January Retiree's Corner
By Robert (Bob) W. Barkalow, Jr., Master Sgt. (Retired)
/ Published January 02, 2014
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- We had a count of 66 folks show for our December Luncheon, and a merry crowd it was. This time we had two great speakers, Col. Thad Myers, who informed and re-informed us about the Guard Association, and our 'surprise' speaker, Lt. Col. 'Abu' Gandhi, the relatively new 157th Fighter Squadron commander, who gave us an excellent presentation about the flying squadron. He also 'predicted' the first F-35s would be bestowed upon the Vermont Air Guard, and the next day it was in The State paper.
After the Luncheon, we were one of the most informed groups of people in the Metropolitan Area. Ike McLeese would have been proud. In one sense, I am enjoying the 'new' Luncheon crowd. There is overall more people, more spouses and more people coming from greater distances, all being a plus. So this is written as a hint to get off your couch or easy chair and come on down, break bread with us and come a bit early to socialize with your old and new comrades. I was very pleased to see many people were there early doing just that. I almost hate to interrupt the socialization and call the meeting to order.
Our first timers were Betty Merck (Bob's wife), Marion Bowie (Jim's wife) and Bill Guyton from Weapons.
McEntire History: My own personal history and this just occurred to me recently, is the fact that I have been retired from McEntire as long as I served. I joined in January 1978, and retired in 1996, 18 years ago. I did three years, 11 months and 14 days in the Navy way back in the early to mid-60's and was discharged in 1965 to attend USC Conway (now Coastal Carolina). By the way, tuition was only $205.00 at that time. It was a hoot. I had been at sea the whole summer in the North Atlantic for the traditional Midshipmen Cruises, got out and went straight to school/class.
As you may know, there were no women aboard ship or the North Atlantic, and I was thrown straight into class sitting next to attractive young ladies, which was most disconcerting to me at least for the first couple of weeks. Then I came to Columbia to attend USC the next year and later started rooming with one of my old high school buddies, Mike Campbell, who was at McEntire. I used to make fun of him when he had to go to drill. I have since learned the old adage; he who laughs first does not always laugh last. Mike used to bring people from the base home with him, such as Jack Nichols and Karl Bowers, even then I had no interest of re-joining the military.
Many years later Jim Bowie asked me with my prior service if I would consider joining out at the base. I don't remember exactly what I told him. But the next day or two, Dewey Daniels was on my doorstep, so here I am. I would also say this was towards the end of the Vietnam era and the roles at the base were depleting. So I consider myself as a 98.6 type of guy, since there was a recruiting frenzy at that time to build the force up.
Enough about me, let's begin with the first increment of 2007 retirees. They are: Chief Master Sgt. Victor L. Owen; Senior Master Sgts. Harry Kennedy, John W. Valdario and Larry Montgomery; Master Sgts. Matthew G. Brichant, James Turner, Donald Liester and Willie Edney Jr.; Tech. Sgts. Gloria Holmes and Earl Singleton; Staff Sgts. Emmit Burnett Jr. and Roger E. Davis.
We will start another year, 2014. During the past several years, I have begun to memorialize those that passed the previous year, 2013. This is all in conjunction with keeping up with all our retirees for posterity sake. So we will have a short Memorial Service at our next Luncheon, Jan. 7th, at the NCO Club beginning as 1200. Please come and honor these folks who have left us and gone on their final 'flight'. Additionally, we had a total of 46 retirees for the year 2013, which gives us a cumulative total of 1191 known retirees. I am projecting we have another 25-50 retirees we missed during the "Missing Link" years (1987-93), which I am determined to track them down. I hope to see many of you next month/year at our Jan. 7th Luncheon.