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.

The Maryland summer is hotter than Satan’s armpit

Why do I live somewhere that gets so unbearably hot? I’ve lived here in Maryland for 22 years. Summers in western Maryland are sweltering. It’ a point of fact I’m more than acutely aware of, yet I choose to live here.

I don’t get it. I don’t like being hot. If I had to make a choice between extreme hot or extreme cold, I’d gladly take the extreme cold. With that said, I’ve lived most of my life in places that got ridiculously hot.

I grew up in the California Mojave desert. It routinely got over 100 in the summer. Later, when I joined the Air Force, I spent a year in Biloxi, Mississippi for training. In the 1988 movie Biloxi Blues, Matthew Broderick’s character accurately described Biloxi as being “Africa hot.”

I’ve never been to Africa, but I’ve experienced a summer in Biloxi. I don’t recommend it.

I followed up my stay in Mississippi with three years in the Philippines.

3rd CRS dormitory, Clark Air Base, Philippines (photo: Tim Tuttle)
3rd CRS dormitory, Clark Air Base, Philippines (photo: Tim Tuttle)

There were two seasons in the Philippines, the wet season and the dry season. Both were sweltering. One just had a lot more rain than the other.

I then spent another two years on the island of Guam. The weather was a lot like the Phillippines, hot and muggy. One of the officers in my squadron died from heat stroke while jogging.

After Guam, I spent four years in upstate New York. Although it got extremely cold in the winter, the summers were brutal.

It's more hot than Satan's armpit - Bent Corner
Feels hotter than Satan’s armpit

I then got out of the Air Force and moved to Maryland for a job. I’ve been here ever since. Unlike the other hot places I’ve lived, I chose to live here in Maryland, where the summers are Satan’s armpit hot.

I wish I lived somewhere that remained cool year round. I’d love to live somewhere where the temperature didn’t get higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Does such a place even exist?

Memorial Day and why I hate communists

Today is Memorial Day, the one day a year we officially recognize the ultimate sacrifice many, too many, military men and women have paid in service to our country. I spent over nine years in the United States Air Force, and in that time, I personally knew only one person who paid that ultimate price.

His name was Sergeant Randy Davis. I served with him at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. We were in the same squadron, the 3rd Component Repair Squadron (3rd CRS). I was in the Electronic Warfare shop, Randy worked in the Egress shop. His was a member of the group responsible for working on and maintaining the Martin-Baker ejection seats found in the F-4E and F-4G Phantom aircraft. We both worked the flight-line, directly on the aircraft. There was an electronic warfare display screen found in the aft cockpit of the F-4G Wild Weasel that had to be removed when the forward cockpit ejection seat was removed. The old F-4 was like that: to remove one thing, you often had to first remove two other things.

Because of this fact, I often found myself working on the same aircraft as Randy. I would remove the display, so he and his co-workers could remove the front seat.

3rd CRS dormitory, Clark Air Base, Philippines (photo: Tim Tuttle)
3rd CRS dormitory, Clark Air Base, Philippines (photo: Tim Tuttle)

The day Randy was killed was October 28, 1987. I spoke to him shortly before he was killed. It was late afternoon. He had stopped by the snack bar at the 3rd CRS dormitory to show us his airline tickets back to the world. He was scheduled to leave Clark AB for an assignment in the states. I don’t remember when he was scheduled to leave, but it must have been fairly soon because he wouldn’t have been given hard-copy airline tickets otherwise. Randy was married to a local girl, and they had at least one child. Because of that, he didn’t live in the dorms with us but instead lived off-base in a rented house.

Getting your airline tickets back to the states was a very big deal when stationed in the Philippines. It was a monumental occasion. Most people stationed in the Philippines looked forward to the day they were able to leave, and Randy was no exception. When Randy showed me his tickets, I’ll never forget what I said to him: I called him a dick. I was laughing when I said it and I’m certain he knew I was happy for him and more than a little envious, but the fact remains that the last thing I ever said to him was that he was a dick because he was going to leave the Philippines and I wasn’t.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought of that day and wished I hadn’t said that to him.

Randy left the snack bar and headed home. It turned out, when he stepped off a public jeepney, an elongated jeep used as public transportation, three members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, approached Randy from behind and shot him in the head, killing him instantly. Randy was unarmed and he was shot from behind. The three cowards then continued to shoot him as a lay dead on the ground.

Randy wasn’t the only one killed that afternoon. A retired American and another active duty airman were also assassinated that same day. I didn’t know them, but I did know Randy. I also know he didn’t deserve what happened to him.

He was a really nice guy with a good heart. He was most definitely not a dick.

I wish I knew what happened to the communists who murdered Randy. Ronald Reagan, president at the time, didn’t respond to the attacks. Instead, he left the matter up to the Philippine government. They didn’t do anything.

In 2007, members of the NPA were officially given amnesty by the Philippine government. Of all the things those terrorist scum deserved, amnesty was not one of them.

I hate Communists

che_tshirtAlthough there are people who have a misguided, nostalgic appreciation for all things communist, I’m not one of them. When I see some stupid hipster wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt, I want to punch them in the throat. Something tells me that if communists murdered one of their friends, a sweet man like Randy Davis, they wouldn’t wear a t-shirt glorifying communists.

On this Memorial Day, I’m going to remember the sacrifice of United States Air Force Sergeant Randy Davis, a good man shot in the back of the head because of the uniform he was wearing.

May Randy Davis rest in peace and his killers rot in Hell.

Super Typhoon Haiyan hits the Philippines

A massive super typhoon hit the Philippines on Friday, leaving hundreds, possibly thousands dead. The brunt of the storm, named Super Typhoon Haiyan, seems to have concentrated on the island of Leyte. The Philippines is a country comprised of thousands of islands. This is a photo of Super Typhoon Haiyan taken from space:

Typhoon_Haiyan_from_space

Photos taken on the ground of the carnage left in the storm’s wake aren’t nearly so beautiful. In fact, they’re pretty terrible. As a general rule, things normally look better from space.

I spent three years in the Philippines, from 1985 to 1988, while serving in the Air Force. I was stationed at Clark Air Base. I remember Super Typhoon Dot in 1985. I don’t remember it killing a lot of people, but I do remember it leaving a lot of people without homes. Mostly this was because some people living near the air base lived in little more than plywood shacks. In the Philippines, people would build shacks wherever they wanted, with whatever materials they had, whether they had any legal claim to the land or not. The house I was living in was made from solid concrete. although that construction method made it nearly impossible to hang anything on the walls, it made for a very secure dwelling, especially during a super typhoon.

The Philippine Red Cross is accepting donations online.

Jack Tramiel, father of the Commodore 64, has died

Jack Tramiel, the father of the Commodore 64 home computer, died Sunday. He was 83.

Tramiel founded Commodore International in 1955. Tramiel wanted a military-style name for his new company, and the words General and Admiral were already taken, so Tramiel settled on the word Commodore.

The Commodore 64 was released in 1982 and went on to become the best-selling home computer of all time with over 17 million sold. It was the first computer I ever owned. I purchased my first Commodore 64 in 1985 while in the Air Force stationed in Philippines. I had a Commodore 64 with two 1541 floppy drives and a 1702 monitor. It was awesome.

Jack Tramiel was a great man. He will be missed.