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Commentary Search

November Retiree's Corner

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

We had around 50 folks show for the October Luncheon. We did not have a McEntire featured speaker, we had a Swamp Fox speaker, the main pilot of the Swamp Fox P-51D, Mr. R.T. Dickson. The Swamp Fox P-51D was built in 1944 and is housed mainly in Concord, North Carolina and at times in Georgetown, South Carolina. Mr. Dickson talked to us about the history of the P-51s and the history of the first plane named “Swamp Fox”. The first pilot of the Swamp Fox plane was from South Carolina, and he thought it would be fitting to name his plane after the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion, while he was recently stationed in England during WWII. The first Swamp Fox plane was destroyed. It did not have too many hours on it, due to newer models coming out. The second Swamp Fox plane which is the current Swamp Fox plane came along in 1944, the D Model. Some of our pilots or other folks happened to spot the Swamp Fox at the Georgetown airport, and with some research located Robert T. Dickson, who they now call R.T., and his dad, who originally grew up in the Georgetown area. They are the primary owners of the Swamp Fox. Our pilots ‘adopted’ R.T., and he has really enjoyed the relationship between McEntire people and his family. Mr. Dickson was one of the many pilots to appear at the S.C. Guard Expo during May of this year. He said he learned to fly at age three from his dad, and was officially licensed at age 16. The plane, when it can, goes to many air shows and events all over the country, such as Oshkosh. I believe he said there are more than 200 P-51’s still active all over the world.

McEntire History:  We are still honoring the many folks on our McEntire Monument. Currently, there are 276 names. This month we are honoring the folks that are on the West Side of the Obelisk, upper portion. They are as follows:  Clarence E. Aldret Sr. (1990), Charles H. Honeycutt (1990), Wade H. Rice (1990), Simon Engram Jr.(1991), Vic S. Hannon Jr. (Scotty) (1991), Robert H. Morrell (1991), J. Pearson (1991), C. M. Thompson (1991), M. H. Williams (1991), Orville D. Fetterly (1992), Leo A. Chapmon (1993), Laverne G. Funderburk (1993), Ferrell D. Horton (1993), William B. Easterlin Jr. (1994), J. T. Elliot (1994), Dennie L. Dillard Jr. (1994) and W. T. Allen (Worth) (1994). I have noted some of the names are using just a person’s initials, which makes it hard for posterity purposes, since many people viewing the Monument may not remember who someone is, including me since I may not have known who these people were before my time. If I know them by either another name, or their proper name then I will do my best to let you know who exactly they are.

November brought one of our largest call-ups, Operation Desert Shield and Storm. There were 727 of us called up, although by my count 755 of us were deployed. Thirty-eight from the 169th Resources Management Squadron, 27 from the 169th Services Flight, 17 from the 169th Tactical Fighter Group, 58 from the 169th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 7 from the 169th Mission Support Squadron, 459 from the 169th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 44 from the 169th Security Police Flight, and 105 from the 240th Combat Communications Squadron. There may have been more than that. Some Active Guard and Reserve guys who served as ‘advisors’ who were attached to different units were not counted as Guardsmen. I recall two being in the 240th, Wayne Conroy and ‘Midget’ Williams.

As Halloween approaches I don’t want Buck Buchanan haunting me, so I have to mention the 110th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron being formed up in November, 1950. In fact in The State paper was an article advertising for more men to join the 110th, if interested, they were to contact Lt. Col. Gordon C. Hoffman at the National Guard Armory on Assembly Street.  Almost a year later the unit was assigned to Donaldson Air Force Base, just out of Greenville, South Carolina. The 110th was integrated into the 155th Tactical Control Group, in which Lt. Col. Hoffman was the new commanding officer of that group. The 155th Group ended up being deployed throughout Germany and some were farmed out to different locations in France. After the peace talks in Korea was over, the 110th was stood down, and many of the folks assigned to it were either released from the SCANG or integrated into other units back at Congaree Air Base.

Eighty-seven folks left for Ocean Venture, located at Borinquen Air Base, formerly known as the old Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico. The other folks, including me, went to Gulfport Field Training Site in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Let’s do the November Luncheon November 7th at our usual haunt, at the Fort Jackson NCO Club beginning at noon. Last month I asked for a five percent increase in attendance, I got a five percent decrease, I believe. I give up, just come if you can.