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April Retiree's Corner

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. (retired) Robert Barkalow
  • 169th Fighter Wing

I must say, we had a ‘wing-ding’ March Luncheon. Stan Hood invited a couple from his assisted living residence, George and Mary Chassey. George is 96, and during WWII he was a crew chief attached to a P-51 Squadron, the 354th Fighter Wing, 9th Air Force. They were stationed right behind the lines after the Normandy Landing, about a mile behind what battle lines there were. He told us the Germans would shoot at the P-51’s when taking off and landing. Stan and I both presented them with a McEntire hat to George, and an F-16 pin to Mary, which I believe was Stan’s wife’s pin. We also made them honorary SCANG Retirees.

The luncheon crew really enjoyed their presence, and I could tell the Chassey’s enjoyed being there and honored. Later we had a good raffle, which brought in money to our coffers for both our Retirees Account and Speaker monies. Rocky Schofield, Paul Hawkins' son-in-law, who brings him to the monthly luncheons from Summerville, won the big pot. He shared his winnings with us, while Sam Ezzell won one of Whitey Hewett’s famed bowls as a secondary prize. We had more than 60 people at this Luncheon, which surprised me since it was one of those dreary, rainy days.

McEntire History:  We have been honoring the folks who are on our Monument. This month we have selected those on the 1st Column of the large Granite Block which faces west of the obelisk. The names are on the inside portion of that particular granite block. The names are as follows:

-William L. Jeter (Bill), Bill retired in 1983 and died in 2003. If I am not mistaken he used to help run the Falcon’s Nest Club at McEntire?

-P.D. Childress, he died in 2003. At this time I have no other information on him.

-T. A. Brock, he died in 2003. There is some confusion about him. There is a Thomas J. Brock who retired in 1999 as a Chief Master Sgt. and he was a Desert Storm veteran, 169th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, hopefully, the same person.

-William L. Huff, he retired in 1980 and was a Berlin Call-Up as a Tech. Sgt. attached to the 169th CAMS. He died in 2003.

-J. E. Bishop, he died in 2003. Believed to be James E. Bishop who was a Berlin Call-Up as an A2/C attached to the 169th CAMS. Could very well be a Missing Link Retiree (1987-93).

-James H. Ditch, he retired in 1994 and died in 2003. I remember him, he was an administration type and later came to the 240th from the 169th.

-Clyde W. Hanson, he retired in 1986. I remember him well. He was attached to the 240th. I understand he was a great fastpitch softball player.  He died in 2004.

-James A. McFarland, one of our doctors who was an oncologist in private practice. He is believed to be one of our Missing Link Retirees. He died in 2004.

-Eddie R. Elkin, a 1969 Retiree, WWII and Korean War pilot. He was the only SCANG pilot to have flown combat missions in both wars. He flew a night medium bomber in Korea. He passed away in 2004.

-P. B. Paul, he died in 2004. Currently, there is no other information on this person.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a fan of initials on the Monument.

-James A. Bacot, he died in 2004. I knew Jim fairly well, he was in the 240th. He was formerly an Orangeburg Deputy Sheriff and later worked for the Cement Plant in the Harleyville area. He was one of our Missing Link Retirees.

-Troy P White, he was an active member when he died in 2004. He may have been in a plane crash, I'm not entirely sure.

-C. K. Kaiser, believed to be Charles K. Kaiser. He was a Desert Storm Veteran, attached to the 169th Resource Management Squadron. He should be another Missing Link Retiree (1987-93). He died in 2004.

-Price W. Hite, he retired in 1987 and died in 2004.

-Rembert O. Ballington, he retired in 1976 and died in 2004. Currently, there is no other information about him.

April Deployments. One of McEntire’s larger deployments since Desert Storm was to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2012. Around 500 folks deployed. There was a swap-out for some folks during mid-deployment. During the deployment, and these are not final statistics, the pilots flew 1,717 sorties and logged 7,116 hours in the air. The pilots supported 884 joint tactical air requests, 330 troops in contact situations and 376 priority immediate tasks. At that time, the guidelines for fighting Operation Enduring Freedom was rather restrictive, which frustrated our pilots and leaders.  As usual, maintenance, munitions, weapons, and Aerospace Ground Equipment did a bang-up job.

I would be remiss to not mention the forming of the 240th Combat Communications Squadron officially on April 18, 1952. Over the years the flight evolved into two different flights and later two different Squadrons, the 240th CBCS and the 245th Air Traffic Control Squadron. Unfortunately, the 240th had to ‘stand down’ down March 31, 2008, after almost 56 years of faithful service to the citizens of South Carolina and the United States. I was honored to be a part of the 240th for 18 years, a lot of good memories, comradeship, and fine leadership over the years.

Our April Luncheon will be at the Fort Jackson NCO Club April 3rd, and we usually begin around the High Noon time-frame. I have adapted to the Luncheons much better. The main reason is it allows people who want to come from longer distances more leisure time to get there, instead of getting up at 0500. Having the Luncheons at Ft. Jackson also allows many retirees to shop at the PX, Class VI, and Commissary if they choose to. Also, retirees can go pick up medications at the Refill Pharmacy or get new prescription drugs at Moncrief Army Clinic before or after the Luncheon.  The Fort has been a good partner for many of us Military Retirees. I hope to see many of you April 3rd.