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November Retiree's Corner

Retirees from the South Carolina Air National Guard gather for their monthly luncheon at the Fort Jackson NCO Club on Feb. 7, 2020.

Retirees from the South Carolina Air National Guard gather for their monthly luncheon at the Fort Jackson NCO Club on Feb. 7, 2020, to keep in touch with each other and receive briefings on the work currently being done for Airmen at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. (U.S. Air National Guard courtesy photo).

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

For now we continue to hold no monthly luncheons. It’s been since March since we have had a luncheon and from the looks of it, it could be a year before things settle down. So we continue on. Nelson McLeod came up with the idea of sending out old pictures of people for posterity sake. And it seems to appease some folks in lieu of no luncheons. Personally I have printed up many of the pictures and organized them for anyone wanting to look at the archived pictures in the future.

So what do we have to look forward to? The upcoming 74th anniversary of the SCANG in December, and, of course, the holidays. That may be strained due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Next year we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Desert Storm and the 75th anniversary of the SCANG, the SCANG being older than the Air Force.

McEntire History: We are inaugurating the beginning of honoring the Desert Shield/Storm call-up folks. First of all I would like to pass on some of the history of the call up and feats of the 169th Tactical Fighter Group, and the 240th Combat Communications Squadron led by Col. Jerry H. Risher, 620 members, and Lt.Col. William S. Teer, 107 members, respectively.

The 169th Tactical Fighter Group (TFG) was the first Air National Guard unit to fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and with numerous outstanding accomplishments, the 169th was the logical choice as the first Air National Guard fighter unit to be activated.

The first increments of South Carolina Air National Guard members were activated on November 27, 1990. Members of the 169th Services Flight and the 240th Combat Communications Squadron were beginning to turn a bare base into a fully operational combat airfield. People had to eat and communications had to be in place for the larger incoming force and Air Traffic Control was a constant. Other members of the 240th CCS deployed during the first few weeks of December 1990. Around Christmas that year about half of the approximate 600 people of the 169TFG were activated, and started to depart immediately to Saudi Arabia. The F-16s took off from McEntire on December 29, 1990 headed east. Other unit members of the 169TFG continue to deploy to Saudi Arabia almost daily. As soon as jets and personnel arrived there, intense training began for whatever contingency came up. It was a weird Christmas in Saudi Arabia. People coming in were assigned to tents. Most had around a dozen people in each tent. Many of us were in semi shock walking around not sure what was going to happen, and being called up right before the holidays and whisked away from your family and familiar surroundings, there was an initial period of adaptation. We all were in a new environment! The Services flight was stuck for a while serving Chicken Chung King, you could only fix it so many ways, until more food supplies came in and things settled down before the start of the Air War January 17, 1991. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention when many of us first got there, it was cold, and misty, your boots would pick up the mixture of wet sand and mud that was hard to get off. Also everyone had to get used to going to the bathrooms a 100 yards or so in the middle of the night, another transition from civilian life!  It was almost easier to be at your work section than in your tent. Other units from other bases were coming in daily for the build-up, another F-16 unit from Syracuse, NY, an F-15C unit from Bitburg, Germany, two squadrons of F-15Es from the 4th TFW in Goldsboro, NC, about three squadrons of C-130s from Missouri, Texas, etc. Not to mention ‘mystery planes’ coming in daily so the support folks weren’t just tending to the 169th  but to the 4th  TFW Provisional.

What we plan to do is honor each squadron with a short write up and naming them by the roster and their rank at the time of the call-up. Many became retirees later. If I have information on them, I’ll give it.  We will be starting with the 169th Resource Management Squadron (RMS): there were 38 members. The following 169 RMS performed excellently its many functions, from supply to finance, including POL services to the base.

◾Staff Sgt. Guy R. Alexander, based on information I received on him, he was commissioned in 1996 and transferred to the Tennessee Air National Guard in 2012. 

◾Tech. Sgt. Phil Barber, Jr. retired in 2002 as a Master Sgt. As far as we know Phil is still living. The last time I saw him he had a stroke and had some disability to his left side.

◾Staff Sgt. Mark M Benyo was discharged in 1995.

◾Master Sgt. Johnny Brown, he retired in 1996 as a Master Sgt. Johnny passed away December 17, 2009. At that time he was living in Florida and his name is on our Monument.

◾Tech. Sgt. Ulysses Burris died in 1995. He may have been an active member but I have no information that he retired.  His name is on our Monument.

◾Staff Sgt. Charles C. Carter was discharged in 1995.

◾Staff Sgt. Carl L. Christy retired in 2018 as a Chief Master Sgt. and is still living.

◾Master Sgt. John M. Coker retired in 1993 as a Master Sgt. And is still living as far as we know.

◾Master Sgt. Alex L. Cooper retired in 2002 as a Master Sgt. He passed away May 20, 2013 and his name is on our Monument.

◾Master Sgt. Robert L. Curtis, IV retired in 1995 as a Master Sgt. He is still living as far as we know.

◾Master Sgt. Robert F. Davis retired in 2004 as a Master Sgt. and is still living as far as we know.

◾Master Sgt. Paul R. Derrick retired in 1996 as a Master Sgt. Paul is still living and served as a Richland County Deputy Sheriff for a while.

◾Staff Sgt. Victor A. Guinyard died in 1999. I have no information that he retired and he may have been an active member.  His name is on our Monument.

◾Master Sgt. Alton E. Harmon retired as a Master Sgt. I am not sure what year perhaps 2001. He recently passed away October 6, 2020 and his name is not yet on our Monument.

◾Master Sgt. Athel Hart retired in 1993 and is still living as far as we know.

◾Master Sgt. Karen J. Heaton retired in 2004 as a Chief Master Sgt. as far as we know she is still living.

◾Staff Sgt. Norris E. Hiles retired in 1994 as a Staff Sgt. and is still living as far as we know.

◾Tech. Sgt. Everett F. Hill he retired in 1994 as a Master Sgt. and is still living as far as we know.

◾Tech. Sgt. John Howard retired in 1996 as a Master Sgt. He passed away January 27, 2015 and his name is on our Monument.

◾Tech. Sgt. Johnny R. Jones. At this time I don’t have him retiring although he could have around the 1993-98 timeframe.  He passed away in 2011 and his name is on our Monument.

◾Master Sgt. Charles K. Kaiser. I am not sure if and when he retired perhaps around the 1995-98 timeframe. He died in 2004 and his name is on our Monument as C.K. Kaiser.

◾Tech Sgt. Ernest J. Major retired in 1996 as a Master Sgt. Jack is still living and his wife passed away a while back.

◾Master Sgt. John D. Mattox he retired in 1999 as a Master Sgt. John passed away in 2009 and his name is on our Monument.

◾Staff Sgt. Debora W. Medina was discharged in 1992 and transferred to the Indiana ANG.

◾Staff Sgt. Robert J. Mitchell retired in 2010 as a Senior Master Sgt. and as far as we know he is still living.

◾Senior Master Sgt. Richard R. Penix retired in 1995 as a Senior Master Sgt. He passed away November 22, 2015. I went to his funeral in Aiken and his name is on our Monument.

◾Staff Sgt. Sandra F. Roseborough is still serving in the SCANG as a Senior Master Sgt. in Joint Force Headquarters in A1.

◾Tech. Sgt. Byron R. Shealy retired in 2008 as a Senior Master Sgt. and is still living as far as we know.

◾Tech. Sgt. James R. Small, Jr. supposedly he retired in 2014.

◾Tech. Sgt. Edward O. Sparrow retired in 1992 as a Tech. Sgt. He passed away July 5, 2013. I went to his funeral and his name is on our Monument.

◾Staff Sgt. Jonathan M. Vance retired in 2008 as Master Sgt. As far as we know he is still living.

◾Tech. Sgt. Mark A. Vanuch retired in 1992 as a Tech. Sgt. He is still living as far as we know.

◾Tech. Sgt. Bobby H. Wallington retired in 1993. He passed away in 1997 and his name is on our Monument.

◾Staff Sgt. Roy C. White was discharged in 1991.                   

◾Staff Sgt. William D. White, Sr. retired in 1992 as a Staff Sgt. He is still living as far as we know.

◾Tech. Sgt. Augustus Williams retired in 1993 as a Master Sgt. and is still living as far as we know.

◾Tech. Sgt. Otis Wingard, Jr., retired in 1999 as a Master Sgt. He passed away August 19, 2016 and his name is now on our Monument.

◾Staff Sgt. Karen M. Wood was discharged in 1992. She then transferred to the MI ANG.

This is amazing. 31 members stayed in long enough to retire or died as active members, which is a remarkable 82 percent. Now why is that? I am guessing the difference is between the Selective Service Days and an all-Volunteer force.  We just finished up with the Berlin Crisis Call-Up and I thought it to be very good to have 26 percent of the call-ups staying until retirement. I can tell from looking at the other squadrons, the numbers will stay high as far as people staying in long enough to retire.

The 31 members out of 38 for the RMS Squadron who retired breakdown as to their rank: two Chief Master Sgts., three Senior Master Sgts., 17 Master Sgts., six Tech. Sgts. and three Staff Sgts. This may not be entirely accurate since a few I could not capture when they exactly retired and at what rank just using what information I have.

Next month we will honor the 169th Services Squadron, the 169th Mission Support Squadron, and the 169th Tactical Fighter Group: a total of 51 members.