in a fireball.

Brady smiled beneath his oxygen mask. Six for him now. “Knight Zero-one has a splash!”

“Thank you,” Guru replied as he pitched up, and saw Kara with him. He climbed, saw the Su-24s about to make their runs, then applied right rudder and rolled in, with 520 sticking tight. Good girl, he thought. He went to HEAT, and heard the growl of a Sidewinder in his headset. “Keep checking six,” he told Goalie.

“You got it,” she replied, scanning the sky for threats. Goalie winced as a MiG-23 flew right over them, with an F/A-18 hot on its tail. The Hornet fired a Sidewinder, which flew up the MiG's tailpipe and exploded. The MiG pilot bailed out, and given the attitude of the locals, he had better hope the Marines, Air Force CSPs, or Army personnel found him. If found by the Resistance, the usual welcome was a speedy lynching...

“Got a Fencer,” Guru said, rolling in behind the Fencers' Tail-end Charlie. The Sidewinder growled in his headset, then went very loud. Missile lock. “Good tone. FOX TWO!” He fired a Sidewinder, but just as he squeezed the trigger, the tone dropped off. “Oh, shit!”

“What?”

“Lost tone just as I fired,” Guru said. Both he and Goalie watched as the Sidewinder still tracked towards the Su-24, but halfway to the target, the warhead fired harmlessly behind the Fencer. Guru tried locking him up again, got tone, and squeezed the trigger. “FOX TWO!” A second AIM-9P left the rails.

Below, Captain Ryan Blanchard was next to her Humvee, and the CSP in the cupola was manning a .50 caliber machine gun. The Su-24s were coming in, and the Combat Security Police were doing what they had always done in an air attack: put lead in the air. Either small-arms fire or machine guns, you never knew if a “Golden BB” might find its mark,and bring down a multimillion-ruble aircraft. She was firing her own M-16, and gestured to an airman with a Stinger. The man nodded, raised the weapon and got lock on an aircraft, and fired.

“Stinger!” Kara called. “Lead, Break!”

“Roger that!” Guru replied, pulling up into a high-yo-yo. They were getting too close to the base perimeter, and that meant the CSPs and Marines with machine guns and Stingers. He never saw whether or not the Sidewinder hit as he climbed.

But Kara did. She saw the Su-24 put out flares, and the Sidewinder flew into one. She cursed, then saw the Stinger fly into the Fencer's right intake and the big jet exploded. “Stinger got him!” Kara called as the two crewmen punched out.

Ryan Blanchard was grinning from ear-to-ear. This wasn't the first time her CSPs had shot down an attacking aircraft, and she watched as another Su-24 came in, and the Humvee gunner sprayed it with .50 caliber fire.

Guru didn't hear her call, and only saw the Fencer's wreckage falling to earth. He pitched over to the left, then rolled down. As he did, Kara maintained position, like a good wingman. Guru glanced to the east, and saw the Su-24s making their runs. He saw another take a HAWK to the cockpit and explode, and the headless aircraft just dropped out of the sky. Then he heard Goalie make a call, and it chilled him.

“C-130 on final, and he's got bad company!”

Guru turned his head to the left, and saw a C-130B coming in to Runway Three-Three Right, just as two Su-24s made a run on the runway, and right behind the C-130 was an Su-17. The Fencers dropped their bombs on the runway, and just as the C-130 tried to pull up, the Su-17 sprayed the Herky-bird with 30-mm cannon fire. The C-130's left inboard engine caught fire, then exploded, and as the C-130 pancaked down on the runway, a bomb exploded in front of the right wing, snapping it off just to the right of the outboard engine. The transport spun around, then more cannon shells from a second Su-17 smashed into the tail, which broke off, and the plane began to burn. “Holy god.... Hope he was just a cargo run.”

“You're not alone,” Goalie said.

Furious, Guru rolled left, intent on getting one of the Su-17s. Then a call came over the radio.

“Camaro Lead, Cadillac Lead. This an invitation-only party?” It was the Exec, Capt. Mark Ellis.

“Mark, we're having all this fun, but come on in,” Guru replied. He glanced and saw several base buildings on fire, and the old control tower crumpling. Then an Su-24 took a hit from a Stinger, and the big Sukhoi tumbled out of the sky, and two parachutes blossomed behind it, as the crew punched out.

“Roger that!” Replied the Exec. “Let's go get 'em.” And Cadillac Flight charged in. “FOX ONE!” Ellis called, sending a pair of Sparrows after a MiG-23 that was diving on an F/A-18.

Colonel Brady, meanwhile, was chasing a departing Su-24 when another MiG came at him, head-on. He locked up the MiG with his remaining Sparrow, and fired. The MiG fired a pair of AA-7 Apex missiles at Brady, but just after he fired, the AIM-7 connected, blowing the MiG's cockpit and right wing off, and what was left of the MiG-23 tumbled out of the sky. As it did, two AIM-7s came in to explode the shattered MiG.

Guru and Kara had latched on to a pair of retreating Su-24s, and Kara had actually gotten in front of him. “Two, Press to engage, I've got your six,” he called.

“Roger that, Lead,” Kara replied. She, too, went to HEAT, and got good tone on a Sidewinder. “FOX TWO!” An AIM-9P left the rail on 520, and both Su-24s split. They put out flares and chaff, and the wingman broke off from the leader, who was untouched when the Sidewinder went for a flare. “DAMN IT!” Kara yelled over the radio.

“Take it easy, Two,” Guru said.

“Calm down,” Brainiac added from 520's back seat.

“Steady,” Kara acknowledged. She lined up another Sidewinder shot, got tone, watched him first roll right, then left, then level out. Then she fired. “FOX TWO AGAIN!”

This Fencer was the Soviet strike leader, and the Colonel watched his wingman break away, but to his dismay, there wasn't an F-4 in pursuit. His attacker was still out there, somewhere, and he rolled right to try and get his WSO a good enough view. Nothing was seen, so he rolled to the left. Nothing. So he rolled wings level and put the nose down to get some more airspeed. Then there was a loud explosion to the rear, and every caution and warning light came on. Time to go. He ordered his WSO to eject, then he went himself. As he hung in his chute, he wondered if the U.S. Army would find him before those bloodthirsty bandits who called themselves the American Resistance did.

“SPLASH!” Kara called as the Su-24's crew ejected.

“That's what, nine?” Brainiac said.

“Think so,” replied Kara. She still had two Sidewinders left and a full load of 20-mm.


“Good kill, Two!” Guru shouted. “Drop back, I'll take the lead.” He, too, still had a pair of Sidewinders and a full cannon load. And the CO wanted to use them.

“Roger, Lead,” came the reply as 520 slowed so that Guru could get back in front. As he did, he saw the wing Su-24 turning south. And right into the waiting arms of Cadillac Two-three and Two-four. Two-three (Scorpion and Judge) took a Sparrow shot and missed, but Two-four (Cosmo and Revlon) rolled in behind the Sukhoi.

“Steady,” Cosmo said. She went right to HEAT and got tone. “FOX TWO!” The AIM-9P went right, then left, did a one-potato-two, flying up the Sukhoi's right tailpipe and exploded. The plane rolled to the right on fire, and the crew punched out. “Two-four's got a splash!”


“Whoo-hoo!” Goalie yelled from 512's back seat. “Cosmo and Revlon got another one.”

“Celebrate later,” Guru reminded her. “Still got a fight going on.” Then he got on the radio. “Good kill, Cosmo!”

“Thanks, Boss,” Cosmo replied.


Guru looked around, maintaining his visual scanning. “Where the hell are they?” He noticed several smoke clouds marking the funeral pyres of downed Soviet aircraft, but he saw no MiGs or Sukhois around.

“They must've run for home,” Goalie said. “Radar's clear. No jamming.”

It was Mustang Flight that answered the question. “Camaro Lead, Mustang. We've got a recon element coming in.” It was Dave Golen. “We're engaging.”

“Got them,” Goalie said. “Three hits at Twelve.”


Dave Golen grinned beneath his oxygen mask. He and Flossy were coming in on two more MiG-23s and a Yak-28R reconnaissance plane, and the Russians didn't know they were there. He went to RADAR, and locked up a Flogger. Though his American friends were swearing at the Sparrows they had, instead of by them, the Sparrow had its uses. And this was one of them. “FOX ONE!” He ripple-fired his two AIM-7s, and though one fell away, a dud, the second seemed to track, but the MiG went hard right, defeating the missile. But both MiGs had scattered, and cleared the way for Flossy to take a shot at the recon bird. “Flossy, press to engage. I'll cover.”

“Roger that, Lead.” Flossy replied. She asked her GIB, Digger, “Can you pick him up?”

“I'm tryin', baby,” he replied. “Too much ground clutter.”

Ignoring the 'baby' remark, Flossy went to HEAT, lined up a shot, and got tone. “FOX TWO!” She squeezed the trigger, and an AIM-9P went off 1569's rails. The Sidewinder tracked, flying up the port engine pod of the Yak, and exploded the engine pod. When it did, it tore off part of the left wing, and sent shrapnel into the Yak-28R's fuselage. The pilot tried to pitch up and give his navigator a chance to eject, Flossy and Digger watched as the navigator did punch out, and then the Yak, now trailing fire, pitched back level, and rolled to the left. Then the pilot ejected. Flossy flew past, and to the horror of 1569's crew, they saw the pilot's chute deploy-and it was on fire. “Holy shit!” Flossy called on the IC.

“Be glad it's not one of us,” Digger replied as the unfortunate Soviet airman fell to his death.

“Yeah,” she replied. “SPLASH!”

“Good kill! Good kill, Two!” Golen said. “Where's the escorts?” He had lost sight of both Floggers.


“Flossy's got another one,” Guru said in 512.

“She does,” Goalie replied. “That's what? Six?”

“I think so,” Guru replied. “Where's the other two Floggers?”


“Knight Lead, Knight three,” Brady's second element lead called. “Two hits headed south.”

“Let them run,” Colonel Brady said. “Camaro, Knight Lead. How's your fuel?”


“Stand by, Knight Lead.” Guru said. He checked his fuel gauge. “Seven hundred pounds. Two, say fuel state.”

“Camaro One-two,” Kara replied. “Six-fifty,” she said.

“One-three's got seven hundred,” Sweaty added.

“One-four has six hundred,” Hoser called.


Then Dave Golen came up. “Mustang Lead has six hundred,”

Flossy added, “Mustang Two six hundred fifty.”

“Copy that, all,” Brady said. “Looks like we still got a place to land. Camaro, Mustang, we can orbit for a while. You guys go in.”

“Roger that, Knight Lead, and thanks for the help,” Guru replied. 'Sheppard Tower, Camaro Lead. Say runway status, and request landing instructions.”

“Stand by,” the Tower replied.

“Can't stay up here forever,” Guru muttered. “How long?” He asked Goalie.

She was doing the math in her head, and came back with the answer. “Six minutes and we'll be skydiving.”

“Tower, Camaro Lead, We got six minutes or we're skydiving, fella.”

“Stand by,” the controller said. “Camaro Lead, Tower. Runway Three-three Lima and Three-three Charlie are clear. MOPP status is clear. You are cleared in.”

“Roger that,” Guru said. He didn't bother with the pattern, nor did the rest of his flight. They just came straight in and landed. As they taxied away from the runway, they noticed fire and rescue crews playing hoses on not only the C-130, but they also passed an Army CH-47 that had been hit, and burned in half. When Guru got 512 to the squadron's dispersal, he and Goalie saw people going around without masks, confirming the tower's MOPP status. And they noticed the camera crew, still filming as they taxied by.

“Did they even run for cover?” Goalie asked in amazement.

“If they didn't, they get some kind of award. For either bravery or stupidity. Or both,” Guru said, shaking his head. He taxied 512 into the dispersal area, and found his revetment. Guru was glad to see Sergeant Crowley waiting, and he taxied into the revetment. Guru got the “Shut down”signal from his CC, and he did. Then the ground crew brought out the chocks, as both pilot and GIP popped their canopies and raised them. The ground crew followed with the crew ladder, and both Guru and Goalie stood up in their seats. “That was a hell of a ride,” Guru said.

“That it was,” Goalie said.

Pilot and GIB climbed down and began looking at the aircraft. No holes, which was good, and Guru nodded as Sergeant Crowley came over. “Shit hot, sir!”

“Sergeant, that wasn't a fight; it was a brawl.” Guru said. “We may have gotten one, but a Stinger crew might have nailed him before we could.”

“Well,Major? Lieutenant? You guys did your job, because we're still here,” Crowley said, as an airman handed the CO and GIB each a bottle of water.

Guru nodded thanks, then promptly downed half of the bottle. “I guess so,” he said. “Any word on casualties?”

“No, sir. A couple of the ground officers and Chief Ross have been out. Haven't head a thing, sir.”

“No news is good news,” Goalie said, then she, too, drained half of her bottle. “Anything on that C-130?”

“No, ma'am,” Crowley said.

Guru nodded, then he noticed the prewar Control Tower. They had been using a field tower while waiting for EOD to clear the Tower, as it had been booby-trapped by the Cubans. “They got the old tower.”

“EOD was going to clear that,” Goalie said. “Or so I heard.”

“Not anymore, ma'am,” said Crowley.

“Okay, Sergeant,” Guru said. He finished his water, then nodded. “Get 512 turned around. We've got time for one more mission, and hopefully, we can pay back the sons-of-bitches who did this.”

“Sir, that's music to my ears,” Crowley said. “All right people! You heard the Major. Let's get this bird ready to go!”

Pilot and GIB left the ground crew to their business, and when they got to the revetment's entrance, they found Kara and Brainiac there, with grins from ear-to-ear. “Good job, Kara,” Guru said, shaking her hand.

“Too bad about that one Fencer,” Kara nodded. “Didn't you hear my call? A Stinger crew got him.”

“Was a little busy at the time,” Guru recalled. “That's what? Nine for you?”

“It is,” Kara said, then she nodded, “Not yet to Colonel Rivers' score. The late Colonel Rivers had a dozen kills before his death.

Sweaty, Preacher, Hoser, and KT came over as well. “Boss, that wasn't a fight, it was a barroom brawl,” Sweaty said.

“No kidding!” Guru replied. Hoser, you and KT?”

“No joy, Boss,” Hoser replied. “Don't want to do one like that for a while.”

“You, me, and everyone else in the squadron,” Guru told him.

“Dave and Flossy coming,” Kara said as Dave Golen and Flossy, with their GIBs, came over. “Good kill, girl!”

“Nice job, Flossy,” the CO said. “Got the recon bird.”

Flossy nodded, then said, “Yeah, but the pilot? He punched out, but when his chute deployed? It was on fire.”

“Ugh,” Goalie said, and others nodded. Enemy or not, that wasn't a good way for a fellow airman to die.

“Yeah,” Guru agreed. “Better him than us, though. Come on: let's get to the office. Check and see if everyone's OK.”

They were starting to walk that way when a Dodge Crew-Cab pickup pulled up, and out came Master Sergeant Ross. “Major,” he said, snapping a salute.

“Chief,” Guru replied, sketching a salute of his own. “We lose anyone?”

The squadron's senior NCO shook his head. “No, sir. Been checking, and Doc's not busy.”

“Good, “ the CO said.

“Need a ride to the office, sir?” Ross asked. He could see that the aircrews were tired.

“You are a mind reader, Chief,” Guru said. The crews piled into the cab or the bed of the truck, and Ross drove back to the office. “Where's Buddy?” Guru asked, referring to the squadron's mascot.

“He went to the shelter when the siren sounded, sir,” Ross said. “When the all-clear went? He went back outside as if nothing had happened.”

“Good, Chief,” Guru said. “Take care of that dog.”

“I'll second that,” Kara said from the back seat. “Lot of people in the squadron want to take him home when this is all over.”

Ross smiled. “You're not the only one to tell me that, ma'am.” He pulled up to the squadron's office and said, “Here we are, sir.” Those riding on the truck could see General Olds standing outside with his aide, talking with Hacksaw and Sin Licon, and Buddy standing next to the General.

“Thanks, Chief,” Guru said as the crews piled out.

“Anytime, Major,” Ross said.

Nodding, Guru went over to where General Olds was. “General?” He said, saluting.

“Major,” Olds said, returning the salute. “How was it out there?”

“General, that was more like a bar brawl than anything else,” Guru said. “Sir, may I ask if you were outside watching the show?”

Olds grinned. “Major, I will neither confirm or deny that,” he said. And the grin made Guru turn pale.

“Uh, yes, sir,” Major Wiser replied. The last thing he needed was something happening to the General, then he'd be packing for Goose Bay or Gander, instead of Frank. “Sir, if you, uh, were, outside? How was the show?”

“Well, Major, it was....interesting. Never saw an air raid from the ground before.”

“If you say so, sir,” Guru said. “Darren?” He turned to the Intel Officer.

“In five,sir,” Licon said.

“Okay, people,” Major Wiser said to his flight. “Get out of your gear, get to the briefing room, because we're doing this again in an hour.”

“We going to return the favor?” Sweaty asked.

“Hope so,” Guru said.

As he was getting ready to go inside, General Olds called Major Wiser over.”Major, how soon until you know where you're going?”

Guru thought for a minute. “Sir, at least a half hour to forty-five minutes. Why do you ask, General?”

“If it's an airfield, then you can pay back those bastards for what they just did,” Olds told the CO.

“Sir, we hit two airfields already today,” Major Wiser said. “We could go for three.”

“Nothing wrong with that, Major,” Olds said. “Get debriefed.”

“Yes, sir.”
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  #311  
Old 08-25-2016, 09:47 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Getting ready for the next one, and laying the foundation for getting back at the Su-24s:


335th TFS Offices, Sheppard AFB, TX; 1455 Hours Central War Time:


Major Matt Wiser and his flight were in their briefing room, talking over not just their strike mission, but the improvised scramble just completed. It had been a while since anyone had done so, and now, the room was buzzing. People were talking when Maj. Dave Golen, 1st Lt. Sandi “Flossy” Jenkins, and their GIBs came in. “Dave, Flossy,” the CO said. “Good work out there.”

“Guru,” Golen said. “Reminds me of the Yom Kippur War. Day one of that fracas. My squadron's operations officer and his wingman were at Sharm-el-Sheikh on alert when a dozen Egyptians in MiG-21s attacked the base. He got four, and the wingman got three.”

“And minimal damage to the base?” Kara asked.

“That's about right.”

“Nice job on the recon flight,” Guru said. “Flossy got her sixth.”

Hearing that, Flossy smiled. “Just another day's work, Boss.”

“Watch it,” Sweaty said, giving some advice. “Soon, you'll be in a rut. I'm in one right now, and Kara just got out of one.”

“First Fencer,” Kara said with pride. “Not that often we run into those.”

“Be glad we don't,” Goalie said. “Those things stay low to the ground, and even without their jammers, they're hard to pick out with radar,” she spat.

'Tell me about it,” said Preacher. “It was a bitch picking them out of the ground clutter.”

KT nodded agreement. “You said it, brother.”

“Not the first time,” Guru noted. “I've had run-ins with Fencers more than once. One of my probables is an Su-24. Jumped him just north of the Colorado-New Mexico line.”

“Before you and Tony Carpenter went skydiving,” Goalie said. It wasn't a question.

“Yep. Rolled in on him, couldn't get tone, so I took a gun shot. Put some 20-mm into his right engine, he starts streaming fuel and rolls down into some low clouds. Mr. SAM came up just then, and we were busy for a little while,” Guru said, recalling that engagement. “Never did see him crash.”

Then the Intel Officer came in. “Boss,” Sin Licon said. “This has been the wildest afternoon in a while.”

“Tell us about it,” Guru said. “Now that I think about it, I do feel like Taylor and Welch at Pearl Harbor.”

“But without the tuxedo shorts,” Kara laughed.

“Yeah, I can see you wearing those,” Hoser quipped, and there was some laughter all around.

The intel nodded, then said, “Boss, can we get this going?” He unfolded a map and brought out several photos, both high- and low-level imagery of the Hillsboro Airport.

“Made my run,” Guru said, and put my Rockeyes on a Hook or Halo on the east ramp.” He pointed to the new ramp area east of the runway.

“Get any secondaries?” Licon asked.

“Had a big one,” Goalie said.

Kara nodded. “I'll confirm that,” and Brainiac nodded agreement.

“All right,” the Intel said. “How about you, Kara?”

“Put my CBUs on the hangars, and there was an An-24 or -26 parked near them.”

“Secondaries?”

“Got one from the transport, and there may have been one in the hangars,” Brainiac said. “Something blew besides the plane.”

“We can verify that,” Sweaty said, looking at Preacher, who nodded. “Something in one of those hangars went up.”

“And what did you have?” Asked Licon. “The runway?”

“That we did, and put several Mark-82s on it.”

“Nobody tried to take off,” Preacher chimed in.

“And Hoser?” Licon asked.

“Fuel dump, here,” Hoser said, pointing to the location on a photo.

“And we had a big boom,” KT added. “Several of 'em.”

“Good,” said the intel, who was taking notes for his write-up. “Now, resistance?'

“Some flak, and some SAMs, but the missiles weren't radar-guided,” Guru said. “Weasels did their job.”

“Took care of a couple of gun radars, too,” Sweaty added.

“Any heavy SAMs come up?” Licon wanted to know.

“Negative,” Kara said. “Weasels must've kept them quiet.”

Guru nodded. “I'll second that. None of the Army-level stuff came up.”

“So, just guns and some SA-9 or -13?” Licon asked.

“Pretty much it,” Sweaty replied.

“MiG activity?'

“Had two flights chase us,” said the CO. “Four MiG-21s and four Floggers. Led them right to the Fence, and a wall of Eagles.”

Licon nodded, and asked, “How many did they get?”

“Two or three of each,” Kara said. “I think.”

“Okay, and now....the excitement just ended,” Licon chuckled. “Major, what happened?”

“I just told people to mount their aircraft,” Guru said. “And when I taxied out, they followed.”

“After clearing the field, what then?”

“We just cleared I-44 and turned south when we saw at least two Su-17s starting to do a lob-toss maneuver,” Kara said. “I locked one up and took a Sparrow shot. Missed,, though.”

“I took a double shot,” Sweaty added. “One burned out and fell away, the other was tracking, but a HAWK came up and blasted the guy before the second Sparrow hit.”

Hoser said, “Fencers came in right after that.”

“They did,” Guru acknowledged. “Took a couple of Sparrow shots.”

“Same here,” Kara said. “Shot my second one, and Hoser? You did, right?”

Hoser nodded. “Sure did, and then they started jamming. Nobody scored.”

“I'll go along with that,” Major Wiser said.

“Radar turned to snow,” Goalie added. “Those jammers did a good job on us. Then Dave Golen called for us to break, and MiG-23s came in.”

“We broke,” Kara said, then saw the Hornets come in on the Floggers. Rolled in behind the Tail-end Charlie of the Fencers, and Guru took a Sidewinder shot.”

The CO nodded. “I did, but lost tone just as I pulled the trigger. Got tone again, took a second shot, then had to pull up into a yo-yo. Didn't see what happened next.”

“I did,” Kara said. “Your missile took a flare, and that guy was dumping flares and chaff, then a Stinger flew down his intake and the plane blew up.”

“Based on that, Major,” Licon said. “The CSPs get credit for this one.”

Goalie patted her pilot on the shoulder. “Can't get them all,” she said.

“I know,” the CO replied. “We pulled up to get away from the ground fire, then Goalie called out a C-130 coming in. He tried to abort, but an Su-17 made a pass on him, then again after he crashed.”

“Any word, Darren?” Sweaty asked. “The crew, I mean.”

“No, and I did ask. They're clearing the wreckage, and filling in bomb craters. Runway should be operational by first light tomorrow,” Licon said. “They didn't use their anti-runway bombs for some reason. Either they're running low, or they're out.”

“Cadillac Flight came in, and the CO invited the Exec to the party,” Kara said. “Latched onto an Su-24 element, and locked up the leader. Fired a Sidewinder, and it tracked to a flare. They broke, and I stayed with the leader. Took a second shot, and it hit. Saw the crew punch out.”

“Any witnesses?”

“Both of us saw it,” Goalie said, and the CO nodded.

“Same here,” Sweaty added, and the rest of her element nodded as well.

“Okay, based on that, Kara has number nine,” the Intel said. “Sorry, Boss, but you're no longer tied for top gun in the squadron.”

Guru looked at Goalie, who shrugged. “We'll get out of this rut sooner or later,” he said. “Any word on downed Russians?”

“They've picked up a few, sir,” Licon said. “CSPs and Marines have some. So has the Army. The Resistance is out, and they've turned over a couple to the Marines-pretty much the worse for wear, but still alive. But a couple...”

“Got themselves lynched,” said Preacher.

“Yeah. We need to keep talking to those people, because it's kind of hard to interrogate a corpse. Just as they did with the Indian tribes. Anyway, after the kill?”

“Saw the wingie run into Scorpon and Cosmo. He missed, but she and Revlon didn't,” Guru said, and heads nodded at that. “Looks like the 'unmanned' team got another one.'”

“I'll talk with them, but since you guys are confirming it, yeah,” Licon nodded. “The recon flight?'

“Dave and Flossy jumped those guys,” Kara said. “Flossy got the recon bird and the Floggers broke for home.”

“Okay, I'll talk with them, confirm hers, and check the strike camera film. No word from the prisoners yet on where they flew from, but chances are, it's probably Bergstrom at least, if not San Antonio.”

“No way can we get that far south,” Hoser noted. “Not without tankers over Red territory.”

“SAC still owns the tankers,” Goalie pointed out. “No way will they let that happen.”

Licon nodded. “You're right about that,” he said. “Major, anything else jump out from you? Or anyone else?” The CO shook his head, and others did the same. “Thanks, everybody. I'll get this off to Tenth Air Force. After I talk to the Exec's and Major Golen's flights.”

“Okay, Darren,” Guru said. “You're a busy little worker bee today.”

“Tell me about it!” Licon said. “Uh, sir. They told us there'd be days like today.”

“No doubt,” the CO nodded. “See you later.”

The intel smiled, gathered his materials, and went off to talk to the Exec's flight.

Sweaty looked at her CO. “Now what?”

“Get something to eat, check your desks and clear any paperwork, because we're back at it. We've got time for one more mission, so be back here in forty-five.”

“Got it,” Kara said, and the others nodded.

“Good, and Kara?” The CO saw his wingmate look at him. “Find out if they already have something for us, and see if they have any ideas as to where these chumps flew from.”

“Will do,” nodded Kara.

As people filed out, Goalie saw her pilot thinking about something. “What is it?”

“Come with me to the office. I need to see a map, and I want your opinion on something,” Guru said. They both left the briefing room and went to his office. When they got there, Guru told his secretary, “No calls.” She nodded, and the two crewmates went into the office. Guru went to a filing cabinet and pulled out a TPC navigation chart and spread it on his desk. “Okay, you're Ivan's theater air commander. Where do your park the Su-24 force at night?”

Goalie looked at the map and whistled. It had been a long time since she'd done anything like this, and that was at the Academy. Guru watched as she went over the map. Then she unhesitatingly pointed at one city. “San Antonio area. There's three fields big enough: Kelly, Randolph, and San Antonio International. Too far south for us to hit, except with F-111s or maybe A-6s, and it's pretty well defended.”

“I'll buy that,” Guru nodded. “Now, where do you stage them from? They don't have tankers. At least, as far as I know.”

Goalie nodded back. “Bergstrom, Gray AAF at Fort Hood, the old Connelly AFB at Waco, Brownwood Regional. Then there's Austin and Temple airports, and Waco's as well.'

“I agree. Now, we can't hit their main field, but we can do something bad to their staging base, whichever one that is. Now, this is between us for now, but I'll talk to Mark and Van Loan. Dave Golen, too.”

“Kara?”

Guru nodded. “We'll need her. She thinks outside the box, and we'll need her anyway. I'll want you to talk to some of the other GIBs: Preacher, KT, Brainiac, Digger, Revlon, and so on.”

“What about General Olds?” Goalie asked. “Or Colonel Brady?”

“I'll talk to the General tomorrow, because he'll be at our table tonight, and we'll all be busy swapping stories. Tomorrow, though....and the same for Colonel Brady.”

“We're really going to do this?” Goalie asked.

“May not be for a few days at least. Hell, maybe a month or two,” Guru acknowledged. “But we're taking the twelve best crews in this squadron. And we're going to do this.” He looked at his GIB. “I don't want to just hit a staging area with our flight, put a few holes in a runway, and catch a couple of stragglers on the ground-along with whatever fighters are there. No. I want a whole fucking Fencer regiment, on the ramp, with their pants down as they're refueling and rearming. Think Nagumo's carriers at Midway when the SBDs came calling.”

An evil-looking grin came over Goalie's face. “I like it. This going to be our Operation BOLO?”

The CO grinned as well. “You got it. Now, don't talk to anyone until I get Mark and Don's input. And above all, don't talk about this if Frank is in earshot.”

“Got you.”

Guru nodded, then glanced at his IN Box. “Well, the elves didn't do their thing while we were gone. I need to take care of this. You need to check your desk, get something edible inside you, and get ready for the last one.”

“On my way,” Goalie said.

“All right. See you in thirty-five,” Guru said.


After she left, Guru attended to the paperwork, then followed his own advice. After a quick bite to eat, he went over to the Ops Office. There, he found Capt. Don Van Loan, the Ops Officer. He was getting ready to go and brief his own flight before going out. “Don,”

“Boss,” Van Loan said. “Heard you guys did a Taylor and Welch imitation.”

“We did,” the CO acknowledged. “Only without the tuxedo shorts, and Kara was the only one in the flight who got somebody. Flossy got another, though. Where were you?”

“Halfway through the turnaround when the sirens howled. Started to run for the shelter,” Van Loan said. “Then we saw General Olds and his aide, plus the reporter and her crew staying right where they were. Figured they were more brave or foolish than we were, so we stayed to watch. Hell of a show.”

“I'll bet. And I do want to see the news footage. Anyway, I have an idea about the chumps who did this to us, and want to return the favor. Not tomorrow, it'll be at least two weeks if not longer.”

“Got you,” Van Loan replied. “Who else knows?”

“Just Goalie. I'll talk to Mark when I get back,” Guru said. “You do not say a word to anyone. Clear?”

“Clear as a bell, Boss.”

“Now, what's next for me and my flight?”

Van Loan nodded, then handed the CO a briefing packet. “Right here: suspected missile support facility. Northeast of Morgan on Route 174.”

“This is in the East German sector, you know,” Guru replied.

“I do, and no Weasels are available. Just you guys and your ECM pods.”

Guru nodded. “Nothing new there. Okay, thanks, Don. And you be careful out there. Don't want to break in Kara as Ops Officer just yet.”

Hearing that, Kara rose from her desk with mock indignation. “Major, I resent that!” Hearing that, the ops people laughed.

“We all know paperwork's not your strong suit,” Guru said, and there was another round of laughter.

“Guilty,” said Kara. “But I'll get used to the job.”

“I know. Now, round everyone up in our flight.”

Kara got serious. “We have a mission.”

“We do. Get everyone in our flight to the briefing room in five,” Guru said. “Dave and Flossy aren't coming with us.”

“Got you,” she replied, then went out to get the CO's flight together.

“Don,” Guru said. “Remember what I said.”

“Will do, and Boss? You be careful. Don't want to be Exec yet,” the Ops Officer told him.

“You know what?” The CO asked. “I told Rivers that I didn't want to be CO yet, once I got the XO slot. Told him every time I could before a mission. Only one time I didn't say that.”

“When was that?”

The CO's face went serious. “Before he went down. So keep reminding me.”

“Will do,” replied the Ops Officer.

“You do that,” Guru said. “And good luck.”

“Same to you, Boss.”

They shook hands, then the two of them went to brief their respective flights. When Guru got to his flight's briefing room, Goalie was there, waiting. “We've got a mission,” he told her.

“Then let's get it done,” Goalie replied. “We've got company for the brief.”

Guru had an idea who it was, so he just shrugged and opened the door. The rest of the flight was there, and so was a now-familiar face. General Olds and his aide were also in the room. “General,” Guru said.

“Major,” Olds said. “I wanted to sit in on your last one for the day, if that's fine with the CO.”

“Not a problem, sir,” Guru said. “Gather round, people. Here's our last one of the day.”

“We going for an airfield?” Sweaty asked. “Pay those SOBs back for this afternoon?”

“Not today, but that'll be in the future,” Guru said. He opened the briefing packet and laid out the photos and map on a table. “We've got an unidentified missile support facility, two miles northeast of Morgan on Route 174.”

“Scuds?” Kara asked.

“Doesn't say, so it could be Scuds, or SAMs, SS-21s, FROGs, who knows? This is in the East German sector, by the way,” Guru told his flight. “They're using an old ranch for this, and see the brand-new buildings? Dead giveaway they're doing something here.”

“Swell,” Hoser said.

“The target's on the east side of Route 174, just past the intersection with F.M. 1140. There's a ranch airstrip to the west, and it looks like it's being used. So, Sweaty? If you and Hoser see that old ranch going up like the Fourth of July? Hit the airstrip and anything on it.”

“Got it. We don't bring ordnance back,” Sweaty nodded.

“That we don't,” Guru said. “Ordnance load is the same for all of us: twelve Snakeyes: six Mark-82s centerline, six M-117s on the wing pylons. Two fuel tanks, usual air-to-air load, ECM pod, and twenty-mike-mike.”

Heads nodded. Nothing new here. “Defenses?” KT asked.

“Just guns on these photos,” replied the CO. “ZU-23s or quad ZPUs by the looks of 'em, but assume they have heavier stuff as well. We are in the engagement envelope for Army-level SA-4, and are close to the edge for the Waco North and South SA-2s.”

Goalie looked at her pilot. “Weasels coming?”

“Negative,” Guru replied. “Watch for MANPADS, by the way.”

“Which the bad guys have in quantity,” Braniac said.

“They do,” Guru noted. “All right: bailout areas, MiG threat, tanker tracks, and weather? All unchanged from this morning.”

Kara looked at her CO. “You sure? After this afternoon's excitement?”

“This got laid on before that, so yeah, there might be more up than usual. Remember, though: we do not engage unless jumped or AWACS directs us onto a bad guy. Comprende?”

“Gotcha, Major,” Kara said, and the others echoed that.

“Good. One last thing, people! No room for complacency here. We fly it like it's the first one of the day. Understood?” Heads nodded. “Okay, that's it. Gear up and we meet at 512.”

As the group went to gear up,and Guru packed the briefing materials away, General Olds came over. “Good brief, Major. Short and sweet.”

“Thank you, sir,” the CO replied. “Try my best to keep things that way.”

“Good for you, Major,” Olds said. He regarded Guru. “You've got the look on your face, Major. I can tell. Someone told me I had the same look when I was thinking up BOLO. You've got a concept for a mission.”

“General, I'd be lying if I said no. Yes,sir, I've got a mission in mind. I need to talk with a couple people, then tomorrow, I'd like to discuss this with you and Colonel Brady.”

Olds nodded. “Fair enough, Major. Not only may you need Marine assets, but also help with General Tanner,if necessary. Not a problem. I'll be glad to lend an ear.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Major Wiser.

“You're welcome. Now, you've got a mission to fly. When you get back, we'll swap some stories.”

“Yes, sir,” Guru said.

“Good luck, and be careful out there. And Major?” Olds said to Guru with due seriousness. “Bring everybody back.”

“Try my best, sir,” Guru said. He shook hands with the General.

“All you can do,” said the General. “Major, you have a good mission.”

“Will do, sir.” Guru said. He headed on to the locker room, and got into his flight gear. When he left the locker room, he found Goalie there, waiting. “Ready?”

“Time to go to work,” she said.

Nodding, Guru said, “Let's go.”

They left the building, and as they walked to squadron dispersal, the two found Dave Golen, Flossy, and their GIBs, going over their own mission. Golen spotted them, and said, “Guru. And Goalie.”

“Getting ready?” Guru asked. “It may be the last one of the day, but treat it like it's the first.”

“Always,” Golen said.

“Good. You have a good one. You still Mustang Flight?”

“That's right. And you are still Camaro?”

“You got it,” Guru said. “You hit trouble, holler.”

“Likewise,” the IDF “Observer” said. He'd done a lot more than “observe,” for which a number of people in the squadron, Guru and Goalie among them, were very grateful. “And good luck.”

“You too,” Guru replied. He turned to Goalie. “Let's go fly.”

“Ready,” Goalie said.

The two went to 512's revetment, and found their flight already there, waiting. “Boss,” Kara said. “You've got 'the look'. Like you've got a mission in mind.”

“I do, and I'll need to talk to you either today or tomorrow about it. The only other ones who know are Goalie and Ops. I need to talk to Mark as well. Then General Olds and Colonel Brady for sure. That's all anyone needs to know for now,” Guru said.

“What kind of mission?” Sweaty asked.

“I'll fill you in on it when it's time. Now, to the business at hand,” Guru said.

Kara nodded. “Usual procedures on the radio?”

“Yep. Mission code to AWACS and other parties. Call signs between us. Dave Golen and Flossy have their own mission, but they're Mustang Flight. If we hit trouble, I'll holler, and Dave will if they need help.”

“And MiGs?” Hoser wanted to know.

“We all saw how the Sparrows worked today,” said Guru, with a grim smile on his face. “Same drill as earlier: we don't engage unless we're jumped or AWACS tells us to. Now, if we jump a strike or recon flight, or come across a helo? Different story.”

Kara smiled. “Good to know,” she said.

“It is,” the CO acknowledged. “Now, remember what I said about complacency?” Heads nodded at that. “Good. Time to fly. Let's hit it.”

The group broke up as the crews headed to their aircraft. Guru and Goalie went to 512, where Sergeant Crowley was waiting for them. “Major, 512's ready to go,” he said, snapping a salute.

“Good, Sarge,” the CO said. He and Goalie did their preflight walk-around, then after Guru signed for the aircraft, pilot and GIB mounted their bird. They went through the preflight checklist, and as they did, Guru asked his GIB, “Wish we were hitting the Fencers?”

“I'd be lying if I said no,” Goalie replied. “But their time's coming.”

“It is that,” Guru said. “Just not today.”

“Too bad,” she muttered. “Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom. Check yours,” Guru replied. “Arnie?”

“ARN-101 up and running. Preflight checklist complete. We're ready.”

Guru replied, “Ready for engine start.” He gave his CC a thumbs-up, and Sergeant Crowley gave the “Start Engines” signal in reply. First one, then both, J-79 engines were soon up and running. Then he called the Tower, which, thankfully, had been working out of a small field tower, due to the prewar tower being booby-trapped. Until the Fencers had dropped it. “Tower, Camaro Flight with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Camaro Lead, Tower,” the controller replied. “Clear to taxi to Runway Three-three Lima. You are number four in line, and hold prior to the active.”

“Roger that, Tower. Camaro Lead rolling.” Guru then gave another thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who then signaled the ground crew to pull away the chocks around the tires. Then Guru saw the CC give him taxi signals.
Guru taxied 512 out of the revetment, and after he cleared the revetment, Crowley snapped a perfect salute, and both pilot and GIB returned it.

As they taxied, the rest of the flight fell in line behind 512, and, as the Tower had told them, they were fourth in line. Van Loan's flight was actually number one, then two Marine Hornet flights, then it would be their turn. Van Loan's flight went, then the Marines, then it was their turn. Guru taxied to the holding area, where the armorers removed the weapon safeties. Then he called the Tower. “Tower, Camaro Flight requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Camaro Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are calm,” the controller replied.

“Roger, Tower.” Guru said. He taxied 512 onto the runway, and he and Goalie did a final check. As they did, Kara taxied 520 into his Five O'clock. Guru and Goalie glanced at their wingmates, and both Kara and Brainiac gave the thumbs-up. They returned it, and then it was time. “Ready?” he asked Goalie.

“Let's go,” she said.

“Canopy coming down,” he called, pulling down his canopy and locking it. Goalie did the same, and a quick look showed 520's crew having done the same. Now, it was time. “Tower, Camaro Lead requesting clearance for takeoff.”

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

Guru ran the throttle to full power, and released the brakes. 512 rolled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right alongside. Thirty seconds later, it was the turn of Sweaty's element. Once they were in the air, the flight formed up and headed south towards enemy territory.
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  #312  
Old 08-25-2016, 10:00 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Making some East Germans regret coming to America....



Over Central Texas: 1555 Hours Central War Time:



Camaro Flight was just south of the FLOT, and following the Brazos River. The boundary between the Nicaraguans and the East Germans was a natural ingress/egress route for strike birds going into this part of Texas, and the fact that the Nicaraguans' enthusiasm for the war had significantly cooled helped.

“Granbury dead ahead,” Guru called. He adjusted his course a little to the east, for though the Nicaraguan gunners at the U.S. 377 bridge might not shoot, the East Germans across the river would, in all likelihood.

“Got it,” Goalie said. “Flak to the west,” she called. Sure enough, the East Germans on the West side of the Brazos River were shooting, but the flak was well behind the strike flight. “Four minutes to Lake Whitney and the turn point.”

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “Arnie?” That meant the ARN-101 DMAS system.

“Still going.”

“Copy,” said Guru. He glanced at his radar repeater, then his EW repeater. Clear so far. “Crystal Palace, Camaro One-one. Say threat.”

“Camaro One-one, Crystal Palace,” the AWACS controller replied. This one was female, by the voice. “Threat bearing One-four-five, for eighty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-six-five for eighty-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing One-nine-zero for ninety. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace,” Guru said. Then he got on the IC. “Anything on our radar?”

“All clear,” Goalie said. “For now.”

“Yeah,” replied Guru. “How far to the Nemo Bridge?” That meant U.S. 67.

“One minute.”

In their cockpits, the pilots were concentrating on flying and keeping a visual eye out for threats. The GIBs, meanwhile, were watching their navigation equipment, checking the EW display, and also keeping up with their visual scanning. That had been something that their RTU instructors had drilled into them, whether peacetime in Guru's case, or wartime, like everyone else in the flight. It was an old fighter pilot maxim that “What you don't see is what kills you.” The strike flight headed on south, and they came close to the U.S. 67 bridge. “Flak at one,” Guru called. Sure enough, the East Germans across the river were shooting, while the Nicaraguans were silent.

“Got it, Lead,” Kara replied. “There's traffic on the bridge.”

“Not their time,” Guru replied.

“Wish it was a free strike?” Goalie asked.

“Catching a convoy on a bridge? You betcha.”


On the bridge, an East German Logistics Major was leading a supply convoy. Ordinarily, he'd be going to a supply dump in their own sector, but the verdammt Amis had bombed his usual depot, so his division had arranged a pickup in the Nicaraguan sector, and what he found had disturbed him. Oh, the Nicaraguans were only too happy to give him what he needed, but their attitude.....It had been “Please, take what you came for and leave. You might bring the Norteamericano aircraft back.” Clearly, these Nicaraguans had lost their enthusiasm for the war, and reminded him of what an uncle had told him about the Italians in the last war. Happy to serve when the Fascists had been winning, but when things went bad....they were hoping the war would end immediately, if not sooner.

Now that his convoy, a mix of IFA trucks from the DDR, Soviet models, and captured American ones, was now crossing the bridge. The Traffic Regulators had been Soviets, and that, at least, had been handled smoothly. His own UAZ-469 jeep had just reached the western side when the anti-aircraft batteries on the west bank suddenly opened fire. The Major turned around to look, and what he saw chilled him. Ami F-4 Phantoms, and they flew right on by. He waited for a moment, fearing that the Amis would spot his convoy on the bridge, then turn around and attack. Only after a minute had passed, and the aircraft did not return did he breathe a sigh of relief. But, he had noticed right away, the Nicaraguan guns on the east side had stayed silent.

“We're clear,” Guru said.

“Roger that,' replied Goalie. “Forty-five seconds to the U.S. 67 bridge.”

They flew past the Lake Granbury Dam, drawing some light flak that the strike crews didn't even see, as it all burst past the flight, then came the U.S. 67 bridge. So far, so good. The only radars now up were on the East German side, but none were a threat-so far.

“Coming up on the bridge,” Guru said. With the winding course of the river, they couldn't always stay on the Nicaraguan side of the river, but so far, no serious threats.

“Copy,” Goalie replied. “And.....now.”

Sure enough, the bridge came into view, and the flak on the east side stayed silent. The guns on the other side, though....

“Lead, Three,” Sweaty called. “Flak at Three O'clock.”

“I see it, Sweaty,” Guru replied.

The strike flight flew by the bridge, and kept on course. “One minute to the 174 bridge,” Goalie said.

“Roger that,” Guru replied. He was still looking out for threats, especially low-flying ones, or such things as radio or TV transmitter towers. You were just as dead if you hit one of those as opposed to a SAM or a AAA barrage. Though the prewar ones were marked on their navigation charts, Ivan had put up some since.....and as they came towards the Route 174 bridge, they flew over a bend in the river that put them over East German territory, then back over to the east side. No flak greeted them this time, as both the East Germans and Nicaraguans were caught by surprise. “That's the bridge. How long to the turn point?”

“One minute thirty,” Goalie called back. The turn point over the lake was opposite the Lake Whitney State Park.
“Steady..” she added. “One minute.”

“Copy,”said Guru. He was keeping an eye out.

“Thirty seconds...” Goalie called as the DMAS counted down both time and distance to the turn point. “And...and....Now!”

Guru put 512 into a right turn, and the flight followed. Fifteen miles to Meridian, One minute. “Meridan next turn point?”

“You got it. Forty-five seconds.”

The F-4s closed the distance to Meridian, and as they got there, Guru turned north. As the flight followed, unknown to them, the townspeople there were waving and even some were cheering. The local garrison was composed of Soviet Army troops from the 231st Rear-Area Protection Division from Minsk, the same unit that had been in the area prior to the arrival of the East Germans. A battalion from the division was headquartered in the town, and the battalion commander was arguing with an East German Police Regiment's Colonel over the proper way to handle insurgent activities. The East German wanted a more aggressive posture, while the Russian knew that there had hardly been any guerrilla action in his sector, and the last thing he wanted was for any of the counterrevolutionary bandits in the area to show themselves. The two were still arguing outside the City Hall when the F-4s flew overhead. Much to the Russian Major's surprise, the East German ran for a shelter, along with his men, while the Russians simply watched the aircraft fly by. And, as had become habit, he took no action against townspeople who had been waving and cheering as the American aircraft flew overhead.


“Morgan coming up,” Goalie said. “Thirty seconds.”

“Roger that,” Guru said. “Flight, Lead. Target coming up. Music on, switches on, and stand by.”

“Copy,” Kara replied.

“Three, Roger,” called Sweaty.

'Four copies” Hoser added.

“Set 'em up,” Guru told Goalie. “All in one pass.”

“Got it,” Goalie replied. It was a squadron rule about no multiple passes in a target area, unless a FAC requested it and the threat level justified it. She worked the armament control panel. “All set.”

“Copy,” said Guru as he turned on his ALQ-119 ECM pod. “Morgan dead ahead.”

“Steady....and...PULL!” Goalie called.

Guru put 512 into a climb, and as he did, radars began to come up. First an SA-4, then the Waco SA-2s also came up. But then he saw the airstrip, then the intersection, just as it was in the photos. And the ranch, which not only had the buildings, but military vehicles. “There it is. Flight, Lead. Target in sight. Time to go to work.”

“All set back here,” Goalie added.

“Roger that,” Guru called as he rolled in.


Below, an East German Army Lieutenant Colonel was fretting over his position. His Missile Technical Unit had been located at a bombed-out ranch, and much to his disgust, there were hardly any air defenses-or ground ones, for that matter. He reported directly to the Army's Missile Brigade, and when he raised the issue with the Brigade Commander, the Colonel was told flatly that there were insufficient air defense assets, and that he had to make do with what he had. Oh, he had a battery of ZU-23s manned by reservists, and a platoon of soldiers with Strela shoulder-fired missiles, and that was it, as far as his unit was concerned. The nearby 43rd Independent Motor-Rifle Battalion's air-defense platoon could help, but the Major commanding that unit was not very receptive. At least, his commander had told him, there was a 2K11 (SA-4) battery about twenty kilometers away, and his location was within the engagement zone for two V-75 sites. That would have to do.

Now, he was trying to get the R-17 missiles checked out and delivered to the launchers who would fire them. There were about forty missiles, along with propellant and warheads, there, and both warheads and missiles needed to be checked prior to delivery to the launch battalions. His technicians-almost all of whom were recalled reservists, went about their tasks, with the efficiency expected in the National Volksarmee, and yet, word was going around that half of the GDR's Expeditionary Force in America had been destroyed, and some had even asked that if they were really winning, why were they back in Texas? The Political Officer and his section, made up of volunteers from the Party's youth wing, were trying to explain that this was only a temporary setback. No more. The Colonel didn't believe it himself, but knowing voicing that was defeatist, and was dangerous, wisely kept such thoughts to himself. He had just gone outside for some fresh air when he saw two soldiers pointing to the south. First the smoke trails, then the black dots growing bigger as they approached. The Amis were coming. “AIR RAID! TAKE COVER!” He shouted, then jumped into a trench.


“Lead's in hot!” Guru called as he went in on the target. He identified the ranch buildings, and this time, the bad guys started shooting almost at once. It was light flak-either heavy machine guns or 23-mm, but there were plenty of tracers coming up. No way, he thought. Not today. Guru lined up one of the newly-built structures on the ranch-what had been ID'd as missile ready buildings. “Steady....” he muttered as one of the buildings came into his pipper. “Steady.....and.....HACK!” Guru hit the pickle button, releasing his bombs, and then he leveled out and began to pull away. “Lead off target,” he called.

In his trench, the East German Colonel huddled with some of his officers and men as Guru's F-4 flew by, then came the sound of bombs exploding. Debris rained down, and as the Colonel cursed the Amis who had the gall to attack his facility. Then two larger explosions followed. He worked up the courage to stick his head out of the trench and saw two of the missile ready buildings blasted apart, and fully ablaze. He started to stand up, then the sound of anti-aircraft fire to the south convinced him otherwise. The Colonel got back into the trench as a second Ami aircraft came in.

Goalie glanced to 512's rear, and saw two large secondary explosions in their wake. “GOOD HITS!” Goalie yelled from the back seat.

“How good?” Guru asked. He had gotten back low, below the SA-4's engagement envelope, and was jinking to avoid the flak.

“Pretty damned good!”

Guru grinned beneath his oxygen mask. “I'll go along with that,” he said as he set course north.


“Two's in!” Kara called as 520 rolled in. She, too, saw the flak coming up, and even saw an SA-7 come up. The Grail missile was just another piece of fireworks, as the missile just flew by without even guiding. No way, Franz.....Kara saw the CO's bomb run, and the secondaries that resulted from hitting two of the missile ready buildings. She grinned beneath her oxygen mask, and lined up a run that would take out two more. “Steady....and....and....”NOW!” Kara hit her pickle button, and released a dozen Snakeye bombs on the target. She pulled wings level and accelerated, jinking to avoid the 23-mm flak. “Two's off target.”

In his trench, the East German Colonel cursed again as Kara's plane flew past, and a dozen more bombs went off in its wake. Then, just as with the first Ami, there were large explosions after the bombs hit. The other two missile ready buildings, he knew. Shrapnel rained down, along with larger debris, and, much to his horror, body parts. The Colonel stuck his head up again, and saw the other two missile ready buildings fully ablaze. He glanced to his left, and saw that a bomb had blown apart the old ranch house, which he had been using as a headquarters. Shaking his head, he started to stand up when another officer grabbed him by the arm and dragged him back into the trench. More Amis were coming.

“SHACK!” Brainiac called from 520's back seat. “We got secondaries!”

“How big?” Kara asked as she jinked to avoid flak, and noticed an SA-4 strobe to her Ten O'clock. She got down low, and the strobe blinked out.

“Big enough!” Came the reply.

“Righteous, as Preacher would say,” said Kara. She picked up the CO's smoke trail and accelerated to catch up with him.


“Three's in hot!” Sweaty called as she came in. She, too, ignored the light flak coming up, and had a pair of SA-7s come up. The shoulder-fired missiles didn't guide as Sweaty came down on the target. The missile ready buildings were well ablaze, but she caught a glimpse of some vehicles. Were they missile fuel trucks? You'll do, she thought. Sweaty lined them up in her pipper. “Steady....steady.....and....and...HACK!” She hit the pickle button, releasing her bombs. Sweaty pulled wings level, calling as she did so, “Three's off safe.”


In his trench, the East German Colonel heard Sweaty's F-4, then the sound of more bombs going off. Then there was sound of several large explosions. The missile fuel trucks! “MASK!” He shouted. The toxic smoke from the propellants was just as bad on you as if you'd been hit by a chemical attack. The Colonel put his gas mask on, but saw that some of those in the trench had no masks. Hopefully, they were upwind of the smoke.....

“RIGHTEOUS!” Preacher yelled. “GOOD HITS!”

“Secondaries?” Sweaty asked as she, too, jinked to give the flak gunners a harder time.

“Big ones!” The GIB shouted.

“The bigger, the better,” she replied. Then Sweaty headed north to pick up the CO's element.


“Four's in!” Hoser called as he came onto the target. He saw that the target area had been pretty well worked over, with numerous explosions and fires, and so he rolled in on the ranch airstrip across from the target. It wouldn't be a perfect run, but he saw what looked like a Hip helicopter parked there. Oh, well.....your turn, Hoser thought as he lined the helo up in his pipper. “Steady....steady.....HACK!” He hit the pickle button, and released his bombs. Ignoring the flak from the missile facility, he pulled wings level and headed out. “Four off target.”


“SHACK!” KT called as Hoser pulled away.

“We get the helo?” He asked, just as his EW repeater warned of an SA-4. He got down low, and the warning went off.

“Think so!”

“I'll take your word for it,” replied Hoser as he headed north, picking up his element lead.


The East German Colonel stood up in the trench and shook his head. The Verdamnt Amis had wrecked his missile facility, and right now, he had no idea how soon his unit would be back operational. His deputy, a Major, came over. “Major, I see you're still alive.”

“Unlike many of us, Comrade Colonel. The medical orderlies are out now, doing the best they can.”

“Where's the Political Officer?”

The Major gestured to a couple of soldiers carrying a litter. On that litter was a badly burned figure, and only the moaning showed he was still alive. “There, Comrade Major.”

No great loss, the Colonel thought. The party man thought that technical problems, or missile techs not having parts they needed, could be solved by Party dogma and a good dose of Marxism-Leninism. Lot of good that did now. “He won't be bothering us again,” said the Colonel. “Now, find a working field phone, and get me Brigade. I need to let them know what's happened, and see about getting us some help. Tend to the wounded, and see what's salvagable.”

“Comrade Colonel.”


“Four in, four out,” Goalie said. “EW shows clear.”

“Not done yet,” Guru said. He was headed for the Brazos River and the Nicaraguan sector. Those chumps had their radars off, looked like. “Crystal Palace, Camaro One-one. Say threat?”

“Camaro One-one, Crystal Palace,” the controller replied. “Threat bearing One-eight-zero for fifty-five. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-six-five for sixty. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing Two-zero-zero for seventy-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger that,” replied Guru as he picked up the river, and got about a mile to the east, then turned north. The last thing the Nicaraguans would expect was American aircraft coming up behind them.

“Two's right with you,” Kara called as she pulled 520 into Combat Spread with Guru.

“Got visual, and glad to see you, Starbuck,” Guru said. “Sweaty, where are you?”

“On your six, about a mile in trail. Hoser's with me,” Sweaty replied.

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “How far to the fence?” He asked Goalie.

“Three minutes,” she replied.

“Copy. Crystal Palace, Camaro One-one. Threats still closing?”

“Camaro One-one, Crystal Palace. Threats still closing. First threat now One-eight-zero for forty-five. Medium, still closing. Bandits are Floggers.”

“Roger that, Crystal Palace. Can you arrange a reception committee?”

In the AWACS, the controller grinned. She looked at the senior controller, who also had a grin on his face. “Copy, Camaro. Stay on course, and there'll be Eagles waiting.” She then gave vectors to an F-15 flight orbiting north of I-20.

“Roger.”

“Two minutes,” Goalie advised.

Camaro Flight kept heading north, and two minutes went by fast. The twin ribbons of I-20 flew by beneath them,
and as they did so, the crews glanced upwards, and four F-15s went by above them, headed south. The crews heard the Eagle drivers on the radio as they engaged the MiG-23s, killing two. Then they joined up on the tankers for their post-strike refueling.

There, they were joined by Mustang Flight, and Guru was pleased to see both Dave Golen's and Flossy's birds there. Both flights headed back to Sheppard, and when they got there, Guru found that they were the last ones expected in. They got into the pattern and landed. As they taxied back to their squadron's dispersal, the crews noticed a C-141 sitting on the transient ramp, while the wreckage of the C-130 caught in the Fencer strike was being hauled away. And, of course, the news crew was filming them as they taxied in.

“They haven't stopped,” Guru noted.

“Did you think they would?” Goalie asked. “I'll bet the reporter's discovered she's an adrenalin junkie.”

“We may find out tonight.”

The fighters got to their squadron's area, and they taxied in to their revetments. When Guru taxied 512 into its revetment, he noticed not just the ground crew waiting, but the Exec. Something was up. He taxied in and shut down, and after doing so, popped the canopy. “Over and done for today,” he said.

“There's tomorrow,” Goalie reminded him. Normally it was the other way around.

“I know, but right now? I'm pooped. Hell of a day,” he said, standing up in his cockpit.

The ground crew brought the crew ladder, and after pilot and GIB got down, Sergeant Crowley was waiting. “How'd things go, sir?”

“Made some East German missile techs reconsider their occupation,” Guru nodded as he did the post-flight walk-around.

“The ones who lived,” added Goalie.

“Good to hear, sir, and ma'am,” Crowley said. “The Exec's waiting for you, Major. Says it's important.”

Guru nodded. “It usually is,” he said. Then he waved the Exec over. “Mark?”

“Boss,” Ellis said. “Our RAF liaison team is here. They came in on that C-141,” the XO said.

“Okay,” Guru replied. “They tell us who's coming?”

“They did,” Ellis nodded in reply as the rest of the crews came over. “74 Squadron. They fly the F-4J.”

“Js?” Goalie asked. “Thought the Brits just the Spey engined versions.”

“They do, but these Js were leased from the Navy prewar. They've been refurbished from AMARC, and wired for Sky Flash. They've been flying out of Bermuda since the balloon went up.”

Kara laughed. “That's some hardship station,” she quipped.

“That's what I said,” Ellis replied. “But they said that between Backfires out of Iceland, hurricanes, and somebody lobbing mortar rounds at them every once in a while, things got exciting. They weren't exactly sitting in a beach chair, sipping iced tea and waiting for the klaxon to sound.”

“Who'd be lobbing mortar shells on that island?” Preacher asked.

“They said something about a Communist cell, and probably whoever they were had Spetsnatz help,” Ellis said. “I told them you were out, and Don's showing them around.”

“Okay, Mark,” Guru said. “My flight needs to debrief. Have the afternoon admin stuff ready, then I'll see these folks. Remember all that stuff about two people separated by a common language?”

“Sure do, Boss,” Ellis laughed.

Something popped into Guru's head. “These people see Colonel Brady yet?”

“Saw him first thing.”

“Good,” the CO nodded. “I'll see you in a few.” He turned to his flight. “People, we need to debrief, and you all need to check your desks. Make sure your OUT boxes are full before anyone hits the Club. Got it?”

Heads nodded at that. “Clear as a bell, Boss.” Sweaty said, seeing Kara blush. Everyone knew Kara's attitude towards paperwork.

“All right, let's go.”
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  #313  
Old 09-17-2016, 09:54 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Next to last for the Fourth Estate:


335th TFS Offices, 1650 Hours Central War Time:


Major Wiser was sitting in his office, going over some papers. No matter what, when he came back, there was always something in his IN box, and the elves never took care of it like they were supposed to. He finished with what needed his signature, then scanned a directive from the Secretary of the Air Force, and also signed by the Chief of Staff. “Well, now. At least we're not avoiding the Marines' mistake,” he said out loud. Then there was a knock on the door. “Yeah? Show yourself and come on in.”

The Exec, Captain Mark Ellis, came into the office. “Boss,” he said. “Got a few things for you.”

Guru nodded. “Just about to head on over, Mark. What have you got for me?”

“Aircraft status report for MAG-11,” Ellis said, handing the CO a paper. “We'll have twenty for the morning.”

“For how long?” Guru asked. “Doesn't take long for us to lose birds once we hit twenty or more,” he pointed out.

“Knock on wood, it'll be a few days. And we're getting two birds from Japan in a few days.”

A smile came over the CO's face. “And we'll have twenty-two. And then we will wind up losing birds. Never fails,” he said. “What else?”

Ellis handed Guru another paper. “Supply requisitions. Nothing major, and the scroungers will be out again.”

“Okay, but remind Ross to hold off on AIM-7Fs until we hear from General Olds,” Guru told his Exec. “That's munitions we're talking about, and I don't want anyone getting in trouble until we have official sanction to do so, and there's one other thing.” He handed Ellis the directive. “We're not pulling the same crap the Marines did.”

'I've seen the Op-eds on that,” Ellis nodded. “All of 'em pretty critical, and that's the mildest thing anyone said.”

“I know. Air Force Times, Stars and Stripes, and the civilian papers: Los Angeles Times, Arizona Republic, USA Today. All of 'em practically calling for the Marine Commandant's head.”

“So what's the procedure?”

“Anyone sixteen and a half or over? CO's discretion. Anyone under that? We send them to the numbered Air Force HQ we're serving under. And that means Tenth Air Force,” Guru said. “I'm not throwing anyone to the wolves. Especially anyone who came out of a refugee camp or escaped occupied territory. Chances are, those people have no one waiting for them, and no home to go back to.”

“And I've seen the news articles on those kids. Suicide rate's three times the prewar rate of teen suicide,” Ellis said, shaking his head in disbelief. “General Tanner say anything?”

Guru nodded, pulling out a paper from a desk drawer. “Says here in this memo on the subject he'd rather resign than be a party to anything similar in the Air Force. And, by what that directive says? He had company.”

Ellis looked at his CO. “So what do we do?”

“Like the directive says: anyone sixteen and a half or older? CO's discretion. Those under that? We send them to the numbered air force headquarters, in this case, Tenth. Things will be handled there.”

“For their sake, I hope it's a lot better than the Marine approach. If they came from unoccupied territory, we can just give them an admin separation and send them home. But for the others?” Ellis asked. “What then?”

“The next person who has an answer for that?” Guru looked at his Exec. “Will be the first. What else?”

“Weather report. Storm coming into the West Coast in a couple days. But it'll pass north of us.”

“So no effect on flying,” the CO noted. “The RAF liaison officer?”

“Waiting outside,” the XO said. “Send him in?”

Guru nodded. “Do that, and you might as well sit in. You'll need to know what we're getting. And this'll be a first for us.”

“Boss?”

“We've never worked with the RAF before,” Guru noted. “If there'd been no war, and no NATO breakup, we would've gone over for a REFORGER or a Crested Cap deployment.” REFORGER was the annual exercise practicing the reinforcement of Europe, while Crested Cap was the AF's sending fighter squadrons to the UK or West Germany for thirty-day deployments to become familiar with the bases and terrain that they were expected to use in a NATO-Warsaw Pact war. The former had gone away with NATO's breakup, but Crested Cap to the UK had gone ahead, thanks to the defense agreement with the British, and it had come in handy, as USAFUK's squadrons had flown on Day One and after.

“Right about that,” Ellis nodded. “Bring him in?”

“Yep,” Guru said.

Ellis went and opened the door, and a male RAF officer in woodland camo, with RAF pilots' wings on the left breast, came in. “Major, meet Flight Lieutenant Steve Lord, RAF. Flight Lieutenant, Major Matt Wiser, CO, 335th TFS.”

“Sir!” Lord said, saluting, open palm, in the British style.

“Flight Lieutenant,” Guru said, returning the salute. “Have a seat. I gather you've talked with Mark?”

Lord nodded. “Yes, sir. Your Exec's filled me in on some things.”

“Fine, then. So, you've come from Bermuda?”

“Some hardship duty station,” Ellis quipped.

“Yeah, sitting in a beach chair, watching nurses from the base, or stranded tourists, sipping ice tea and waiting for the klaxon to sound,” Guru said.

“There were times like that, but then again, there were some people there lobbing mortars at us,” Lord said. “Not to mention hurricanes, and add to that, the Backfires and Badgers from Iceland.”

Guru nodded. “And you've lost people and planes. Including some good friends.” And by the tone of his voice, it wasn't a question.

“Yes, sir. Including a classmate. The sea hides all traces well, and the Atlantic does a bloody good job of it,” said Lord, who was thinking about absent friends. “Wasn't all fun and sun.”

“We're on the same page, then,” Guru nodded. “Not that many of us left in the squadron who flew on Day One.. Just so you know, we're under Marine Operational Control. We have at least eighty percent, if not more, of our tasking as air-to-ground. Mostly CAS and BAI, but we do go after airfields and other high-value targets. We've also got our share of aces in this squadron. And for your information, this squadron's been fighting since Day One.”

“And you're one of the vets, along with your Exec, and Ops Officer,” Lord said. “Mark's told me. And I have met with your Colonel Brady.”

Guru nodded. “All right, How are you fixed for a weapon? And I'm not talking about that Browning Hi-Power in that holster of yours. Ever shoot a rifle?”

“It's been a while since RAF Cranwell,” Lord said, referring to the RAF's equivalent of the Air Force Academy.

Guru thought for a moment. “Okay. Mark? Take our new friend over to Supply and find him a CAR-15 at the very least, if not an M-16. Then have Ryan Blanchard or one of the CSPs give him a crash course in how to care, feed, and shoot the weapon.”

Ellis nodded. “Will do.”

“Since you've talked with Colonel Brady, then you do know the Marines take this 'Everyone a rifleman' mantra seriously. And we're not the only ones: there's a Navy A-7 squadron here, and so....” Guru said. “Just hope you never hear that 'Sappers in the wire', call. That means Spetsnatz or Cuban SOF. We haven't been hit here, but at a couple of previous stops. They didn't get far, but it just shows that we can be attacked anywhere.”

“Understood, sir,” Lord said. He glanced at the two AK rifles on the wall behind Guru's desk. “I see you'd be returning the favor with their own rifles.”

Guru nodded, and looked at him with due seriousness. “Pulled the AK-74 from a wrecked convoy northwest of here. We hit it during their bug-out from the Texas Panhandle, and it's not often you see your own handiwork from ground level. The Army hadn't gotten to that part of the road yet, and there were bodies and weapons everywhere,” the CO said, remembering the scene of carnage on U.S. 287. Blasted and burned vehicles-from tanks and APCs to stolen civilian vehicles, and everything in between. And then there were the bodies.....

“I see....better they had stayed in their home countries, then,” Lord noted.

“Yeah,” Guru said. “But that AKMS? Carried it out with me from the Colorado Mountains. Five months with the Resistance. Saw and did a lot. And saw a few things that no one should ever see, and did a few things that I'm not too proud of. If you want the details, it's in the SERE Bulletin. And I strongly suggest that you-and your crews when they get here, read up on that. There are Resistance groups in our AO, and the information in those issues could come in handy.”

Lord nodded. “I'll let them know.”

“Good. Now, you're bringing six F-4Js, I understand?”

“Yes, sir. Wired for Sky Flash and the SUU-23 gun pod.”

Guru looked at him. “Okay, just so you do know. This won't be like chasing down Backfires or Bears. You'll be up against Frontal Aviation's Varsity. MiG-21s all the way up to -29s. And Su-27s. You guys just might be what we've wanted for a long time: dedicated strike escort.”

“That'll make my CO happy,” Lord said.

“All right. Looks like you guys will fit in. Okay, I need to warn you about two people. First, a friendly warning about my wingman. Captain Kara Thrace. We call her Starbuck after the Battlestar: Galactica character. She's also known as 'The Wild Thing.' She is the best pilot I've got, and is ahead of me with nine kills. Though that should be remedied shortly. Anyway, two pieces of advice: First, do NOT get in a poker game with her unless you can afford to. Second, do NOT play pool with her unless you can either afford it, or it's a friendly. And if you wind up owing her money and can't pay?”

“Sir?”

Guru looked at his Exec. “You want to tell him or should I?”

Ellis laughed. “I'll take it. Steve, if you can't pay her? She has an alternative payment plan. Think the supply shed, a sleeping bag, a camping lantern for ambiance, a radio tuned to AFN for some music, and, well, you get the idea.”

Lord thought for a minute. “She's a nymphomaniac, in other words.” It wasn't a question.

“If they gave out board certifications in that category?” Guru asked. “She'd qualify.”

“I see...And the second?” Lord asked.

“Stay away from one Major Frank Carson,” Guru said with due seriousness. “He's been a thorn in my side, and before that, my predecessor, for a while. A combination of Boston blue-blood snobbishness, a wannabe martinet, a feeling of 'privileges due the privileged,' and the fact that he's an AF Academy grad who thinks that because he went to the Academy, he's entitled to whatever he wants in the Air Force.”

“Insert whatever adjective you want,” Ellis added. “Loathed, despised, hated, whatever. We call him 'The 335th's Frank Burns.'”

Lord nodded. “He's a pilot?”

“Unfortunately,” Guru said. “We still need warm bodies in cockpits, and so....Just keep whatever interaction between the two of you to the polite minimum.”

“Very well, sir,”

“Enough of the 'sir'. We go by first names or call signs in this squadron, and keep the spit-and-polish to the minimum. We're in a war zone, and we can do without the jumping-up-and-down crap,” Guru said. “My call sign's 'Guru'. What's yours, or do you have one?”

“They call me 'Jack,' for some bloody reason,” Lord replied.

“You don't look like Steve McGarrett,” Guru quipped.

“You're not the first person to say that,” Jack said.

“All right: there's also this. We've got a reporter with us from a TV network in Australia, along with a crew. You don't have to talk to her unless you want to. Second, we've got Major General Robin Olds with us. He's been here for a few days, and will be for a few more. If you want to know what it was like to kill Me-109s and Fw-190s in WW II, then MiGs in Vietnam, be close to my table tonight. We'll be swapping stories.”

“Operation BOLO, then,” Lord said. “It'll be a honor to meet him.”

“And Chuck Yeager's coming in a few days,” Guru went on. “He's showing off the F-20, and may be recruiting people for that program. Which reminds me: if you want to fly with us? You need an Air Force Flight Physical.”

Lord nodded. “I'll take care of that as soon as possible,” he said.

“Mark? First thing tomorrow before you fly? Get him over to Doc Waters,” Guru told the Exec. He turned to Jack. “Doc's our Flight Surgeon. Listen to him, and do whatever he says, because he outranks all of us when it comes to anything medical.”

“Will do,” the Exec replied.

Jack nodded. “Just like the RAF, uh, Guru.”

The CO nodded, then stood up. “Welcome to the 335,” he said, putting out his hand.

Lord shook it.”Thank you.”

“You're welcome,” Guru said. “Now, why don't you wait outside for a moment? The XO and I need to talk about a couple of things, then we'll head on over to the O-Club. You can meet the other animals in the zoo.”

“Yes, sir,” Jack said. He recognized this polite form of dismissal, and saluted.

Guru returned it, and after Lord left the office, Ellis closed the door behind him. Then Guru asked his Exec. “Well?”

“He'll fit in just fine, Boss,” Ellis said. “Just hope his CO's the same way. Last thing we need is a stiff upper lip type.”

“Or a Colonel Blimp,” Guru reminded his XO. “Remind me to tell Kara not to fleece this guy his first night. Let him get settled in.”

The XO nodded. “Then he's fair game?”

“Just like the reporter and crew,” the CO said. “Anything else?”

“That's it,” Ellis replied.

“Good. Let's get on over to the Club. And introduce him to the other animals in the zoo.”
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  #314  
Old 09-17-2016, 10:03 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Last one of this arc, and an AF legend swaps stories with the 335th and Marines:

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


Major Wiser and Captain Ellis led their RAF guest into the Officer's Club, and the RAF officer was surprised at how a base that had half of its buildings either destroyed or off-limits due to EOD concerns had such an establishment. “You've done pretty well here,” Flight Lieutenant Lord observed.

“You could say that,” Major Wiser said. “Have to have someplace to blow off steam. When we retook the base, folks were hoping to use the prewar club, but it's a burned out shell. After Ivan took the base, they used it.”

“Until the Resistance, somehow, and don't ask how, because we don't, got a bomb inside the base and that building,” Ellis said. “Blew the place-and a bunch of Russians and Cubans-to hell.”

The RAF officer looked at both USAF officers. “And Ivan's reprisals were predictable,” he nodded.

Guru nodded agreement. “Savage would be the proper term. They took five hundred people. Half of 'em inmates from a 're-education camp', half people picked off the street at random, took them about a half-mile from here. They were made to dig a mass grave, then they were all shot.”

“One more score to settle,” Ellis added.

“Among many,” the CO said as they got to the bar. “What'll you have? What the barkeep says is what they've got.”

Lord nodded. “Got spoiled with Bermuda rum,” he said.

“Smitty,” Guru asked the barkeep. “What have you got today?”

“Sam Adams for you, Major,” Smitty grinned. “Bud, Bud Light, Michelob, Sapporo from Japan, and Foster's from Australia.”

“What the Aussies call, 'essential wartime aid,' Guru added, and they all laughed. Even the barkeep. “What'll it be?”

“Hmm.....not much,” Lord thought aloud. Then he nodded at the Major. “Whatever the Major's having.”

“Sam Adams,” said Guru, and the barkeep put two bottles on the bar.

“Bud for me,” Mark said, and after they paid Smitty, he asked, “What'll we drink to?”

Guru thought for a minute. “How about absent friends? We've all got too many of those.”

“Hear, hear,” Lord agreed, and three bottles met. Clink.

“Major,” a familiar voice said. “I see you've met our RAF guest.” It was Colonel Brady. “The usual, Smitty.”

“Sure have,” Guru said as the Colonel came up to the bar. “Sir, have you told him about your, well, extended tour in Southeast Asia?”

Lord looked at Colonel Brady. “Sir?” He knew Brady was a Vietnam vet.

“Hanoi,” Brady replied. “Five years and two months.”

“I see...” Lord's voice trailed off. “And, uh, sir? How would you rate, what's the place? The Hanoi Hilton? If there were a Fodor's guide to such establishments?”

The Marine Colonel smiled grimly. “Five scars,” he said as Smitty put a bottle of Bud in front of him. “Thanks, Smitty.” He turned to the RAF officer. “I'd rate the Zoo as four and a half. Plantation? One. And only because that's where those of us in the third release group were kept from the cease-fire to release day.”

“Ah.....” The RAF had had aircrew held from 1939 on in Germany during World War II, but compared to the Hanoi Hilton, someplace like Stalag Luft III was a real hotel by comparison. “Nothing like a Stalag...”

“Yeah,” Brady said. “That's what we were trained to expect going in. Something similar to that and Korea. Boy, were we wrong.”

Guru nodded. Wouldn't be the first time intel had screwed something up like that. It was one thing to sign the Geneva Convention, but expecting the North Vietnamese to honor it? And the same went for the Soviets and Cubans in this war. “Well..” he said, changing the subject. “General Olds should be here shortly.” Guru scanned the entrance, and noticed more people coming in, including a few from his squadron. And he noticed both Goalie and Kara with their camera and camcorder, respectively. “Excuse me, sir.” Guru went over to his GIB and wingmate. “Brought your cameras, I see.”

“Well, he's at our table,” Kara said. “Got to get this on tape.” And Goalie simply nodded.

“Not quite an Academy lecture, but....something to show our kids one day.”

“Assuming we live long enough to have any,” Kara quipped.

“There is that,” the CO said. “Okay, Goalie? Find us a table. A big one.”

“Got you,” Goalie nodded, then went to get one.

“Kara? Do me a favor,” Guru said to his wingmate.

She looked at him. “What?”

The CO pointed to the RAF officer, who was talking with Don Van Loan, who had just arrived himself. “The RAF liaison officer's here. Do not fleece him his first night here.”

Hearing that, Kara was indignant. “Major! You know me!”

“Yes, I do,” he replied. “Wouldn't look good to our British cousins when they get here. And one other thing: are you going to try and get your money back from General Olds?”

“Have to,” said Kara. “Just like with General Tanner, next time he comes.”

Guru nodded, recalling her defeats at the pool table at the hands of the general who commanded Tenth Air Force. She had lost two games, and $100.00, to the man. “Okay, just remember: He's been doing this since before you were born. And if you lose? Smile, nod, be polite, pay him, then go and get sloppy drunk before Twelve-Hour.”

“Is that an order?”

“Yes,” The Major told her. “And be magnanimous in victory. You'll be even. And if, eventually, you do come out ahead? Then you can gloat.”

Kara grinned upon hearing that. “It'll be a pleasure.”

Just then, General Olds, with his aide, came into the Club, and with them were two familiar faces. Cosmo and Revlon, and they were going over a fight with their hands, and the General was paying attention. Then he matched their hand maneuvers. “Looks like the General is in touch with Cosmo and Revlon,” the CO noted. Then he saw Ms. Wendt and her crew following, and they were filming.

“Old habits die hard,” said Kara. “The old hands in touch with the new.”

“Twenty years from now, we'll be the old hands,” Major Wiser pointed out.

“Assuming we live that long,” his wingmate reminded him.

The CO agreed. “There is that one little detail.” Guru turned to Kara. “Get set up.”

“Got you.”

While Kara went to set up her Camcorder, the CO went over to where General Olds was talking with Cosmo and Revlon. “General,” he said. “Passing along your wisdom to the new generation?”

“Exactly, Major,” Olds said. “One more crew I would've been glad to have fly with me over Pack Six, and I mean that. Hell, I'd take your whole squadron.”

When Cosmo and Revlon heard that, they were beaming. High praise, indeed, from an Air Force legend.

The CO saw that, and was pleased. “Well, sir, said it before, but I'm glad to hear that. And your thoughts...”

“On female aircrew, Major?” Olds said, and he saw the Major nod. “Well, Major, like General LeMay said in Air Force Times: 'Times have changed, and the Air Force has to change as well,” or words to that effect. “

“Glad to hear that, sir,” Cosmo said, and Revlon nodded agreement.

“Good,” Guru said. “Because when he talks? Listen. He's been doing this since well before you two were born.”

“Yes, sir,” Revlon nodded.

Guru turned, and noticed that both Goalie and Kara were waving. “General, it looks like we have a table.”

“All right. I'll buy for these two Sukhoi killers, then I'll join you,” Olds said. “You coming?”

“In a few, sir,” the CO replied. I need to talk with our guests from the Fourth Estate.” He saw Ms. Wendt smile at that.

“All right, then, Major,” Olds said. “I'll see you in a few. Ladies?” He motioned to Cosmo and Revlon, and the two went with the General to the bar.

“Ms. Wendt,” the Major nodded politely to the reporter. “Doing two stories at once?”

She nodded back. “You could say that,” Wendt replied. “And I talked to both Cosmo and Revlon. They'll do a sit-down.”

Guru was surprised, then he replied, “Well, then. Just remember that there are things they can't talk about. Just like when it was with me and my back-seater.”

“Of course, Wendt smiled.

“And I understand you have an announcement to make?”

“Can you keep a secret?” The reporter asked.

“I'm cleared for Top Secret,” Guru said. “What is it?”

She lowered her voice. “I'm staying for a while.”

Guru looked at her as if she'd grown two extra arms and another head. “You're staying.” It wasn't a question.

“Surprised?”

“Yeah. To be honest, I thought you'd be on the first C-130 back to Nellis after your first Scud attack,” Guru told her. “You're made of more sterner stuff than I thought.”

“Thank you,” Ms. Wendt said. “I'll let everyone know shortly. And likely disappoint quite a few.”

Guru looked at her. “That, Ms. Wendt, is an understatement. But, we'll see...” He went to the bar and got another beer just as the mess people came in.

“Folks, we've got two choices: either fried chicken, or salisbury steak,” the Marine Warrant Officer-who was one of the local restauranteurs who'd come on to help in the chow tents, called. “With all the fixn's.”

“Real beef, or 'mystery meat?' Someone called.

“Came from Australia,” the Marine replied. “At least, that's what was on the inspection sticker.”

“That's 'essential wartime aid,' Ms. Wendt,” General Olds told the reporter, laughing as he did so. “Not Foster's.”

After people got what they wanted, it was chowtime. And as they ate, those at Guru's table and nearby listened to General Olds as he recounted his WW II experience.

“August 24, '44,” the General said. “P-38 escort flight over Northern Germany. I was on the far left of three P-38 squadrons escorting B-17s. Spotted bogeys at Eleven O'clock, and I knew they were enemy. Fifty to sixty Me-109s.”

“P-38 against Me-109? How'd that go?” Mark Ellis asked.

“Great fighter, fun to fly, and with a decent pilot, you could whip anyone down low. Well...firewalled the engines, and my wingman, B.D. Hollister, stayed with me, but three and four lagged behind because they were having fuel problems. Lined up the 109s' Tail-end Charlie, and called 'tanks.' Off went the drop tanks, and I was just about to shoot when the engines began to cut out.”

Several pilots recognized it at once. “You didn't switch to your internal fuel,” Don Van Loan noted.

Olds nodded, “Yep, but what the hell, I shot anyway, pilot bailed out, and the plane fell away. And to this day I claim to be the only fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy plane while in the glide mode.”

Hearing that, there were roars of laughter. “Try doing that in an F-4,” Kara said.

“You'd be the one who'd try,” Guru shot back. “Go on, General.”

“Started the engines back up,” Olds continued. “And we charged in, like a pair of hawks hitting a flock of pigeons. The Germans scattered in panic.”

Ms. Wendt was incredulous.“Two against sixty?”

“Put yourself in one of those 109s,” Colonel Brady said. “One of your buddies has just hollered over the radio that he's hit and is bailing out. Everyone in that formation's thinking that somebody's right behind him.”

The General nodded, then continued. “Got another, and B.D.? He got two more in one pass, then I saw a P-51 down below, and where he came from I don't know, but he was being chased by two 109s. So I dove, and dove right past them-too fast. Tried to pull out, and I couldn't.”

“Anyone recognize what this was?” Don Van Loan asked. His major at the Academy was aeronautical engineering, and he knew right away what was happening.

“Compressibility,” T-Bone said. He had gone to MIT and had the same major.

“What's that?” Cosmo asked. Being an astronomy major, that didn't come up.

Van Loan explained. “When you approach the sound barrier in a plane not designed for it, the airflow over the control surfaces is disrupted, the air's compressed, and a shock wave builds up. It's very hard to recover from.”

“It is,” Olds acknowledged. “But, as I got lower, and into denser air, the controls responded. Had the stick in my gut, and managed to pull out over a wheat field near Rostock.”

“In what's now East Germany,” Kara noted.

“Yeah, and as I pulled out, took so many Gs the rear canopy broke. I'd had enough, and started to head back to England, when tracer fire caught my eye. There was a 109 behind me. This isn't fair, I thought. All I want to do is go home.”

Scorpion asked, “How'd you get rid of him?”

“Couldn't try a climbing turn, as he'd have an easier shot,” the General explained. “So I flat-planed.” He demonstrated with his hands. “Pulled hard left, put the stick in my gut, and forced the 109 to overshoot. The guy did, and I rolled wings level and shot him down.” Olds paued, then went on. “Had two kills prior, so these three..”

“Made you an ace,” said Kara. “Sir.”

“That it did,” the General nodded. The General described some of his other WW II dogfights, then his postwar time, including commanding the RAF's No. 1 Squadron on an exchange tour in 1948-49. “Why did I miss Korea? I have no idea. But my first wife, who was an actress, may have used some of her Hollywood connections to touch base with the Air Force.”

“You guys may be too young to remember Ella Raines,” Colonel Brady said. “Not that many fighter pilots marry an actress.”

“No,” Olds said. “Did the usual staff and non-flying assignments, commanded the 81st TFW in England, and then got tapped for the 8th TFW in Vietnam.”

Guru asked, “How long did it take you to learn the F-4, General? That's normally a nine-month course for a newbie.”

The General grinned. “Did the fourteen-part syllabus in five days.” When he said that, jaws dropped. “Just had a lot more flying experience than the new guys. And when I got to Ubon? Told the guys “I'm the new guy here, but in two weeks, I'll be better than all of you.”

“And you were,” Goalie said. “I remember you saying that at an Academy lecture.”

“Yep. I taught them to dogfight, and then we had to handle the MiG-21s, as they were getting really frisky. Some junior officers had an idea, I bought it, then we planned BOLO. We would mimic F-105s, down to using their call signs, radio frequency, flight paths, radio chatter, even having my F-4s wired to carry an ECM pod.”

Everyone nodded, as the story was taught in fighter training. But the story went on, for the benefit of the RAF officer and the reporter.

Sweaty grinned. “And they fell for it.”

“They did,” Olds said. “My flight got three, Ford Flight got one, and Rambler Flight got three. Seven MiG-21s down for no losses. My only MiG-21, by the way. The other four were MiG-17s.”

“Four?” Jack Lord asked. “I thought you only had four kills in Vietnam, sir.”

Goalie turned to the RAF Officer. “He had a probable that was recently confirmed. So he's the AF's second pilot ace in Southeast Asia.”

“Ah....”

The General then related his other MiG kills, including the two MiG-17s down on 20 May 1967, along with a bridge strike that earned him an Air Force Cross. “The only time I didn't bring a wingman home,” he said, referring to the 20 May engagement, nodding at Don Van Loah, whose uncle had been Olds' wingman. The F-4 crew punched out, but spent the next five and a half years in Hanoi......”And that's my combat career. I”d like to hear some 335th stories, Major.”

“Yes, sir!” Guru said. “First, we've got a half-hour until the Twelve-Hour Rule kicks in, and I think people want to get another round. But before that, I believe our guests from the Fourth Estate have an announcement? Ms. Wendt? The floor is yours.”

The reporter stood up. “Thank you, Major. Everyone, well....what I'm about to say will probably disappoint a lot of you. I'll cut to the chase. My crew and I are staying.”

There was dead silence, as jaws dropped at the news. It was Colonel Brady who broke it. “Staying?”

“That's right, Colonel,” Wendt said. “Seeing what you people are fighting for? We see that on the news every night down in Australia. But seeing it firsthand is something else. Especially that mass grave.”

“Now we know what you people are fighting against,” Scott, the cameraman, added, and the rest of the crew nodded agreement.

“Besides, Major,” Wendt said. “You still owe me and Trevor a backseat ride in one of your Phantoms.”

Hearing that, Goalie turned to Guru. “That was the price of the interview?”

“It was,” Guru admitted. “But I didn't say who'd fly with her,” he replied. He glanced around, and found who he was looking for. “Kara? Next time 520 needs a check flight? You're taking her up.”

“Thanks a heap, Major!” Kara said. “What did I do?”

“Nothing. Somebody's got to do it, and you got picked,” the CO said. “Mr. Scott? You can fly with me.”

The cameraman smiled. “It'll be a pleasure, Major.”

“Likewise,” Guru said. “Kara?” He motioned to his wingmate. “A moment, please.”

“Major, what'd I do?” Kara asked. “Why do I get to fly that prissy reporter?”

Guru looked at her. “Because, Kara, you are the best I've got. That's one reason. And there's another.”

“And that is?” She asked, looking at her CO with a skeptical eye.

“I want you to do your best to get her airsick. We can't take her on a combat mission, and this is the next best thing. I'll go with you, and have the cameraman in my back seat. Show them some ACT, and maybe she won't want to fly again,” the CO said.

Kara nodded. “I know what you're thinking. But...if she's turned out to be an adrenalin junkie, this may not work,” she reminded her CO.

Guru sighed. “ I know. But....if we giver her an E-Ticket ride like at Disneyland, she won't want another one.”

“To be wished for,” his wingmate nodded.

“Yeah.”


After people got their drinks, many-AF, Marine, and Navy, gathered around General Olds' table. “Okay, Major. Like I said: let's hear some 335th stories.”

“Yes, sir,” Guru said. “Ask and ye shall receive. First, though: the E&E is off-limits. The details are in the SERE Bulletin, and in my E&E report. There are a few things that I'd rather not talk about. Saw and did a few things that I'm not too proud of, and there's only a handful of people I've told the full story: Colonel Rivers, rest his soul, a SERE shrink, the intel officer who debriefed me, my GIB-” he nodded at Goalie.

“And if anyone asks me, my lips are sealed,” Goalie declared firmly.

“One other person I talked to, when I was home on leave after coming out. My Mom,” Guru said.

General Olds nodded. “Fair enough, Major.”

“Thank you, sir,” nodded Guru. He turned to Sweaty. “The MiG-29s?”

“Sounds about right,” Sweaty nodded. “First F-4 kills of MiG-29s in MAG-11, and they were AF, not Marines.”

General Olds looked at Colonel Brady, who nodded. “What happened?”

“We were coming back from a strike,” Guru said. “About 30-40 miles east of the Rio Grande, a few days before PRAIRIE FIRE. AWACS warned of bandits inbound, both Hornets and Eagles were busy, so we had to take them on.”

Sweaty picked up the story. “Got two bandits on radar, and Preacher, my GIB, got lock. Guru there couldn't, so he had me take the shot. Sent both Sparrows after him. One fell away, but the other smacked the bad guy in the cockpit, and just before impact, I saw the silhouette of a MiG-29 and called it.”

“That was the wingman,” Goalie said. And the leader does a hard right turn, and Guru pulls a high yo-yo.”

“We did,” Guru nodded. “Climbed up, rolled to keep visual, then stomped left rudder, and put the plane into a 135 degree turn to the left. Went past the Mach in the dive, and came in behind him. Don't think he knew we were there.”

Preacher nodded. “Looked to me like the Angel of Death coming in,” the ex-seminary student noted. He and Sweaty had watched their flight lead's portion of the engagement.

“Got Sidewinder lock, shot one, and it tracked a flare,” Guru continued. “Got lock again, and this one flew up his left exhaust. Blew the whole left tail and stabilizer off.”

Goalie picked it up. “He starts falling away on fire. The canopy goes, the seat fires, and poof! Here's a guy in a chute.”

“General, they all got DFCs for that,” Brady told the General, and it also made the Major-he was a Captain at the time-an ace.”

“It did,” Guru nodded. 'Kay....Kara? Your turn.”

“Uh-oh...” several people muttered.

“Theater indoctrination run,” Kara said. “First day in the squadron. Guru's running things because the CO's off at a conference, and 'tis a stand-down. He and Goalie take me and Brainiac-my new GIB, on my first flight in the squadron. Just north of Las Cruces, MiG-23s came to the party.”

Olds nodded. “How many?”

“Two, General. They wanted a fight, and we gave 'em one. We tangled, they died.”

“And General? First day in the squadron, first flight in the 335th, and she gets her first kill,” Guru said. “How many here can say the same thing?” By the silence, and the heads shaking no, nobody else could. “Okay, that's settled. Who's next?”

Hoser raised his hand. “I'll go,” he said, and related where the CO's flight had jumped a Soviet strike flight that had just attacked Sheppard a few days earlier. Though the CO and Kara had come up empty, he and Sweaty had each shot down an Su-17, and to his pleasure, he'd seen the Soviet pilot bail out into a lake-right next to an Army helicopter unit that was using a State Park as a FOL. “Better the Army caught him than the Resistance,” he finished.

“No way are those people turning in their guns anytime soon,” the General observed. “And I don't blame those people at all for keeping 'em.”

“Just like the Indians in Arizona or Western New Mexico,” Goalie said. “Remember? The Blinder that crashed on the San Carlos Reservation?”

“Oh, yeah,” Mark Ellis replied. “That one.”

Sweaty nodded agreement. “That one happened a few days after Preacher and I joined the squadron,” she said, and her GIB nodded. Sweaty turned to the RAF officer. “The Blinder crew bailed out after a run-in with an F-15. The Indians found them before the Army did.”

“They did,” Sin Licon added. “Scalped, staked out in the desert, and flayed alive. The desert critters were.....at work when the military got there.”

Hearing that, Jack Lord was a bit surprised. “That is a bit of a sticky wicket......And I imagine your intelligence chaps weren't happy.”

“Can't interrogate corpses,” Licon nodded. “Took some convincing, but the tribes did eventually go along with what we wanted.”

“Old habits die hard, Flight Lieutenant,” General Olds said. “Your Maoris from New Zealand had a habit of bashing in the heads of German wounded in North Africa with their war clubs.”

Mark went next, then Van Loan, and all around, Marines included, with the only break being when Doc Waters and his Navy counterparts invoked the Twelve-Hour Rule at precisely 1900.

After a while, it was Flossy's turn. “General? First kill was a Hip. But that's not all. I see the chopper falling in flames, Digger's shouting 'Good shot!' Dave Golen's saying the same thing, and I swear, sir, the next thing I heard was Colonel Rivers' voice, saying, 'Good kill, Sandi.' It's happened every time I splash somebody, and I can't explain it.”

“General?” Colonel Brady asked. “You've been around the block a lot longer than any of us. What do you think?”

General Olds paused for a moment, then raised his glass of club soda. “Lots of strange things happen in wartime. File this under that category.”

“I'll go along with that,” Guru said. He, too, had his own weird experience during the trek over the Rockies.....whatever that.....Snowbeast or Bigfoot was, it was welcome to stay right where it was.

Doc Waters then came over and whispered something to the General, and he nodded. “People, I've been told it's almost 2100, and that means Aircrew Curfew for those on the Flight Schedules in the morning.” He stood up and raised his glass. “Here's to all of you. If I could, I'd gladly lead you all into combat tomorrow. Guys like me, though....we had our turn, twenty years ago over Pack Six and Hanoi. Now, it's your turn.”

“Hear, hear,” Colonel Brady said. As a Vietnam vet who was still flying, he knew the sentiment. Even without that stay in Hanoi.....

After the toast (nonalcoholic), Olds went on. “I'll be around for a few more days. Because I want to see Chuck Yeager when he gets here, and see if those F-20s-along with the pups he's got flying them-are as good as they say they are.”

Guru exchanged glances with not only some from his squadron, but also his Marine counterparts. “Well, General, it'll be worth the wait.”

“I think so, Major. Now, if you're flying in the morning? Time to hit the sack. You've got a busy day ahead, if today's any guide.”

“You heard him,” Brady said.

As people who were flying in the morning headed on out, Kara came to Guru. “He'll be here for a few more days. Good.”

“You want your money back,” Guru noted. “Be careful. General Yeager will be here in a few days.”

“What do you mean?”

“General Yeager might take the both of you. Or General Olds might do it to you and Yeager.”

“I still want my money back,” Kara grumbled.

“Just remember what I said,” the CO told her. “And that tape?”

“I'll get it to the PAO sergeants in the morning.”

“Good. See you in the morning.”

“You too, Boss.” She headed off to female officer country and her bunk.

Goalie came by next. “See you in the morning.”

“0530, sharp,” Guru nodded. “The photos?”

“I'll take 'em to the PAO shop tomorrow. Their photographer can develop them.”

Guru nodded. “Good girl. Just hope tomorrow's not as.....exciting as today.”

“Back-to-back air raids are no fun,” she observed. “You never know. Just as long as we're not on CAS all day.”

“To be wished for.”

“What about this strike you want to fly? When you going to talk to the General?”

“Hopefully, tomorrow,” said Guru. “Have to talk to Colonel Brady first.”

“Think they'll get behind it?” Goalie asked. “And if they do, can we pull it off?”

“General Olds gets behind us? We'll do it,” Guru said firmly. “Our BOLO, remember?”

“Yeah.”

“Get some sleep. Zero-dark-thirty comes mighty fast,” Guru told her. “And I need to take my own advice.”


As the CO and his GIB headed off to their respective tents, Jana Wendt watched them go. “They're winning. But it's not over yet.”

“Jana?” Her producer asked.

“Long way to the Rio Grande, the Major said. Longer still to Mexico City. And how many in this squadron are going to be alive when it's over?”

“Three very good questions,” Scott, the cameraman, noted.

“Yeah. So, get used to Texas,” Wendt said. “Let's get to the truck. I want to send the CO's interview to Sydney. And they can see it on CBS in a couple of days.”


And the next day....MAG-11 and its squadrons got on with the war. With their guests from the Fourth Estate along for the ride.
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  #315  
Old 09-17-2016, 10:22 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And some artwork: a B-52J. This IOTL has been proposed to reeengine the B-52 fleet with more fuel-efficient engines. This J is a converted H model with the 416th BW at Griffiss AFB, NY:
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  #316  
Old 10-07-2016, 07:52 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Fellows, something you don't see much in T2K: fact sheets on warships: The USN's "one-off" nuclear cruisers in the Red Dawn timeline:


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. Duing 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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