By Bob Barkalow Jr., Master Sgt. (Retired)
/ Published October 29, 2013
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- We had nearly 50 people at our October breakfast, and perhaps our last ever breakfast. As it stands right now, we are only doing luncheons and we will remain at the NCO Club. This may make some people very happy and others not so? Our first timers were Bob Smart and Les Carroll, it was good to see both of them. There was some concern about retirees not able to electronically receive the SCANG News. So we will address this problem in the future after we determine how many folks or percentages of folks are missing this prior benefit. Ultimately, we will try to determine what is best for all and how we can help those who are unable to receive the SCANG News, along with input from the Public Affairs office. Les Carroll mentioned we were one of the last units or states to go electronic. But that also means we could be lemmings and march off the cliff with all the others? We will try to fix this problem for those who can't or don't receive the SCANG News.
My wife and I have periodically been working on reconciling the names on our SCANG monument with names on our retirees list. I am finding we have some missing names, in particular, some of the 'old timers'. I may have to rely on some assistance from The Adjutant General's Office (TAG) on the disposition of certain individuals whether they are living or not, or when they died. So I need some verification on this before I submit more names to the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy Graduates Association guys to add additional names to the SCANG monument whenever they are able to engrave our missing names.
McEntire History: We are on our second increment of 2006 Retirees, and they are as follows; Col. Dana Rawl, Lt. Cols. Anthony Martin and Calhoun Hodges, Chief Master Sgts. Donald Smyth and Terry Austin, Senior Master Sgt. Rodger Thomas, Master Sgts. Richard Knesebeck, Delphin Gantt, Billy Price, Debra Anderson, George Poepping, Mark Newbauer, and Alphonso Isom, Tech. Sgts. Ronnie Carter and Chris Gordon, and Senior Airman Everett Wilson.
For some reason, many of our larger (personnel) call-ups were around this time of the year. The first being the 'famed' Korean War call-up, which was Oct. 10, 1950. The whole entire unit was called up for 21 months, mind you. The unit was assigned to Lawson Field, which is located at Fort Benning, Ga. We went from fighters to reconnaissance, which took some re-training for many personnel. Then there was the Berlin call-up with initial notification on Oct. 9, 1961, and the actual call-up being Nov. 1, 1961. There were a total of 747 men (no women) called up, where the majority went to Moron, Spain. Others were assigned to different bases in France and Germany. A few backfilled some slots in CONUS (Continental U.S.). Seeing the dates, I was marching and 'pushing the piece' (I will explain this to anyone who wants to know what it means) at the Great Lakes Naval Station when this call-up took place. There was a great influx of patriotism then. Many people enlisted during that timeframe.
Of course there was Operation Desert Storm, the official time for that was Nov. 27, 1990. There were 727 of us called up from almost every unit at McEntire. The majority of us went to Al Kharj, or later Prince Sultan Air Base located on the top of the empty quarter in Saudi Arabia, or just plain desert. The 169th Services Flight (cooks) was one of the first units to go. Second to deploy were some air traffic controllers, followed by the 240th Combat Communication Squadron to set up communications at that Air Base, since it was a bare-bones operation.
Then right after Christmas, the planes and the 169th showed up. People in increments started heading back home in March, some of us stayed until June 1991. I personally remember Gen. "Stormin" Norman Schwarzkopf telling us, "Boys I know you are Guard, we will get you home as soon as we can." He and most of the big-time generals went home, we in the 240th sat in the desert. Mind you, I am not bitter about this. In fact I'm sort of proud of it, got my Short-Tour Overseas Ribbon. But it just goes to show, you can't always believe what you hear? The Security Force guys got re-routed to Jeddah. Memorable times for all of us.
What have we got to look forward to? Right now luncheons is the key word and what has been determined for us. I have Ms. Pam English, who represents Moncrief Army Hospital, tentatively ready to address us on what services we can expect to get at Moncrief now. They are inviting us retirees back and they want to get their numbers up. Plus, Ms. English has vast knowledge of Medicare and TriCare for Life. So hopefully she can visit with us at our next luncheon. Please make an effort to attend. The luncheon will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5th beginning at noon at the Fort Jackson NCO Club. After discussion with the NCO Club staff, the food should be good.
Come join us.