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December 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 will be my 12th Desert Storm article honoring all Desert Shield/Desert Storm call-ups, and the 9th of 10 articles honoring the 169th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. I have expanded more key personnel listings, and my goal is to name and honor as many people as I can in this article and subsequent articles. 

This month as promised, I wanted to honor the “Avionic Goatherders” during the Desert Storm call-up. I got information from Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Kopak and Senior Master Sgt. T. Lynn Bryant, additional information was obtained from the 169th Units History compiled by Tech. Sgt. Carroll L. Allen.

Initially the Avionics Branch was composed of seven sections: A Shop-Radar, B Shop-Flight Control, C Shop-Communications, AVTR-Video Recording, AIS-Avionics Integrated Systems, PMEL-Precision Measurement Equipment Lab, and ECM-Electronic Counter Measurement Shop. A little before Desert Storm, the Avionics Branch combined the A, B, and C Shops to align up with active Air Force. And right before Desert Storm call-up, the Avionics Branch took a crash course on ECM Pods since the 169th had no experience using the ECM Pods. There was a lot of assistance from other Guard Units, and Active Duty folks. Shaw AFB provided some of their personnel to provide training on how to load and unload the ECM Pods right before the call up. There were 11 active duty personnel who went as part of the call-up with the initial 33 Avionics Branch members. Once in Saudi Arabia the 169th combined personnel and Shops with the 174th from New York initially, later they were able to have some separate facilities. About midway through Combat Operations, there was a requirement that radios on all our 24 planes become secure, the C Shop guys accomplished that feat in about seven days. Along with performing their duties, and setting up test stations, they also built tents, put up camouflage, filled sandbags, built bomb shelters, and pulled some guard duty, they had their hands full, especially with the ECM Pods which were shorting out or arcing, over time, found out that high altitude and the cold was not the ECM Pods friends.

Some of the Avionics Branch leaders were:

-Chief Master Sgt. Joseph F. Kopack, Branch NCOIC

Avionics Combined Shops: A/B/C

-Senior Master Sgt. Dale H. Wallace

Radar A Shop:

-Senior Master Sgt. Dale H. Wallace

Flight Control-B Shop:

-Master Sgt. Thomas J. Brock

Comm/Nav-C Shop:

-Master Sgt. A. Jud Pardue

PMEL:

-Master Sgt. C. Eston Housand

AIS:

-Master Sgt. A. Jud Pardue

ECM Pod Shop:

-Master Sgt. James R. Bolin

All the above folks, including all those that served in the Avionics Branch, including the 11 active duty personnel did a great job keeping the planes flying with all the latest technology during the Desert Storm era.

This month’s article we are honoring the next group of 43 individuals who were deployed during the Desert Shield/Storm call-up. Their rank is what they were at the time of deployment, and any other pertinent information I have about them. In addition to their rank at retirement, or they were discharged, or passed away. They are as follows:

-Airman Charles Sulita retired in 2013 as a Master Sgt. He may still be living.

-Sgt. Wilbur E. Sumter, Jr. at this time I have no information on him.

-Tech. Sgt. Edward Sutton retired in 2003 as a Senior Master Sgt. I believe he served two tours in Vietnam while in the Army and is a heck of a golfer.

-Tech. Sgt. Daniel F. Svoboba retired in 2003 as a Senior Master Sgt. I’m not sure if he is still living.

-Airman 1st Class Gary A. Swanson retired in 2007 as a Master Sgt. He lives in the Aiken area and he and his wife went on the Air Guard Washington trip in 2011.

-Tech. Sgt. Bradley J. Swartensburg was in Avionics and retired in 1996 as a Master Sgt. He passed away in 1999 and his name is on our Monument.

-Master Sgt. Corel C. Sweat. During Desert Storm he was the Training Management NCOIC. At this time I have nothing on him and I suspect he retired during the Missing Link years (1987-93).

-Sgt. Ronald J. Szyjka. At this time I have nothing on him.

-Staff Sgt. David R. Taber, II. At this time I have no information on him.

-Airman 1st Class Charles C. Talbert. At this time, I have no information on him.

-Master Sgt. Julian C. Tanner he retired in 2002 as a Chief Master Sgt. During Desert Storm Julian was the C Flight Leader and is still living.

-Staff Sgt. Mark W. Tanner is believed to be still an active member, During Desert Storm, he was an Assistant Crew Chief and is Julian’s son.

-Tech. Sgt. Steven L. Tanner retired in 2004 as a Master Sgt. He was Lead Crew Chief on Plane #317, brother to Julian, and Mark’s uncle. He is still living, had some recent medical problems, slowly on the mend.

-Tech. Sgt. Billy J. Taylor, Jr. retired in 2004 as a Chief Master Sgt. There are so many Taylors that were deployed not sure which Taylor was the Lead Crew Chief on Plane #312. He is believed to be still living.

-Staff Sgt. Floyd Taylor retired in 2010 as a Senior Master Sgt. He is believed to be still living, he was in the 240th for a while.

-Staff Sgt. Harry A. Taylor retired in 1999 as a Tech. Sgt. I have no idea if he is still living.

-Tech. Sgt. James A. Taylor retired in 1995 as a Tech. Sgt. I have no idea if he is still living.

-Staff Sgt. Thomas D. Taylor Jr. He retired in 2009 as a Master Sgt. He was a Avionics guy, believed to be still living.

-Master Sgt. Jack S. Tedder retired in 2009 as a Chief Master Sgt. During Desert Storm he was NCOIC of Load Standardization, which certifies the Weapons Load Crews.

-Airman 1st Class Reginald Thomas. At this time, I have no information on him.

-Staff Sgt. Tamela M. Thomas. At this time I have no information on her.

-Tech. Sgt. Curtis M. Thompson. At this time, I don’t have any information on him retiring. He was attached to the C-130 crew during the mid 80s.

-Tech. Sgt. Nathaniel Thompson retired in 1997 as a Master Sgt. I have no idea if he is still living.

-Staff Sgt. Sheila A. Thompson. At this time, I have no information about her.

-Master Sgt. Archie S. Thorpe, Jr. retired in 1992 as a Master Sgt. As far as we know, he made all three of the ‘major’ deployments, Korea, Berlin and Desert Storm, the only person known to have done this. He was Lead Crew Chief on Plane #321. He passed away in 1998. His name is on our Monument.

-Staff Sgt. Kevin F. Thorpe retired in 2017 as a Master Sgt. A Munitions guy, he is still living, Archie was his dad.

-Airman 1st Class Charles G. Tolliver. At this time, I have no information about him.

-Staff Sgt. Gary R. Townsend. At this time I have no information about him.

-Staff Sgt. Kevin A. Travis retired in 2019 as a Chief Master Sgt. He is believed to be still living.

-Tech. Sgt. Otis W. Troutman retired in 1999 as a Master Sgt. At this time, I have no idea if he is still living.

-Senior Master Sgt. Eugene Tucker retired in 1992 as a Senior Master Sgt.  During Desert Storm, he was the B Flight Leader and just died recently. I went to his funeral at Fort Jackson National Cemetery spoke to his family. They had no idea what his role was during Desert Storm.

-Airman Dennis R. Turner, Jr. At this time I have information on him.

-Tech. Sgt. James D. Turner retired in 1999 as a Tech. Sgt. At this time I have no idea if he is living.

-Tech. Sgt. Woodrow W. Tyler, Jr. retired in 1997 as a Tech. Sgt. At this time I have no idea if he is living.

-Sgt. Angela M. Vance. At this time I have no information on her at all.

-Airman 1st Class Leslie E. Vandevander. At this time I have no information on this person at all.

-Staff Sgt. John L. Vansickle retired in 2012 as a Senior Master Sgt. At this time I have no idea if he is living.

-Senior Master Sgt.  Vitalis G. Viavoda retired in 1992 as a Senior Master Sgt. During Desert Storm he was A Flight Leader, interesting all the Maintenance Flight Leaders are in this article. He passed away in 2007 and his name is on our Monument.

-Tech. Sgt. Johnnie L. Waddell retired in 1997 as a Master Sgt. He was a Munitions guy. At this time, I have no idea if he is living.

-Staff Sgt. Patrick T. Wait retired in 2011 as a Chief Master Sgt. He is believed to be still living.

-Staff Sgt. Stevie K. Walker retired in 2016 as a Master Sgt. He is believed to be still living.

-Tech. Sgt. Zane W. Wall, he retired in 2011 as a Chief Master Sgt.  He was also the 5th Wing Command Chief, a Munitions guy, still living, just talked to him not too long ago.

-Senior Master Sgt. Dale H. Wallace retired in 1996 as a Chief Master Sgt. During Desert Storm he was the Combined A/B/C Flight Leader in the Avionics Section. He passed away in 2009 and his name is on our Monument.

Statistics for this article: we have 29 people from this group who retired. The other 13 people were either discharged, and many had no information about them that I could find.  One, Mark Tanner, is still an active member. The known 29 people to retire represents 67.4 percent featured in this article. The breakdown of the 29 people to retire in this article by rank are seven Chief Master Sgts., six Senior Master Sgts., 11 Master Sgts. and five Tech. Sgts. The running total of the folks honored thus far for deploying to Desert Storm, 377 folks have become Retirees which represents 66.8 percent of the total of 564 deployed folks thus far. The breakdown of the 377 Retired folks is as follows:  2 Maj. Gens., six Brig. Gens., 13 Cols., 16 Lt. Cols., eight Majs., 64 Chief Master Sgts., 61 Senior Master Sgts., 144 Master Sgts., 55 Tech. Sgts., seven Staff Sgts. and one Senior Airman for a total 377 Retired members to date.

Other deployments and significant happenings during the month of December:

December 9, 1946 first member of SCANG, Robert H. Morrell

December 9, 1946, first muster and organization of SCANG

December 8, 1954, first alert recall for SCANG

December 5, 1958, first female member of SCANG, 1st Lt. Jean Clark, she was a nurse.

December 15, 1963, first officer to retire from SCANG (Lt. Col. Jack L. Moak)

December 1978, first Senior Enlisted Advisor in SCANG (Chief Master Sgt. Clemence D. Turbeville)

December 1996, 240th ATCF to Tazar, Hungary, 34 folks.