October Retiree's Corner
By Robert (Bob) W. Barkalow Jr., Master Sgt. (Retired)
/ Published September 26, 2014
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- We had our normal numbers for the September Luncheon, around 50 folks. I may have been remiss in mentioning our first-timers, actually we haven't had too many lately. Anyway, we had Walt Reese from Weapons and Steve Corley show up from the Aiken/North Augusta way. We do have a nice 'contingent' from the Aiken area, so I encourage them to get together and car pool up to the Luncheons if feasible? As always, Lt. Col. Scott "Cleetus" Bridgers came by to talk to us for the third time in his illustrious career. He is definitely entertaining and a great pilot and Aircraft Maintenance Officer.
I spoke of the meaning and significance of each fold of the flag, at military funerals, which many people were impressed with. Actually I got several requests to send them the flag folding meanings. I have kept this so if anybody in the future would like to have it let me know.
McEntire History: I will begin with a listing of the first group of 2010 Retirees. My we are getting close to the 'present'? There was a total of 30 people retiring for the year 2010, based on this I will split them into two groups, and the ones retiring the first part of 2010 are as follows: Maj. Gen. Timothy R. Rush; Cols. Joseph Kinney and William F. Evans (I remember him well during Desert Storm, he tended his flock well); Lt. Cols. James Hiott and Adam Spitler; Chief Master Sgts. Peter Prioleau, Carl Alston, and Luther Jones; Senior Master Sgts. Robert Mitchell, Willie C. Martin Jr., and Kreis Lewis; Master Sgts. Benjamin Jacobs, Richard Hodges, Tyron M. Whitener, and Tech. Sgt. Todd E. Spaeth.
I mentioned last month about four of us visiting the USS Missouri (BB-63) during Desert Storm. How did this happen? First of all, there was some kind of lottery going on at the Air Base at Al Kharj (now Prince Sultan AB), and the lottery consisted of so many people from each unit being drawn randomly to go visit the cruise liner, Cunard Princess, for about three days of R & R. This was around March 1991. So I and a bus load of other people were assigned to go on this R & R trip, we were about the third group to be selected. So we traveled across the hot desert to Bahrain where the cruise liner was docked. It was an amazing sight when you first entered the ship and saw the vast array of food. There were people from all over the area of operations. A sight for the weary desert worn eyes to take in was the bountiful harvest of food that was laid out, especially having to eat Chun King Chicken the majority of time back at the base.
One day, four of us wandered outside the ships contemplating what to do and noticed there were some Americans (Army guys) walking by, so I asked where they were going? They said they were going out to the USS Missouri, one of the Battleships, stationed over there for Desert Storm. I then asked if we could tag along, they really didn't know, so we started walking after them and found out they were riding a supply boat out to the Missouri to replenish it. Nobody seemed to have any objections of having four more people tagging along. So we got into the boat and headed out and over the horizon, luckily I had a camera with me, it was a sight to see coming up to the Missouri from a distance.
We saw Marines working out on top of the 16" gun turrets, and various sailors tending to the ship. Once aboard, there was a Boatswain's Mate 1/C (E-6, close to God like) in charge of the quarterdeck, and he had his crew swabbing the deck. He yelled at us to not mess his deck up, and being a former Navy guy I gave it back to him, so he backed off and we were able to take pictures of the plaques where the Japanese signed the surrender papers at the end of WWII. We then were able to tour the ship. I still have a USS Missouri hat I bought. One of guys with me was my roommate, Tom Bulman, the other two I don't remember their names?
Now that is what you call being at the right place and the right time. I have pictures and I may bring them to the next Luncheon for verification. Then back to Al Kharj for another three months for me. By this time, groups of people were being rotated back to McEntire periodically. I came home June 22nd, one of the last to return, many of the tents were being torn down. My home was tent #M6. My reference to the Chun King Chicken was in good spirit, because when the 169th Services Flight left, the food wasn't good at all. I and others lost a lot of weight, actually I probably need to go back and 'tone' myself up again?
The next Luncheon is October 7th, later than usual, at of course the NCO Club at Fort Jackson, we start around noon. Come a little earlier so you can gab with your old buddies, tell lies and embellish McEntire stories like I did above?