Bent Corner

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Tag: B-52

North Korea, Guam, and nuclear war

North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un has threatened to send four mid-range ballistic missiles over Japan and drop them within 18 to 24 miles of Guam. This development takes me back to the days of my youth.

After joining the Air Force at 19 and attending electronic warfare systems tech school, I was assigned to the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. I spend three long years there. Our mission was North Korea. Everything we did was aimed at going to war against North Korea.

Our forward operating base was Osan Air Base in South Korea. If war kicked off with North Korea, we would deploy to Osan. We were required to have a mobility bag packed at all times containing four sets of uniforms. They would hold drills were we had to report to work with our mobility bag. They were supposed to inspect it to make sure it was actually packed, but I don’t think they always did.

We would also deploy to South Korea on a regular basis, usually once a year in February for Team Spirit. We would stay up to six weeks at a time living in tents. One year I remember going in October for ten or so days.

I got into scuba diving while stationed in the Philippines. There were some really fantastic dive spots in the Philippines, but they were far from Clark Air Base. It meant I could only dive on three-day weekends. I wished I could dive more often. Ideally, I wanted to be able to dive every day. It was then that I began thinking about Guam. If I were stationed on Guam, I could theoretically go diving every day.  Being that I was stationed overseas, if I volunteered to go to another overseas assignment, I would get rewarded with 30 days paid leave to use between assignments. Plus, if I volunteered for Guam after the Philippines, I would supposedly get higher priority with my assignment after Guam.

I changed my dream sheet, the Air Force document on file that listed our preferences on assignments, for duty on Guam.

I got my wish. My “dream” was fulfilled. I finally left the Philippines in 1988. I was assigned to the 43rd Bomb Wing at Andersen Air Force Base. I was stationed there for over two years and I loved every minute of it. I got to work on the B-52, something I loved. When I was stationed at Clark Air Base, I worked on the F-4E and the F-4G Wild Weasel. The F-4 was a pain in the ass to work on. If anyone ever tells you they loved working on the F-4, they are lying. I hated the Philippines and I hated working on the F-4.

I loved Guam and I loved working on the B-52.

Guam was fantastic. Not only was the scuba diving better than the Philippines, it was a lot more accessible. I didn’t have to wait for 3-day weekends to go diving. I could go every day. Sometimes I did. I worked the flightline until midnight and would often go diving after work with some of the guys I worked with. Once you get into night diving, it’s hard to get back into daytime diving. In the pitch black with a high-intensity dive light, the colors really pop.

The Philippines was a third-world cesspool. Guam is the United States.

It makes me angry to hear Kim Jong Un threaten Guam. I’m tired of North Korea being a thing. It should have ceased to exist when the Soviet Union fell. It’s 2017. We shouldn’t still be burning calories dealing with North Korea. If North Korea launches missiles towards Guam, we should just nuke it from orbit and be done with it. Should we first wait for North Korea to use one of its nukes on us? To destroy an American city?

No thanks.

B-52 getting fuel on the way to Australia

I was going through some photos this weekend and found some pics I took during a deployment to Australia, back when I was in the Air Force. It was from when I was stationed on Guam at Andersen Air Force Base. I was assigned to the 43rd OMS squadron.

Around once a month, they would send three B-52’s to the land down under so aircrews could practice their terrain avoiding, low-level flying skills, something they couldn’t really do on Guam. As fate would have it, Australia’s Northern Territory had lots and lots of low-level terrain. Go figure. The deployment, known as a TDY for “temporary duty”, lasted only a few days and from my prospective, was a complete waste of money.

For one thing, I was an electronic countermeasures technician. I worked on the radar detectors and radar jammers used on the B-52. These systems would not even be turned on, let alone used during the four-day deployment. There was absolutely no reason for someone in the ECM shop to go. I remember asking my supervisor why they even send someone from our shop when they don’t use our systems. He told me it was just a perk of the job, every time there was a deployment to Australia, one of us got to go. The fact that we weren’t needed was irrelevant.

The other reason the TDY was a waste of money was because Australia wasn’t all that far from Guam, relatively speaking. The B-52 is meant for long-range attack missions. Case in point, the first shot fired in Desert Storm, also known as the Iraq War 1.0, was from a B-52 that took off from a base in Louisiana. There was absolutely no need to deploy to Australia’s Northern Territory so crews could practice flying at 50-feet above the outback. They could just fly the five hours it took to travel from Guam to Australia, practice not crashing into the ground, and then fly back to Guam.

We flew down to Australia in KC-135 cargo tankers. The boom operator was nice enough to let me lay next to him and watch while he refueled the B-52’s. It’s how I took the above picture.

The TDY lasted all of four days. We settled in on the first day, flew training missions all day the second, had the day off on the third, and on the fourth, we flew back to Guam. On the one day dedicated to the reason for the trip, I sat around and played chess with all the other people there with nothing to do.

As far as Australia goes, I wasn’t really that impressed. We were in Darwin and it reminded me of Oklahoma, only better because it didn’t have any Oklahomans. When I travel to a foreign country, I like to experience something different from the culture I’m familiar with. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed Korea and Japan so much. The best part of Australia was by far the people. Australians have to be the nicest, friendliest people in the world. They also have the best accent in the world.

The English language sounds no greater to the human ear than when it’s spoken by an Australian. That’s just a fact.

Cool looking B-52 photo

I stumbled upon this photo while looking for a photo of something else. Isn’t it great? It was taken flying over Edwards Air Force Base on December 2, 2004. Click on the photo to see a much larger version. I grew up near Edwards Air Force base and I love the B-52.

(Photo: chamorrobible.org)

In Harms Way

This is an illustration of aircraft B-52G 0248. It’s too small to see, but the nose art shows that this aircraft had the nickname of “In Harms Way”. There is a story that goes along with the nickname. Then again, don’t most nicknames have a story?

This is the B-52G that was accidentally hit with an AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missile fired from an F-4G Wild Weasel on the first night of operation DESERT STORM. The B-52’s tail gunner mistakenly locked his anti-aircraft radar on the Wild Weasel thinking it was an Iraqi MIG. The Wild Weasel immediately detected the B-52 tail gun radar locking on to him and misidentified the radar signature as that of an Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) site. The Wild Weasel crew fired a HARM missile and watched in horror as it headed not towards the nonexistent Iraqi AAA site, but to the B-52 is was tasked with protecting.

Luckily the missile failed to hit the plane but instead detonated directly behind the bomber. These missiles are designed to hit non-moving ground targets, not moving airplanes. The resulting shrapnel and missile debris caused an excessive amount of damage to the tail section of the B-52. It ripped off everything aft of the vertical stabilizer. This included much of the tail gun system, the aft electronic warfare suite, and the drag chute. The B-52 was able to land safely on the island of Diego Garcia in Saudi Arabia.

0248

I don’t know who took this awful photo of aircraft 0248, but it wasn’t me. I’m the guy on the far right.

It was then sent to Anderson Air Force Base on Guam for repair. I was in on the repair of this aircraft shortly after is was damaged. During the first Iraqi war, I was assigned to a squadron that was responsible for repairing B-52’s being used in Iraq and being flown from Diego Garcia. I spent four months back on Guam. I had been stationed there prior for almost three years. I could have been sent to places far worse than Guam. I could have gone to Saudi. I could have spent four months on Diego Garcia. I spent two weeks there once and that was long enough for me. As it was, I loved Guam.

Update

Bob Deasy, the Radar Nav on board this aircraft the night it took a missile was kind enough to stop by and correct me on some of the things I got wrong about this story. His corrections can be found in the comment section. The main issue I got wrong was that the B-52 gunner locked onto the Wild Weasel with his radar.

He did not do that.

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