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December Retiree's Corner

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

We had about 65 folks to show for our November Luncheon and we had two speakers, unusual, but not the first time this has happened. Also, we had some folks show up that we haven’t seen in a month of Sundays, they were George Grubbs, Dewey Daniels, John Wesley Taylor, Steven George, Mike Hale, and Cheryl Metz. We had no first-timers this time. Graham Heller and his wife picked up the ‘distinguished award’ for traveling the farthest distance, all the way from the Charleston area. Homer Keisler won the oldest present award, 94, and Nelson McLeod, the youngest present award, 57. Our speakers were Maj. Christina Pittman, 169th Fighter Wing chaplain, and Lt. Col. Jason Mascetta, the Active Associates squadron commander. Both of them gave us a lot of information. An interesting note, the last four people to leave the Luncheon were the two speakers and Jean and me. I thanked them for being our ‘featured speakers’ and I do believe they enjoyed hanging out with the Gray Foxes. Nelson McLeod always takes a number of pictures and he usually sends them to me and I try to forward them out to let everyone see who all showed up and hopefully to encourage future attendance.

McEntire History: For those of you who have been following the folks who are engraved on our Monument, I hope you understand that if I knew these folks or knew of them, is strictly my impression of them. Other folks may have seen them entirely different based on any interaction with them. This month, (we are getting close to the end) we are featuring the names on the inside of the 3rd Block, facing north toward the Horrell Hill water tower. However, I have learned some additional information about a couple of the folks who were already recognized. 

I had hardly any information about these two individuals. John S. Sarson, come to find out he was a full-time biomedical technician in the clinic. I found his picture on Page 106 in the 40th Anniversary Book, top picture, at that time he was with 169th CAMRON Repair and Reclamation, Egress, Pneudraulics, Environmental. I still do not have his retirement date. 

The other, Lavanda “Van” A. Elmore, there has been no information about him, however, one of our Retirees, Larry Walden, who formerly was in the Army National Guard said he worked with Van Elmore on the Army Guard side of the field. So based on this information, he was an Army National Guardsman. 

The Block 3 North individuals are as follows:

1.    Hanes A. McEntire. He retired as a chief master sergeant in 1990. He was Barnie McEntire’s brother. He passed away December 3, 2013, at 81. He joined the Air Guard September 16, 1950, just several weeks before the Korean War Call-Up, so off he went to Lawson Field, Fort Benning, Georgia. He was a private assigned to the 157th Fighter Squadron. Later during the Berlin Call-Up, he was a master sergeant. assigned to the 169th CAMS. However, for most of his career in the Air Guard, he was with the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron. He is pictured in the 25th Anniversary Book, Page 92, top picture and on Page 126, top picture, 169th Civil Engineer Squadron. Later he became the 3rd Senior Enlisted Advisor to SCANG. He was very involved in civilian life as a builder, golfer, and a high school Referee. I didn’t personally know Hanes that well, knew enough to speak with him at times, for some reason the last time I saw him I believe he was getting a flu shot at the Fort Jackson Commissary, we talked some then. I guess he was always so busy, plus living in Chapin, he never attended our breakfast/luncheons. He did dedicate his life to the Air Guard.

2.    Berry Bonds, oh boy! One of our ‘characters’. Berry would always greet you first thing in the morning with a joke or two! One of our Winnsboro Guardsmen, lived there all his life, he was 72 when he died December 19, 2013. He retired from the Air Guard in 1988 as a master sergeant. He was in POL most of his Air Guard career. Berry would show up for our Breakfasts or Luncheons and yes he had to tell a joke or two to anyone who would listen. I believe he was a good fast-pitch softball player when he was younger. Later after he retired, I believe he ran a liquor store in Winnsboro, I know he liked to play golf at the Fairfield County Golf Course before medical problems showed up. His wife Marcia started bringing him to our Luncheons. I thought he might be a Berlin Call-Up but could not find him. He is pictured in the 25 Anniversary Book, Page 90, bottom picture, 169th Supply, POL. He is on Page 123, bottom picture in the 40th Anniversary Book, 169th RMS.     

3.    William J. Buchanan Jr., “Buck”. When living he would show up for just about every luncheon/breakfast we had. He would stay well after the Luncheons to talk to anyone and everyone, plus he had a wealth of knowledge and history about the Air Guard and National Guard. Officially, he retired from the Air Guard in 1974 as a chief master sergeant, however, he then transferred to the Army Guard as a Warrant Officer at the urging of the Adjutant General. I’m not sure how long he stayed with the Army Guard. He was an ardent Clemson fan, even remember his license tag #T1212, although he graduated from USC. One of his claims to fame was when he joined the Air Guard in 1950 it was with the 110th Aircraft & Warning Squadron. The squadron was short-lived, and when those folks came back they blended in with all the other 169th Squadrons. If I fail to mention the 110th and when it was formed, I truly believe Buck would come back and haunt me? It was formed on December 11, 1950, as part of the Korean War Call-Up. OK, I am off the hook? Buck worked hand-in-hand with Chief Jim Hatchell back in the ‘good ole days’, they were the dynamic duo of admin back in those days. You went to them for any information. Buck lived in West Columbia all his life, I went to his house several times.

When Buck died December 27, 2013, he had many friends and visitors attend his funeral service.  He helped form the Credit Union at Congaree/McEntire, and later he served as the American Legion commander, Post 79 in West Columbia. I would rate him as one of the most revered enlisted people at Congaree/McEntire. I remember him telling us stories about how Barnie McEntire or Bob Morrell would tell him to go out and get recruits, and Buck would go to the High Schools, Brookland-Cayce, Dreher, Dentsville, Eau Claire, and Olympia and round them up in the old M-35s, bring them to the base and sign them up, then take them back home. Those were the old draft days. Buck was also a Berlin Call-Up guy, he was assigned to Headquarters 169th Fighter Wing as a master sergeant. Buck is pictured in the 25th Anniversary Book, Page 67, Headquarters SCANG.

4.    James N. Edwards “Jim”. He retired in 2009 as a chief master sergeant. He was the 9th State Command Chief for the Air Guard. Jim, to me, was a go-to guy, very personable. In civilian life, he was an instructor of automotive technology at Andrew Jackson High School in Kershaw and retired from the Lancaster County School District. He loved to be on his tractor and loved working on old tractors and restoring them, he was a wrench turner. He also worked with the prison outreach ministry, plus he had a Master’s Degree in Education from USC. Jim was 64 when he passed away January 3, 2014. He lived for years in the Kershaw area out in the country. Great guy, he came to several of our Breakfasts/Luncheons and talked to us about the deployments he went on after Desert Storm, which by the way, he was a Desert Storm veteran, assigned to 169th CAMS as a technical sergeant. According to his obituary, he received the Bronze Star for his participation during either Desert Storm or Operation Enduring Freedom. He is pictured in the 40th Anniversary Book, Page 110, bottom picture, 169th CAMRON “A” Flight.

5.    Larry F. Windham. Larry died January 31, 2014. He retired in 2001 as a lieutenant colonel. He was 70 years old when he died. I knew Larry from a distance, he appeared to be a very affable guy, a heavy smoker, which may have ended up getting to him. I remember him coming into the Falcon’s Nest club every drill weekend and get several beers in a bag and go home. I’m not sure where he lived, I think maybe in the St. Andrews area. According to his obituary, he served 36 years in the Air Guard. If I’m not mistaken, he came in enlisted and then was commissioned later in his career. He was a graduate of Eau Claire High School and attended USC. What I didn’t know was he was a Little League baseball coach at Seven Oaks for a number of years. Larry was more or less in Supply his whole career, he is pictured on Page 89 in the 25th Anniversary Book, top picture, 169th Supply, Equipment Management. He is also pictured in the 40th Anniversary Book, Page 123, top picture, 169th RMS. 

6.    Dan E. Brown. Dan died February 27, 2014, he retired as a master sergeant in 1995. He was a Civil Engineer and I have seen comments from his fellow CE guys, he was a respectful, hard-working guy who always pulled his weight when going on deployments. He was assigned to the Heavy Equipment Section. Dan lived in the Timmonsville area, and later he was interned at the National Cemetery in Florence. He was in the Air Force during the Vietnam era and later joined the Air Guard. He is pictured on Page 125 in the 40th Anniversary Book.

7.    William J. McCarthy, III, “Tracy”. He was quite the guy when putting on functions. Tracy would sit with folks at the American Legion Post #6 almost every afternoon and that is when I got to know him better. He sat with Dom Fusci, Jeff Grantz, and Karl Bowers again almost every afternoon. Tracy was a person who would do anything to socialize, especially with Air Guard folks. He had a nightclub just outside of Shaw Air Force Base and when we had the golf tournaments at Shaw, called GAGGO (Greater Air Guard Golf Open), he would provide food and drink to anyone stopping by on the way home. All I can say, neat guy, affable, and willing to do anything to be a good Air Guardsman. I know he retired from the Air Guard, but have determined he was a ‘missing link’. I don’t know officially when he retired, just know he was part of the McEntire crew. According to his obituary, he served four years in the Air Force and eighteen years in the Air Guard. His picture is in the 40th Anniversary Book on Page 118, top picture, labeled as 169th Combat Support Squadron. 

8.    Samuel F. Chapman, “Bull”. Bull died March 21, 2014. He retired as a senior master sergeant in 1989. Bull lived up to his name, nobody messed with him, he was ‘strong as a bull’ but a good guy otherwise. He was from Saluda, South Carolina, born and raised there and died there. He was a fulltime technician and made the ride every day back and forth to McEntire. He was a staunch Clemson fan and loved fishing, a great fisherman! He joined the Army National Guard in 1951 and then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force until 1966 and then came to the SCANG until retirement. His picture is in the 25th Anniversary Book on Page 89, 169th Supply Equipment Management, top picture. Also in the 40th Anniversary Book, Page 123, top picture, 169th RMS.

9.    Leo F. Thomas Jr. One of my, and everyone’s old golf buddies. He helped Vic Hannon with the many GAGGOs, especially during the 80s. Leo lived in the West Columbia area and I would see him at many golf courses and at Food Lion on Sunset Blvd. He was a solid golfer! Later in life, he went down medically and it affected his golf game. Leo was a 1996 Retiree. He retired as a master sergeant and was also in Supply. I don’t know why, but many in this article were. I would see Leo after he retired on Sunset Blvd. in West Columbia. He passed away May 3, 2014. He was a ‘scratch’ golfer and at that time I enjoyed competing with him. Leo was a good guy and, I said before, he helped Vic Hannon on setting up the GAGGOs. His picture is in the 25th Anniversary Book, Page 89, top picture, 169th Equipment Management and in the 40th Anniversary Book, Page 123, top picture, 169th, RMS. 

10.    B. E. Tomlin. I’m sorry, but I don’t have any information on this person whatsoever. I have combed the Retirees Lists, Anniversary Books, Deployment Lists, TAG Office, etc. I did not have this person on the 2014 Death List, so if they made the Monument, perhaps he was an active member, or a mistake, not sure which at this time. If anyone knows anything about this person, please let us know.

11.    Henry Leon Crosby, “Leon” to me. Leon passed away August 9, 2014. He retired in 1994 as a chief master sergeant and the 5th Senior Enlisted Advisor. He primarily was with the 240/245th Squadrons as an Air Traffic Controller. He served for 39 years and was an ardent Gamecock fan. He was a very personable guy, always enjoyed being around him. He is pictured in the 25th Anniversary Book, Page 98, upper picture and on Page 118, upper picture, 169th Combat Support Squadron, 40th Anniversary Book.

12.    Irving Goodwin. Irving retired in 1995 as a master sergeant. He was in the 240th Combat Communications Squadron for a while and later he transferred to the 169th to see if he could pick up another stripe. I remember Irving, went on several local deployments with him, good guy! He died August 27, 2014. Like many of our retirees, he is resting at the Fort Jackson National Cemetery. I could not find him in the 40th Anniversary Book.

13.    Claude A. Shealy Sr. He retired in 1991 as a chief master sergeant after 37 years of service. Claude lived down the road from me, Dominion Hills, close to Caughman Road Park. However, he loved going to their beach house in Cherry Grove, this is where he passed away August 10, 2014. He also retired from the State Treasurer’s Office as a Senior Accountant. Claude was a fixture at the Falcon’s Nest, one of the bartenders and usually had a cigarette dangling from his mouth. Another very personable guy. He evidently had different Guard jobs. He is pictured on Page 87, top picture, Consolidated Base Personnel and later he switched to the Civil Engineers, pictured on Page 126, 40th Anniversary Book. Many of us went to his funeral at the Fort Jackson National Cemetery. I have Claude as a Berlin Call-Up guy assigned to the 169th CAMS as a staff sergeant, which tells me Claude worked all over the Base in some capacity. Jack of all trades?

14.    Henry E. Lockman Sr., one of our ‘missing links’. I found him as a 1988 Retiree as a chief master sergeant, another individual with 37 years of service. He had to be full-time at the base because when retiring he went to work for Wilbur Smith Associates. Henry passed away September 3, 2014, he was 84 years old at that time. Henry must have joined the SCANG right after the Korean War Call-Up, I did not find him as a call-up. However, I did find him as a Berlin Call-Up. He was a technical sergeant assigned to Headquarters 169th Fighter Group. I did not find him in the 25th Anniversary Book but did find him on Page 124, upper picture, 169th RMS, 40th Anniversary Book. I don’t ever recall coming across him but would hear his name mentioned around Base.     

15.    Russell G. Pleasant Jr., one of our early retirees. He retired in 1968, there were only a handful of retirees at that time. I went to his funeral, thinking there would be little Air Guard representation but there were Danny Sightler and some others attending. It is my understanding Russell was a master welder and because of this he ended up working for Carolina Eastman and retiring from there also. Russell passed away September 29, 2014, he was 85 at that time. He retired from the Air Guard as a master sergeant. He was part of both the Korean War Call-Up and Berlin Crisis Call-Up. He was assigned as a corporal to Detachment B, 216th Air Service Group and a technical sergeant with the 169th CAMS for the Berlin Call-Up.

OK, our December Luncheon will be December 4, 2018, at our home away from home, the Fort Jackson NCO Club beginning at noon. I sure would like to see us beat the 65 folks we had in November, come one, come all. McEntire will be 72 years old December 9th. It’s that time of the year again, the Holidays, everyone have a good and safe holiday season, in other words, Merry Christmas. See you next year, the Good Lord willing.