704 Tactical Air Support Squadron (TASS)
Shaw Air Force
Base, SC - 1971 - 1974
Upon graduation from
UPT, I spent 7 months traveling back and forth between the corners
of the country attending survival school, O-2 school, and T-33
I finally signed in
to my first operational squadron as a forward air controller (FAC)
/ Air Liaison Officer (ALO). I joined the Air Force to become
a pilot. I spent most of my time on the ground with the Army.
An ALO's primary job
is to act as an advisor to the Army on matters of air support.
This meant that as a first lieutenant, I was explaining to an
Army lieutenant colonel commanding a battalion what air assets
were available to him, and how he could best use them. Other members
on the colonel's staff were at least majors.
To hold down this job
successfully, I had to know everything the Air Force had to offer:
type aircraft, what kinds of missions they can fly, what their
fuel endurance was, what kind of ordnance they could carry, and
the weapons effects of the various bombs, rockets and other munitions.
I also had to understand Army organization, tactics, and missions.
I spent about as much time in fatigues in a MK-107 jeep as I did
in a flight suit. Nonetheless, the battalion commander requested
me, by name, to deploy with the 82nd Airborne Division on an exercise
NATO conducted in Turkey.
The flying part was
fun. The O-2A wasn't much of an aircraft. In fact, it's a Cessna
Skymaster that got drafted. The Air Force put rocket pods on it
and added a bunch of radios. It was our job that made the assignment
interesting: working airstrikes. On a typical mission you have
three primary radios going, GUARD channel blasting away, you are
filling out requests for more air support, and copying down mission
data, while a flight of F-4's trying to run you over and another
flight is coming on station and screaming about a shortage of
fuel. All this plus, you have to fly the airplane. The term multi-tasking
was not invented at this time, but it certainly applied.
A typical briefing
went like this:
"F-4's, you're out of fuel. Make one pass drop
everything and go home."
"A-7's I'll work you next."
"A-37's climb to 25,000 feet, shut down an engine and hold."
"A-1E's why don't you guys find another target, come back
in an hour and I'll work you then."
It may be a testament
to my age, but all of these aircraft have been out of the inventory
Our squadron was trained
to go to war, but fortunately, the war went away before I could
get to it.
For information on
the "Oscar Deuce" click here.