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January 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. --

This month we will honor the 157th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) from the Desert Shield/Storm era. 

At the time of the call-up, there were 58 people assigned to it, primarily 35 pilots, and the rest were operations personnel. Fortunately I received a 107 page history of the Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (CAMS) from Ed Fisher compiled by Tech. Sgt. Carroll Allen, the unit’s historian. This document assisted me with a lot of facts and figures that the pilots of the 157TFS performed during the duration of Desert Storm under austere conditions. The pilots of the 157th flew 1,359 sorties, flying 2,786.7 hours of intense combat action initially. They dropped 3,639 bombs and missiles, weighing 4,338,537 pounds and expended 10,763 20mm rounds in combat anger. There were a total of 43 pilots, most assigned to the 157TFS flying 24 F-16As. At that time they were the oldest F-16s in the inventory participating in the unit’s first ever combat missions. 

My personal experience for the first combat mission on January 17, 1991 was being on my shift watch. I kept hearing plane after plane taking off. So I went outside to see what was going on. One of the F-15E pilots was standing out there as well and I asked him, “What’s going on Colonel?” He looked at me with a wry grin and said, “Saddam Hussein is going to be a hurtin blankety blank.”  I had no idea what was going on until then. The first strike led by Maj. Jet Jernigan flew 20 planes over Kuwait City and all came back safe and sound. Later that day, a second wave of 14 planes took off, all returned, dropping a combined total of 62 bombs that day. The more I read and study what took place, it’s a remarkable story about the stamina on both our pilots and ground crews during the timeframe of the war.

I will honor the CAMS over the next ten months. However, we will concentrate this month on the 157TFS. I also discovered that many of the pilots flew in tandem, lead pilot, wingman, some flying two-a-day missions. It makes sense as they knew each other’s moves. That is what several of them told me. The number of missions were taken from Appendix N of the report. Initially I asked some pilots how many combat missions they flew. Some were right on. Others were off a flight or two. But then it has been 30 years.

The following personnel assigned to the 157TFS led by Lt. Col. John Marshall are as follows:

-Staff Sgt. Scott A. Adamson, was discharged in 1992.

-Capt. Thorne S. Ambrose (Sparky), flew 31 missions and retired in 2006 as a Col. He is still living.

-Maj. Richard M. Ball (RB), flew 34 missions and did not retire. I believe he is an American Airlines pilot.

-Maj. John N. Bellinger, Jr. (Bullet), flew 52 missions and retired in 2004 as a Col. He is still living and I saw him not too long ago.

-Staff Sgt. Talmadge T. Bookert, was discharged in 1991.

-Capt. Robert D. Buddin, Jr. (Belly), flew 34 missions and did not retire.

-Capt. Kenneth B. Burton. I have no information about him. No missions listed in the report.

-Lt. Col. Richard Scott Cain (Wizard), flew 53 missions and retired in 2008 as a Col. He is still living.

-Staff Sgt. Deborah L. Carney Marshall, retired in 2013 as a Chief Master Sgt. She is still living.

-Master Sgt. Matthew Charity, retired in 1994 as a Master Sgt. He is still living as far as we know.

-Maj. Barry Keith Coln (Kubla), flew 37 missions and later served at 169FW commander. He retired as a Maj. Gen. and is still living.

-Staff Sgt. Patricia J. Cousins, retired in 1998 as a Staff Sgt. She is still living.

-Sgt. Harry S. Davenport, Jr. I have no information about him.

-1st Lt. John Bryant Edwards (Boomer), flew 50 missions and did not retire.

-Maj. Richard A. Finke (Midas), flew 50 missions and retired in 1995 as a Lt. Col. He is still living. I met him at a funeral in Pickens, S.C.  He is or was an airline pilot.

-Staff Sgt. Doris Wilkes Graham Lamb, retired in 2003 as a Master Sgt. She is still living.

-Capt. Jeffrey C. Gurney (Grit), flew 50 missions and did not retire.

-Staff Sgt. Jeffrey J. Hanson, retired in 2003 as a Master Sgt. As far as we know he is still living.

-Senior Master Sgt. Johnny E. James, retired in 1997 as a Senior Master Sgt. He passed away in 2017 and his name is on our Monument.

-Maj. Kenneth M. Jefferson (Bender), flew 51 missions and retired, not sure when, as a Brig. Gen. He is still living as far as we know.

-Maj. George R. Jernigan, III (Jet), flew 50 missions and retired in 2001 as a Col. He is still living.

-Capt. John Jay Johnson (Shaggy), flew 50 missions and retired in 2005 as Lt. Col. He is still living.

-Capt. Andrej Kokal (Yodeler), flew 47 missions and did not retire.

-Master Sgt. John J. Leech, Jr., retired in 1992 as a Master Sgt. He passed away January 25, 2016 and his name is on our Monument. I got to know the Leech’s quite well when my son lived next door to them.

-Maj. Ricky A. Mantei (Gizmo), flew 36 missions and retired in 1997 as a Lt. Col. He is still living.

-Capt. Kenneth R. March (Slim), flew 50 missions and he did not retire.

-Lt. Col. John W. Marshall, Jr. (Bones), flew 42 missions as the squadron commander. He later served as the 169FW commander. He retired in 1997 as a Col. He is still living.

-Capt. Charles D. Meyer, retired in 1998 as a Maj. He is still living as far as we know.

-Capt. Russell W. Meyer, III (Scar), flew 50 missions and did not retire.       

-Capt. Charles Frank Mooneyham (Moo), flew 37 missions and retired in 1996 as a Maj. He later became an airline pilot and he is still living.

-Staff Sgt. Keith O. Mullins, was discharged in 1998.

-Maj. Richard M. Naumann (Dieter), flew 36 missions and retired in 1999 as a Lt. Col. He is still living.

-Lt. Col. Richard W. Noble (Nobie), flew 51 missions and later served as the 169FW commander. He retired in 2003 as a Col. He is still living.

-1st Lt. James Scott Nottoli (Knothead), flew 50 missions and retired in 2008 as a Lt. Col. He is still living.

-Maj. Waymond C. Nutt, Jr., (Hawk), flew 46 missions and did not retire. He was an American Airlines pilot and, as far as we know, he is still living.

-Airman Bryan J. Pardue, was discharged in 2001. He transferred to the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

-Lt. Col. George B. Patrick, III, (Cowman), flew 50 missions and retired as a Brig. Gen., just not sure when. He is still living.

-Capt. Deane D. Pennington (DDawg), flew 50 missions and retired in 2011 as a Col. He is still living and still may be flying with American Airlines.

-Capt. Anthony Wayne Phillips (Lips), flew 50 missions and retired in 1997 as a Maj. As far as we know he is still living.

-Lt. Col. Charles W. Plunkett (Sonny), flew 44 missions, and retired in 1996 as a Lt. Col. As far as we know he is still living.

-Maj. Dana A. Rawl, was the Flight Surgeon. He retired in 2006 as a Col. He is still living.

-Capt. John A. Richardson, II, (J.R.), flew 50 missions and did not retire. As far as we know he is still living.

-Capt. George C. Ronan, IV, (Conan), flew 50 missions and retired in 2002 as a Maj. He was an American Airlines pilot and, as far as we know, he is still living.

-Tech. Sgt. Richard F. Roof, retired in 2002 as a Senior Master Sgt. He is still active in the State Guard and now lives in Arden, N.C.

-Maj. Timothy R. Rush (Demo), flew 50 missions and retired in 2010 as a Maj. Gen. He is still living.

-Capt. David P. Seawell (Weed), flew 36 missions and retired in 1997 as a Maj.  He was an American Airlines pilot. He had an extensive McEntire family. He experienced a long battle with MS and passed away September 23, 2020 in Virginia. His name is not yet on our Monument.

-Capt. John A. Sizemore (Smiley), flew 36 missions and did not retire. As far as we know he is still living.

-Master Sgt. Donald B. Smyth, retired in 2006 as Chief Master Sgt. He is still living.

-Capt. Thomas B. Spratt, III, (Strato) flew 51 missions and retired in 1997 as a Lt. Col. He was also a pilot for United Airlines. As far as we know he is still living.

-Tech. Sgt. Michael A. Stephens, was discharged in 1993.

-Tech. Sgt. Tommy A. Temple, retired in 2004 as a Chief Master Sgt. He is still living.

-Tech. Sgt. Charles D. Tinsley, retired in 2001 as a Chief Master Sgt. As far as we know he is still living.

-Tech Sgt. John A. Tjaarda, retired in 2009 as a Chief Master Sgt. He is still living.

-Capt. Joseph “Jody” G. Weston (Zipper), he flew 50 missions and did not retire. He was a pilot for Delta Airlines and as far as we know he is still living.

-Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Wicker, was discharged later in 1991.

-Tech Sgt. Lanny M. Williams, retired in 1995 as a Master Sgt. As far as we know he is still living.

-Master Sgt. Willis Williams, retired in 1991 as a Master Sgt. Normally he was assigned to the clinic. I’m not sure what his duties were in the operations section.

-Capt. Charles T. Young Jr., “Buddy” (Smurf), flew 50 missions and retired in 1997 as a Maj. He is still living. He and his wife Mary run Capitol Tours. I know them well. I have even seen Buddy fly a bus.

Of the 212 missions flown from January 17, 1991 to February 27, 1991, Kubla led the most as the missions lead pilot with 23. Jet comes in second with 21, J.R. 15, Zipper 14, Demo 13, Nobie 13, Cowman 12, DDawg 12, and Bullet 11. They were flying the F-16A model. Tail numbers for posterity and reminiscence are as follows: 288, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 295, 296, 297, 299, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 312, 314, 317, 319, 320, 321, 322, 325, and 532. I can’t help but wonder if pilots had a favorite plane, like in baseball where you have a favorite bat. That can be a good discussion.

Out of the 58 people assigned to the 157TFS, 40 of them became retirees, which is 69 percent of this group. The breakdown on the retiree ranks for the squadron is as follows:  one Maj. Gen., three Brig. Gens., eight Cols., seven Lt. Cols., six Majs., six Chief Master Sgts., 2 Senior Master Sgts., six Master Sgts., and one Staff Sgt. This leads to my running tally to date of honoring a total 147 people of which 111 of these folks became retirees, which is a bit over 75 percent. The total breakdown of this is one Maj. Gen., seven Brig. Gens. 11 Cols., 10 Lt. Cols., six Majs., 15 Chief Master Sgts., eight Senior Master Sgts., 37 Master Sgts., 11 Tech. Sgts., four Staff Sgts., and one Senior Airman. Admittedly, the 157TFS was loaded with pilots and rank. Many later became squadron commanders, wing commanders, chiefs of staff, assistant adjutants general-air, etc.  A very impressive group to say the least.

I must say, after surveying the call signs of our pilots, my favorite, or the one I have more affinity with is Scott Nottoli’s, “Knothead.” The reason why it is one of the names I call myself, or close to, on the golf course, among other names. I usually use ‘knucklehead’, when one of my frequent bad shots presents itself. So Scott Nottoli gets my award for favorite call sign. There are some other good ones, of course. This has been a fun article for me to write since I learned a lot doing this. It gives me, and hopefully others, an idea what all our pilots did. They should be very proud of their accomplishments. I know many others are proud for them come this 30th Anniversary time.