Timber!!

Image

Timber!!

The moral is….it’s crystal clear….don’t drink no bourbon….stick to beer.
Actually, every GI’s been told “don’t lock your knees,” thousand of times. If you’ve ever doubted the validity of those words, here is evidence of the wisdom of that time-honored advice. Here, some poor Air Force honor guard troop takes a plunge….and we all know how soft those flight lines are. The rest of the duty did a pretty good job of maintaining military bearing….although the staff sergeant just to our fallen comrade’s right does manage a quick peak to see what’s going on. It’s amazing how the airman who fell is still perfectly at parade rest!

I have no recollection of which base this occurred, nor for what occasion. If I have to guess, I am going to say this was at Grissom Air Force Base, Indiana, around 1988.
Ray

Crammin’ Korean Cameramen

Image

Crammin' Korean Cameramen

I don’t remember the exact details surrounding this event. It was more than 20 years ago, but I’m pretty sure it was for some type of new weapon system innovation for the F-16 fighter jets, and the public affairs office to which I was assigned had coordinated a media event for its unveiling. I don’t have a single photo of the actual weapon system. I don’t even remember what the heck it was! But I do have this photo. And I remember watching all these photographers climbing over each other and thinking that it was more interesting than the original subject matter.

Phone home….in the “olden days”

Image

(The above photo is not exactly tied to this story, but it is related to how we communicated to folks back home. This is Amn. Michael Johnson, a radio operator at Osan’s MARS station. MARS offered us another means to “call” home back then — anybody remember this??)

This is not the most fascinating article every to appear in a base newspaper. However, I thought it would be fun for some people to look back and remember what it was like when it could be very difficult to phone home. I was at Osan Air Base on business about one year ago and every airman had a cell phone. I am assuming many have iPads, and personal computers as well.

This article appeared in July, 1990. We did not have Skype, or cell phones, or any other of today’s gadgetry. If I remember correctly, we had to stand in one line to buy a pre-paid card, and then stand in another line in front of a bank of semi-private phone banks. Once in a while, if you were very lucky, or in the event of an emergency, you’d be issued a special code (DPN?? – I cannot remember what it was called) which allowed us to make calls back to the states from our duty station phones. I’m sure some of the guys from the 70’s and 60’s can tell of even more primitive methods of talking to family back home.

In any event, it was a big deal to call home in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and earlier. It was a big deal to get a letter from home, and checking your mail box was one of the highlights of every day! Now there is e-mail and IM messaging.

So, again, I thought it might be fun to read about such a big advancement, or even see the rates that were charged back then.

Thanks and enjoy. Ray

Image

Rates from July, 1990

For military folks choosing to live off base, obtaining telephone service often proves difficult. To begin with, where does one go? Once the right agency is located, the employees don’t speak English. Finding quality service often proves difficult.

Thanks to the efforts of the Songtan branch of the Korean Telecommunications Authority and its director, Pak, Sang Kuhn, it’s much easier now. A new service provided by KTA catering to Americans started April 26.

“I was here about a year ago and saw there was no convenient phone service for foreigners,” Mr. Pak said. “We now provide a special English-speaking customer service center to assist Americans who need phone service, whether it be installation, repair or anything else.”

“We provide service to all military people,” Kang, Oh Syuk, service manager, said. “Although we have a three-day maximum time limit for installation, we can usually have a phone installed the next day.”

Kang also pointed out that KTA service has many features besides the installation and repair of phones.

“We offer speed dial, call forwarding, and absentee announcement if somebody doesn’t feel like taking a call, three-way calling, and even a wake-up service,” Kang said.

Image

An American serviceman conducts business with an English speaking customer service representative at KTA in Songtan City.

Like most telephone companies, customers are billed once per month and can pay at a bank, the post office, or the KTA office. And just like back home, there is a five percent late charge.

“We like to think of our service as a one-stop system,” Pak said. “Before we were here, people could spend hours on the phone calling all over the country before finding the type of service they needed.”

“We’ve come a long way,” he continued. “Even just 10 years ago, calling the United States was difficult even if you knew what you were doing. Now, it’s as simple as calling your neighbor.”

As of now, KTA services nearly 100 customers. However, surveys indicate there are more than 400 people who could benefit from this service.

Pak said his company stresses three things while providing Americans stationed here the assistance they desire: service, quality and management. From the initial installation, to routine service maintenance, to termination of service, KTA is there, he said.

To find out more about KTA, the customer service center can be reached at 62-0014 from 0900-1700 Monday through Friday.

-30-

IYAAYAS! Suwon’s Ammo Troops

This article first appeared in the Mig Alley Flyer Aug. 10, 1990. Suwon is now a very large and fast growing area. This was not the case when was written. It’s actually the capital city of the province in which it’s located. Suwon is a Korean Air Force facility. However, some of it is controlled and operated by the U.S. Army out of nearby Camp Humphreys. There is also a connection to Osan Air Force base due to the flying missions.

IYAAYAS is an acronym for “If you ain’t Ammo, you ain’t shit”. I wasn’t allowed to write a full explanation in a military publication, but felt I still had to include this saying if I was going to write a story about ammo troops. Most of us knew what it meant, as well as all of the other acronyms – it’s how we speak in the military.

Thanks again for reading and don’t be afraid to click on that “follow” button J. Ray

Image

Suwon Ammo troops carefully load an AIM-9L air-to-air missile on to a trailer.

IYAAYAS! Don’t try to understand – it’s a 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron munitions thing. For the record, though, it’s a statement for how these ammo folks feel about themselves: the best!

Assigned to Suwon AB, most people are unaware of their existence. While the majority of all U.S. Air Force facilities are concentrated in one area, these 62 hard-working troops are segregated on the other side of the flight line in order ensure that aircraft are armed and ready.

With eight different work centers spread out amongst three areas, it takes a ton of hard work to complete this mission. The obvious place to begin is the munitions control section.

“We’re the hub of all munitions operations,” MSgt. Jeff Fullerton said. “We maintain communications and provide coordination between the other work centers.”

There’s also the MAGNUM, a combined USFK-ROKAF munitions storage area. The airman assigned here are responsible for more than 12,000 tons of munitions totaling more than nine million individual items and more than 350 types of ammunition. This adds up to more than $165 million worth of hell raising.

Image

“We also have the munitions inspection and line delivery sections,” SMSgt. Raymond Caron, munitions manager, said. “We have equipment and missile maintenance sections, too.”

The purpose of this intricate system of work centers and personnel is to support the flying mission at Suwon Air Base and maintain its munitions stockpile.

“We’re responsible for munitions for use by A-10s here and any other aircraft which may come in,” Sergeant Caron said. “In the event of war, a lot of fighting would be conducted out of Suwon. Planes can go anywhere in the world, but we can’t. We’re here for that reason – to arm the planes.”

Image

Attributing to their motto, Suwon’s munitions branch won the 1989 weapons safety award, and the Espirit de Corps trophy, during June’s Sabre Spirit competition. It’s the folks assigned to this unit that make such high levels of recognition easy to come by.

“Suwon is a great base. This is my sixth assignment to Korea and this has been the best one so far,” Sergeant Caron said. “We don’t have a lot of the facilities found at other bases, but the people here make up for that. We’re a close, tight-knit group.”

It’s exactly this level of camaraderie which enables them to complete the mission so effectively.

“This is a challenging job at times,” the 23-year blue suiter said. “It’s hard to keep up with the constant changes in mission requirements. It doesn’t matter what type of aircraft come in, we have to support them. Each day presents a new challenge.”

With this attitude, readiness and team work, it’s no wonder Suwon’s munitions unit is ranked among the very best.

-30-

 

Pro Wrasslin’ at Osan Air Base

Image

The OWF’s Yellow Rose of Texas (left) and Naughty Nicky Speak with a nervous Sgt. Rick McGlothlin on AFKN in preparation of the Fall Brawl.

Note: This article is a bit different from the others. For starters, the writer is “Jim King.” However, Jim King is not a real person. Part of the problem was that the three of us who comprised the newspaper staff at this time were very active outside of the office. This meant we were often a part of the story. Enter “Jim King,” as we couldn’t write about ourselves. I’m pretty sure that, for this particular article, all three of us collaborated.

This was extra fun because, quite frankly, how many people get to say they had a stint as a professional wrestler? I rarely bring this up in conversation because I understand most people will think its complete bullshit. If there aren’t any photos or video, then it didn’t happen, right? Well, now I get to start telling the story!

This event was actually my first foray into the squared circle. I was one half of a tag-team duo called The Commandos. I was Commando Death, and my partner was Commando Stinger. I had forgotten about the name Death as I went on to form a new league at my next base and assumed the name Stinger.

I have to say that this was great fun. We wrestled on base and raised a lot of money for different charities. We also wrestled off base as well. I remember performing in front of crowds as large as 5,000 (this was in England). There were newspapers, magazines, posters, television appearances, radio spots and interviews….the whole 9 yards.

I met a guy in Pittsburgh a few years ago who is the champion of a local pro league. We got to talking and the subject of some sort of “come-out-retirement-guest-appearance” match came up, briefly….very, very briefly. I was already past the age of 40 at this time and it took me about 10 seconds of remembering how sore we all were following a match to put an end to that discussion. Also, I’m not too proud to say that the guys nowadays are much more acrobatic and, frankly, better than we were. Back then, it was still just clothes-lines, body slams and elbow drops…but we still took a beating. The injuries were real. My thumb really had been broken off at the knuckle during a practice session about a week before this event. My CO had assumed I was not going to wrestle in this event and was none-too thrilled when she found out that I got in the ring….cast and all. Hey – the show must go on. Besides, that cast actually made for a great accessory out there 😉

This article first appeared in the MiG Alley Flyer Sept. 7, 1990. I don’t remember most of the wrestler’s real names but I hope some of them stumble across this. RIP Jim King. Sorry for the long into and thanks for reading.

Oh. One more thing. There is a rumor that some old video tapes were recently uncovered and that there may be digital footage available soon! Ray

 

Image

Jobless Jeff of The Lumberjacks takes a member of Dawn Patrol for a ride.

Chief Hoss Thunderbolt, former Osan Wrestling Federation Heavyweight champion, defeated the Midnight Terror by disqualification and the Lumberjacks successfully defended the tag team belts during Osan AB’s Chin Mok Challenge – Fall Brawl ’90 Saturday and Sunday.

The Saturday card ran as follows:

In the first match, two newcomers to the OWF, the Night Ranger took on the Masked Mauler, managed by No Lip Prime.

The bout was decided when the Mauler, holding the Night Ranger in a “Full Nelson,” ready for Prime to strike with his tennis racquet, received the blow on his forehead instead when the Ranger ducked. The Ranger then rolled the Mauler over for the pin.

 

Image

Midnight Terror delivers a devastating elbow to Chief Hoss Thunderbolt.

The second match of the day pitted the World’s Strongest Man against the Russian Spitznatz. The Strongest Man made short work of his Siberian opponent.

In an unscheduled “brawl” the Lumberjacks, during an interview with Ramblin’ Rick McGlothlin, the voice of the OWF, put out a challenge to the Commandos – in particular, the new Commando, Death. He had his hand in a cast during the Brawl because Jobless Jeff of The Lumberjacks had bitten off his thumb during a previous encounter.

Commando Death and Jobless Jeff wasted no time going for one another’s jugulars. The brawl spilled out of the ring and out into the crowd. The two had to be pulled apart by several other wrestlers and officials so that other matches could continue.

The only women’s match of the event not only received the most attention, but also the most rain, as Naughty Nicky and The Yellow Rose of Texas combined talents to take on another pair of newcomers: The Alabama Slammers.

Image

Commando Stinger drops The Outlaw during a tag team match.

The naughty one and the Rose were up to no good, but finished with a fair pin in the center of the squared circle. The cost was high as Nicky took three stitches in her eye brow and the Rose took five stitches in the back of her head.

Because of the rain, the championship bout between Heavyweight Champion Midnight Terror and challenger Chief Hoss Thunderbolt was postponed until the next evening.

On the Sunday card, the controversial Nacho Man topped Commando Stinger, using the Commando’s web belt to strangle and pin him.

In the most awesome display of strength during the evening, the Master Blaster pinned Chief Lightfoot, setting him up with a power slam that would have shaken even the most wily of veteran’s confidence.

In the first men’s tag team event, the heavily favored Commandos matched strength with the Devastation, Inc. team of The Outlaw and Splash.

Each team punished the other evenly, but the enthusiasm, confidence and experience of the Commandos won out as Commando Stinger covered Splash for the three count.

Image

Commando Death, right hand still in a cast after having his thumb bitten off by Jobless Jeff, takes all 300 pounds of Devastation, Inc’s Splash up high for an airplane spin to be followed by a splash of his own.

In their first title defense, the Lumberjacks put their belts on the line against Dawn Patrol.

Neither team could gain an advantage as they battled back and forth. It finally came down to Dawn Patrol’s patented move the Night Fall (double suplex followed by a pair of elbows) which they executed perfectly on Dynamic Dean. However, a quick boot by Jobless Jeff spoiled the cover and while the referee wasn’t looking, the Lumberjacks executed their move the Sasquatch (sling-shot suplex) on the Night Ranger.

In the end, Jobless Jeff got the ax handle and took out the Night Ranger. Dynamic Dean got the cover for the victory.

In the Heavyweight championship match, the Midnight Terror gave the little Thundarians something to think about as he gave the Thunderbolt an old-fashioned whipping. The Terror left the Chief lying in the center of the ring, bleeding from his head, nose and mouth. The Terror, tired of administering such a beating, left the ring and was counted out for a disqualification. The belt doesn’t change hands for a DQ: therefore, he retains the title.

The Battle Royal had the crowd on its feet as they cheered their favorite wrestlers as they entered the ring at one-minute intervals – depending on the draw.

Beginning the contest were Commando Stinger and the Outlaw. They were joined by Commando Death and the tag team quickly gave the Outlaw the “ole heave-ho.” Wrestlers must be thrown over the top rope to be eliminated.

Image

The Master Blaster pins Chief Lightfoot after a bone-crushing power slam in the Fall Brawl.

The Masked Mauler then entered the fight only to find himself following The Outlaw. The Russian Spitznatz put up a good fight, but he, too, couldn’t overcome the tag team duo. The Master Blaster entered the scene and held his own as the Commandos dispatched Chief Lightfoot and his manager Sundance Cassidy.

Commando Death was next to go out at the hands of the Master Blaster, but not before infuriating the Blaster with a monster suplex.

Next up were the Night Ranger, the Word’s Strongest Man and Dynamic Dean, who all went down in a heap of flesh in the middle of the ring.

Jobless Jeff, seeing his partner in distress, didn’t wait for the bell and added to the confusion. The Lumberjacks quickly cleaned house as they dispatched of the Night Ranger, Commando Stinger, the World’s Strongest Man and the Master Blaster…all in quick succession.

The evening’s guest referee, the Boston Stranger, then showed his true colors as he tore off his shirt and entered the ring with his manager, who added to the excitement by giving the Strangler a chain which he quickly put to use, choking each Lumberjack before tossing them from the ring like rag dolls to lay claim to the first OWF Battle Royal.

The OWF is planning its next event, the “New Year’s Bash.” Those interesting in auditioning for the federation can call 784-5556.

-30-

An evening with the Town Patrol….

As explained in an earlier entry, I was a journalist for the U.S. Air Force in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I came across a box of old newspapers and magazines while moving this past summer for which I either wrote or was the editor. (I also found my old field bag with my old field jacket, and one set of BDUs and dress blues – neither of which will ever fit again). Since this material was produced before on-line publishing became common place, I thought it would be fun to “resurrect” some of it. I skimmed past this particular article several times and was not going to “blog it.” However, based on all of the comments and e-mails I’m receiving from old military folks, I’ve decided it’s worth bringing back. Only those of us who’ve lived this will fully appreciate the story. I hope everyone else can enjoy it as well.

I see the Tiger Bar in the color street photo. This is where I had my first drink of soju upon entering the country. Where was yours? I believe the next sign down is for the legendary Golden Gate Club, and across the street is The Stereo Club…..but it was so long ago.

This article first appeared in the MiG Alley Flyer May 11, 1990. Thanks again for reading. RayImage

The main drag through “the ville,” or Song Ton City, just outside of Osan Air Base’s main gate.

Ordinary Friday evenings see people heading downtown to have a good time……maybe to hit a few clubs or grab a bite to eat with friends. But for members of the 51st Security Police town patrol section, the weekend kick-off is often quite challenging.

One recent Friday happened to be a payday, as well as the start of a three-day weekend prior to an exercise commencement. To top it all off, troops from throughout the Pacific Rim were filtering in as Team Spirit was gearing up.

At 8 p.m. this night, SSgt. Matt Ballou and Sgt. Jim Johnson began a typical eight-hour beat of Songtan City – a 10-mile radius.

No more than one block outside the main gate, however, there was a disturbance. Luckily, there was already a patrol at the scene and no assistance was required. This time, they were in the right place at the right time – but it isn’t always this way.

Image

Somebody just earned himself an early return to the base, and a Monday morning meeting with the shirt.

“Whenever the call comes, we have to take off running,” Sergeant Ballou said. “It’s usually to help break up groups like large ‘green bean’ marches or something like that. We also catch a lot of people banging on the sliding protective doors that cover the shops, which can cause the windows inside to break. GI’s can be “Whenever the call comes, we have to take off running,” Sergeant Ballou said. “It’s usually to help break held for any damage, so we try to prevent this as much as possible.”

Other things town patrol members watch for include possession of alcoholic beverages in unauthorized areas and personal conduct in public.

“For the most part,” Sergeant Ballou explained, “the majority of situations we deal with are actually very minor. It’s just that a lot of the situations involve people who have had too much to drink.”

“Trying to get people to cooperate in an orderly manner and solving the situation without having to apprehend them is the most challenging part of the job,” Sergeant Ballou said.

“Contrary to what people say, we’re not out to apprehend people, but sometimes we have to. If we’re lucky, we get to an incident early enough to avoid this sort of thing.”Image

Town Patrol units are visible near all Air Force installations. Here, Taegu Town Patrol member A1C Kelly Laughhead takes a moment to chat with Amy Mannis about a family photo.(Photo by SSgt. Jerry Baker, Yokota AB, Japan)

His partner, Sergeant Johnson, agrees. “Dealing with drunks and getting them to understand what’s going on can be difficult. We’re not here to be monsters. We’re here to help people.”

“We also don’t favor Koreans,” he continued. “People need to understand that we don’t have jurisdiction over them. The most we can do is ensure U.S. troops get treated fairly.”

In short, the town patrol section was established to protect health and safety, prevent folks from offending our host nation, enforce military dress and appearance, and maintain a modest amount of good taste in conduct, decency and civilian appearance.

Barring the obvious, albeit avoidable, situations, the job is enjoyable.

“Dealing with Americans and Koreans on a regular basis, despite the language barrier, is interesting. I enjoy seeing how things work on both sides,” Sgt. Johnson said.

It’s the silly things that make the job, at times, very trying on one’s patience. Sergeants Johnson and Ballou encountered one such ridiculous incident this night.

Image

SrA. Kirk Johnson, Taegu Town Patrol, visits with six-year old Won, Ho Chung during a night patrol. (Photo by SSgt. Jerry Baker, Yokota AB, Japan)

Two GI’s were in a club downtown. One of them ordered two drinks: one for himself, and one for a girl. The catch is that he told the waitress that his friend, who was on the dance floor, was going to pick up the tab. It turns out that the guy stuck with the bill had no money so he attempted to sneak out of the club. He almost got away with it, too, except that the girl had gotten a hold of his room keys.

After contacting the town patrol, both men were rounded up and their stories, after changing several times, were finally straightened out. They were then escorted back to the club for the other side of the story.

The agreement was simple: Simply apologize to the employees involved. For some reason, however, the GI’s decided to argue and initially refused to say they were sorry. Finally, after a little “persuasion” from the SP’s, they apologized and everybody went home. GI #1 (or GI #10 in the eyes of the waitress!) also paid for the drinks.

As another night of keeping the peace outside the main gate draws to a close, Sergeant Bllou said, “It seems like most of the things that happen involve alcohol. S, the best thing I can tell people is to be careful if you’re going to drink, and just use good old common sense.”

-30-