By Bob Barkalow, Master Sgt. (Retired)
/ Published January 04, 2013
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- We had our December Luncheon, which was good, perhaps a 'light' attendance. We only drew in about 56 folks, but the 56 had a good time and were treated to informative speakers, the Wing Commander and Mr. Ike McLeese, who is the Director of The Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce. He is actively involved with our local and State military, which has a huge economic impact to our area and State. He explained all this to us and also explained more in detail what could happen with the 'fiscal cliff/sequestration issues. By the time you will read this, we will know which way we are going, over the cliff, or perched on top of the cliff? We also had some Army Guard representatives, who represent the Adjutant General, always glad to have them. In one sense, we seem to be evolving into a larger network of folks with common interests. It is my guess this will be good and maybe necessary in the long run and future.
Our first timers were Phil Gee and Mike Hale. Bill Allen brought one of the Greatest Generation folks, Mr. Bruce Cook, who served in the Army Air Corps, who did 35 missions in a B-17, as a ball turret gunner, now that's what I call a hero, although most of them don't consider themselves as such. If you know of anyone like Mr. Cook, bring them to our future Breakfasts/Luncheons, so we can honor them. We also had Bill Burbage's mother attend, she is 103 years young, and Gen. Bob Johnson came, he just turned 90 with a new hip replacement.
McEntire History: We are celebrating 2003 the largest "Retiree Year" in McEntire's history, 72 of our members retired in 2003. There is nothing close to that amount in previous years, or subsequent years. I looked back to see if there is a cause and effect for this phenomena, and I can't say this is it, but there were deployments in 2000 to Turkey (Northern Watch), deployment to Saudi Arabia (Southern Watch) in 2001, a deployment to Qatar (Operation Enduring Freedom) in 2002, and lastly, support of OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) in 2003. Some folks may have just become tired of deployments, or it was just time for a bunch of people to get out? I don't know, anyway our second batch of 2003 retirees are: Brig. Gen. Charles Savage, Col's Claude Eichelberger and John Walters. Lt. Col. Timothy McClelland. Chief Master Sgt's Sherman Goodwin, and Preston Cook. Master Sgt's David Coward, Alva Derrick Jr., Harvey Dyson, Donna Flick, Consuela Heath, and Wilmer Logan. Tech. Sgt's Robert Alston Jr., Sandra McCrea, James Bailey, Robert Simmons, and Arthur Tucker. Staff Sgt. William Dinger Jr.
Speaking of the fore mentioned Northern Watch deployment to Turkey, which took place in January of 2000, it was the last time that all representative McEntire Squadrons went at the same time; the 169th, the 240th, and 245th. My son went on a tour to Cappadocia then with some other folks, just as I did back in 1980 when Turkey was under Martial Law. We had to ride a bus with 2 Oskers (meaning draftees) with tommy guns. At first it was a little distracting, but then if you gave them cigarettes that would lighten them up, we were buddies.
This is the first month of the non printed SCANG News, so let's see the reaction to all this. At this time, I am not sure how to get the updates to you, unless you've emailed Public Affairs to receive them on your own, if I can figure a way to make it easier or more palatable for you I'll do it. We have to use the old term, 'play it by ear'? So standby on that. In the meantime, please mark your calendar the date of January 8th, our first 2013 Breakfast, which will entail a short Memorial Service for those of us who passed during the year 2012. I hope to see you at the Fort Jackson Officers Club at 0830 for the January Breakfast.