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Commentary Search

September Retiree's Corner

  • Published
  • By Robert Barkalow Jr.
  • Master Sgt. (retired)

Our August Luncheon brought out about 50+ people, who thoroughly enjoyed the Luncheon and listening what Major Brian Doyle had to say. He even brought CMSgt Mark Drafts for company and protection, the folks enjoyed the Chief’s visit, especially the Weapons people, I can imagine the stories that cropped out at that table during the Luncheon. Major Doyle probably has become our key featured speaker, he has been with us at least six times. We will have to devise a patch for him with the number 6 on it, like the pilots have 1000, 2000, 3000, or 4000 hours, just a thought, after all I am writing this right after the solar eclipse, what do you expect? We had a first timer, one of my old 240th buddies, Hugh Leitner. Which made up the CFP (Communications Focal Point) team of Gene Clark, Hugh, and I during Desert Storm, we all were there for the August Luncheon.


McEntire History: We are honoring the folks who have passed away on us, and their names are on our Monument. The names are as follows: Daniel L. Vehorn (1976), Howard S. Bossard (1977), Robert L. Brown (1977), Leroy Kelly, Sr. (1977), Robert E. Jackson (1978), Joyce D. P. Swafford (1978), David A. Hatfield (1979), James A. Weston, Jr. (1979), Clyde Craft (1980), Gary T. Haile (1980), Charles H. Sellers (1980), Ralph T. Barnwell (1981), Emmanuel Brown, Sr. (1981), Wyatt A. Corbett (1981), Larry M. Kaney (1981), Henry Stewart, Jr. (1981), John M. Johnson, Jr. (1983), Denzel M. Lawson (1983). In analyzing this group, I am not familiar with many of them, and a majority of them were not retirees, based on the Retirees List. I do recognize Robert E. Jackson as one of our Flight Surgeons, and Commander of the Medical Squadron. David Hatfield was one of our pilots whose A-7 went down in Lancaster County. Their names can be found on the North Side of the Obelisk, upper portion, facing the Water Tower on Horrell Hill.


For the month of September in 1980, the first deployment to Norway, Orland Air Station, Operation Coronet Aim, our deployees got a steady diet of fish is my understanding.. The 169th took the A-7’s over to shore up the cold war activities and work with the Norwegians.


In 1982, the 240th Air Traffic guys went back to their old haunt at Phelps-Collins Field Training Site at Alpena, MI. 57 of us communications guys went to both Eskisehir, Turkey and Nea Makri, Greece. This was part of Operation Distant Drum, and also part of the Rapid Deployment Force. There are several things I remember about this trip, Eskisehir is in the middle western part of Turkey, it was raining a lot, and sleeping in canvas tents was ‘roughing it’. I remember having a Turkish bath, taking a trip to Bursa, which is a Turkish ski resort not too far from Istanbul. We went downtown some when not working to eat and have an adult beverage, the bars were crowded and the cigarette smoke was like fog, the Turks were smokestacks, I believe I still have some of it in my lungs. They would serve something like our peanuts, called “chilies”. They had huge bird nests. I believe storks, along their creeks and rivers that were famous for delivering babies and Vlasic pickles. We rendezvoused in Athens to go home in two C-130’s. The planes mechanically were not in good shape, one had no navigational aids to help, and the other one had no radio. We flew across the Atlantic in formation with the plane with no radio, but navigation leading. We had to spend a day or two in Halifax, Nova Scotia to get repaired before coming home, most of us were out of money by then. We arrived on a Sunday in Halifax, there were hardly any restaurants open, and finally we found a Chinese buffet, because we were starving. It’s funny how you can remember some of these things.


Please mark your calendar for the day after Labor Day, September 5th for our next Luncheon at the Fort Jackson NCO Club, beginning at 1200. We will have a featured speaker from McEntire, and we will have a raffle to augment our Speaker funds. So come see us for some good old fashioned fellowship, and good old fashioned lies, excuse me, embellished stories.