345 Tactical Airlift Squadron
AB Japan - 1979 - 1982
The last stop on my
active duty tour was at Yokota AB, Japan just north of Tokyo.
Although both the C-141
and the C-130 are considered airlift aircraft, their missions
are entirely different. For starters, the C-130 is a 4-engine
sort of an overgrown commuter airliner.
While there is some
take-off, fly straight and level, and land work in the C-130,
most of it involves doing things like assault landings, airdrops,
LAPES and a whole bunch of other hair raising and adrenaline-producing
activities. C-141's rarely flew below 35,000 feet. C-130's often
flew below 500 feet.
The other thing about
the assignment was that it gave me an up-close and personal look
at the Far East. One of my additional duties was as an Airlift
Control Element (ALCE) officer. I spent a lot of time running
airlift operations at remote fields in Korea. It wasn't unusual
for my team and me to be the only "round eyes" for a
hundred miles in any direction. I learned how to sleep on a futon
on the floor, and I learned to like kimchee. I really enjoyed
working with the ROKs.
The most notable thing
I did as an ALCE officer was to run airlift operations out of
Diego Garcia for a month. I had the entire Indian Ocean as my
area of operations. Along with a friend of mine (another Captain)
who worked at PACAF headquarters and controlled the Pacific Ocean,
we controlled about 40% of the free world's airspace.
The squadron was rank
heavy, and I was the only Captain that was a flight commander
all the other flight commanders were majors. This meant that I
got all the young lieutenants. So, here I am, the "old man"
at 30 with a group of 22 to 26 year olds as my charges. The scary
part was that they looked to me for advice.
It was at the end of
this assignment that I decided to make a break for it. I knew
the defense industry would be re-building under the new president,
and I still wasn't that far away from my semi-technical days at
Systems Command. If there was ever a time when my experience as
a military officer would be useful it was then. So I bailed.
For more information
on the C-130 click here.