Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Where the hell are we??

April 1st, 2007 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Dear Gang,
While I was channel surfing the other day, I stopped on a news clip about two battle groups in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran in the midst of “War Games” but it was proclaimed that it wasn’t suppose to be a threat to Iran. Funny how this came about after the Brits were kidnapped. What makes this news segment noteworthy is the fact that it was on the “700 Club” and this was on Monday, days before the mainstream or even cable news brought this up. I think the Iranians need to go review past history and a place called the Falklands. All that needs to happen right now is some suicide bomber to attack that group and all hell would break loose in Iran.

It brings back a story about my old Squadron, VMGR 252 during the first Gulf War in 1991. Every unit, ship, or squadron has a couple of real bone heads attached to them and we were no different. We happened to have a few extra that made life very interesting. One in particular named Major Dilbert, was as we say…a total tool. It was a policy in the Squadron that no one would say his full name. It was like invoking the name of Satan or something, so we just called him “Major D.” He was a one man show and in all of my years of flying, the only person who ever came close to killing me and the whole crew in a KC 130.

Now that you know how I feel about him, picture endless hours, droning along the border of Iraq and Iran, passing gas to any jet vectored up to our flying “Texaco” in the Sky. This was a week into the air war and we owned the skies over Iraq. The crew was heading North/South along the border of Iran, in a twenty mile race track pattern. To keep radio chatter down, we tanked “M-Con” which means no communication at all. A jet would pull up to the right side of the KC 130, extending his probe and if everything worked out, a hose would supply him with gas.

Major D was in the left seat looking out the window, lost in thought as he always seems to be. The Navigator, a young Sergeant named Alders, was getting pretty frustrated. There was a strong wind from the West that was constantly blowing them off their track. Each time he pimped Major D. to turn to a certain heading, the pilot would snap off some smart ass comment, basically questioning if Sgt. Alders was providing good headings. After the fourth course correction, Major D. turned to the Navigator and pointing at his name tag, he said “Hey knucklehead, do you see these gold wings on my chest? I’m a God Damn Naval Aviator and I know how to fly a plane and make the proper corrections for drift.”

Well, that comment went over like a pregnant pole-vaulter with the Navigator who was just trying to do his job. He rolled his eyes when the Major turned back around and reaching for the brightness knob, turned his little black box down that told him where he was according to the internal navigation systems. This was the perfect time to get back to his book since the pilot just announced to the whole crew, the Nav wasn’t needed. The rest of the crew went back to looking out the windows or reading a book, waiting for the next customer to fly up.

An hour later, the cry of “Jet Tally-Ho Starboard side” brought the crew out of their trance. The Engineer released the hose on the right side and checked the pressure of the line. “O.K., hose is good, flash him a green light.” Lance Corporal Holister sitting on the small square seat attached to the paratroop door flashed the F-14 out of his window a green light. The jet crew pulled up closer and then extended their gas probe, beginning a series of poorly aimed jabs at the twenty seven inch diameter basket attached to the hose. Holister, shook his head as he watched, this pilot was horrible and after ten minutes, was still not plugged in. He then pulled out his little country flag identifier and started to take a closer look at the F-14. This wasn’t a US Navy plane and he didn’t recognize the flag on the side of the tail. Holister deselected everyone on the Intercom except for the Engineer and keyed his mike. “Hey Gunny, if you have a second, could you come back here?”

Gunny Lewis deselected his communications panel so that his conversation was between just the two of them. “What’s up back there?” Holister, repeated his request but in a very tense voice. Gunny Lewis leaned in between the two pilots and told them that he had to step in the back to check something out. Climbing off the flight deck he had to turn sideways to fit between the large gas tank in the cargo bay of the plane and the walls of the plane. Making his way to the rear of the plane he approached Holister who was holding the country flag page out to the Gunny and pointing to the plane, his brows all bunched up in deep concentration. Gunny lifted up his headset and Holister yelled “Hey Gunns, where is this plane from, I don’t recognize the flag at all.”

The Gunny looked at the F-14 who had finally plugged into the hose, looked at the flag on the tail and down at the book in hand and back up at the jet. Holister couldn’t hear what the Gunny said, but figured it was pretty important when his headset was unplugged and replaced by the Gunny’s who selected the Navigators position. “Hey Alders, where the hell are we?” Sgt. Alders put his book down and keyed his mike. “Why don’t you ask the Pilot? He’s a God damn Naval Aviator and knows his location at all times.” This wasn’t the time to piss the Gunny off and with the next bark of his voice had Alders reaching over and turning his magic box back up. Consulting his charts and looking at the position of the plane according to the INS, he keyed his mike with his right hand “Shit Gunny, we’re about fifteen miles over the border into Iran.”

The Engineer ran back up to the front of the plane and plugged into his ICS, “Sir” tapping Major D. on the right shoulder, “That is an Iranian F-14 back there taking gas from us. I STRONLY suggest that we turn left and slowly drag this guy back over the border. The Hercules, slowly made a gentle left hand turn West bound towards the border with the crew wondering if they would get shot down for this. They figured that since the Iranians hated the Iraqi’s, this guy probably wouldn’t waste a missile on the KC 130, but who knows.

As the invisible border sled underneath the plane, the F-14 backed out of the hose and pulled up next to the right wing, he rocked his wings and gave an “O.K.” sign before rolling over and departing to the East. He seemed pretty happy that he was able to get his refueling qualification back for free from the Americans. I don’t think the Herk crew listed that buno number from the side of the fighter that day when the final tallies were recorded for the number of jets fueled. Lesson learned, much like when your wife is navigating in the car, if the Nav says turn left… turn left, they are always right, mostly.
Semper Fi,