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April Retiree's Corner

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

As usual, we had a resounding March Luncheon with around 50 retirees and spouses breaking bread with their other fellow Retirees. Maj. Ralph Cole, the 169th Force Support Squadron commander was our featured speaker. He enlightened us about himself and the goings on at McEntire. I have repeatedly said if anyone would come to every luncheon they would know as much or more about life at McEntire. For the past several years, Nelson McLeod, our resident photographer, takes pictures at all our luncheons. He then passes them on to me and I distribute them. Most people seem to enjoy the pictures of the luncheon participants. For those of us who are more mature (older), this compares with society functions back in the old days with the pictures, we don’t have that anymore. Growing up, I had two aunts back in West Virginia and their pictures graced the Society Section of the newspaper quite a bit. They belonged to a church plus several other organizations, such as the Telephone Pioneers. They both worked for the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, now known as Verizon. So my point to all this, if you like your picture taken, we will post it on our Address Book and not Facebook for the whole world to see. And if you really like a particular picture, or with a group of folks you are really fond of, print it up. I have printed some pictures and put them in an album for posterity sake.

McEntire History:  We are still working on the names of our fellow Retirees inscribed on our Monument. For now, this is the last group to be put on the Monument. However, in the near future, the Chief’s Council may be caught up with all the known Retirees who have passed away. As a reminder, we now have 330 names inscribed on our Monument. This group consists of the last 17 individuals. I will pass what information and knowledge I have about the last 17. This is a varied group of members being added to the Monument, since it was discovered after extensive research that these names were omitted from the Monument over the years. They are as follows:

1.    Joseph A. Maye Jr., we knew him as “Bud”, he died Jan. 4, 2018 at 69 years of age in Tabor City, North Carolina. He was born Aug. 11, 1948 in Sumter. He was an Army Vietnam Veteran. He was a Desert Storm veteran with the SCANG as a master sergeant attached to 169th CAMS and retired from McEntire in 1993 as a senior master sergeant. He also was a master carpenter. He is in the 40th Anniversary Book on Page 105, bottom picture, 169th Fuel, Electrical.

2.    Charles R. Jackson Jr. Charles was not one of our Retirees but he was a Berlin Call-Up guy serving in the SCANG from 1959-1964. He passed away Jan. 5, 2018 at the age of 80. For years he lived in Cheraw and was associated with Jackson Oil Company. He was quite prominent with civic affairs in Cheraw, serving as Mayor of Cheraw. During the Berlin Call-Up, he was attached to 169th Material Squadron as an airman second class.

3.    Edwin P. Jones, he retired in 1977 as a chief master sergeant. He passed away July 2, 1992. The Chief retired before I joined the SCANG, what I do know about him, he was a Berlin Call-Up and at that time he was a chief attached to the 169th CAMS. He also was a Korean War Call-Up as a staff sergeant assigned to the Utility Flight, 157th Fighter Squadron (SE). Chief Jones joined in 1948 and was assigned as one of the Aircraft Maintenance Supervisors at that time to the Utility Flight of the 157th Fighter Squadron. He was one of our ‘historical members’! I did not find his picture in the 25th Anniversary Book. He could have been a WWII veteran (?).

4.    James D. Fort, he retired in 1968. There were only a handful of retirees back then. He retired as master sergeant. I have no other information about him, however, through the grapevine he may have been a Radio Operator assigned to the 240th, but not entirely sure about that. I ran across a James R. Fort as a Berlin Call-Up in Sumter, whether it is the same person or not, I do not know. 

5.    Kenneth F. Patterson, a 1974 Retiree. He retired as a technical sergeant. He died June 11, 1999. I believe he was from the Greenville area, but again not sure about that, according to my prior research.

6.    Evander J. Johnson, “EJ”, finally somebody I can talk about. One of my 240th buddies. He was also a Sumter person and were good friends with the Stan Hoods and did a lot of things socially with them, church and playing cards, and raising their children together. EJ was a WWII Marine. He told me and others he saved us. He was stationed on an Aircraft Carrier and was around the Formosa area (Taiwan) toward the end of WWII. EJ worked and retired from General Telephone which serviced Shaw Air Force Base. Several of those employees joined the Air Guard and were great assets to the 240th with their telephone background. EJ came into the SCANG quite late and he barely made 20 years by the time he could retire at age 60. He was a great guy, a great story teller, and he was funny. He could tell you the same story many times and it would still be funny. I loved going on trips with him. He and I would pal around, especially during the Rapid Deployment days. EJ usually worked the Tech Control Van setting up the distant communications with the other end. I loved that guy, he was my buddy! He was one of those people that everyone liked being around. His son Jay (Shaggy) became one of our pilots. EJ and his wife, who was a retired nurse, finally moved to Lake Marion and he eventually died there in 2000. He retired from McEntire in 1987.

7.    David H. Murphy, another 240th guy and an AGE guy. He retired from McEntire in 1993 as a master sergeant. We called him ‘Murph’. He was a Desert Storm Veteran and he was one of my tent mates, (M7) was the tent number. Murph was a good guy, sometimes a little negative about things. If I am not mistaken, he was from around the Union area, he supposedly took his life April 2, 2000. By that time we had lost track of him. His picture is in the 40th Anniversary Book on Page 142, top picture. During Desert Storm he was a technical sergeant with the 240th.

8.    Willie C. Rish, he retired in 1965. There were several retirees by then. He retired as a major and he passed away April 23, 2000. I don’t have much information about him, perhaps some old-timers can refresh our memory. I believe he may have been a sales manager at one of the car dealers in his civilian job. If I am not mistaken, years ago, I noted Willie C. Rish was not on our Monument and started checking, only to find out there were a number of our Retirees not on the Monument. But now we are taking care of this problem, thanks to the Chiefs Council.

9.    Grover Wynn, he was a 1977 Retiree and he passed away Feb. 21, 2002. He retired as a technical sergeant and was with the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron. His picture is on Page 91 in the 25th Anniversary Book. I found him as a Berlin Call-Up. He was attached to the 169th Material Squadron as a staff sergeant. 

10.    William R. Geddings “Randy”, he retired in 1987. He was one of our ‘missing links’. I probably would not have known that if Joe Wilson, not the Congressman, but the 240th Joe Wilson hadn’t mention it. Randy was his brother-in-law. Randy was also in the 240th as a communication officer. I went on several deployments with him. He retired as a lieutenant colonel. In civilian life, he was a fish biologist in Oconee County and worked for the Department of Natural Resources.

11.    Roy O. Sexton, another ‘missing link’. He was a 1990 Retiree. I believe he had to retire due his being 60 years of age. He passed away June 20, 2004. I recall there was an article about him in the SCANG News, but I can’t put my finger on it, I have too much stuff. At this time, I have no other information pertaining to him.

12.    William M. Riddle, he was a 1971 Retiree. Although several people told me he didn’t retire, he went active. Regardless, after reading several articles about him in the Anniversary Books, he should be honored as a Retiree. He retired as a colonel and passed away Aug. 3, 2004. I believed he lived in the Hilton Head area when he passed. Here is a quote from the 25th Anniversary Book, “It was decided that a Headquarters unit, the SCANG, would be formed with Lt. Col. McEntire as chief of staff. Major Morrell became deputy for operations, the SCANG, and Major Riddle was named commander of the 157th Fighter Squadron.” He was a Korean War Call-Up as a captain assigned to the 157th Fighter Squadron (SE). The pilot roster has him only flying the P-51 and I don’t see him as a Berlin Call-Up. The reason being, he went on extended active duty. Obviously he came back to the SCANG at a much later date. I have him retiring in 1971 in two different documents. Information from the 40th Anniversary Book states this: “Leadership of the Air Guard in those Early Bird years was in the hands of three officers:  Lt. Col. McEntire, Major Morrell, and Capt. William M. Riddle. Riddle a native of Walterboro, had been a classmate of Morrell’s all through flying school. They graduated together and got married on the same day in San Antonio, TX. When Riddle came off active duty in 1947, Morrell enticed him to join the SCANG as a full time technician and supply officer. For the next decade, until he went on extended duty in 1957, Riddle held a number of key roles. He moved back into the operations field at the time of the Korean call-up and during the next seven years held such positions as base operations officer and commander of the 157th Fighter Squadron. Riddle retired as a Colonel and Air Guard Liaison Officer of the Tactical Air Command.”

13.    Ross C. Burgess, “Smokey”. I have him retiring as master sergeant and an estimated retirement date of 1992. Therefore he was a ‘missing link retiree’. Smokey was a 240th guy and AGR. Sort of a character, got to know him much better serving with him during Desert Storm. He worked Job Control and I worked right across from him during many shifts. What I remember about him as much as anything, he was allowed to wear tennis shoes at McEntire with a special medical chit. During Desert Storm, he would wear his boots around base but as soon as he got to the job site, switched to tennis shoes. Smokey and his wife Marsha lived in the Ridgeway/Lake Wateree area. At one time he was a volunteer firefighter, hence the name Smokey, plus he was a smoker. I went to several parties after Desert Storm with him and his wife, but later lost track of him. He did die Dec. 22, 2004.

14.    James W. Riser, a 1969 Retiree as a major. I have him as a Berlin Call-Up as a captain attached to Headquarters 169th Fighter Wing (AD). Other than that, my information is limited. I don’t see him as being a pilot, nor was he a Korean War Call-Up. He passed away Oct. 20, 2007.

15.    Daniel M. Fraley, a 1968 Retiree. He retired as a major. I thought he was a pilot, but could not find him on the pilot’s roster. I thought he flew for the Governor’s Office flying dignitaries based on my memory. What I do remember about him, he was a nice man. I would see him at the golf course at Fort Jackson and at the commissary often and would chat with him. His wife proceeded him in passing, he was her caretaker for a good while. Another story I remember about him, he offered a friend of mine a house on Greenlawn Drive, free! He said his children didn’t want it and he wanted to get rid of it. My friend did not take him up on the offer. Anyway, after his wife died, you could tell he was lonely. I had an obituary on him that I can’t find but he ended up being buried at the Beaufort National Cemetery. He passed away Dec. 24, 2007. He was a Berlin Call-Up and was a captain attached to the 169th Air Base Squadron. Like I said, he was a prince of person.

16.    Hugh S. Sherer Jr., “Dumpy”. This guy was a marvelous mechanic, some people have that knack, and he did. I heard he did some amazing mechanical feats. He was part of “Square” Turner’s team and I have to give Hugh, or Square, the credit. I was always amazed at how clean all our vehicles were, trucks, busses, and cars, mechanically. If we went on a drill weekend deployment, we users had to inspect and check each vehicle out, and let me tell you, all the vehicles were pristine clean, therefore, giving you confidence to drive the vehicles. Dumpy was a key member of Square’s team, as I said, that man could repair and fix anything. I believe he hailed from York County. He retired in 1989 and died Oct. 1, 2008. His picture in the 25th Anniversary Book is on Page 97, upper page and in the 40th Anniversary Book on Page 140, top picture. He had a quiet manner about him, but he did his job, and did it well.

17.    Samuel J. Fiorini, he retired in 1970, so I know very little about him. He retired as a master sergeant. He was a Berlin Call-Up as a staff sergeant with the 169th Air Base Squadron. He passed away Nov. 3, 2009. For some reason I am thinking he was from the Sumter area. Otherwise, I have no other information to report on him.

Our April Luncheon will be on the April 2 at the Fort Jackson NCO Club beginning at noon, please come if you can, we would love to see you.