Friday, May 13, 2011

What Crew Dogs Did

After I had completed my training to get rated, I spent the first five or so years alternating between deploying to Guam and Thailand for six month stints and pulling nuclear alert in B-52s.  The former was 99% boredom and 1% stark terror as we did our support of the Greater Southeast Asian Land/Air War usually designated as the Vietnam War; however, we did do some bombing other places and so Vietnam War is not particularly accurate. 

The alert part was, by comparison, 100% boredom.  At Beale Air Force Base, in northern California, we pulled three and four day alert cycles.  This was because the alert facility and the airplanes were about 7 miles from everything and so we couldn't go anywhere.  The wheels thought that we'd better not keep these guys so isolated.  Who knows what might happen!  At Carswell Air Force Base in Texas, our alert tours were seven days in length.  We could even go to the officers' club!

We ate, drank, slept, showered, and everything else in the alert shack.  The shack had two stories and was built half underground.  The top floor had the offices, the mission planning rooms, the briefing room, the T.V. lounge and the mess hall.  Down below were the sleeping rooms and showers.  We bunked two and three to a room.  Just like college! 

We began the day with the "daily briefing" (imagine that) followed by a check of the aircraft.  We put external power on a fired up the radios for a check with the command post.  After that, we returned to the alert facility for whatever the schedule directed.  We studied our war mission and withstood the onslaught of questions from the staff as required.  After this exercise, we might do some mission planning for a future flight, go get some simulator time, or perform any of a number of recurring training requirements.

Frequently, we were "exercised."  This meant that the alert klaxon went off and we had to run to our aircraft and start engines.  After we got radio contact, we would receive our orders.  Sometimes this might be to taxi to the hold line and await further instructions, shut down engines and remain in the aircraft, or wrap things up and go back to the alert facility.  These exercises were very important for timing and we were graded by headquarters for our response times. 

After normal duty hours, we lined up for chow and then spent the evening at various avocations such as card playing, T.V. watching or b.s. sessions.  It was difficult to be away from home for a week; however, we were able to invite family members to visit us on occasion.  Holiday meals were open to family members.  We had an important job and we realized that each of our alert aircraft carried more destruction than was used in World War II. 

Exciting?  Not really but see next blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment