An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Commentary Search

June Retiree's Corner

  • Published
  • By Robert (Bob) W. Barkalow, Jr.
  • 169th Fighter Wing

The May Luncheon was a little different, since we were assigned to the “Ballroom”, but we all adjusted as we always do. Chief Master Sgt. Paul Revels from the 169th Maintenance Group, did very well as our featured speaker, relating to his unusual assignments all over the country, yet he started at McEntire and finishing at McEntire. He admitted he never thought much about us retirees or being a retiree, but after seeing and listening to what transpires during a Luncheon, that peaked his interest. We had around 50 folks show up, and the Chief remembered many. The food was excellent and plentiful as always.

McEntire History: As you have become abundantly aware, we are honoring the names and folks that are presently on our Congaree/McEntire Monument. After submitting names of the folks that are on the Monument, it hit me that I didn’t know anything about some of them, in particular, the more dated ones. If I didn’t know them, perhaps many others also didn’t know anything about them, so I evolved into doing some research on many of them, with the gracious help of Senior Master Sgt. Sarah Edwards, who is assigned to the TAG Building. This month, we are honoring the third or middle column of the large granite block which faces west of the obelisk Monument. There are 15 names in this column, they are as follows:

1. Barron Moreland, III, air traffic control. He retired in 1992 and died in 2006. Barry and I worked together at times in our civilian careers. We both worked for the Department of Mental Health. He was in Public Safety and at the time I was an Internal Auditor. We went on investigations together several times and we also destroyed and recorded confiscated property, such as beer and whisky illegally brought on the campuses. Barry was both a Desert Storm Call-Up and one of our missing links.

2. S. Engram, Jr. (Simon). Simon retired in 1989. He was one of our “missing links”. He also died in 2006. I believe he was in Fighter Group Headquarters. I remember seeing him all the time. I think he was from Camden. His picture is on page 98 in the 40th Anniversary Book, lower picture and on page 76.

3. Vitalis G. Viavoda. Not your average southern name, He was also one of our “missing links”. He retired in 1992 and died in 2007. Vitalis worked the flight line and was called up for Desert Storm. His picture is on page 108 in the 40th Anniversary Book, lower picture. I am not remembering for sure, but I thought he used to come to some of our Breakfasts before he passed away.

4. Donald L. Corley. He retired in 1983 and he passed away in 2007. I would see him and his wife often at Moncrief Army Hospital getting medications. This was during the days when the Pharmacy was in the basement and the customers had to stand in line. Good guy, his picture is on page 76 in the 40th Anniversary Book. A Berlin Call-Up guy, he was a Staff Sgt. with the 169th Materials Squadron.

5. Russell J. Osborne. One of my 240th Radio Ops buddies. Russ retired in 1995 and died in 2007. I went to his funeral in Lexington. Russ was a unique guy, he loved to get you in debates about anything. He loved his Golden Hawk motorcycle, and he loved school. He went back and got his nursing degree and ended up working for the Department of Corrections. He had a horrible motorcycle accident close to Lexington High School and medically things went downhill for him until his departure. His picture is on both pages 137 and 139, upper picture.

6. Thomas P. McGee. He retired in 1986 and passed away in 2007. His picture is on page 110, upper picture. He must have retired right after that picture was taken. At that time he was with CAMRON Maintenance Control.

7. Brosig A. Harmon, Jr. He retired in 1976 and died March 7, 2007. He was a Berlin Crisis Call-Up guy. He was a Master Sgt. assigned to the Headquarters 169th Fighter Group. He was also a Korean War Call-Up as a Staff Sgt. attached to the 157th Fighter Squadron (SE). The lady who lived behind me asked if I knew Brosig. I said no, but I knew the name. She said he was her Mother’s next door neighbor and he would always be in the yard or garden in the Rosewood Section of town.

8. D. R. Bullington (Dewey). Another 1976 retiree. He passed away in June 2007. No other information on him.

9. Edward R. Claytor. Another “missing link”. He retired in 1989. I am guessing one of the Claytor clan? His picture is on page 110, lower picture with the 169th CAMRON A Flight. He passed away in 2007.

10. Gerard C. McKervey. He retired in 1993 and died in 2008. He was a Desert Storm Call-Up, attached as a Tech. Sgt. with the 169th CAMS. His picture is on page 112, upper picture, CAMRON B Flight.

11. Jimmie C. Wright (Ack Ack). One of our WWII pilots. He started out in the P-47s and later switched to the P-51s. I have him listed as both a Korean War Conflict Call-Up as 1st Lt., assigned to the 157th Fighter Squadron (SE) and a Berlin Crisis Call-Up as a Maj. assigned to Headquarters 169th Fighter Group. Later during his career, Jimmie commanded the 169th Civil Engineers. After his retirement in 1978, he later came to work for the Department of Mental

Health as one of our Engineers. I got to know him much better, because the copy machine sat almost in front of my office, and Jimmie was always coming down to make copies, then he would spin some yarns about his WWII experiences. It was fascinating to me. His pictures are on pages 20, 24, 46, and 146 in the 40th Anniversary Book.

12. Hugh L. Turner (Square). Not sure how he got that nickname, but he earned it. He was square with everything he did when I knew him. He ended up being in charge of vehicle maintenance with the 240th, and let me tell you Square made sure you got checked out in his vehicles as well as convoy driving. He was tough, but square with people. Going on weekend deployments, Square made sure we would eat right. He would fix chicken, steaks, etc. You loved to go on deployments with him. He also helped or ran the Lower Richland Ruritan annual festivities of steamed oysters and shrimp at the Fairgrounds. Hugh retired in 1990 and he passed away in 2008. His picture is on Page 140, upper picture.

13. William A. Wright (Will). Will was one of our faithful Breakfast companions. He would bring me memos and edicts put out by the McEntire commanders back then. Some were funny, and I would read them to the crowd, many remembered them. Will loved being at McEntire. His son also retired from there, he would bring Will to the Breakfasts because he knew his father loved being associated with all the folks from McEntire. Will retired in 1977 and passed away July 30, 2008. I attended his funeral.

14. Thomas J. Blessinger. My 240th Operations supervisor. “Bless” was a unique person. He was quite fiery at times, so you behaved yourself not to get on his bad side. I was fortunate, I stayed on his good side, but a few didn’t. Bless came to McEntire from Shaw and the regular Air Force. I believe he was a Vietnam veteran. He knew the Comm business. He and his vault guys would always come up with good inspections when it came to communications security and crypto security. He would always stress that! He loved to smoke a Churchill cigar. I would go pick him up to take him to our Breakfasts when he couldn’t drive anymore. Interestingly enough, my daughter and her husband bought Bless’ property on Tom’s Creek Road down from the base. Bless retired in 1988 and he passed December 12, 2008. Needless to say, another funeral I attended. He is pictured on page 138, lower picture, standing next to yours truly, his favorite Radio Operator?

15. Gregory C. Williamson. He retired in 1992 and passed away in 2008. He was a Desert Storm Call-Up, a Tech. Sgt. attached to CAMS. His picture is on page 111, lower picture. At that time, he was with 169th Munitions Storage.

To wrap this up, our next Luncheon will be June 5th. Come one, come all, we like to see big groups. We will be at the Fort Jackson NCO Club starting around noon. I hope to see many of you then.