By Robert (Bob) W. Barkalow Jr., Master Sgt. (Retired)
/ Published August 26, 2014
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD, S.C. -- We are keeping our 'average' intact, there was about 50-55 participants that came to our August Luncheon. And a good Luncheon it was! Our McEntire speaker was 'different'. He's an active duty Swamp Fox, Lt. Col. Erik "Buster" Hoffman, who heads up all the active duty associates. A good guy, and as I mentioned to him, he just could make it physically (6'4") to fit into an F-16 cockpit. We kidded him about that, an Air Force Academy graduate. I really think he got into our retiree mode and enjoyed some retiree yarns we spun him. Harold Simmons had him cornered when I left to go to the Commissary. He more or less reiterated what the wing commander told us the previous month. Always good to verify.
Most of us filled out a petition to keep Fort Jackson, can you imagine, or Columbia imagine, what it would be like to not have Fort Jackson? I say it would even be more graphic than not having a McEntire. These are scary times with the ominous threat of having a military installation one day, and gone the next, by some acclimation of a committee?
McEntire History: This is our final group of 2009 retirees, as always if you are a 2009 retiree and have not seen your name, then please let me know. It is very important to me and some others that we capture every one of us retirees for posterity purposes.
The final 2009 retirees are as follows: Lt. Col. Mark Cox, Chief Master Sgt. John Tjaarda, Master Sgts. Bobby Larson, Lyndon Evans, Tommie Jenkins, George L. Batten, Arthur (Art) L. Cavanaugh, Kenneth B. Stevenson, Brian T. Duncan (one of three brothers serving at McEntire), Maggie B. McDonald, and Tech. Sgt. Omar Vasquez. All good folks for sure, now let's get them to the luncheons.
Now what kind of deployments did we have in September of any given year? No major ones, however, if I am not mistaken the A-7's took off to Hawaii to Barbers Point back in the 70's. I really have more concrete information about the many deployments the 240th did as part of the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF), in which I and others participated in. The first being deployed to Operation Coronet Power, Murted Air Base, Sept./Oct. 1980, right out of Ankara. That was wild, many got sick, especially the lead group, because of the water. At that time Turkey was under martial law, and we had to ride around in a bus with two Turkish troops with machine guns, one in front and one in back. It was a bit stark initially. But we soon learned if we gave them cigarettes, they 'softened' up, and became our buddies.
Another interesting note was our tents being located between the flight line and the gunnery range with all the NATO planes constantly flying and shooting. Overall it was a great deployment. Many of us got to go on a historical trip to the Cappadocia region, which is where the Christians hid from the Genghis Khan and Mongol hordes for years. There were a total of 34 of us that participated in that deployment.
Another September/October trip the 240th took part of as the RDF was to Andravida AB, Greece, for Operation Display Determination in 1981. That is in the Peloponnesus Region, the big island below Athens. Personally I have never seen so many stars, since there were no street lights, and no moon at that time. It got a bit scary toward the end when President Anwar Sadat of Egypt was killed while we were deployed to Andravida. Being straight across the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt, we thought we might have to stay, but cooler heads prevailed and we were able to come home.
We supported the 401st out of Torrejon, Spain. There were a total of 54 of us that participated. We again learned it would not be good to be a lawn mower salesman in that region, no grass! I was tasked to make a 240th logo out of rocks, and then I spray painted them white. Everyone including the Greeks thought it was pretty neat? The Greeks had one little patch of grass, and they dared anybody to walk on it. However, at the end of the deployment, I had forgotten something and had to sprint to our now former worksite, and had to run across the grass, it was not well received. It is funny how and what you remember?
OK our next Luncheon is the day after Labor Day, which is September 2nd. As per usual, the Luncheon will be held at the NCO Club beginning at 12:00, please come if you can. September 2nd is the anniversary of WWII ending in 1945. Also the official surrender was held on the U.S.S. Missouri. That is another story I can tell you someday about me and three other McEntire guys visiting the U.S.S. Missouri off of the coast of Bahrain during Desert Storm. One last thought, we need to break our average next month, and not the other way, lets shoot for 60 people!