By Bob Barkalow, Master Sgt. (Retired)
/ Published September 27, 2016
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- We had about 50 folks to show for our September Luncheon. We also had Major David Bell as our featured McEntire Speaker. As all of our speakers, he did a great job telling us about his life and McEntire career, started off in Munitions Storage, and worked his way up the ladder. Good man, and a good leader.
I can't tell you how great it is to meet with any and everyone who shows up at our get together Luncheons, there is a feeling of love, friendship and caring for one another, we all have a common thread and that is having served at the Congaree/McEntire Base for a variety of years and experiences. The stories get better with some embellishments? An observation on my part, is the core folks who come appear to sit with the same people, same table, just like church, school, and other social functions. It must be a human trait?
Some McEntire History: We are still honoring all the Korean War Call-Up guys, and will be for a while. This time we are honoring members of Detachment B, 216th Air Service Group, they are as follows: SSgt's Charles T. Koll, Jr., William E. Lowrance, James J. Mayes, Kermit D. Pruitt, William A. Ratcliff, Jr., Charles H. Sellers, John W. Stokes, Garrett Van Seters, William J. Wood. Sgt's James B. Boone, Mondel C. Boykin, Phillip P. Claytor, Louis T. Claytor, Jr., Robert E. Coward, Clyde Craft, James R. Couch, Herman W. Daniel, Clinton S. Dennis, and Wade H. Epps.
October Deployments: October seems to be the month for the 'big' call ups? On October 9, 1961 747 people were called up with a reporting date on November 1. The main body headed for Moron AB Spain, near Seville, Spain, while others were assigned to France and Germany, and some to air bases in the States. This deployment was officially over by August 31, 1962. The Korean Call-up happened October 10, 1950, and this deployment lasted 21 months, can you imagine, most of the 321 call-ups went to Lawson Air Field, Fort Benning, GA. Later on in this deployment a group of pilots and support staff did end up going to Germany, and four pilots volunteered for duty in Korea. Capt. Eddie Elkin was the only S.C. Guard pilot to fly in both WWII and Korea, he flew a night medium bomber. Of the four volunteers two of them flew F-51's, and one flew a F-84. Congaree AB was shuttered, or nearly shuttered the whole time, however, on July 11, 1952, the base was reorganized with the F-51 aircraft, along with 56 officers and 255 enlisted men. At that time, there was expectations the Squadron would be receiving the F-86 jets.
October 4th will be our next Luncheon, as always at the Fort Jackson NCO Club, we crank up right at High Noon. Speaking for the core attending folks, we would like to see some folks who have never been or have not come to our Luncheons in a while. You won't regret showing up to break bread with us, and tell those wonderful tales that abound the many goings on at Congaree/McEntire or the many deployments.