August Retiree Corner

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- Another great luncheon, with about 75-80 folks! Some of you might be wondering ... is there ever a bad breakfast or luncheon? No, there hasn't been, in my opinion. It's all for the common good and social gathering of mostly SCANG Retirees, and that is what stimulates the overall fellowship, comradeship and love that flows throughout these gatherings.
Since last month there have been many misfortunate and unexpected happenings within the Air and Army Guard community, people dying before their time with small children at home. It becomes profoundly sad, but sometimes it is part of the trials and tribulations of life.
Back to the luncheon. The wing commander could not make this event; however, he sent vice commander Col. Mike Manning, who gave us the full "state of McEntire." He asked for any questions afterwards, and there were none. He did a masterful job briefing us.
We also had Maj. Brian Doyle, one of the newest maintenance officers and one of the future leaders at McEntire. From my viewpoint, things are in good hands.
We had as many first timers as we've ever had. They were Billy Watterson, Becky Daniels, (Billy's better half), Lucinda Bradford, Marion Shuler (one of my 240th cohorts) and a couple of CE types, Carl Alston and Trez Timmons. Also, we had D-Dawg for the first time ... that's Deane Pennington. Plus, we welcomed guests of the Paul Hawkins family. Paul cracks me up and has some great stories. There were more than usual spouses, which is good; they are part of the SCANG as well! We also had Col. Ronnie Taylor and Command Sgt. Maj. John Witt, SCARNG, who manage the Service Member and Family Care section for the Adjutant General. So we had a diverse and sneaky group.
The reason I say 'sneaky' ... 'they' (using black ops guile and cunning) awarded my wife Jean and me for our service to the SCANG Retirees. I don't even know who 'they' are, but we were both filled with surprise, appreciation, honor and pride for what this meant to us.
McEntire History: We are honoring the last batch of 2001 retirees. They are Col. George (Jet) Jernigan, III; Majs. Eric Dodson and David Gray; Chief Master Sgts. Robert (RG) Turner, Arthur (Jud) Pardue, Tinamarie Pastore and James Morris; Master Sgts. Davey M. Schnieder, John A. McGee and Michael S. Anderson; Tech. Sgts. Michael Truell, Louis (Speedy) Gonzalez, Billy Gossett, William Hoefer and Gary Sindelar.
Actually, I almost missed mentioning the anniversary of the OIF deployment two years ago to Iraq. We had about 400 folks go over for a four-month AEF deployment. I believe we were one of the last fighter groups coming out of Iraq before the drawdown. I know our Army Aviation guys were the last to come out in 2011 and re-deployed to Kuwait a little later in the year.
As for the planes ... and this should bring us up to date for now ... let's consider our Block 52 F-16's. We started receiving them a couple years after Desert Storm, the C and D models, primarily to be used for the SEAD missions. These planes have served us well, and must continue to do so, since it looks to be a good while before we acquire the F-35. Terry Wingard reminded me that during Desert Storm we had the oldest inventory of F-16's (the Block 10 A & B models). They came from Hill AFB, I believe, and we had the best maintenance record of any flying squadron deployed for Desert Storm. This is a tribute to our Maintenance guys. So, the beat goes on for the 157th Squadron, 169th Wing and all the support units that make it all work. We have created quite a legacy, and the 'new' folks strive to maintain this tradition of excellence. I will admit from my viewpoint it appears to be more intense for the 'new' guys based on many more factors, but they are maintaining.
Our August breakfast will be at the Fort Jackson Officers Club on the 7th, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Please come see us and mingle with some of us 'old timers' (some are older than others, but it is a good mix, come and see).