MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --
The October Luncheon was a bit different this time, we had many featured speakers, the reason being we didn’t have a featured speaker, so some of us chimed in with various stories about our McEntire experiences, some humorous and others historical. I am positive no stories were enhanced or embellished? I noted that a story would trigger another story from someone else, it was a neat way to have a Luncheon, several people told me we should do this more often. Everyone has their own stories and experiences they had over the many years at Congaree/McEntire. I would walk around the room and offer the microphone to anyone that wanted to tell one of their stories, some had the cat get their tongues, while others jumped at the opportunity to tell one of their stories. It was fun, different and neat!
McEntire History: We have been honoring the present 276 folks who are on our Monument and getting almost down to the end. We should finish this up around the first of the New Year. The majority for this month are folks who died back in 2013. Usually, I present 15 at a time which is the number that is engraved on a single granite marker. For this month, we are celebrating the folks who are on the 2nd Granite Block, North Side on the inside of the marker facing the water tower on Horrell Hill. Chief Master Sgt. Rob Wright and others helped with information on some. They are as follows:
1. Senior Master Sgt. Lisa Marie Dinger Dinkins, September 22, 1963-September 28, 2012, she was an active member. Lisa passed away after a valiant battle with cancer. Lisa was a traditional Guardsman in Communications in the Audio Visual section, was First Sgt. for the Mission Support Group, and was most recently serving in the Legal Office. Additionally, she was the fulltime draftsman/CADD operator in the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron until her health prevented her from working. She was an active member of the McEntire Honor Guard. Her brother was in CE also, Bill “Hum” Dinger, who retired in 2003.
2. Chief Master Sgt. William D. Cliett. Bill was 76 when he passed away January 8, 2013. One of my buddies, in fact, he was everyone’s buddy. A good and caring man, he did volunteer work at the S.C. Military Museum for years before passing away. He was a Shriner and a Mason. He used to play golf at the Fort Jackson Golf Course with Jaws, both of them playing left handed, watched them tee off a good bit. He loved to attend the Breakfasts and later the Luncheons. Bill lived about a mile from me. Bill retired as the Flight Line Superintendent at McEntire after a combined 38 years of service. He was a Berlin Call-Up guy, attached as a Tech. Sgt. with CAMS. His picture is in the 25th Anniversary Book, Page 76, top picture, 169th CAMRON Flight Line. Also, his picture in the 40th Anniversary Book is on Pages 73 and 111, top picture, 169th CAMRON Phase Dock, C-131 Organizational Maintenance.
3. Master Sgt. Ronald Billie, 57, passed away January 14, 2013. I believe he was in a car wreck around Exit 5 (Bluff Road) and I-77, very little information about him and the circumstances. Ron was from Eastover and he was in the 240th Radio Maintenance Section, I remember him well. He was a quiet guy but always had a grin. The Radio Maintenance guys were a tight group, you saw one, you saw them all pretty much, Paul Bell, Danny Turner, Ed Kemp, and Ron. You had a problem with the radio, they would fix it. If I am not mistaken, Ron worked for the Post Office and one day I saw him around Rosewood Drive in Columbia. I tried to track him down, but he got away from me in his mail truck. At that time he had a beard. He was a Desert Storm veteran attached to the 240th Combat Communications Squadron as Staff Sgt. His picture is on Page 139, bottom picture in the 40th Anniversary Book.
4. Chief Master Sgt. Frederick D. Gray, passed away February 1, 2013. Another buddy of mine and everyone. If you didn’t like Fred Gray, you don’t like anyone! My wife and I would run across Fred and Pearl, his wife, at the New Bangkok Restaurant on Garners Ferry, they loved to eat there. We would chat with them. I went to Fred’s funeral at Greenlawn Funeral Home and burst out laughing because Fred had a clown’s nose on, so I asked about it. His family told me he worked with kids as a clown at the various hospitals, I didn’t know that. Fred was a WWII veteran, he was assigned as a mail clerk to the 269th Field Artillery Battalion at Fort Bragg. He and his unit shipped over to England on the Queen Elizabeth and then they later landed on Omaha Beach and worked their way inland. His unit ended up in the Hertgen Forest area, Battle of the Bulge, he and a buddy sat in a foxhole for five weeks looking at 52 frozen bodies, both German and Americans in front of them. A very traumatic time for him as a born and raised Lower-Richland guy that grew up there and went to high school at Lower Richland. He learned to type which is why he was assigned as a mail clerk and later he worked in Personnel at the VA for years, the SCANG, and later for the state. A very personable and outgoing guy. Where ever you saw Fred, you saw Ms. Pearl, his beloved wife. Fred was a Korean War Call-Up guy and was assigned to Detachment B, 216th Air Service Group as Staff Sgt. For the Berlin Call-Up, he was assigned as a Chief Master Sgt. attached to Headquarters 169th Fighter Group. He was a 1968 SCANG Retiree, not too many retirees prior to that, just a handful. Fred Gray is pictured in the 40th Anniversary Book on Page 162.
5. Master Sgt. Thomas E. Harbort, 87, passed away February 7, 2013. He was born and raised in Eastover, like Fred Gray, he served in WWII, and later joined SCANG, retiring in 1985. I know very little about him, however, he was a Korean War Call-Up, assigned as a Staff Sgt. with Detachment B, 216 Air Service Group. Later he was a Berlin Call-Up and assigned as a Tech. Sgt. with the 169th Material Squadron. A picture of him is on Page 85, top picture, Motor Vehicle Maintenance and Operations in the 25th Anniversary Book. There were other Harborts in the SCANG, I don’t know if they were from the same family or not.
6. Lt. Col. Donald E. White, 92, passed away March 11, 2013. He was born in Canada, however, his family moved to Florida in 1922, but they moved back to Canada. Don enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940 and he transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. He was part of D-Day at Normandy and he flew 35 combat missions, as well as accumulated 10,000 flying hours in 45 different aircraft. He then joined the SCANG in 1949. He was a Korean War Call-Up as a 1st. Lt. assigned to the 157th Fighter Squadron. During the Berlin Call-Up, he was a Major assigned to Headquarters 169th Fighter Group. He retired in 1975. His picture is on Page 69 in the 25th Anniversary Book. Also on Page 15 along with the likes of John C. Murphy, Orville D. Fetterly, Robert L. McCook, and Homer Keisler. The same picture is on Page 12 in the 40th Anniversary Book. Don White is also on Pages 24 and 146, bottom picture, ‘Retirees’.
7. Senior Master Sgt. Alex L. Cooper, 67, September 2, 1945 to May 30, 2013. He was born in Williamsburg County and he lived either there or in Clarendon County when he died. He was a Desert Storm veteran attached to the 169th Resource Management Squadron, the Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant (POL) Section as a Master Sgt. Also, he must have been a federal technician or AGR since I read a note from Nelson McLeod that he dealt with Alex on a routine basis when the new POL facility was being built, said he was great to work with. Alex retired in 2002. He was ‘accused’ of being a Congressman James Clyburn look alike. His picture is on Page 123 in the 40th Anniversary Book.
8. Tech. Sgt. Edward O. Sparrow, 74, died July 5, 2013 in Arizona. He moved there to be close to his daughter. Ed and I joined the same time in January 1978 is how I knew him. He was a quiet fellow, he was assigned to work in the 169th Resource Management Squadron, Motor Pool. His picture is on Page 122, top picture in the 40th Anniversary Book. He was a Desert Storm veteran and went with the 169th Resource Management Squadron as a Tech. Sgt. Interesting enough, earlier he served in the Coast Guard and the Military Sea Transport Service during the Vietnam War. I have no idea what he did, but he served his country for sure. He also retired from Fort Jackson, civil service. Two Air Guard people attended his funeral at the Christ the King Lutheran Church, Billy Wannamaker and myself. I would see Ed around the Base and we would greet each other.
9. Staff Sgt. Larry H. “Keith” Kendrick Jr., 44, active member. He was a full-time AGR with the 169th Security Forces Squadron, he routinely worked flight operations, and performed duties as one of the Combat Arms instructors for the Wing. Previously he served four years in the Navy before coming to the SCANG. He had just over 10 years with the Security Forces prior to his death on July 28, 2013.
10. Chief Master Sgt. David A. Graddick, 83, he passed away September 8, 2013. Chief Dave would come to our Breakfasts and Luncheons. Later he would not show up as much as he was ailing, and when talking with him, one knew he was hurting, but he did not complain. Jim Tuten said the man was a workaholic since Dave worked for him in different positions. He even ordered Chief Graddick to not show up on non-drill weekends, but he did anyway. A very quiet, respectful man, I attended his funeral along with many McEntire folks, the funeral home was overrun with folks attending his visitation. Chief Dave retired in 1990. His picture is on Page 86, top picture, 169th Combat Support, Procurement, and on Page 96, Headquarters SCANG. He may have worked for Jim Tuten at the USPFO. He was a Korean War Call-Up and was a Corporal assigned to Detachment B, 216th Air Group Service. Later he was a Berlin Call-Up guy assigned as a Master Sgt. with Headquarters 169th Fighter Group.
11. Chief Master Sgt. James A. Hewett, “Whitey”, 81, he passed on August 14, 2013. Everyone’s old buddy, great guy, a good SCANG member! Whitey was sort of my informal Assistant Coach when I was the Coach of T&T Sports in the Dixie Boys League, Caughman Road Park. He would come and bring his son, Heath, who I nicknamed “Bambi” because when he pitched he would leap up like a deer ready to run. He would help me out with some baseball drills. Later on, Whitey would do woodwork and make us bowls for the Retirees Group when we would have our fundraisers for the SCANG Retirees. For some reason, he donated three bowls to my wife, and we donated two of them back to others so they could share in Whitey’s handiwork. Some of us, who finally went to his inurnment at Fort Jackson National Cemetery were asked to wear red suspenders, which was later Whitey’s trademark wear, and we did, those that showed up. Whitey retired in 1990. He was born in Shallotte, North Carolina, which was not that far from where I grew up, didn’t know that until I read his obituary. He started his military career in the Navy as a jet mechanic, and when discharged joined the U.S. Air Force and later joined the SCANG. He spent right at 30 years at McEntire and was a member of Lebanon United Methodist Church in Lower Richland. During the Berlin Call-Up, Whitey was assigned as a Staff Sgt. with CAMS. His picture in the 25th Anniversary Book is on Page 74, top picture, “169th CAMRON, Elect., Hyd. & Inst.”. For whatever reason, I could not spot him in the 40th Anniversary Book.
12. Tech. Sgt. J. Richard Smith, 66, he passed away September 29, 2013. I don’t have a lot of information about him. He served 22 years in the military, of which 16 were in the SCANG, according to his obituary. He retired in 1988. He also worked at SCDOT as a Highway Engineering Technician in the Right of Way Department. I could not find him in the 40th Anniversary Book.
13. Master Sgt. Vernon R. Hatcher, 78, he died in a motorcycle accident October 23, 2013. He lived in Florence. I received this information from one of my 240th buddies, who also lives in the area and spotted the obituary. According to the 40th Anniversary Book, he was attached to the 169th Information Systems Squadron. That is all the information I have about him. His picture is on Page 132.
14. Lavanda “Van” A. Elmore, unfortunately, I have no information about him. I can only assume he was an active member. I found nothing about him at the TAG building, nor could Chief Wright, inquiring from his active member supervisors. If I run across any pertinent information about him, I will put something out about his background.
15. Francis B. Mooneyhan Jr., one of our missing links, I have him retiring in 1991, not sure about his rank when retiring. He is the father of one of our retired former pilots, Frank B. Mooneyhan III. According to his son, he was a traditional Guardsman and joined the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. He was a Berlin Call-Up as an A2/C assigned to 169th CAMS. He lived in Camden, was a member of Latter Day Saints, and had seven children. His picture in the 40th Anniversary Book on Page 116, 169th CAMRON Flight Control AIS Test Station PMEL, COMM/NAV, ACS. According to an email note from Stan Hood to Nelson McLeod, he was very instrumental in getting his son in as a pilot selectee.
November 6th, is our next Luncheon, also Election Day. I have already suggested several ways to work around the election and still vote, a very important election for us all. So I hope to see many of you at our usual place, the Fort Jackson NCO Club beginning at noon. We always try to have fun, be informative, and socialize with our old and new SCANG buddies.