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  #361  
Old 06-22-2017, 10:23 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Next one, and Prada finds out about her sister....anyone recognize the shout-out?



335th TFS Offices, 1650 Hours Central War Time:


Major Wiser was in his office, going over some last-minute paperwork before going to the Officer's Club. Nothing major, he was glad to see, though he did wish that the elves would take care of it while he was out. He'd learned in his tenure as XO that the paper warriors could not be ignored, despite what one wished, and though they were not as numerous as they were in peacetime, that species of pest was still a problem. Colonel Rivers, rest his soul, had taught him some ways of dealing with bureaucrats, though no doubt every squadron and wing commander had the same attitude that he had: yank those pests from behind their desks, transfer them to the Army, give them rifles, and send them to the front lines. Or, if that wasn't possible, have them shoveling snow at someplace like Loring or Goose Bay. Ah, well, one could dream, he thought.

He'd finished with what was in his IN box and then went to work on something that had just come up, when there was a knock on the office door. “Yeah? Come on in and show yourself.”

Capt. Mark Ellis, the Exec, came in with a clipboard. “Boss, got a few things here.”

“What have we got?” Guru asked, looking up from a paper he had just filled out.

“Aircraft status report. We'll have twenty for the morning. And before you ask, Don's bird needs a hundred-hour check.”

The CO nodded. “Okay.....yours and Frank's just got out of that, right?”

“Right on that, Boss,” Ellis replied.

Guru thought for a moment. “All right, then. You get your bird back, and give the one you flew today to Kerry. Frank gets his back, and Don takes the other Euro One bird.”

“I'll let Don know, and he'll take care of that.”

“Good. What else have you got?”

“Supply requesitions,” the XO said. “The stuff we need to get Kerry's bird back in the air.”

Guru signed the forms. “Gladly. Now, get Ross to turn the scroungers loose. Give them the same list Supply's getting, and they have a hunting license. If the clowns in Supply deliver, well and good. If not...”

“Got you. And the usual rules apply.”

“They do. No felony arrests, no one gets hurt, and best of all, nobody gets caught.”

Ellis nodded. “I'll get him going.”

“Good.” the CO said. He put the papers he had been working on into an envelope and sealed it. “This goes out to Tenth Air Force in tomorrow's mail. DFC citations for Kerry and Pat for bringing their bird back.”

“They deserve it,” Ellis nodded. “Speaking of Tenth Air Force, that C-21 came in. Don took the gun-camera tapes and gave it to the crew. They stayed long enough to refuel, then took off back to Nellis.”

“Those were the originals, right?” Guru asked, and he saw Ellis nod. “Okay, so Yeager's people made copies. Our newsies get the word about the blackout being official?”

“Kodak Griffith said they did. Weren't too happy, but Ms. Wendt went to do a sit-down with General Yeager. I'll bet you the minute that blackout expires, they send the story to Sydney.”

“And L.A.,” Guru reminded him. “They also send stuff to CBS, remember?”

“Forgot about that,” Ellis said. “And the weather update. No change for at least five days.”

Guru read the sheet. “Swell. Forget about any stand-down for at least that long.”

“Too bad.”

“Some things you have to live with,” Guru said as he stood up. He glanced at the office clock. 1705. “Now we're off the clock.” He picked up the folder Sin Licon had given him. “Let's hit the Club. I need a cold one, and food.”

“And we get to watch Kerry and Pat get drunk, while they try and forget about nearly getting killed today,” the Exec said. By the tone of his voice, it wasn't a question.

“Something like that.”

“And you don't have to write any letters today.”

“That, I'll gladly drink to.”


When the CO and XO got to the Club, they found Colonel Brady already at the bar, and keeping an eye not only on several of his Marines, but also Kerry Collins and Pat McCorkle. “Colonel,” Guru said with a nod.

“Major,” Brady replied. “The Mess people won't be too long, which is a good thing. Right now, five of my Marines and your two are racing each other to get drunk. Seems your guys weren't alone in getting shot up today.”

Guru and Mark looked at each other. “Colonel, may I ask where?” Guru asked.

“Same area: Star Hollow Lake. They're protecting something important.”

“Or someone-sir.” Ellis said. “Could be an Army Commander.”

“That's what my intel thinks,” Brady said. “Anyway, that's for tomorrow. What's in the folder?”

Guru opened the folder and showed him. “I could have shown her on the ramp, but next to a shot-up bird was not the time or place.”

“Good thinking, Major,” Brady said as General Olds came in, and he was talking with several 335th aircrew. “What are you going to say?”

“First, sir, I need to talk with General Yeager,” Guru said as the barkeep came over. “Smitty, any Sam Adams come in?”

“Sorry, Major,” Smitty replied. “Only two bottles left.”

“Then Bud,” Guru said. “And one for the Exec.”

Smitty nodded, and produced the bottles. “Here you go, Major.'

“Thanks,” Guru said. He paid the barkeep, then glanced over at his two people. “How many have they had?”

“Working on their second already, Major,” Smitty said. “Each.”

“No more until they get something to eat,” Guru said firmly. He turned to Collins and McCorkle. “Hear that?”

“Loud and clear, Major,” Collins said, Capt. Ryan Blanchard, the OINC of their Combat Security Police detachment, nodded agreement. She was his girlfriend, and she would watch him like a hawk.

McCorkle grumbled, “Yes, sir.”

“Good,” Guru said as General Yeager and his people came in, with the news crew following. “Those guys are still the stars today.”

Ellis nodded. “Well, Boss, maybe we can get Ms. Wendt to talk to Kerry and Pat-that is, before they get too drunk.”

“Or when they're sober,” Guru said. He noticed that Goalie, Kara, and the rest of his flight had gotten a table. “Colonel, if you'll excuse me, I need to get started on my own 'Stress reduction.' It's been a hell of a day.”

Brady nodded. “It has been that, Major.”


Guru went over to the table and sat down. “Well, don't know whether to be pissed or be thankful. Or both.”

“Why's that, Boss?” Kara asked as she got started on her first beer.

“Pissed that General Yeager and his people got into a fight, or thankful that General Dugan hasn't called.”

“Better if it's both,” Hoser said. “Uh, Boss.”

“I'll drink to that,” Goalie said, and she poked her pilot in the arm.

“Guess I will,” Guru said. “Hell of a day.” Then he started on his beer. “Any newspapers come in on the C-141?”

Sweaty nodded, then produced the papers. “USA Today, Stars and Stripes, L.A. Times, take your pick.”

Guru and Goalie shared the L.A., and passed the sports page to Hoser. “Anything in USA Today that leaps out?”

“More protests in West Germany,” Kara said. “They had 100,000 in Dusseldorf.”

“Same thing here,” Guru said. “100,000 also in Munich.”

Heads nodded at that. “Good,” Dave Golen said from the table next to the CO's. “Only a matter of time.” And General Olds, who was sitting with Dave, nodded his agreement.

“Hear, hear,” several people said.

Just then, the mess people arrived. “People, we've got either grilled pork chops or Salisbury Steak, with all the fixn's,” one of the local restaurateurs turned Marine Mess Officer said. “Come and get it.”

After people got what they wanted, the CBS Evening News came on. Unlike the previous day, this was a slow news day, even with the war going on, though coverage of the protests in West Germany-and now in Belgium and Holland as well, led the news coming from overseas. And the brewing affair in Philly over Senator Proxmire's aides finding themselves in very hot water over back-channel contacts with the Cuban Embassy in Paris.

“How long until Proxcreep gets the heave-ho?” Cosmo asked from a table where she and Revlon were talking with Ms. Wendt and her crew.

“Hope he gets the message,” said Don Van Loan. “Time for him to take a hike.”

“I'll drink to that,” Cosmo said. As an astronomy major, she had very good reason to loathe the Senator' who had a fondness for cutting NASA budgets, while others despised him for his anti-military attitude.

“Same here,” Kara said.

After Walter Cronkite signed off, the bartender turned the TV to ESPN, where a rerun of ABC's Wide World of Sports was playing. “Well, that's that,” Goalie said. “Slow day in the big picture.”

“But not for us,” Guru nodded.


A few minutes later, as the clock wound towards 1800, Colonel Brady went to the bar and rang the bell. “People, we've got exactly one hour left before the twelve-hour rule kicks in, and there are a few people here who have a right to get happily loaded. First, several folks from either the Marines or the 335th came back with shot-up birds, and well, you people have a right to get sloppy drunk. You've got an hour left, so make the most of it!” The tent roared with laughter. “Major Wiser? You've got some Air Force business, I believe?”

Guru nodded, then went to the bar. “Thank you, sir. Well, Kerry, Pat? You guys did good, bringing your bird back after some kasha-eating son of a bitch put a few flak holes in it. And take my advice, from someone who's been there, done that? Be glad you're not camping with the Resistance. Or, worse, holed up somewhere, waiting for Jolly Green to get you, evading, or a lot worse, behind barbed wire, eating Kasha and Borscht. So drink up!”

“Glad to, Major,” Collins said.

“Just remember: you're on the flight schedule in the morning. So remember twelve-hour, and hit the sack when Doc calls curfew.”

“Will do, Boss,” Pat McCorkle grinned.

Guru nodded, then turned to where General Yeager and his people were seated. “General? Your young pups proved themselves in the air-to-ground arena, and today? They showed us what they can do air-to-air. And sir, you may have set a record for the longest gap between kills. Because, people? He got a Yak-28 recon bird in that little furball. So, General? Here's to number 12.5.” Guru raised his beer botle.

“Just in the right place at the right time, Major,” Yeager replied in his West Virginia drawl. “You're probably glad the Chief of Staff hasn't chewed your ass over the phone.”

“Chewed his ass yet.” Sweaty muttered.

Preacher nodded, then said, “There's always tomorrow.”

Kara shook her head. “Remember, guys, it's Frank we want packing for Goose Bay.”

“We know that,” Sweaty shot back. “It's just, well....surprising the Boss hasn't gotten an over-the-phone ass-chewing.”

“Maybe General Tanner calmed him down,” Goalie ventured.

Guru went on. “General, one of your pups made ace today. Prada? Stand up and be recognized.” Prada did, and Guru said, “You got number five today, and no matter what happens from now on, you're a certified, card-carrying aerial assassin, and for damn sure, no one can take that away from you!”

“Thanks, Major,” Prada said to the roar of the crowd.

“Enjoy the moment, Captain,” Guru said. “Now, some 335th business. Cosmo? Revlon? Stand up.”

“Uh-oh,” several people muttered.

“You two splashed the only MiG to get away from the F-20 furball,” Guru said, and there was some applause at that. “Now, that gives you two three kills. Two more and not only do you two make ace, but you'll be the only all-female ace team not just in the 335th, but hell, probably the whole Air Force for all we know. This place will rock when that happens. But one piece of advice: when you get to number four? No trolling for MiGs! You might just run into somebody looking for his fifth. So be careful, you two.”

The two looked at each other and grinned. “Noted, Major,” Cosmo said.

“That's good. Colonel?” Guru said, yielding the floor to Colonel Brady.

“Thanks, Major. Now, people, in case anyone's curious, no bad weather for a week. So we''ll be hitting things pretty hard until then. You've got fifty minutes until twelve-hour, so drink up!”


Major Wiser went and got another beer, then went back to his table. “Need to talk to General Yeager, then Prada.” He picked up the folder.

“What's in the folder?” Brainiac asked.

Goalie knew, but said nothing. “Be glad you don't know. Yet.” That answer made everyone at the table curious.

The CO nodded. “You'll find out when I get back.” He went over to General Yeager's table, where the news crew had finished talking to his people. “General,”

“Major,” Yeager nodded.

“General, right now, I'm glad I haven't gotten an angry phone call from either General Dugan or General Cunningham.”

“For his exploit today?” Ms. Wendt asked.

“Something like that,” Guru said. “General, I need to show you something,” He indicated the folder. “Privately, sir.”

Yeager nodded, and the two went to the bar and found a couple of empty stools. “Major?”

“Sir, my Intel was going to show Prada this on the ramp, but next to a shot-up bird was not a good time or place,” Guru said. He opened the folder.

Yeager studied the contents, then frowned. “She needs to see this Now.”

“Sir, may I suggest having Colonel Brady here? He's been there.”

“You mean Hanoi?” Yeager asked, and he saw Guru nod. “Good idea, Major.”

Guru went and talked to Colonel Brady for a moment, then the two went back to the bar. Then General Yeager brought Prada over. “What's this about, sir?” She asked.

“This,” Guru said as he opened the folder.

Prada looked at the folder's contents. A brief cover letter from DIA, then a copy of an artcle from a Cuban propaganda magazine. It showed two female American POWs, one brown-haired, the other blonde. Both had bruising on their faces, and were wearing long sleeved prison pajamas. And both were familiar to her, the brown-haired one very much so. “Daria.....she's alive.” Prada looked at the date on the article. April, 1987. “Seven months ago..”

“Your sister's alive, Captain,” Brady said. “Now you know. My family didn't know I was alive until Christmas, 1970, when the Viets let me write my first letter home.” He looked at the photo again. “Who's the other one?”

“Jane, her WSO,” Prada replied. “God...right now I don't know whether to be happy or worried.”

Brady knew what his family had gone through from January, '68 until March 14, 1973, when he had been released in the third increment of POWs from Hanoi. “Either one can be graded as correct.”

“Long pajama sleeves,” Guru noted. “Trying to hide the scars.”

“You picked that up, Major,” Yeager said.

“Read a few books on the subject, sir,” Guru replied. “And from SERE.”

Prada nodded as she scanned the photo and the accompanying article, which had been translated. “Says here they 'confessed' to attacking civilian targets, My ass.”

“Look, Prada,” Yeager said. “Your sister's had SERE training, and she'll get through this.” And so have you, he said to himself. “And there's this: you might qualify for a transfer under the 'Lone Survivor' rule. Your sister's a POW, and you're flying combat. If you get captured, they might put two and two together...”

“What do you mean, sir?”

“I can have orders cut transferring you out of the 474th and sending you to Edwards to be an F-20 IP. You're a combat veteran, a fighter ace, and you've done your bit for God and Country. I'd like to meet your parents one day, but I sure as hell don't want to do it handing them a flag.”

Prada nodded. “General, I don't know what to say.....I need to think about it, and if I can, talk with my folks.”

Guru wondered, “Red Cross can arrange that, can't they?”

“They should,” Brady said. “I'll check with the Red Cross office on the base. They opened a week after we got here.”

“Prada, I know you want to get back into the fight, but a year away from the war zone as an IP means you'll be passing on your experience, and making sure people know how to fly and fight in the F-20,” Yeager said. “When you do come back, you won't have missed a damn thing, because chances are, this war won't be over this time next year. Chances are, we'll be on the Rio Grande, with next stop Mexico City, and there'll still be plenty to do.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied. “Can I wait until we get back to California? I need to think it over, and talk with my folks, if that's possible.”

“Your call,” Yeager nodded. He understood what she was thinking, and knew that some time away from the war zone would probably be best. IP duty wasn't exactly safe, with the potential for accidents, but it was safer than combat.

“Thank you, sir,” Prada smiled. “Now, if you'll excuse me,” she waved to Smitty. “I need to get slightly drunk.”

The three senior officers looked at each other, then at her. “Understandable, Captain,” Yeager said. “You've got forty-five minutes before twelve-hour.”

Prada smiled. “Then, sir, I need to get started.”


Guru went back to his flight's table, and sat back down. “First time,”

“What?” Kara asked.

“Telling someone their MIA loved one is a POW. Quinn's sister is in the Caribbean version of the Hanoi Hilton,” Guru spat. “Shot down over Cuba, and was MIA until recently.”

“So that's what was in the folder,” Sweaty nodded.

Guru nodded back as he finished his beer. “Yep. The good thing: her sister's alive. The bad? She's a 'guest' of Fidel.”

“And we've all got friends POW or MIA,” Goalie reminded them.

The CO grimaced. “That we do.”

Kara then got up and went back to the bar. She got another beer, then went to the pool table. She laid down her money, and the Marine who was there laid down his. It didn't take long for her skills to show, and the Marine wound up paying.

“I see the Queen of the pool tables is holding court,” Ms. Wendt said as she came over. “Might just challenge her one of these days.”

“Your money,” Guru reminded her. “You've been warned previously.”

“I know, Major. But still....”

General Olds stood up. “I'll give her another crack at me.”

“Oh, shit,” Guru said as the General went over to the pool table. He showed his money, Kara showed hers, then both went at it. This time, as with the previous occasion, General Olds' skills were superior, and after Kara paid him, she came back to the table in a fit of the sulks.

“Well?” Sweaty asked.

Kara shook her head. “I have got to beat him before he leaves.” she grumbled.

“Like I said, Kara. Go to the bar, get yourself another beer, then come back and try again,” Guru told her.

“Gladly.” She then went to the bar, got another beer, and downed half of it before she returned to the pool table. General Olds had returned to his table, and Kara proceeded to defeat another Marine. Then a male AF Major wearing MAC insignia on his flight suit challenged her, and came away with his wallet lightened by $50.00. “Next!”

“She always like this?” Ms. Wendt asked.

“Only after she loses,” Goalie said. “Which ain't often.”

Guru looked around, and saw that Prada's friends had joined her at the bar. One of them, Clancy, he thought, was going through Pepsi like it was nothing. Only when Smitty told him they didn't have much left did he lay off. While Pruitt and Prada were talking, and he gave her a hug. Guru then turned, and found General Olds and Dave Golen engaged in a serious conversation, with much hand-waving. SEA against the Yom Kippur War, he knew. Then the bar bell rang.

“Twelve-Hour now in effect!” Doc Waters said.

People flying the next morning turned in their drinks and got something nonalcoholic, and kept things going until 2100, when one of the Navy flight surgeons with MAG-11 rang the bell. “Aircrew Curfew, people!”

Those on the flight schedule the next morning got up and headed off to their billets to get some sleep. It wouldn't be long until Zero-dark-thirty, and another day of flying.
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  #362  
Old 06-22-2017, 10:34 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The next day dawns, and a joint AF-Navy strike: .


335th TFS Offices, 0535 Hours Central War Time; 12 November, 1987:


Major Matt Wiser went towards the squadron's office, and, glancing around, saw the first light coming from the east. A few bright stars were still visible, and the sky was clear. Another good flying day, he thought to himself as he went into the office. As he went in, rock music was coming from an office radio, and that meant Wolfman Jack's show was going strong. The NDO, Hacksaw, noticed him and came over. “Major.”

“Hacksaw,” Major Wiser replied. “How's the cold?”

Almost on cue, Hacksaw sneezed. “Damn cold and damn pills. I don't know which is worse.”

“Feeling better?”

Hacksaw nodded. “Doc says I may be flying again in three or four days. Five at the most.”

“Listen to him,” the CO said. “He outranks all of us-even me-when it comes to anything medical. So listen to him, do as he says, and you'll be flying again in no time.”

The SDO grinned. “Right, Boss. The XO's in. He's waiting for you.”

“Thanks,” Major Wiser nodded. He had a few words with the admin folks on the night shift, then he went into his office and found the Exec waiting. “Mark.”

“Boss,” Capt. Mark Ellis nodded. He had a clipboard with some papers, and handed his CO a Styrofoam cup. “Got your morning admin stuff, and your cocoa.”

“Good,” the CO nodded. “Usual admin stuff?”

“Morning report for MAG-11 and Tenth Air Force,” Ellis said. The CO signed the papers. “And Supply came through-partially.”

“Parts for Kerry's bird?” Guru asked. They had a bird take flak damage the previous day, and he was anxious to get the bird back in the air.

The Exec nodded. “Got a rudder, rudder actuator, TIESO-”

Guru looked at his XO. “TIESO?”

“Yep,” said the Exec. “Took a 30-mm round right through it. They also have a new radome, canopy frame, and canopy.”

“No horizontal stabilizers?” Asked the CO.

“Still looking.”

Guru thought for a minute. “Okay. Ross on it?”

“He and the scroungers are on it. He's running down a few leads.”

“Remind him that those stabilizers are Priority One,” Guru told the Exec. “And have him touch base with our F-20 visitors. They may have run across F-4 parts during their own horse-trading or moonlight requesitioning expeditions.”

“Will do.”

A knock on the door followed. “Yeah? Come on in and show yourself!”

Goalie came in, and she had two more cups, one in each hand. “Morning, guys,” she said. “Hot Chocolate for both of us.” She handed one cup to her pilot and boyfriend, and kept one for herself.

“Have a good night?” Guru asked.

“Slept like a baby, and ready to get on with earning my flight pay.”

“Of which forty-five cents goes back to the Government on April 15,” Mark Ellis joked.

“Something like that,” Guru said. “Ready to fly with Kara today?”

“Boss?” Ellis asked.

Guru smiled. “We're taking General Olds up on a check ride after the second run of the day. And before you ask, no, we're not going anywhere near the front lines. The old Scud Boxes from last summer will do.”

The XO stared at the CO. “For what?”

“Just some ACM,” replied Guru. “We show him what we're doing, vaguely recall peacetime ACM rules, and just have at it. And before you ask, yeah, we'll be armed, but we sure as hell won't be trolling for MiGs.”

Ellis let out a sigh of relief. “That's good to hear. Last thing I want is an angry phone call from General Dugan asking what got an AF legend killed. Then packing for Loring or Gander.”

“Tha't's for Frank, and we all know it,” the CO laughed. “I'm taking General Olds, and Goalie flies with Kara.”

“And you'll just have a couple Sidewinders for self-defense.” Ellis nodded.

Guru shook his head. “No. Full air-to-air load. You never know, Mark.”

The XO nodded. He understood what the CO meant. “And what about Frank? He'll flip when he hears you're taking General Olds up.”

“Because in Frank's egotistical mind, he thinks an Academy grad should be taking General Olds-who is a West Pointer, up,” Guru said. It wasn't question. “In that case, Frank can go suck an egg for all I care.”

“Don't blame you for that,” Ellis said. “Oh, forgot. Weather.” He handed Guru a paper. “No real change for at least five days. That storm that went through Colorado is now in Kansas and Nebraska, but some down into Oklahoma. Just a few high clouds, temps drop a degree or two, and that's it.”

“Okay.” Said the CO. “Anything in the regs about enlisting Buddy?” He was referring to the squadron's Golden Lab mascot.

“Nothing that I could find.”

“Hey, I got a better idea,” Goalie said. “I remember an Academy lecture where a Thud driver was telling us about Roscoe, the 338th's Mascot at Korat. He came to Korat in the back seat of an F-105F, late '65 or early '66. When his master was shot down over North Vietnam, the whole wing adopted him. Made him an honorary Colonel, club card for the O-Club, even let him sit in on mission briefs. They say that if he slept through a brief? It would be an easy ride. If he woke up, or paid attention? You were in for a bear.”

Both CO and XO were intrigued. “What happened to him?” Guru asked.

“He died in '75, a few weeks before the 388th left Korat,” Goalie said. “They buried him with full honors next to the O-Club. His master never did come back-still MIA last I heard.”

“Hmm..” Guru said. Both XO and GIB noticed he was in thought. “Okay, we can either enlist him, or make him an honorary Captain. In that case, he can go into the O-Club. I'll talk it over with the General, and go from there. Anything else?”

“That's it,” Ellis said.

“Check ride aside, we got a busy day coming. Let's go eat.”


When Guru, Goalie, and the Exec got to the Officer's Mess Tent, they found the usual crowd gathered, waiting. They noticed General Olds talking with Colonel Brady.. General Olds noticed the three, and waved them over. “Major,” Olds said.

“Good morning, sir,” Guru replied.

“Ready to get back at it?”

“Yes, sir.” Guru looked around. “Where's General Yeager and his people?”

“Early-bird,” Brady said. “They're wheels-up at 0630, and have a full day.”

“Some more of my people, no doubt,” Guru said. “As long as those young pups don't wrangle another trip down to the front lines.”

General Olds nodded. “You're not the only one thinking that, Major. So I told him to go west, to the old Scud Boxes from last Summer.”

“General, that's good to hear,” Guru said. “And FYI, sir, that's where we're going this morning for your, uh, 'check ride.'”

“He's flying with you, Major?” Brady asked.

“Yes, sir, he is,” Guru said. “Captain Thrace-” he gestured to where Kara was talking with Sweaty, KT, Flossy, and Jang-will be flying as number two, with Lieutenant Eichhorn in the backseat.”

Hearing that, Goalie grinned. “Wouldn't miss this for the world, General.”

“And if we run into the F-20s?” Olds asked.

“Then, General, we have some DACT and teach those young hotheads a lesson,” said Guru. “Maybe. Those F-20s are small and nimble, like the F-5. These guys might give us a good run.”

“Well, we'll find out, won't we, Major?” Olds grinned. He had an idea that this might turn out to be a mini-Red Flag.

Guru nodded. “We will, sir.”

The Marine Mess Officer came out of the tent and flipped the sign from CLOSED to OPEN. “Chowtime, people!”


After breakfast, Guru went to the Ops Office to get his mission briefing packet. His Ops Officer was waiting for him. “Don,” he nodded. “What have you got for me this morning?”

Capt. Don Van Loan handed him a briefing packet. “Going down to a Soviet-held sector,” he told the CO. Right next to the East Germans.” That meant the East German sector's western flank, held by the Soviet 32nd Army.

Guru scanned the material. “Sector boundaries are usually good defense-wise. Notice I said, usually.”

“But going out....” Van Loan said. He, like the CO, knew from experience that things could be nasty going out right over a division.

“At least it'll be from the rear, and they may not have any warning,” Guru said. “Okay, we getting Weasels?”

“No, but two VA-135 A-7s are coming with you. I sent them on ahead to your briefing room.”

“Two targets?” Guru said as he scanned the mission summary. “Fuel dump and a suspected C3 site?”

“Yep. They want both hit if you can,” Van Loan told the CO.

Guru frowned, then reluctantly nodded. “Do what we can. All right, then.” He gathered the material. “Don? You have a good one.”

“You too, Boss. Don't want to be Exec just yet.”

“And Kara doesn't want to be Ops,” the CO laughed. “Just be careful out there.”

Van Loan nodded. “Same to you, Boss.”


Guru went to the Briefing Room his flight used, and found the two A-7 drivers waiting outside. “Major?” A brown-haired, tough-looking fellow in a Navy flight suit with the gold leaves of a Lieutenant Commander asked. “Steve Kearny. I'm your IRON HAND lead.”

The CO nodded. He'd heard of the IRON HAND people: just like their AF Wild Weasel counterparts, they went in ahead of a strike to kill SAMs and AAA sites. But unlike the AF, the Navy had no specialized squadrons, just pilots within an attack squadron who drew that assignment. “Nice to meet you,” he said, shaking hands. “And your wingie?” He gestured to a blonde woman with cropped hair who had a silver bar on her flight suit, and that meant a Lieutenant (junior grade).

“Lynda Patrick,” she replied, shaking the CO's hand. “In case you're wondering, I've been in combat since May.”

“PRAIRIE FIRE,” Commander Kearny said. “She joined us just in time to kick that off.”

“And you, Commander?” Guru asked.

“Been with the squadron since we were formed up in March '86. Got to combat in September, and been there since. And we're either lucky or blessed. We still have half of our original pilots.”

“You're better off in that department than the 335th is,” Guru said as he opened the door. “Shall we?”

The rest of the flight was in the room, chatting when Guru came in. “Okay, people! Time to get serious and back to work. This time, we're going in with Navy help.” He introduced the two A-7 drivers. “And this time, we're going to a Soviet sector.” He took out the briefing materials and found a TPC and JOG chart. “Here's our two targets.”

“Targets?” Kara asked.

“Targets,” Guru said. “Here, southeast of Comanche, at the Route 36/F.M. 1476 intersection. On the Northwest side of the intersection, there's a fuel dump. Southeast, is a suspected C3 site. They don't know what exactly it is, but those trucks with van bodies behind the cab? That usually means a command post, com relay, or a SIGINT outfit.”

Sweaty asked, “Who gets what?”

“Kara and I will take the fuel dump,” Guru said. “You and Hoser have the C3 site.”

“And if it's not there, Boss?” Hoser asked.

“Good question. We don't get paid for bringing ordnance home. If it's not there, I'll call it out-or Kara will,” and he saw his wingmate nod. “In that case? Drop on the dump.”

“Got it,” Sweaty nodded.

“MiG threat?” Brainiac asked. He was hoping he and Kara would be able to add to their tally.

“Brownwood Regional is the closest,” Guru said. “MiG-21s and -23s. The former are East German, the latter, Soviet. San Angelo has -23s, and so does Grey AAF at Fort Hood. MiG-29s are there as well, and at Bergstrom. Which, by the way, has Flankers.”

Heads nodded at that. Nothing new there. “Defenses?” Goalie asked.

“Getting to that. There was an SA-2 there, but it's not listed as operational, but don't take that to the bank,” Guru told the crews. “This is a divisional rear area, so expect SA-6 or -8, plus either -9s or -13s as we head on out. MANPADS and 23-mm at the target as well. There's at least two 57-mm sites near the targets, so our Navy brethren? Take your antiradar shots, then kill the flak sites.”

“We'll take them out,” Commander Kearny said. “We're packing two Shrikes and four Rockeyes each bird.”

“They -45Cs?” the CO asked. Kearny nodded back. “Good. Now, as for us? Twelve Mark-82 Snakeyes each bird, and the centerline MERs have the Daisy Cutter fuze extensions. Other than that, the usual air-to-air: Four Sidewinders, two Sparrows, full 20-Mike-mike, two wing tanks, and ALQ-119s for the leads, -101s for the wingies.”

“Got it,” Kara said. “Ingress?'

Guru traced the ingress route on the JOG chart. “We come in over Lake Comfort, and follow the Soviet-East German boundary. Past Dublin, and south to the town of Lamkin, on Route 36.” He passed the INS coordinates around. “Then we go south to the town of Pottsville, turn west to the town of Indian Gap. Ten seconds after the town, we turn north. No visual checkpoint for our pop-up point, so it's all INS. Make your runs, then get your asses down low and headed north.” He surveyed his crews. “Any other questions?”

“Bailout areas?” KT asked.

“Down there? Anywhere away from the roads,” replied Guru. “Weather is pretty much unchanged, in case you're wondering.”

'It had occurred to some of us,” Sweaty nodded.

“I'll bet. Okay, first run of the day, and for Sweaty's element, and Brainiac? That's all. Kara and I are taking General Olds to one of the Scud Boxes we prowled last summer. Have some ACM, and maybe we'll run into those F-20 hotheads and teach them a lesson or two.”

Hearing that, Kara grinned. “It'll be a pleasure.”

“Hopefully,” Guru reminded her. “Okay, Commander? You guys meet us at ten grand overhead. Anything else?” Heads shook no. “Then let's gear up.”

The crews went to their locker rooms to change, with the Navy people heading off to their aircraft. Guru came out of the Men's Locker Room and found Goalie waiting, as usual.”Ready?” He asked.

“Let's get going,” his GIB replied.

Pilot and GIB went outside, and headed to the squadron's dispersal area. The sky was brighter, they noticed, and the sun had just risen. When they got to the revetment holding his bird, 512, they found the rest of their flight waiting for his final instructions. “Ready?”

“Time to make some Russians think they should've stayed home,” Preacher said.

KT nodded. “The ones who are still alive, that is.”

“It is that,” Guru said. “Okay, we're Corvette Flight for at least this one. Now, usual procedures on the radio. Call signs between us, and mission code to AWACS and other parties.”

“Any word on who these Russians are?” Sweaty asked.

“No info,” Guru said. “You know as much as I do.” He looked at his crews. “Anything else?”

Heads shook no, then Kara said, “Guess that's it.”

Guru nodded. “All right: time to mount up. Let's hit it.”

The crews broke up and headed to their aircraft. When Guru and Goalie went into their revetment, Sergeant Crowley, the Crew Chief, was waiting with the ground crew. “Major, Lieutenant?” Crowley said as he snapped a salute. “Five-twelve's locked and cocked. She's ready to go kick some Commie ass.”

“Thanks, Sergeant,” Guru said as he and Goalie returned the salute. They did their usual preflight walk-around, then he signed for the aircraft. That done, pilot and GIB mounted the aircraft, put on their helmets, and got strapped in. Then they went through their cockpit checks.

“Back to a Soviet sector,” Guru said as they went through the preflight. “Got used to East Germans, Nicaraguans, or Libyans.”

“Same here,” Goalie replied. “But we're going back to Public Enemy Number One,” she reminded him. 'Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom,” said Guru. “Check yours. And nothing wrong with that. Arnie?”

Goalie replied, “Arnie and INS all set.” That meant the ARN-101 DMAS and the INS. “Preflight complete and ready for engine start.”

“That we are,” Guru said. He gave a thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. Guru then started his engines. First one, then both J-79 engines were soon up and running. Then he called the Tower. “Tower, Corvette Flight with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi to Runway Three-three Lima. Hold prior to the active, and you are number two in line.”

“Roger, Tower. Corvette Flight rolling,” Guru replied. He gave another thumbs-up to his CC, who motioned to the ground crew. They pulled the chocks away from the landing gear, and Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal. Guru released the brakes, and began taxiing out. He headed towards the runway, and the rest of the flight followed.

When the flight got to the holding area, they waited while a Marine flight of F-4s went ahead of them. As the Marines took off, Corvette Flight taxied into the holding area, where the armorers removed the weapon safeties. Then Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are calm,” the controller replied.

“Roger, Tower.” Guru called back. He taxied 512 onto the runway, and took a quick glance to his right. Kara and Brainiac in 520 were there in his Five O'clock, as they should be. They gave a thumbs-up, and both he and Goalie returned it. Then it was time. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower didn't reply by radio, but flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Canopy coming down,” Goalie said, and Guru did the same. He glanced to his right again, and saw 520's crew had done the same. “Ready?”

“Time to fly,” Goalie replied.

“Let's go.” Guru put the throttles forward, released the brakes, and 512 thundered down the runway and into the air, with 520 right with them. Thirty seconds later, it was the turn of Sweaty's element, and after takeoff, all four joined up with the A-7s at Flight Level 100, and they headed south for the tankers.
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Old 07-12-2017, 10:45 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Guys, I will have new material up over the weekend. RL has been a serious pain the last week, but things have settled down quite a bit. Patience, please.
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  #364  
Old 07-16-2017, 10:32 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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New update, and can anyone recognize the Soviet air-assault officers?



Over West-Central Texas: 0745 Hours Central War Time:



Corvette Flight headed south, having had their pre-strike refueling and after dropping to low level, cleared the FLOT. Unlike strikes flown on the east side of the East German sector, where the Nicaraguan gunners were not that excited about shooting at them, this time, the East Germans had the Soviet 32nd Army on their western flank, and both sides would be alert and ready to shoot. The ingress route Guru had planned out took the flight along the boundary between the East Germans and the Soviets, where one side might not know what the other was doing. So far, it looked like things were quiet.

In 512, Guru kept his head on a swivel, checking his instruments, the radar repeater, the EW display, as well as having his eyes out of the cockpit, checking for threats. While in the back seat, Goalie was concentrated on the navigation, but also keeping her eyes out visually for threats as well. “So far, so good,” she said. “They still asleep?”

“Maybe they're having a unit inspection or an ORI,” Guru jokingly replied. “Dublin off at One O'Clock.”

“Got it,” Goalie replied. “Stay on this heading. Two minutes to the turn point.”

“Roger that,” said Guru. He glanced at his EW display. Clear so far.


On the outskirts of Dublin, the commander of the 374th MRR, 155th Motor-rifle Division, was watching one of his battalions as it went through some training. The Americans to the north were quiet, and the Regiment needed some quiet time to absorb some personnel and equipment replacements that had recently arrived. Though he was surprised at how young some of the men were: a replacement draft had arrived, and with a few exceptions, all were barely eighteen, depite having had six months' training prior to shipping out. He turned to the battalion commander, a young Major who had been promoted after taking the job due to casualties, and the Colonel saw the man simply shrug his shoulders. The Colonel knew what the Major was thinking: if the Americans came at them now, they'd be in for it, as he doubted many of these replacements would make it through their first battle. Then the sight of jets and the scream of jet engines came, as two A-7 Corsairs and four F-4 Phantoms flew by very close. Some of the young soliders stared at the aircraft, and were promptly kicked-literally-back into their duties by their sergants. The Colonel and the Major shook their heads, and then went back to work.


“Lamkin coming up,” Guru said.

“Copy. One minute to the nav point,” Goalie replied. “EW still clear.”

“Got it,” replied Guru. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-six-five for fifty-five. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-seven-eight for sixty. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing Two-one-one for seventy-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger that.” Guru checked his own radar. Clear for now. “Coming up on the turn?”

“Thirty seconds,” Goalie replied.

Then the small town of Lamkin appeared Just a collection of houses on the south side of State Route 36, it was useful as a navigation checkpoint from their point of view, it went by in a blur. Guru waggled his wings in case there were civilians down there, then he turned slightly right to pick up the heading for the next turn point, the town of Pottsville. “How long until the next turn?

“Two minutes,” Goalie replied. She glanced around, then at her own EW display. “EW still clear...wait: looks like an air-search radar due south.”

“Probably a Mainstay,” Guru said, referring to the Mainstay AWACS aircraft. “Still...Flight, Lead. Music on.” That meant to turn on their ECM pods.

“Copy, Lead,” Kara replied, and the others followed suit.


Corvette Flight continued south, then they picked up a small hill, and just past that, Pottsville, which was their turn point. Guru put 512 into a right turn, and picked up the heading to the next turn, the small town of Indian Gap, which was more of a spot on the map than a town. After steadying on the new heading, two-six-five, he asked, “Turn in when?”

“Fifteen seconds,,” Goalie replied.

“Got it,” Again, this was more a spot on the map than a town, and he banked right and came onto the new course. “How long until IP?”

“One minute thirty.”

Corvette Flight headed north, generally following F.M. 1476, and though there were some small rolling hills, there were none that stood out, and thus no landmark that could be used as an IP. Guru scanned for threats, and spotted the town of Gustine off in the distance at his One O'clock. Good. “Set 'em up,” Guru told Golalie.

She worked the armament control panel, and replied. “You're set.”

“Roger that, Flight, Lead. Switches on, and stand by to pull. Puncher 304, time for you to go to work.”

“Roger, Lead,” Commander Kearny replied as the two A-7s climbed, then they began shooting their Shrike missiles.

“Got some radars,” Goalie said.

'Too late,” Guru replied

“Stand by....and PULL!”

Guru pulled back on the stick, and the Phantom climbed for altitude. He leveled off, and went into a shallow dive. Guru was able to pick out the fuel dump that was their target, but saw the area where the suspected C3 site was supposed to be was empty. “Flight, Lead. Primary target in sight, secondary is gone.”

“Copy,” Sweaty replied. That meant that she and Hoser would drop on the dump.

“Ready back here,” Goalie called.

“Time to go,” Guru said as he rolled in on his attack run.


East of the supply dump, just west of the town of Gustine, the 801st Independent Air Assault Battalion was resting after conducting an assault exercise against the town. The battalion had fought in America since 1986, and had taken the casualties to show for it, for they were now on their fourth commander. Though new to America, Lieutenant Colonel Gordunov was a decorated veteran of Afghanistan, fighting at Herat and Kandahar, and was a Hero of the Soviet Union twice over. He had brought several other officers with him, all Afghan vets but one, to rebuild the battalion. As part of the rebuilding process, he had personally led his First Company in an assault exercise on the town's garrison. The garrison, a motor-rifle battalion from the 366th Guards Independent Tank Regiment, which was itself rebuilding, had done well in the exercise, but the umpires from Front Headquarters had ruled that the
air-assault troops had taken the town.

Now, Gordunov and his comanders were going over the exercise over a late breakfast. He had listened to the veteran officers he had inherited upon assuming command, and had been reminded that “Motor-rifle blockheads are one thing. Americans are totally different.” Gordunov had also wondered who had been watching the exercise; though the local inhabitants were indoors as per the curfew, no one could miss the noise of the exercise, and his intelligence officer was now wondering how long until word of their unit's presence would be in the U.S. Sixth Army's hands. Then there was Captain Levin, his Zampolit. The man came across to Gordunov as someone who volunteered for the assignment, and as a sincere and idealistic Communist. The truth about what kind of war he'd landed in was likely to shock the young Zampolit, and Gordunov was right. Still, Levin had the makings of a good solider, and the exercise had shown that. But he was surprised when the Zampolit pointed to the southwest. “What is it, Levin?”

“Air raid, Comrade Commander,” Levin replied calmly.

“What are you babbling-” Gordunov said, then he froze as he recognized the aircraft. F-4 Phantoms coming in. “TAKE COVER! And get the air defenders up!” The officers scattered as they ran for foxholes or a dry creekbed.


“Lead's in hot!” Guru called as he rolled in. The A-7s had gone to work, killing a nearby 57-mm site, and had shot at least two Shrikes, forcing the AAA radars off the air, and maybe any SAMs, too. He easily recognized the fuel dump and the motor pool next to it. Selecting the center of the dump, he lined up several large fuel tanks in his pipper, and ignored some light flak, probably 23-mm, that was coming up. Barbeque time, Ivan.....”And...Steady...Steady....HACK!” Guru hit his pickle button, releasing his Mark-82s down on the dump. He pulled up and leveled off, heading north and jinking to avoid flak as he did so. “Lead off safe,” Guru called.


“What the...” Gordunov said as he heard Guru's F-4 fly past, and then the bombs went off. The fuel dump had been one of the targets of their exercise, and the seemingly lax security had made their task an easy one. Now, a number of secondary explosions followed in the F-4's wake, and he knew what the target was. He had never been under air attack before, and this was a new experience. He poked his head up, only to have Levin pull him back. He started to demand why, then the Zampolit pointed. Another F-4 was coming in.


“SHACK!” Goalie called from 512's back seat. “We got secondaries, and they're big ones!”

“How big?” Guru asked as a shoulder-fired missile flew a few hundred feet ahead of his nose, and another one flew over the top of the aircraft.

“Big enough!”

“We'll take those, don't you think?” Guru said as he headed north.


“Two's in!” Kara called as she rolled 520 in on the target. She saw the secondaries left in the CO's wake, and picked out some revetments on the east side of the dump that had fuel bladders or simply piles of drums. Kara, too, drew some light flak as she came in, and even a SA-7, but she ignored it. Ready to fry, Ivan? She lined up the revetments in her pipper. “And...And.....HACK!” Hitting the pickle button, Kara sent her dozen Mark-82s down on the fuel depot. She pulled up and away, jinking as she did so. “Two's off target,” she called.


In the foxhole, Colonel Gordunov heard Kara's F-4, then he-and presumably Levin-heard the bombs going off, and felt the concussion. He poked his head up out of the hole to see several large explosions left in the fighter's wake. Cursing, he looked around, and saw several of his soldiers with Strela-3 missiles on their shoulders fire, and then they watched helplessly as their missiles fell short. Then he noticed the Lieutenant who commanded the air defense platoon point to the south. That had to mean more American aircraft coming, and he dropped back into the hole.


“GOOD HITS!” Brainiac shouted. “Got some secondaries, and they're big ones!

“How big?” Kara asked as she jinked, and saw a missile fly past their left wing.

“Texas sized.”

“That's good enough,” she replied as she turned north, picking up the CO as she did so.


“Three in hot!” Sweaty called as she rolled in. She saw that the secondary target was indeed gone, and adjusted her course slightly to aim for the fuel dump. Both the CO and Kara had left an inferno in their wake, but she saw several fuel tanks that had escaped the carnage, and selected those as her target. Hope you enjoy a Texas barbeque, Sweaty thought as she lined up the tanks in her pipper. Ignoring the 23-mm flak, she drew closer. “Steady....And...And....HACK!” She hit the pickle button, and released her bombs onto the dump. Sweaty pulled wings level and away, accelerating as she did so, and jinking to avoid flak or SAMs. “Three's off safe,” she called.


“What the...” Gordunov said as Sweaty's Phantom came past, and once again, the Americans left explosions in their wake. He poked his head up again, and noticed Levin doing the same thing, and what they saw....the fuel depot was blazing furiously, and the occasional sympathetic detonation of fuel drums or tanks told them that putting that inferno out was going to be a job. How that was done wasn't his problem, but still....Then Levin pointed to the south again. Another American Phantom was coming down. Gordunov didn't need to be told twice, for he ducked back into the hole.


“GOOD HITS!” Preacher shouted from Sweaty's back seat. “Righteous ones!”

Beneath her oxygen mask, Sweaty grinned. “How righteous?” She, too, had a shoulder-fired missile fly past the aircraft, this time on the right side.

“Large and righteous!”


“If it pleases the guy upstairs,” quipped Sweaty as she turned north, picking up Kara's bird as she did.


“Four's in hot!” Hoser called as he rolled in. The other three birds hadn't left much for him to hit, but he didn't get paid for bringing back ordnance. As he came down, he noticed the supply dump's motor pool hadn't been hit, and he lined that area up in his pipper. Even with all the fires and explosions, the flak gunners below hadn't abandoned their posts, for 23-mm fire still came up. Not your day, Ivan., he muttered as the motor pool grew larger in the pipper. “And.....NOW!” Hoser hit his pickle button, releasing his Mark-82s. He then pulled up and away, jinking like the others to avoid any flak. “Four off target.”

“Sookin sin...” Son of a bitch, Gordonov muttered as Hoser's F-4 came by, the closest of the four. The bombs went off in the plane's wake, followed by some sympathetic explosions, and this time, he felt some of the heat wash over, even though the depot was several hundred meters away. Was it just thinking it did? No matter. He got up, and Levin came with him.Gordunov surveyed the scene, and saw several trucks in the depot's motor pool had been tossed aside like toys, and were now blackened skeletons. And several human torches came staggering out of the flames, only to collapse on the ground. He turned to Levin, who was clearly shocked by the sight. Then he remembered that the Political Officer had never been in combat before. “Well, Levin?”

“Comrade Commander.....” Levin replied. “Is it always like this?”

“I wouldn't know,” Gordunov said as he shook his head at the destruction. 'The Dushmani don't have an air force.” This had been his first time under air attack. “So, Levin, what do we do now?” He asked, wondering if he'd get some Party blather.

“We can only do our duty, Comrade Commander,” the Zampolit replied.

Gordunov was surprised, but then again, he had an idea that Levin would make a good soldier. “That's all we can do.” He waved his Chief of Staff, Major Dukohnin, over. “Any casualties?”

“None, Comrade Commander, but if those planes return....” said Dukohnin. No more need be said.

“We won't be here. Get the battalion ready to move. And as for those poor bastards,” Gordunov motioned to the inferno. “Tell the garrison in town that's their problem.”

“Right away, Comrade Commander.”


“SHACK!” KT hollered from the back seat. “We got some good hits!”

“How good?” Hoser asked, wincing as a shoulder-fired missile flew by on the right side.

“Good secondaries.”

“Have to take 'em,” Hoser replied as he headed north, and then he picked up his element lead.


Guru heard the call. “All four off target,” he said. “Puncher 304, Corvette Lead. We're headed out.”

“Roger that, Corvette,” Commander Kearny replied, then he calmly added, “I'm hit.”

“Puncher, can you make the Fence?” Guru asked. That meant the FLOT, and also I-20.

“Negative,” Kearny said. “I'm getting out. See you all later.”

Guru and Goalie scanned around, but it was Kara who made the call. “Got him, and there's a chute.”

Then Puncher 307 came up. “Crystal Palace, Puncher 307. Puncher 304 is down, four miles north of the target. Have a visual on a chute.”

“Roger, 307. Will notify Jolly Greens,” the controller replied.

“Puncher 307, Corvette Lead. Join up with us. Nothing you can do for him,” Guru called Lieutenant Patrick.

In her A-7, Patrick didn't want to leave her element lead, but knew that Air Force flight lead was right. Besides, she had no bombs or Shrikes left, and only had 20-mm. “Copy. Puncher 304, this is 307. Can't stay, and good luck.” Then she reluctantly turned north, following the F-4s on their way out.


“That sucks,” Goalie said as the A-7 joined up on the F-4s.

“Always,” Guru replied. Then he called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

“Corvette, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-six-zero for fifty-eight. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-nine-one for sixty-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing Two-one-zero for seventy. Medium, closing.”

“Roger that, Crystal Palace,” Guru replied as the A-7 joined up with the strike flight. “How long to the Fence?”

“Two minutes,” Goalie called as Proctor Lake flew by on their left.

“Good,” Guru said. Then he did some calculations in his head. Two minutes to the Fence, and the I-20. No way those MiGs would catch them. Then another call came from the AWACS.

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-six-zero for forty. Medium, closing.”

“Copy,” Guru said. “Say bogey dope.”

“Corvette, Crystal Palace. Bandits are Floggers. That meant MiG-23s. “Threat now One-five-five for thirty-five. Stand by....bandits now turning. And going away.”

Guess they don't want a wall of Eagles this morning, Guru thought. “Copy.”

“One minute,” Goalie called. It wasn't long until the twin ribbons of concrete that were I-20 appeared. “And...now.”

“Flight, Lead. Verify IFF is on, out.” Guru called. Now that they were over friendly territory, having their IFF on was a must. Given how the Army and Marine air-defense pukes acted on occasion.....”Shoot them down and sort them out on the ground,” was their motto.

Once they cleared the Fence, the flight went to the tanker track, and their post-strike refueling. One thing the fighter crews had learned from talking to tanker people, was that it was a heartbreaker sometimes for them to refuel a flight going in, then when that same flight came out, minus one or two aircraft.....and they never asked what happened to the missing birds. It was a cardinal rule, and strictly enforced.

The flight then headed to Sheppard, and got into the traffic pattern. Once the outbound strike birds had cleared, and two inbound ones had gone before them, and then the morning C-141, it was Corvette Flight's turn. After they landed, the crews taxied to their respective dispersals, and as the F-4s taxied, canopies popped, the crews saw the news crew filming, as usual. “Well, no surprise there,” Guru said.

“She upset you're flying General Olds before her?”

“Kinda,” Guru replied. “But Kara's actually taking her up. I'll have the cameraman.”

Goalie grinned in the back seat, oxygen mask off. “Kara going to get her airsick?”

“That's the idea.”

Then the Phantoms got to the dispersal, and found their revetments. After taxiing into his, Guru got the “Shut down” signal from his Crew Chief, and the ground crew put the wheel chocks into place. He shut down the engines, then he and Goalie went through the post-flight checklist. The ground crew brought the crew ladder, and both pilot and GIB took off their helmets and climbed down. “One and done,” Guru said.

“And three more, plus our ride with General Olds,” Goalie nodded as a ground crewer brought her and Guru bottles of water.

“That's about it,” Guru replied as he took his bottle and promptly drained half of it.

“Sir?” Sergeant Crowley, the Crew Chief, asked. “How's my bird, and how'd you guys do?”

“Five-twelve's working like a champ,” the CO said. “Whatever you're doing, don't change it.”

“Yes, sir!” Crowley was beaming at that.

“And the fuel dump we hit?” Goalie added. “Went sky-high.”

“Good to hear that, Lieutenant,” Crowley said. “Major, we'll get her ready for the next one.”

The CO nodded. “Good man, Sergeant. Get her ready to go.”

Crowley smiled. “You got it, Major! All right, you heard the man! Let's get this bird ready for the next one.”

Guru and Goalie nodded, then headed to the revetment entrance. Kara and Brainiac were there already, waiting. “Well, how'd you guys do?” Guru asked.

“Big secondaries, and you had some,” Kara said, and Brainiac nodded.

“What happened to that A-7? Goalie asked.

“Good question,” Sweaty said as she came up with Preacher, with Hoser and KT right behind them. “No radar warning.”

“I'd like to know myself,” Guru said as Sin Licon, the SIO, came over. “Sin,”

“Major,” Licon said. “Heard about the A-7. VA-135's Intel is talking with the wingmate right now. She doesn't know what happened.”

Guru shook his head. “And we don't either. No indication on the RWR, nada. And no basketball-sized tracers, in case you're wondering.”

The intel nodded. “Could be anything, Major. Shoulder-fired missile, heavy SAM with optical backup, IR missile from a vehicle-like an SA-9 or -13....”

“Or flak,” Kara said.

“Or flak.”

“Okay,” Guru said, getting back to business. “Debrief in when?”

“Fifteen, sir. Have to talk to the XO's flight first. They got in ahead of you.”

“All right, then. Get out of your gear, and briefing room in fifteen. We debrief, then check your desks, because in an hour, we're back at it,” Guru said.

Kara nodded, then a grin came over her. “Then we fly with General Olds.”

“That we do,” Goalie said.

“Boss, can we come with you?” Sweaty asked, and Hoser, Preacher, and KT nodded. 'If you run into those F-20 guys, it's more of a fair fight.”

“She's right,” Kara pointed out.

Guru thought for a moment, then nodded, and he had a grin come over his face. “I like it. You guys can tag along, and if we do run into those F-20 jocks? We all get to teach them a thing or two.”

“Love to,” Sweaty grinned.

“First things first,” Guru reminded them. “Let's debrief, then get ready for the next one.”
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  #365  
Old 08-10-2017, 07:37 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Anyone recognize the Soviet air-assault colonel and his Zampolit? Those who've read Ralph Peters' Red Army will know....
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  #366  
Old 08-12-2017, 09:09 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Getting ready for the next mission:




335th TFS: 0850 Hours Central War Time:


Major Wiser was in his office, and was glad to see one particular item of paperwork cross his desk. Supply had come through-for once, and the two horizontal stabilizers for Kerry Collins' shot-up bird would be arriving tomorrow. Good: the sooner that bird was fixed, the squadron would have twenty-two birds flying, and he'd finally be able to form two new crews with the extra people he already had. The CO was mentally deciding on some tentative crew assignments when there was a knock on his office door. “Yeah? Show yourself and come in!”

Jana Wendt, the reporter attached to the squadron, came in. '”Bad time, Major?”

“Not at all,” Guru said. “Always time for the Fourth Estate. What can I do for you?” He was recalling the directives from Tenth Air Force about dealing with the news media, and one of those said, “Be polite and reasonable.”

“Just letting you know: your interview airs in Sydney tomorrow night, Texas time, and the following night? On CBS.”

“Took long enough,” the CO said. “Network being slow?”

The reporter shrugged. “They didn't tell me, Though they were more interested in the report we did during that air raid,” Wendt said, referring to a Soviet air strike on Sheppard, when the reporter and crew had disdained the shelters, and had caught some of the raid on tape.

“And let me guess: you were upset you weren't live?”

“You're right, Major. I did go on the air about an hour later, but they wanted a full report on the raid. Apart from some submarine activity, and Spetsnatz?”

Guru nodded. “That's the term. Soviet Special Forces. They're the meanest and toughest killers Ivan has.”

“Okay, thanks. Apart from that, and the subs, Australia hasn't seen much of the war. Just what we see on the news,” Wendt said. “Same for New Zealand.”

The CO understood. “Just as long as they liked the show.”

“They did,” Ms. Wendt grinned. “So, you getting ready for another go?”

“Almost time,” Guru said. “Southeast Asia wasn't like this, they say. One, maybe two missions 'Up North', a day. If you were in South Vietnam? You might get three or four.”

Wendt nodded. “And from what General Olds told me in his interview? Hanoi was the most heavily defended airspace in history, even more than Berlin was, and he says this can be as bad.”

'In some areas, yeah. But talk to the guys who fly for SAC into Russia. At least here? If we go down, we have a chance either for a rescue or joining up with the Resistance. There? If you go down, you are either dead or in a Gulag,” Guru reminded the reporter.

“I may just do that, when my time here's done,” Ms. Wendt said. “If, that is, they'll let them talk to the media.”

Guru knew what she was talking about. SAC did publicize its missions into Russia, but it was still cautious about what it let the crews discuss with the media. “For good reason.” Then there was another knock. '”Yeah?”

Capt. Kevin O'Donnell, the Squadron Maintenance Officer, came in. “Boss, we're getting to work on Kerry's bird. All we're missing is the two stabilizers.”

“Get what you can done. Because those stabilizers are due in tomorrow. And yeah, I know, it's a three-day job,” Guru said, handing the maintenance officer the paper he had scanned. “Ms. Wendt, you didn't hear that.”

“Hear what?” She replied, and the two officers grinned.

“Good to know you can be deaf when necessary,” Guru said, and the trio laughed.


After the reporter and the Maintenance Officer had left, the Exec, Capt. Mark Ellis, came in. “Boss,”

“Mark,” Guru said, “Whatcha got for me?”

“First, Ross came through on the stabilizers,” the Exec said.

Guru handed him the paper he'd shown Kerry Collins. “Supply, for once, beat him to it. Be here tomorrow.”

“Must be our lucky day,” Ellis replied. “Supply on their tails for once.”

“Just hope that when I kick Frank out of the squadron, he doesn't wind up there,” the CO reminded the Exec. “That's the only problem with transferring him out: I'd be inflicting him on a fellow officer who'd be wondering what he'd done to deserve Frank showing up.”

“Collateral damage, I'd say.”

“General Olds said the exact same thing,” Guru said. “Anything else?”

“Yeah, speaking of Frank, he's filed another complaint. Seems he overheard some of us talking about either enlisting our mascot or making him an honorary Captain.” Ellis handed the CO a paper. “As if he's got other things to worry about.”

“Like SA-11s or MiG-29s showing up,” deadpanned Guru. “You know where to put that BS,” He nodded towards the office shredder.

Ellis took the paper and fed it into the office shredder. “What'd the reporter want to know?”

“Just letting me know that the interview that she did with me and Goalie airs in Sydney tomorrow, our time, and on CBS the day after that.”

“Well, now, looks like you two get your fifteen minutes of fame on two continents,” the XO said.

“And the GRU adds that to the files they have on the two of us in Moscow,” Guru reminded him. “Every officer commissioned prewar has a file on them at GRU headquarters, in all likelihood. And that includes you.”

“It does.”

“Okay, anything else?”

The XO shook his head. “That's it.”

Just then, Kara came in. “Boss, we've got a mission.”

Guru stood up. “And we have someplace to be. Round everybody up. Briefing Room in ten.”

“I'm gone,” Kara replied. She ran out the office door.

“Good luck, Boss,” Ellis said. “Not ready to be CO yet.”

“And I'm not ready to break in Don as Exec.”


The CO went to the Ops Office, and found the Ops Officer waiting. “Major,” Capt. Don Van Loan said.

“Don,” Guru replied. “What have you got for me?”

Van Loan handed the CO a briefing packet. “Going back to the East German sector. Stephenville Municipal Airport. Not only is it supporting chopper and transport ops, but Su-25s are staging through it again.”

Guru scanned the summary. “We've hit this place before.”

“Yeah, and so have the A-6s and F-111s. They keep bringing it back online. You're going as a four-ship, and no Weasels.”

“Let me guess: the Weasels are all busy.” It wasn't a question from the CO's viewpoint.

“Right you are, Boss.” Van Loan replied.

Guru nodded. “Okay, Don. Oh, I need to file a flight plan with MAG-11 Ops.” Van Loan handed the CO the form, and he quickly filled out the form. “Right after we get back from this one. I want my flight turned around-fuel and any air-to-air ordnance expended replaced. We're taking General Olds on his 'Check ride.'”

“Going to hassle with those F-20s?”

“Something like that,” the CO grinned. “Teach those young punks a lesson.”

Van Loan winced at that. “Well, I've flown with those 'young punks.' They're good. Remember what you keep saying about overconfidence?”

“I know. But, when one of those young punks-either Clancy or Pruitt-declares the F-20 'Greatest since the P-51'?” Asked the CO. “Somebody's got to teach them a lesson on overconfidence.”

“And it might just as well be you and General Olds.”

“You got it.” Guru let out an evil-looking grin.

“Well, good luck on the mission, and the, uh, 'check ride,” Said van Loan.

“Thanks.”


Guru went to his flight's briefing room, and found Buddy there, sitting by the door. The CO opened the door, and the dog went in ahead of him. Then he entered, and found the rest of his flight there. “Folks, we've got a visitor,” he nodded to the dog. “And we've got a mission.”

“Where to?” Sweaty asked.

“Someplace we've been before. Stephenville Municipal Airport,” Guru said. “We've hit it a couple of times, and the F-111s or A-6s have as well. But the East Germans are tough, because they keep getting it back operational.”

Kara nodded. “So what's flying from there?” She wanted to know, and others nodded as well.

“Choppers, for one thing, along with light transports like the An-24 or -26, and the L-410. And Su-25s have been staging through there,” replied the CO. “So we get to put it out of action for a couple of days.”

“Ingress route?” Goalie asked. Since she was the lead navigator, it was a natural question to ask.

Guru showed the route, using a TPC chart and a JOG map. “We follow the Brazos River, staying in the Nicaraguan sector until we hit Lake Whitney. Turn west, and pass the town of Meridan, here,” the CO said, tapping with a pen. “Go west to Hico, then turn north and follow U.S. 281. Pop-up point is five miles south of town. We pull up, hit the target, then get your asses north as quick as you can.”

“Sounds good,” Hoser said. “Defenses?”

“Two 57-mm batteries, and those have been hit by CBUs, so they may, and I do emphasize may, not have a full compliment of guns. There's also two 23-mm batteries, and MANPADS. This is also in the East German Army-level formation's rear, so SA-4s are around.”

There were several scowls at that. “Nice, Boss,” KT said. “We getting any Weasels?”

“Nope, just us,” Guru said. “We stay low, use our ECM pods, and that should take care of Mr. SA-4. The MiG threat is still the same from this morning, by the way.”

“Just about to ask,” Kara said. “But you did mention helos?”

The CO nodded. “Hips and possible Hinds.”

“A kill's a kill,” Brainiac, Kara's WSO, said, grinning. They were always looking to add to their kill sheet.

“Don't go out of your way, though,” the CO said firmly. “Remember what I said about flak traps.”

“Got it,” Kara said.

“Good,” the CO said. “Make sure you do. Now, ordnance load and specific aimpoints. Element leads get a dozen Rockeye CBUs. Wingmates get a dozen Mark-82 Snakeyes. I'll take the northern ramp area, Sweaty? You take the south.”

Sweaty nodded. “We'll get 'em, Boss.”

“Do that. Kara? You walk your bombs across the hangars. I know, they got taken out last time, but Ivan or Franz just cleared the wreckage, put new frames up, and lined them with corrugated metal. And bingo! Instant hangar.”

Brainiac looked at Kara, who nodded. “We'll take them out.”

“Okay, Hoser? I hate to leave a runway intact, but what good's a working runway if there's no fuel?” He tapped on a photo of the target. “Fuel dump's to the east of the runway. It's yours.”

Hoser and KT looked at each other and nodded. “Will do, Boss,”

“All right. We'll have the usual air-to-air load: four AIM-9Ps, two AIM-7Es, and we are getting Fs next week, by the way. Two wing tanks, full cannon load, and ALQ-119 pods for the leads, and -101s for the wingies,” Guru said. “Bailout areas: same as usual. Anywhere rural and away from roads.”

Kara nodded. “And after that, we take General Olds up on his 'Check ride.'”

“We do. We'll do a quick debrief and a combat turnaround, get the General geared up and ready, then we go.”

“Sounds good,” Sweaty grinned.

“One mission at a time, people!” The CO reminded them. “Anything else?” Heads shook no. “Then let's gear up. We all have somewhere to be.” As he gathered the briefing materials, Guru noticed the dog, curled up on the floor and fast asleep. “Let's hope he's like Roscoe.”

“What do you mean by that?” KT asked.

Goalie explained the story of Roscoe, the Korat mascot during the long war in SEA. “They said that if he slept through a briefing, it was an easy ride. If he woke up or paid attention? It was going to be a bad one.”

After turning in the briefing material, Guru went to the Men's Locker Room to gear up. When he came out, Goalie was there, geared up and ready. “You ready?”

“Time to fly,” she grinned. “And let's hope Buddy's the same as Roscoe.”

“You, me, and everyone else,” the CO said.

As Pilot and GIB left the office, the dog followed, but when they left the lawn, the dog sat down, as if waiting. “Good omen?” Guru asked.

“Ought to be,” Goalie replied.


CO and GIB walked to the dispersal area, and found the rest of the flight waiting at the revetment for the CO's bird, 512. “Okay, gather 'round,” Guru said. He was giving his final instructions.

“Usual procedures on the radio,” Kara said. It wasn't a question.

“Right you are.” That meant mission code to AWACS and other interested parties, but call signs between them.

“So, after this one, we get to eat some Tigersharks,” Hoser asked.

The CO frowned, then said, “One misison at a time, and remember about complacency,” he reminded them. “But.....when someone like Clancy or Pruitt-or both-declares the F-20 'Greatest since the P-51', then they need to be cut down to size.”

Kara grinned. “And we're the ones to do that.”

“Exactly,” Guru replied. “Focus on what's next, then we teach those young punks a lesson. Anything else?” Heads shook no. The CO clapped his hands. “All right! Let's go get 'em. Meet at ten grand overhead. Time to hit it.”

The crews headed to their aircraft, and Guru and Goalie went into the revetment and found 512's Crew Chief, Staff Sergeant Crowley, waiting. “Major, Lieutenant?” Crowley asked, snapping a salute. “Five-twelve's ready to rock.”

“Thanks, Sarge,” Guru said, returning the salute, as did Goalie. Pilot and GIB did their walk-around, then the CO signed for the aircraft. Then they mounted the aircraft, and the ground crew helped them get strapped in, while the crew donned their helmets and plugged in their oxygen masks and radio headsets. Then it was time for the preflight checklist.

As they went through it, Goalie said, “This one reminds me of what they told us at the Academy about strikes like ROLLING THUNDER. Hit a target, then you find out the Viets went out and repaired it, and a few days later, you hit it again.”

“Cycle repeats,” Guru acknowledged. He'd heard the same thing in OTS and in fighter training.

“It does,” Goalie said. “Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom. Check yours. Arnie and INS?”

“All set,” replied Goalie. “Preflight complete and ready for engine start.”

Guru replied, “Roger that.” He gave a thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who gave him the “Start Engines” signal in return. Guru hit the engine starters, and first, one, then two, J-79 engines were up and running. When the warm-up was complete, Guru called the tower. “Tower, Corvette Flight with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

The tower replied at once. “Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi to Runway Three-Five-Lima. Hold prior to the active, and you are number three in line.”

“Roger, Tower. Corvette Flight rolling.” Guru gave another thumbs-up to his Crew Chief, who signaled to the ground crew, who pulled the chocks away from the wheels. Then Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal, and Guru taxied 512 out of the revetment. Once clear, Crowley snapped a salute, then gave another thumbs-up.

Pilot and GIB returned the salute, then Guru taxied to the runway, with the rest of the flight following. When they got to the holding area, there was a Marine F-4 flight and a Navy A-7 flight ahead of them. But before the Marines could taxi, four F-20s came in to land. “Yeager's people coming back.”

“Remind me to find out when they leave,” Guru said. “I have an idea about maybe running them out of gas, or jumping them just before they're BINGO on fuel.”

In the back seat, Goalie grinned. “You can be a sneaky bastard.”

“Got to be one when I was Exec.” Guru said as he watched the F-20s taxi off, then the Marines taxied onto the runway, then they took off. Then the Navy A-7As went, then it was their turn. In the holding area, the armorers removed the weapon safeties, and that meant their ordnance was now live. Then Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Corvette Flight requesting clear for taxi and takeoff.”

“Corvette Flight, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are two-seven-two for eight.”

“Roger, Tower.” Guru replied. He taxied 512 onto the runway, and Kara followed in 520. A final cockpit check, then a glance at Kara and Brainiac in their Five O'clock. They gave a thumbs-up to 512's crew, and it was returned. Time. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower didn't reply by radio, but flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Canopy coming down,” Goalie said as she closed and locked her canopy.

“Got it,” Guru replied, pulling his own canopy down and locked. A quick glance at 520 showed Kara's bird ready. “All set?”

“Let's go,” Goalie replied.

“Then let's do it,” Guru said. He firewalled the throttles forward, released the brakes, and 512 rumbled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right with them. Thirty seconds later, it was the turn of Sweaty's element. The flight met up at FL 100, then headed south for the tanker track.
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  #367  
Old 08-12-2017, 09:16 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Next mission, and prepping for General Olds' 'Check Ride."



Over Central Texas: 1015 Hours Central War Time:


Corvette Flight was headed south, following the Brazos River, in the Nicaraguan sector. One thing that everyone noticed was that this time, the Nicaraguan AAA gunners on the east side of the river were more active than usual. This morning, instead of not shooting at all as the strike flight passed the first bridge at Granbury, the Nicaraguan gunners had opened fire, but only after the F-4s had passed the bridge. Something had stirred them up, and the crews were wondering what had happened. “Something's got them fired up-pardon the pun-this morning,” Guru said after passing the Granbury bridge.

“Yeah, and I'd like to know what,” Goalie replied. “Thirty seconds to Lake Granbury Dam. One minute to the U.S. 67 bridge.”

“Got it,” said Guru. “Flight, Lead. Watch for flak at the dam up ahead.” He then added, “Music on.” That meant to turn on their ECM pods.

“Copy, Lead,” Kara called back, and the others also acknowledged.

“Dam ahead,” Goalie called, and sure enough, the dam appeared, with bursts of flak coming. With the windy path of the Brazos, staying on the East side wasn't always possible, and ironically, the easiest way to avoid the AAA was to cut across a point where the river went to the east,and then turned back, which meant the East German sector. Despite the flak, the strike flight cleared the dam, then got back into the Nicaraguan sector. “Dam's clear.”

“Roger that!” Guru snapped.

“Thirty seconds to U.S. 67,” Goalie called.

“Got it.” Guru glanced at his RWR. Still clear. “Bridge in sight.” Again, puffs of flak-both 37-mm and 57-mm, appeared, and as the flight flew past, there was a convoy on the bridge. “One reason they're shooting.”

Goalie nodded in the back seat. “Looks that way,” she observed. “Fifteen seconds to the Brazospoint Bridge, then one minute to the Route 174 Bridge.”

“Copy.” Guru had his head on a swivel, keeping his eyes peeled for threats, checking his instruments, and doing the same with his RWR. “And Brazospoint coming up.”

It may have been a small bridge, but it was still defended, and the flak gunners opened up as the strike birds flew by. As 512 flew on, Goalie glanced back, and saw the gunners still shooting. That meant they were now in the Libyan AOR. “One minute to 174, and those are Libyans down there.”

Guru replied, “Roger that.” He then called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace,” the AWACS controller replied. “Threat bearing One-six-five for sixty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-seven-two, for seventy-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing One-nine-one for eighty-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace,” Guru called. “ETA to the 174 Bridge?”

“Thirty seconds,” Goalie replied. “Watch for the Libyans shooting.”

“Got it,” Guru said. “Bridge in sight. And they're shooting from both sides,” he calmly added.

As the strike flight overflew the bridge, not only did the AAA open up, but the crews noticed a convoy of trucks and some APCs crossing the bridge. And those on the bridge opened up as well with machine guns and small arms.

“Libyans being Libyans,” Goalie noted.

“As usual,” Guru replied. He was referring to the Libyan habit of shooting at anything that flew, and the gunners acted as if someone would outlaw the practice in the next ten minutes. Fortunately, the strike flight flew past, and as GIBs glanced backwards, the flak was still coming up. “Next turn point?”

“Over the lake. One minute,” Goalie called. She was not only using the ARN-101 DMAS, but also the INS, as well as old-fashioned dead reckoning.

“Copy,” Guru said.

The strike flight headed south, and quickly the Brazos River became Lake Whitney. Unknown to the aircrews, there were locals fishing the lake, hoping to catch some fish to supplement what the occupiers' ration quota allowed. And several of the fishermen and -women waved to the F-4s as they flew by.

“Turn point in fifteen,” Goalie called from the back seat. “And ten....five, four, three, two, one, NOW!”

Guru put 512 into a hard right turn, which put him and the rest of the flight headed for the town of Meridian. “Meridan next stop.”

“One minute thirty,” Goalie said.

Guru nodded in his cockpit, then glanced at his RWR. A search radar to the south was up and looking for them. Probably a Red AWACS. “Flight, lead. Verify you've got Music on.” He checked his ECM pod and saw that it was going.

“Two, on,” Kara replied, and the others followed suit.

“Meridian coming up,” called Goalie.”Thirty seconds.”

“Got it,” Guru replied. Then the town appeared. “No flak,”

Goalie reminded him with the operative word. “Yet.”

In Meridian, the local garrison, which was Nicaraguan in this case, had been reinforced with a detachment of Soviet MVD troops. Ostensibly for rear-area security, the MVD was also watching the watchers, as some of the locals wryly observed. Relations between the two allies were tense, with the Nicaraguans content to leave the locals alone, as long as no one from the garrison was wounded or killed, while the Soviets-mainly Uzbeks and Tartars from Central Asia were more eager to show who was boss, and not just to the local population, but also the Nicaraguans garrison.

At the City Hall, a Nicaraguan Major came out of the Mayor's office, and he was not in a good mood. The Soviets were a big problem, and there was word that regular Soviet Army units were on their way, with everything that entailed, including KGB troops for traffic control. Then the local PSD officer was insistent that the Major round up several civilians for suspected “Counterrevolutionary Activity,” and the Major was reluctant to do so. He argued that doing such things would stir up Resistance activities, and so far, things were quiet. The Major then went down to the ground floor and went outside to get a breath of fresh air. A University professor in civilian life, he wondered what he was doing in this place called Texas. Of course, Nicaragua had to mobilize to fend off what the President said was a threatened Yanqui invasion, and then to help their Mexican brothers throw off the PRI yoke and bring about socialism, but going to war with America? No doubt, some of his former students had been called to the colors, and were either fighting at the front, wounded, dead, or in some American POW Camp, and the thought of those who enjoyed English Literature either in a grave on foreign soil or in a hospital back home, maimed, disturbed him.

His thoughts were interrupted when there was cheering from the civilians on the streets, as four F-4 Phantoms came over. Some of the civilians waved to the aircraft, and they waggled their wings in return. That PSD swine would probably want some of those who had cheered or waved shot, and he was not going to allow that. Shaking his head, he went back into the City Hall, and waved for a Captain and two soldiers to follow. Maybe an “accidental discharge of a weapon” into that PSD man was a good idea.


“That's Meridian,” Guru said after waggling his wings. “Hico next?”

“Affirmative,” Goalie replied. “One minute twenty-five,” she added.

“Copy that.” Guru looked at his RWR display. That Red AWACS was still there. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say closest threat.”

The reply came back at once. “Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing Two-zero-two for fifty-eight. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace,” Guru replied. “Say Bogey Dope?”

“Corvette, bandits are Fishbeds.” That meant MiG-21s. And probably East Germans, too.

“Copy.”

Goalie chimed in. “Forty-five seconds.” That meant the town of Hico and their next turn point.

“Got it.”

The hills and plains flew past as the strike flight headed west, generally following State Route 6. It wasn't long until they got to Hico. “Hico coming up,” Goalie advised.

“Got it. Turn in when?” Guru asked as the town got closer.

“Five, four, three, two, one, and MARK!”

Guru put the F-4 into a hard right turn, then headed north, and the rest of the flight followed.


In Hico, an East German supply convoy was just entering the town. It had been a long trip from the Port of Corpus Christi, and though there had been warnings of activity from either the counterrevolutionary bandits who called themselves the American Resistance, or from the Imperialists' own Special Forces, there had been no serious incidents-and the convoy commander was glad to be nearing his destination was few casualties or lost cargoes. the convoy approached the town called Hico, along Route 281, there was a sight that brought a chill to the East German Major. For four Ami F-4 Phantoms overflew the town, then turned north towards Stephenville. In his truck, the Major looked at his driver, who shrugged. At least we're not being attacked, the Major thought.

“Time to target?” Guru asked Goalie.

“One minute,” she replied. “Set 'em up?”

“Good girl,” Guru said. “Flight, Lead. Switches on, forty-five seconds to pull.”

The others acknowledged, then Goalie came back on the IC. “All set. We're good to go.”

“Roger that,' Guru acknowledged. “Call time to pull.”

“Thirty seconds.””

Stephenville grew closer in the windscreen. A quick glance at the RWR display showed the SA-4s still quiet. And the Soviet-manned SA-2 site was still off the air. Hopefully. “Target coming up.”

“Pull in ten,” Goalie said. “And, five, four, three, two....And....PULL!”

Guru pulled back on the stick, and climbed. Their navigation had been right on the ball, for there was the airport, below and to the right. As he climbed, the radars-both gun and missle-came up. Guru then decided to play a trick. “Coors One-Four, MAGNUM”! A few seconds later, the radars all dropped off.
He turned and lined up on the target. “Flight, Lead. Target in sight, and let's go in.”

“All set back here,” Goalie said on the IC.

“Good girl,” Guru replied. “Hold on and let's go.” He rolled in on his run.

At Stephenville City Hall, the garrison commander had actually been breathing a sigh of relief. General Metzler, the Commander of the “Kampfgruppe Rosa Luxumbourg”, had gone forward to the front, and had taken the insufferable Party man with him. Though the general was respected as a combat commander, the Political Officer was only good for spouting the latest Party line from East Berlin and not much else, and the Colonel who was now in command wasn't alone in feeling that way. Then the attitude of the local population was also an issue, as any fool could see that the fighting to the north was going bad for the Socialist Forces, and it was evident to anyone but said fool that the local population was waiting eagerly for the U.S. Army's return. It didn't help matters that the local PSD representative was now the fourth man to hold the position, as his three predecessors had met unpleasant ends (one had been shot in his car, another's home had a bomb planted inside, and the third was killed when his car ran over a roadside bomb), and the man was getting on everyone's nerves, even the garrison-who were recalled Frontier Troops, and many were hoping that the PSD swine would meet a violent end himself.

Now, in his office, the Colonel was talking with the Mayor, and it was an open secret in the town that the man was working for the Resistance. Thus far, there had been very little activity by the counterrevolutionary bandits, and both the Colonel and the Mayor wanted to keep things calm. However, the Colonel didn't know that the Mayor was biding his time, and waiting. They were discussing a plan to increase food rations for the Americans' Thanksgiving Holiday and Christmas when the air raid sirens began sounding. Both the Colonel and the Mayor went to the office window and saw the first anti-aircraft fire. “What in Himmel....”

“Looks like the Air Force is coming in again,” the Mayor observed.

“Lead's in hot!” Guru called He ignored the flak coming up, and was glad to see that the SAM radars that had come up had gone off when he gave his phony “Magnum” call. Good. And if you catch on and a real Weasel's around? You'll eat a HARM....Guru lined up the northern ramp in his pipper and watched it grow as he approached his release point. He lined up a couple of Mi-8 helos and what looked like a Let-410 transport in the pipper. You'll do, Franz.....A SA-7 type missle flew past, but Guru ignored it, as he got ready. “Steady...Steady...And....NOW!” He hit the pickle button, releasing his Rockeye CBUs onto the ramp area. He pulled up and leveled off, jinking as he did so to avoid flak and any missiles. “Lead's off target.”

Both the Colonel and the Mayor watched as Guru's F-4 made its run, and they saw the CBUs going off To the Colonel, it looked like a thousand firecrackers going off on the ground, then there were three larger explosions as clearly, some of those bomblets had found targets. But what happened at the airport wasn't his responsibility, as the Air Force was in charge there. Then a second F-4 came in.

“GOOD HITS!” Goalie shouted from 512's back seat. “We got secondaries!”

“How many?” Guru asked as 23-mm tracers flew past the aircraft, as did a MANPADS. Somebody's pissed off, he thought.

“Three big ones,” she replied.

That meant those two helos and the transport. Good. “Three ground kills. Time to boogie out of here.” He set course due north for the I-20.

“Two in hot!” Kara called as she went on her run. The hangars were her target, and she saw the CO go on his run, and the secondaries that followed. Good job, Boss, she thought as she lined up the southern hangars in her pipper, intending to walk her dozen Mark-82s across all three hangars. Ignoring the 23-mm and 57-mm flak coming up, she centered the pipper on the hangar in question and noted what looked like a Hind helicopter parked in front of one, and its rotors had just started turning. Your turn, she said to herself. “Steady....And....And....HACK!” Kara hit her pickle button, walking her Mark-82s across the hangar area. She pulled up and level, jinking to avoid the flak. “Two's off safe.”

“DAMMT!” The Colonel said as Kara's F-4 flew past, leaving explosions and pieces of hangars flying in its wake. He looked out around the building, and saw that many of the locals were on the streets, watching and cheering. He turned to the Mayor, who shrugged. Then the Colonel noticed a third Phantom coming in.

“SHACK!” Yelled Brainiac from 520's back seat. “Got some secondaries!”

“Good ones?” Kara asked as a large missile, an SA-4 most likely was fired, but the big missile flew over the aircraft by at least a hundred feet and much to her relief, it didn't go off. Probably too close to the launcher....

“Big and good!” Brainiac called. He, too, had noticed the missile, and breathed a sigh of relief as the SA-4 kept on going.

“I'll take those.” Kara grinned beneath her oxygen mask as she picked up first the CO's smoke trail, then his bird.


Three's in!” Sweaty called as she rolled in on her run. She saw the results of Kara's run, and even saw the Hind blowing up. There were still a couple of helos on the ramp, and what looked like a pair of Su-25s. Good, she thought, even though one of the Frogfoots began to move. Not your day, Ivan or Franz....Ignoring the flak, she lined up the southern ramp in her pipper, centering one of the Frogfoots. “And...Steady....And....HACK!” Sweaty hit her pickle button, releasing her dozen Rockeye CBUs onto the ramp area. She, too, pulled up and away, jinking to avoid the flak as she did. “Three's off target,” she called.

At City Hall, the Colonel shook his head. “Of all the....” he muttered as Sweaty's F-4 made its run, leaving the CBUs going off in its wake, and at least one larger explosion as well. And both he and the Mayor could hear the cheering as that fireball climbed. Then he glanced to the south, and saw another F-4 coming in....Please, let this one be the last.

“SHACK!” Preacher shouted in the back seat.

“Good hits?” Sweaty asked as a line of 23-mm tracers passed above the aircraft.

“Great ones!” The ex-seminary student said. “You might have gotten that Frogfoot.”

“I'll take a ground kill if you will,” joked Sweaty as she headed north.


“Four in hot!” Hoser called as he came in for his run. He saw the explosions at the ramp area, and noticed one Su-25 burning, but that a second one had taxied clear and was going for the runway. If only Dave and Flossy were with us, he thought as he lined up the fuel dump in his pipper. Hoser, too, ignored the flak as the fuel dump grew larger in his pipper. A quick glance at the runway showed the Su-25 getting ready to take off. He closed off that thought as he concentrated on the bomb run. “And....Steady....And....HACK!” Hoser hit his pickle button and sent his twelve Mark-82s against the fuel dump. He pulled up and away, and like the others, jinking to avoid the flak and any SAMs. “Four's off target,” Hoser called.

“GOTT IN HIMMEL!” Shouted the Colonel as Hoser's F-4 finished its run, and the resulting explosions showed what the target had been, for several fuel-fed explosions followed in the Phantom's wake. He turned to the Mayor, who was trying to conceal a smile, and he heard the cheering outside his office window. And deep down, he didn't blame these people for doing so. Shaking his head, the Colonel and the Mayor resumed their conversation.

“GREAT HITS!” KT shouted. “You got the fuel dump!”

“How many secondaries?” Hoser asked as some 23-mm tracers flew by harmlessly.

KT was grinning beneath her oxygen mask. “How many do you want?”

“Too many to count's good enough,” replied Hoser. He glanced back and saw the Su-25 just climbing out from the runway. No way, Ivan. He turned north, picking up Sweaty's bird and following his element lead out.

“Whoo-hoo!” Guru said as he took a quick glance to the rear. He could see the fuel dump going up.

“Fuel dump?” Goalie asked.

“Hoser got it,” Guru replied. Now, they weren't flying for Uncle Sam, they were flying for themselves. “Time to I-20?”

“One minute forty-five,” was the reply.

“Lead, Four,” Hoser called. “A Frogfoot got off after I made my run. Can't see him.”

“Roger that, Four,” Guru replied. “Flight, Lead. Pick up your visual scanning. See if he's behind us.” Even a ground-attack bird like the Su-25 could ruin your day, for they carried AA-8 Aphid AAMs for self-defense, and still had two 30-mm cannon. Not good under the right circumstances. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threat.”

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-nine-one for thirty. Medium, closing. Second threat...stand by one.” The controller paused, then picked up. “Second threat bearing one-eight-zero for ten. Low, steady.”

“That'll be the Frogfoot,” Goalie commented.

“It would,” Guru said. And he knew they could outrun him. “Crystal Palace, can you have a reception committee if he gets closer?”

“Copy that, Corvette,” the controller replied. “Bandits at One-nine-one for twenty-five. Medium, closing. Bandits are Fishbeds.”

“Copy,” Guru said.

“One minute to I-20,” Goalie added.

The AWACS called up a flight of F-16s. “Puncher Three-one, Crystal Palace. Bandits bearing One-seven-eight for thirty. Medium, closing. Kill. Repeat: KILL. Clear to arm, clear to fire.”

“Roger that!” A female voice came over the frequency. “Puncher Three-one copies.”

“Thirty seconds,” Goalie said. That meant the I-20. Just then, the F-4 crews saw four F-16s pass overhead, heading south.

“Go get some,” Kara muttered in her cockpit. Oh, for another dogfight and another Red Star on the side of 520. Maybe next time, she knew.

Goalie checked her navigation in 512's rear seat. “Thirty seconds,” she called.

“Got it,” Guru replied. Then the F-16s came over the radio as they waded into the MiG-21s. Two of the East Germans went down, then one of the F-16s, then one more East German, with the surviving MiG running for his base.

“Puncher Three-four is down,” Three-one called. “Good chute.”

“Roger, Puncher Three-one,” AWACS called. “Will notify Jollys.” That meant the Jolly Greens, the CSAR choppers.

“Damn it,” Guru growled as he heard the fight.

“Can't win them all,” Goalie reminded him. “I-20 dead ahead.”

The twin ribbons of Interstate appeared, with Army supply convoys moving in both directions, and this time, the strike flight's egress route was away from the I-20 bridges over the Brazos, with their attendant I-HAWK SAM sites. And those pukes, everyone knew, had the “shoot them down and sort them out on the ground later,” attitude. “Crossing the Fence,” Guru called. “We're clear.”

“Good,” Goalie said. Then she gave the course for the tanker track over Mineral Wells.

The flight formed up and headed for the tankers, with both KC-10s and KC-135s in their orbits, and protected by F-15s and F-16s. Ivan had tried on numerous occasions to get at the tankers, and had failed for the most part. Though every once in a while, someone got lucky, and a KC-135 became a very big fireball.

After the refueling, the flight headed back to Sheppard. When they got into the pattern, it was full, as both outbound and inbound flights were making the base very busy. Guru checked the outbound flights to see if the F-20s were among them, and he was disappointed that they were not. After landing, they taxied in, and as usual, the news crew was filming. “Don't they ever stop?” Guru asked.

“You must be joking,” Goalie said.

“Somebody will use the footage, I guess,” Guru replied. Then they taxied into the squadron's dispersal, and found the F-20s still in their revetments. But everyone noticed the ground crews beginning to clear, and it was obvious: the F-20s were getting ready to depart. Good. Then the flight found their own revetments and taxied in. When Guru taxied 512 into its revetment and shut down, he let out a sigh of relief. “That's done.”

“And we're going after the F-20s next,” Goalie reminded him.

“That we are,” Guru said as he popped his canopy and Goalie did the same. “Business before pleasure, though.” They went through the post-flight checklist, then the ground crew brought the crew ladder. Pilot and GIB stood in their cockpits and stretched, then climbed down. A ground crewmember offered both bottles of water, and they gratefully accepted.

“Major, my bird come back without a scratch?” Sergeant Crowley asked. Crew Chiefs never hesitated to remind crews that the crew chief “owned” the aircraft, and the crew merely borrowed it.

“She's doing fine, Sergeant,” said Guru. The CO did a quick walk-around, then nodded. “You do know about the, uh, 'Check ride” for General Olds?”

His Crew Chief nodded back. “Yes, sir. Captain Van Loan told me and the other Chiefs. Fifteen minute turnaruond, Major.”

“Don't waste anymore time, Sergeant,” Guru said. “Let's get her ready to skin those Tigersharks.”

“You got it, Major!” Crowley beamed. “All right, people! Get the CO's bird ready to fly.”

Pilot and GIB walked to the entrance of the revetment, and found a Dodge Crew-Cab pickup there, with not just Sin Licon, the SIO, but also Don Van Loan, the Ops Officer, and General Olds with Chief Ross and the news crew. And the mascot, Buddy. They noticed that General Olds was already in full flight gear. “General,” Guru said. “Guess you're ready to go.”

“I am, Major,” Olds said as the rest of the flight came over. “First things first, though: your Intel wants a debrief,”

“Then let's get it over with,” Guru said as Kara came up.

“Boss, I think you got a couple of helos and a Let-410 on your run,” she said. “Saw the secondaries as we rolled in.”

“I think everybody got a ground kill or two on this one,” Sweaty chimed in. “All but Hoser, that is.”

Hoser and KT shrugged. “Better luck next time,” Hoser said.

“Let's get this done, please,” said Licon. They went over the mission, and just as they were wrapping up, the F-20s began taxiing out.

Guru noticed that, and checked his watch. He hit the stopwatch function. “Okay, they've got forty-five minutes' endurance from wheels up. I want to catch them when they're maybe two, three minutes shy of Ms. Betty bitching 'Bingo fuel.'”

Olds knew the tactic. “Major, you want to teach them something about fuel management, among other things, I take it?”

“Yes, sir, I do,” replied the CO. “People, treat these guys like they're MiG-21s. Keep the fight in the vertical if at all possible. Don't turn with them.”

The rest of the crews recognized that at once. “Keep it in the vertical,” Kara said. It wasn't a question.”

General Olds nodded. “You're right on that, Captain. Go high, go low, but do not turn with them. Keep things in the vertical if at all possible.”

“They've also got all-aspect Sidewinders,” Van Loan reminded them. “Keep that in mind as you go.”

“Noted, Don,” Guru said. “Did they join with a tanker when you were with them?”

The Ops Officer shook his head. “Negative on that, Boss. Tankers were all busy.”

“Okay...” the CO thought aloud. “I'll talk to the AWACS. See if those punks did ask for a vector to a tanker. If they did, we wait a few, then go in. If not...”

Kara grinned. “Ducks on the pond.”

“Be careful, Captain,” Olds said. “Overconfidence, even in DACT, is a bad thing, Be aware of that.”

“Yes, sir,”

Guru turned to his Ops Officer. “Don, who's in Prada's back seat?”

“Dave Golen,” Van Loan replied. Their IDF “Observer” would be making a report back to Tel Aviv on the F-20, and that would no doubt make Northrop very happy about a possible sale to the Israeli AF after the war.

Then they heard the rumble of the F-20s' F404 engines as they rolled down the runway into the air. “Starting the clock,” Guru said. “Best I can figure, they've got twenty minutes' playtime in the old Scud Box before they head back.”

“Ten minutes to get there, ten back with a five minute reserve,” Brainiac noted.

“So when do we go?” Sweaty asked.

Guru did some quick calculations in his head. “General, how does ten minutes from now sound?”

“Sounds good to me, Major,” said Olds. “I'm riding with you.”

“Yes, sir,” Guru replied. “Goalie's with Kara on this one,” said the CO. “Sorry, Brainiac, you're odd man out this time.”

“Oh, well,” Kara's GIB shrugged. “Somebody has to.”

“What's the rules, Major?” Olds asked.

“Sir, I'm glad you asked. Keep things above five grand AGL and everything's copectic. Five seconds' lock with whatever weapon you're calling is enough for a kill. And be careful, people! Paint transfer at altitude is bad news, okay?”

“What about Party Crashers?” Goalie asked.

“If they've got red stars on their tails, fight's on,” Guru nodded. “That satisfies the no-combat directive.”

General Olds nodded. “That's how I read it, Major.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Guru. “Anything else?”

Kara spoke up. “Who's buying tonight?”

“Losers,” Sweaty replied.

“Hopefully, they will,” KT added.

Major Wiser let out a grin. “That's the idea, folks. Anything else?” Heads shook no. He turned to General Olds, who nodded. “Then let's hit it, people. And teach those young punks a thing or two.”

“Let's go and do it, Major,” Hoser said.

Guru nodded. “Yeah, let's. Meet at ten grand overhead. Time to fly.”

“Hey, look at Buddy,” Preacher said. The dog had not slept during the brief, and was paying attention. “It may be a friendly round, but some of us may be 'killed.'”

“Hope not,” Goalie said.

“Same here,” the CO said. “Let's go.”

The crews headed to their aircraft, the news crew following the CO and General Olds as they went to 512. And Sergeant Crowley was surprised to see a Two-star General coming to fly on “his” aircraft. “General,” he said as he snapped a salute. “Major. Five-twelve's ready to go.”

“Thanks, Sarge,” General Olds said. He turned to the CO. “Major, you're still the AC. I'm just along for the ride.”

“Yes, sir,” Guru said. He and Olds did a quick preflight walk-around, and then Crowley helped him get General Olds in the back seat.

“Anything special, Major?” Olds asked.

“Sir, there's only three things I may need from you. One and two happen to be turning the radar on and off. The third would be going boresight on the radar so I can get a quick system lock.”

“Understood, Major,” Olds replied.

Guru nodded, hopped down, then mounted his own cockpit. The two went through the preflight as if it was for a prewar incentive ride, then it was time for engine start. He gave a thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. One, then two, J-79 engines were soon up and running.

“How's that feel, sir?” Guru asked the General.

“Major, it may be twenty-five years since my last flight in a fighter, but you never forget. It feels good back here,” Olds replied.

“General, if you're pleased, then so am I,” replied the CO. “Tower, Corvette Flight with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi to Runway Three-Five-Lima. Hold prior to the active, and you are number two in line,” the controller called.

“Roger, Tower,” Guru said. He gave another thumbs-up to Crowley, who waved to the ground crew. They pulled the chocks away from the landing gear, then Crowley gave the “taxi” signal.

Guru released the brakes, and taxied out of the revetment. As 512 cleared the revetment, Sergeant Crowley snapped a perfect salute, which Guru and General Olds returned. Then the CO taxied to the runway, with the other three F-4s following.

When the flight got to the holding area, there was a Marine Hornet flight ahead of them. After the Marines took off, it was their turn to taxi to the holding area. Guru taxied to the holding area, and the armorers removed the weapon safeties. They had four AIM-9Ps, two AIM-7Es, a full load of 20-mm, and the appropriate ECM pod for leaders and wingmates. Not that they hoped to use any, but General Yeager's encounter with a recon flight the previous day showed that combat could happen anywhere. Unlike a regular combat mission, the wing tanks were left off, for all they would do in this case was provide drag. Then it was time to taxi for takeoff. “Tower, Corvette Lead with four, requesting clear to taxi for takeoff.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are two-seven-eight for ten. Good luck, General,” added the controller.

“Roger that, Tower,” Olds handled the reply. “And thank you.”

Guru taxied onto the runway, and then Kara and Goalie taxied 520 onto their right wing. Guru glanced over, as did the General, and they saw both Kara and Goalie give a thumbs-up. They returned it, then after a quick check, Guru called the tower. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower didn't reply by radio, but flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Ready, sir?” Guru asked his VIP (Very Important Passenger).

“Ready back here, Major,” Olds responded. “Canopy coming down.”

Both closed and locked their canopies, and a quick glance at 520 showed Kara and Goalie had done the same. Then Guru went to full throttle, released the brakes, and 512 rolled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right alongside. Sweaty and Hoser followed thirty seconds later, then they met at FL 100 and headed west, towards the old Scud Box.
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  #368  
Old 08-12-2017, 09:27 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Location: Auberry, CA
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General Olds' "Check Ride", and some DACT with the F-20s:



Over Northern Texas, near Childress, 1100 Hours Central War Time:


Corvette Flight approached the old Scud Box, intent on finding the F-20s. Due to traffic headed to and from Amarillo-the two full F-4 Wings in Tenth AF were based there-the actual area in the box that was open for any kind of DACT was limited. Still, Guru wanted to know where the F-20s were, and instead of calling the AWACS, which, he knew, the F-20s would be listening in, called up a couple of F-4 flights headed to or from Amarillo to see if they had noticed the Tigersharks. The two flights in question hadn't, but one of the flight leaders, an ex-IIAF Major in the 306th TFS, thought he might know someone who had, and called up another flight that was inbound. Sure enough, word got to Corvette Flight that the F-20s were in the central part of the Box, and had been aggressively playing not just with each other, but had challenged some of the ex-IIAF guys to fights-and the F-20s had won, much to the regret of the 306th. One of the Iranians told Guru to “Uphold the honor of the F-4,” and Guru had said he'd try.


Now, Corvette Flight was headed south, towards the center of the old box, and only one radar was on: Kara's. “Two, Lead,” Guru said over the radio. “You find 'em for us. Call out when you have bogeys.”

“Copy, Lead,” Kara replied. In 520's back seat, Goalie turned on the APQ-120 radar and began searching for targets. Though the radar could generally detect a bomber-sized target up to 40 miles away, going after fighters meant about half that. Still.....

“Nothing yet,” Goalie called. One feature of the F-4 was that, originally, there had been two rated pilots in the aircraft, and the backseater had full radio controls. She was now the eyes of the flight.

Sweaty got on the radio. “Lead, Three,” she called. “Any ideas?”

“Flight, Lead.” Guru responded. “They can see us before we see them, no thanks to these engines. Try and stay up-sun if you can.”

In 512's back seat, General Olds recalled an old WW II adage: “Beware the Hun in the Sun.” “Just like in Europe, Major.”

“Yes, sir. Still applies today,” Guru noted. Then he had an idea. Maybe the AWACS would tell, and remind the F-20 guys that peacetime DACT rules applied. “Warlock, Corvette Lead.”

“Corvette Lead, Warlock,” the AWACS controller replied. “Go.”

“Warlock, any Tigersharks around?” The way he put the question, it would be clear to the controller that Guru was looking for a pickup DACT session.
“Affirmative, Corvette. On your nose, thirty-five miles, Medium.”

“Roger that, Warlock. If they call, remind them peacetime rules apply.”

“Copy, Corvette,” replied the controller.

In the E-3B, the controller turned to the Senior Controller, an ex-F-4 driver who had a serious back injury from a prewar ejection and that had meant he could never fly an ejection seat aircraft again. “These F-4s are looking for Yeager's people.”

“Five bucks says they get the drop on them,” the Major replied.

“You're on.”


“Sweaty, Guru. You and Hoser go high. I'll take Kara and go low. People, if they try and lock you up, do a Doppler Break, then turn into 'em.”

“Roger, Lead,” Sweaty called. “Hoser, on me.” The two F-4s climbed, while the lead element went low. With both searching for targets, either with the radar, TIESO, or visually with the Mark-one eyeball.


To the south, the F-20s had been doing ACT with each other.

In Prada's bird, the two-seat D, IDF Major Dave Golen was very impressed with the aircraft. “You know, Goria Epstein would love this plane.”

In the front seat, Prada asked, “Who's he?”

“Just our top ace from the Six-Day War, War of Attrition, and the Yom Kippur War, with seventeen kills. All in Mirages or Neshers. But some of your guys have passed his total,” Golen said. He checked the radar display and wondered what “Hawkeye” as Espstein was known, would think of the F-20. Maybe after the war, Northrop could send a demonstration flight to Israel.....

“This is a pure dogfighter, I'll admit,” Prada said. “Not much capacity for air-to-ground ordnance, though we've done that a lot. We've got short legs, but we've done well so far.”

Golen nodded in the back seat. “And your impressions of Clancy and Pruitt?” He, too, like some of Major Wiser's people, wondered just how old they were. Then again, the CO pointed out that some people held their age pretty well.

“They're good at what they do. Their antics over Altus as PRAIRIE FIRE pushed south, making ace in a day, prove that. Both know how to use their aircraft, but they do like to take risks.” She paused for a moment, then went on, watching the objects of their conversation do some ACT with General Yeager watching from above. “Honestly, though, with the losses the 474th has taken, they've climbed the ladder a little too fast for my taste.”

“Worried?”

“Can't say I'm thrilled, but not surprised they took with Yeager when he asked for both of them to come to this detail.”

Golen had a chuckle. “Leaving you behind?”

“No,” she replied. “Well, just a little. The brass has a very good reason for the no-combat order, though. The Yak, though, was unavoidable. The General should be in another two-seater, but he has the rank, and Clancy and Pruitt have the experience.”

Then the AWACS controller came on the radio. “Showroom Flight, Warlock. A flight of Foxtrot-Fours is transiting the area.”

In his F-20C, Clancy laughed. “So the Phantom Phanatics want to play?”

“Careful,” Yeager warned. “Say your fuel state.” Yeager checked his own fuel, and saw he only had four or five minutes' fuel left.

“Got five minutes,” Clancy replied.

“Same here,” Pruitt added.

“Four,” Prada chimed in.

“Warlock, Showroom Lead. Say composition?” Yeager asked.

“Showroom, Corvette Flight is inbound with four. Two radar, four heat, and full gun,” the Controller replied.

“Warlock, can you vector us onto them?”

“Negative. Peacetime rules apply.” This was from the senior controller himself.


In 512, Guru was listening in on the AWACS frequency. So, if that's your game.....”Showroom Lead, Corvette Lead. Five seconds' lock with whatever weapon you're calling is a kill. Keep everything above five grand AGL and everything's copectic.”

“Prada?” Yeager called. “You want to do the honors?”

“My pleasure, Lead,” she replied. Then she called the F-4s. “Screw you, flyboy, and flygirl, if Starbuck's with you.”

“You're not my type,” Kara shot back, and Goalie laughed. Then she got serious.

“Twelve miles.”

“Your choice,” Guru added. “Fight's on!”

“Let's go get 'em,” Clancy said.


“Sweaty,” Guru called. “You and Hoser stay high, Kara? On me.” He went down low, pulling up just before 5,000 and leveling off at 5050 feet.

“Roger that,” Sweaty replied. “They're trying to lock me up!” Then she remembered the Doppler Break, going hard left, and Hoser went with her.

“Four hits on scope,” Goalie called from 520. “Two at Twelve, two at One.”

“Twelve will be Yeager and his wingman,” General Olds said.

“General,” Guru said, “Can you get the radar on, and once it's on, go boresight?”

“My pleasure, Major.” Olds worked the controls, and by God, it did come back. “Radar on, and you're boresighted.”

“Thanks, General,” replied Guru. He turned on the auto-acquisition, hoping to lock the nearest F-20 up....


“Two, you and three break left,” Yeager told Clancy. “Prada, with me.” He broke right, with Prada right with him. “Prada, go active on radar, and pick them out.”

“Roger that,” Prada replied. She called up the radar on her MFD and began scanning. “Two at Twelve, two at Eleven. One pair high, one low.”

“Got one,” Clancy called. He called up his radar missiles and tried to lock up one of the F-4s. Then he saw both of them do a hard break, and recognized the tactic at once. “They're doing a Doppler Break!”

“Steady, Two,” Pruitt called. “I got one.....” He locked up the trailing F-4 in that element. “And...FOX ONE on the trailer.”

In their bird, Hoser and KT unclipped their oxygen masks. “Damn it!” he called. “Four's been splashed. And under the rules, he had to leave the area for two minutes before coming back in. “We're on our way out.


“Shit!” Sweaty called over the radio. “I need some help here.”

“On our way,” Guru called. Both he and General Olds had their eyes out of the cockpit, swiveling around. “Starbuck, got tally?”

“No joy,” she replied.

“General, could you go boresight, if you would?” Guru asked. The request was a polite order.

“Gladly,” Olds replied. “You're set.”

“Thank you, sir,” Guru said as he scanned the sky. “Tally two at One, low.”

In 520, Kara grinned. “That'll be Clancy and Pruitt,” she said.

“Watch it,” Goalie replied. She was keeping her own head on a swivel, trying to check six.

“Sweaty, where are you?” Guru asked as he rolled in on the two F-20s.

Sweaty was above, making some S-turns and jinking, trying to run Yeager out of fuel, as he was closing in. “Got some trouble here, but I can handle it.” She then pulled back on the stick and pulled up into a Vector Roll to the right, hoping to turn the tables on her attacker.

“Copy that,” Guru said as he rolled in on the two. “I got the one on the right.” That meant Pruitt.

“I got the other one,” Kara said. You are mine, she said to herself as the two F-20s broke.


Clancy swore. These F-4 guys were good. And all of them, pilots and GIBs, were aces. “Break!” he called to Pruitt. And both F-20s broke, Clancy left, and Pruitt right.

“I got him,” Guru called as he went to RADAR and tried to lock Pruitt up. And the tone signaled in his headset. “Fox One on Pruitt.”

Pruitt cursed aloud. “Shit!” He, too, had to leave the area. He checked his fuel. Maybe time for one pass on the way back.....

“Got him!”

“Lead, Break!” Sweaty called. “Prada's on you!”

Unknown to either him or General Olds, Prada had snuck in while Guru was taking his shot on Pruitt. She had taken advantage of the F-4's bad rear visibility, but had made a big mistake. She had target fixation and was trying to line up a gun shot.

“Roger that!” Guru called, and he, too, applied power and pulled up into a left vector roll, forcing Prada to overshoot.


“Where'd he go?” Prada wondered aloud. She was trying to pick up the F-4, and she knew by the tailcode it was Guru she had been after.

“Can't see him,” Dave Golen said. He, too, had been scanning. “He's in the sun!”

Hearing that, General Yeager started to scan himself. He saw Sweaty make her one mistake-she had leveled out and reversed her turn-probably so that she could clear her CO's tail. “And Fox two on Sweaty,” Yeager called in his West Virginia twang.

“Damn it!” Sweaty called as she and Preacher yanked off their oxygen masks. They, too, had to pull out for two minutes before coming back in.

Just then, Guru came out of the sun and right behind Prada.

“He's behind you, Prada,” Yeager called, his voice calm over the radio.

“Where?” Prada asked as she swiveled her head to take a look.


“Nice try, girl,” Guru said as he lined her up in his pipper, the Sidewinder's growl very loud in his headset. “Fox two on Prada.”


“I think we're dead,” Dave Golen said calmly.

“Fuck!” Prada shouted over the IC. “We're out,” she called as she, too, vacated the area.


Below, Kara in 520 was chasing Clancy, who was all over the sky, trying to shake his pursuer. He had made one mistake, namely, letting her get too close, but had managed to deny her the killing shot. “He's good,” Kara said over the IC.

“Maybe too good.” Goalie said. She had her eyes out of the cockpit, looking for Yeager. “Guru, six clear?”

“Your six is clear, Two,” Guru replied. “Take him.”


“Need some help here,” Clancy called.

“On you,” Yeager replied. He dove in, glancing at his fuel state. One minute's fuel before breaking off....


“Got him...” Kara said as the F-20 leveled out and headed east. Had to be low on fuel...... “Going heat....and....FOX TWO! Sorry, Clancy.”

“Shit!” Clancy called over the open radio. Then a voice called in his headset. “Bingo Fuel. Bingo Fuel.”

“Shut up, bitch. I know I'm low.” He headed east, towards Sheppard.


“We got him!” Kara yelled.

“You did, Two,” Olds called. “Break right! Yeager's coming down.”

They barely had time to look before an F-20 came out of the sun. “Fox two on Kara,” Yeager's drawl sounded on the radio.


“He got us,” Goalie said.

“Better him than one of those punks,” Kara sighed as she headed out of the area.


“Prada is bingo,” they heard, then both Clancy and Pruitt made similar calls.


Guru turned to try and line up Yeager, but a “Bingo” call from Yeager ended that idea. He pulled up and orbited as Hoser, then Sweaty, and two minutes later, Kara, came in. “Lead,” Kara called. “That didn't go the way we thought.”

“No kidding,” Sweaty added. “Those guys were good.”

“Too good,” Hoser chimed in. “Where'd those two learn to fly and fight like that?”

“General, I'd like to know myself,” Guru said. “Looks like we learned a couple of things. And eat some humble pie.”

“Both sides will,” Olds said. “Honors were even here.”

“They were,” Guru said. “Let's go home.”


The AWACS controller turned to his Senior Controller, palm extended.

The Major took out his wallet, paid what he owed, and wondered, what had gone down with those guys?


Corvette Flight returned to Sheppard, and when they got back, found they had to wait in the pattern, for there were several strikes coming back and heading out. Once the pattern was clear, they came in and landed. As they taxied in, the crews noticed the F-20 guys were waiting. “No disrespect, General,” Guru said, “Those guys look like they're trying to rub it in.”

“Not a surprise, Major,” Olds said. “You people expected to clean up, and instead....”

“Better this way, sir, than in combat. I'd be writing a few letters if this had been real.”

“No arguing that, Major.”


The flight taxied to their squadron dispersal, and found their revetments. Guru taxied 512 into its revetment, and after going through the shut down routine, popped his canopy, and Olds did the same. Sergeant Crowley came up with the crew ladder as they went through a post-flight check. “Sergeant,” Guru said. “Didn't go the way we thought.”

“Major?” Crowley asked. “What the...”

“Three of theirs, and three of ours,” Guru said as he climbed down the crew ladder, with the General following suit. Both accepted bottles of water from the ground crew.

“First fight I've been in-real or training, where everyone involved was an ace,” Olds nodded. He took a drink of water. “General Yeager, and those three young pups.” Then he remembered. “And Major Golen.”

Crowley nodded. “Sir, that would've been something to see.”

“It was,” Guru said. “Get her turned around, Sergeant,” he told his Crew Chief. “Next one's for real.”

“Yes, sir!”

As the ground crew started the turnaound, Major Wiser and General Olds went to the entrance of the revetment, and found the rest of the flight waiting. “Well?”

“Where'd they learn to fly and fight like that?” Kara asked. And that was a question on everyone's mind. “They fly like there's no tomorrow.”

Sweaty nodded. “So do we,” she reminded them. “We fly Double-Ugly like we stole them, and those punks....”

'”That we do,” Hoser added.

Then a Dodge Crew-Cab pickup pulled up, with Chief Ross and Buddy aboard. “General? Major? General Yeager's people want to debrief.”

“General?” Guru asked, and saw Olds nod. “Okay, let's get over there.” All eight piled into the truck, and Ross drove them back to the Squadron Office. When they got to the Briefing Room used after the affair with the recon flight, they found the F-20 people waiting.

“Well, Major,” Yeager said. “Looks like things didn't go your way,”

“No, sir,” Guru admitted. “You had the AWACS tell you we were coming.”

Yeager nodded. “After that recon flight, I thought it was a good idea to be warned about party crashers-friendly or otherwise.

Kara had a scowl on her face. “General, you got me at the end, And you had to be short on fuel.”

“Thirty seconds from Bingo,” Yeager admitted. “You people did teach us one thing about fuel management. Yeager had been the last to make a “Bingo” call and break off.

“You knew about our radar missiles,” Clancy pointed out.

“We did,” Sweaty replied. “You got Hoser right from the get-go, but you forgot about the Doppler Break.”

“Anti-F-15 tactic,” KT chimed in. “Too bad we did it too late. You had us.”

“They did,” Hoser said.

“Well, that's that,” Clancy said. “Now that's two you have on me.”

Heads turned to Clancy. “Two?” Pruitt asked.

“The pool match,” he reminded them. “I'll get you one of these days.”

“Maybe,” Kara replied.

General Olds turned to Prada. “You should have taken a Sidewinder shot,” he told her. “You would've had us.”

“Yes, sir,” said Prada. “But with Dave Golen in the back seat, and you know how the Israelis value gun kills....”

Guru recognized it at once. “You had target fixation, and tried to line up a gun kill. Those are good, but you had missiles and didn't use them.”

“It's what they're there for,” Yeager added.

“Guilty,” Prada said. Now, she was thinking very seriously about taking that IP assignment in California. Even though this had been a pickup DACT round, she knew full well had it been real, she would be either hanging in a chute at least, if not dead. “I got greedy and tried showing off.”

“Don't,” Clancy told her. “Just take the shot and kill 'em dead. Remember, we didn't hunt those ZSU-30s with CBUs, rockets, and guns because we wanted to. We did it because we had no other choice, being short on Maverick and Shrike.”

Yeager nodded. “He's got a point.”

“Throw in some complacency on both sides,” General Olds reminded everyone. “Both sides came in very overconfident.”

“General, I'd say so,” Guru said. “This is the first time I know of where everyone in a DACT is an ace, either pilot or GIB.”

Kara nodded. “You've got Phantom Jockeys here who fly Double-Ugly like they stole it. And you fought us to a draw.”

“And you taught us a lesson in fuel management,” Yeager said. “We were short on fuel when you came calling.”

Clancy nodded. '”If we had belly tanks, it would've been four-to-one your favor. Drag from the tanks would've held us back. I probably have Frank Carson to thank for that. I wanted CBUs on the centerline, but he suggested we take the tank.”

Yeager agreed. “We run low pretty fast. I'll talk to the guys at Northrop and see if they can get some more fuel tankage added after the war. But you go to war with what you have, not what you want to have.”

There was no argument there. “Point taken,” General Olds said. “Anything else?” He saw everyone stay quiet. “Major Golen, how about you?”

“It was a hell of a ride,” Golen said. “Can't promise anything, but we might want to have you bring a couple of these to Israel after the war. Don't know what use we may have for them, but the IDF doesn't have a dedicated aggressor squadron. Might be a good idea..,' he mused.

“Interesting take,” Olds said. “Major? He turned to Guru. “Anything to add?”

“Just that this was a shock to everyone involved. We all learned some lessons today,” Guru replied. Was it like this for Nagumo after Midway, or the guys in the Philippines who hadn't taken much of the Zero, only to find out on Day One that yes, the Japanese could build a very capable fighter-the hard way.

Yeager nodded agreement. “That we did.”

“All right: Major, I believe your people have missions scheduled in the afternoon?? Olds asked.

“Yes, sir, we do. My people? Let's get something to eat, check your desks, because in an hour or so, we're back at it for real.”
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  #369  
Old 08-16-2017, 07:42 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Anyone surprised how the DACT turned out?
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  #370  
Old 09-01-2017, 10:56 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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In between the DACT and a real strike:



335th TFS Offices, Sheppard AFB, TX: 1210 Hours Central War Time:


Major Matt Wiser was in his office, wrapping up some paperwork. Even though the Exec filtered out what he could do on his own-and he ought to know, having been Exec himself, leaving the the really important stuff for the CO's attention, still, there was sometimes too much that the armchair warriors insisted on. Once his OUT box was full, he sat back and waited for lunch. Then there was a knock on the door. “Yeah? Come on in and show yourself!”

“Lunchtime,” a female voice said as the office door opened. 1st Lt. Lisa “Goalie” Eichhorn came in, two bags in hand. “Grilled Chicken sandwiches with cole slaw.”

The CO nodded. She was not only his GIB, but also his girlfriend. “And iced tea or lemonade to drink,” he observed. One thing about being a fighter pilot, you didn't drink sodas that much if you expected to be flying shortly, for passing gas at Flight Level 200 was not a good idea.

“Lemonade,” she replied.

“Then let's eat.” Over lunch, they discussed the DACT just concluded. “Well, how's it feel to be back from the dead?”

“First time I've done that since Kingsley Field and the RTU,” Goalie replied. “Guru, when's the last time for you?”

“Requalification course after the E&E,” Guru replied. “Got 'killed' a couple of times. Went down to Stead for that, and we played with the Navy out of Fallon.” He was referring to NAS Fallon and the Naval Strike Warfare Center, which had its own aggressor squadron. “And some folks I still can't talk about. All I can say is that they flew out of Tonopah, and they were good.”

Goalie nodded. She, too, had flown against folks who were out of Tonopah, and after the DACT, had to sign a form saying the flight had been against the Aggressors out of Nellis, not who they had really flown against. “Well, we were up against some of the best today,” she said.

“The best in F-20s,” Guru corrected her. “Like I said: first fight I've been in where everyone involved is an ace.”

“Same here,” Goalie said. “You said you wanted to teach those guys a few lessons. Question is, did we?”

Guru thought for a minute. “I think we did. First one is target fixation.”

His GIB knew what he was talking about. “Prada had Dave Golen in the back seat, and we all know how the Israelis value gun kills. She wanted to give him one.”

“Exactly. Remember Bob Lodge and Bob Locher on 10 May '72? He had target fixation.”

Goalie knew what her pilot meant. Captains Bob Lodge and Bob Locher had led an F-4 flight into the Hanoi area on the opening day of LINEBACKER, and had a fight with MiG-21s. They had splashed one, two others in their flight (Steve Ritchie being one) also killed MiGs, but when another MiG-21 came in, Lodge went after it. His wingman called two MiG-19s coming in behind him, but Lodge, fixated on the MiG in front of him, wasn't paying attention. The MiG-19s sprayed the F-4 with 30-mm fire, and the F-4 fell in flames. Bob Locher, the GIB, punched out and spent 23 days on the ground in North Vietnam before being rescued. Lodge, though, never made it out. His remains were returned in 1977. “Learned that at the Academy, and at Kingsley Field.”

“Which leads into the second lesson,” Guru said. “Fuel management. Those guys don't have much legs. And if they'd had the centerline tank...”

“Drag,” said Goalie. “And Clancy said it himself: we would have cleaned them up.”

“Yep. And I imagine fuel management gets into the F-20 syllabus,” Guru noted. “And then there's one lesson applicable to both.”

Goalie remembered the debrief. “Overconfidence. Both sides expected to clean up on the other. Instead....”

“Instead, we had a draw,” Guru nodded. Then there was a knock on the door. “Yeah?”

Capt. Mark Ellis, the Exec, came in. “Boss, heard about the fight earlier. You guys got humbled.”

“So did Yeager's people,” Guru said. “It was a draw. And we'll talk about it tonight.” He noticed a couple of papers in the XO's hand. “What have you got?”

“Well, all the remaining parts Kev O'Donnell needs to get Kerry Collins' bird up and flying are on the next C-141, along with some other stuff we need.”

“Good,” said the CO. “Sooner we get that bird back up, the better. Even though it's a three-day job. What else?”

“The 'other stuff? Two spare ejection seats. As requested.”

Guru nodded. “Having a couple of spare seats is a good thing. Right now, if we have a bad seat, that bird in question is off the flight schedule until we get a new one. What else?”

“We're also getting a few replacement airmen,” Ellis said. Seeing the expression on the CO's face, he added, “For guys who went off to Airman to Pilot, or to Pararescue School.”

“All right,” Guru said. “Anything I need to sign?”

“No. This is for your information, not action,” the XO replied.

“That's always good.” Then there was another knock on the door. “Yeah?”

Kara came in. “Boss, and XO,” she said, seeing Mark Ellis there. “We've got missions. Briefing packets are ready.”

“Okay,” Guru said. “Round up our flight, and get them to our briefing room. In ten.”

“Do the same for me, if you would,” Ellis added.

Kara nodded. “On my way.” She then went back out.

“Well, Mark, hope you enjoyed the break,” said Guru.

“Fun while it lasted,” Ellis grinned. “Be careful, Boss. Don't want to be CO yet.”

“And you too,” Guru said, and both Ellis and Goalie could tell the seriousness in the CO's voice. “Don doesn't want to be XO just yet, and Kara doesn't want to be Ops.”

Ellis laughed. “Will do, Boss.” He then left to get his flight briefed and ready.

“Looks like we're back in the game,” Goalie said.

The CO nodded. “That we are. Get on over to the Briefing Room. I'll get our mission. Then we all have somewhere to be.”

Guru went to the Ops office, and found Capt. Don Van Loan, the Operations Officer, waiting. “Don,”

“Boss,” Van Loan said. “Heard you guys found those Tigersharks weren't easy meat after all.”

“The hard way,” Guru replied. “You'll get the story tonight at the Club. What have you got for me?”

“Chalk Mountain area,” Van Loan said, handing the CO a mission packet. “Fifteen miles east of Stephenville. “ He showed Guru a photo. “Lots of vehicles here, and quite a few antennas deployed. It's either a C3 Site, a SIGINT installation, or a jamming site. And across the road here is a damaged vehicle collection and repair point.”

“Either way, they'll be defending it,” Guru observed. “A few gun sites, I see. This is in the East German sector, so any Weasels?”

Van Loan shook his head. “Negative on that, and before you ask, Dave and Flossy have their own mission. They drew escort for a photo bird. And we know the drivers.”

“Athena and Helo,” the CO nodded. It wasn't a question.

The Ops Officer grinned. “You got it.”

“Okay, any Weasels? This is in the East German sector again.”

“Nada, Boss.”

Guru nodded. “Okay. Don? You have a good one, and be careful out there. Don't want Kara becoming Ops just yet.”

“That's a very good reason to come back,” Van Loan laughed. “Knowing her and paperwork...”

“You got it,” said Guru. “Thanks, Don.” Then the CO headed to the briefing room his flight used and opened the door. “People,”

“Boss,” Kara said. “What's on tap for us?”

He opened the packet. “Right here, near Chalk Mountain, about fifteen miles east of Stephenville. This is the East German sector if you'll recall.”

“Swell,” Hoser said.

“Yeah. Anyway, right here, just south of U.S. 67. We have two targets. One is either a C3 site, a field SIGINT station, or a mobile EW station. We get to make it go away.”

“Nice,” Sweaty noted. “And the other target?”

“Across the road. It's at the Route 220/F.M. 197-199 intersection. Right between that is U.S. 67. The C3 site is between the intersection and Highway 67. Due west and across the road is the collection point.”

KT nodded. “So, Boss, what do we have to make them go away?”

“Usual air-to-air, and that includes the usual ECM Pods. As for air-to-ground? Element leads have a dozen Mark-82 Snakeyes. Wingmen have a dozen Rockeye CBUs,” replied Guru.

Kara looked at the photos, and then the CO. “Who hits what?”

“You and I take the C3 site,” said Guru. “Sweaty?” He nodded at his second element lead. “You and Hoser get the collection point. If the C3 site has moved? We all drop on the latter target. Nobody brings ordnance home.”

“Defenses?” Preacher asked.

“Nothing other than 23-mm seen on the imagery,” Guru replied. “Just because it wasn't there yesterday...”

“Meaning it could be there now,” Goalie said.

Guru nodded. “Right you are,” he said. “This is the East German sector again, and their SA-4s are only fifteen miles to the west, around Stephenville. And the area we did that CAS a couple days ago is to the north, so expect divisional-level Soviet or East German air defense. Guns, MANPADS, and vehicle mounted SAMs.”

“We getting Weasels?” Brainiac wanted to know.

“Not this time.”

“Lovely,” Kara said. “And if we encounter those basketball-sized tracers?”

“Abort,” said Guru. “Get your asses north in that case. And ingress? We follow the Brazos again, staying in the Nicaraguan sector as long as we can. Get to Lake Whitney, and just before we get to the dam, turn west. Get to Meridian, then follow State Route 6 to Hico. Then go north along Route 220. There are two small lakes just short of the target area. That's our IP.”

“Got you,” Kara nodded. “MiG threat?”

“Unchanged since morning, and bailout areas still the same.”

Hoser said, “Anyplace rural and away from roads.”

“Right on that. Anything else?” Guru asked.

“One more after this?” Preacher asked.

Guru nodded. “You hope. But if the Army starts screaming for CAS like they did a couple days ago...”

“Time enough for two more,” Sweaty commented.

“Yeah,” the CO replied. “Anything else?” He asked as he gathered up the briefing materials. Heads shook no. “Okay. Gear up and I'll see you at 512.”

The crews headed off to the locker rooms, and after Guru geared up, he left the Men's Locker Room and found Goalie waiting as usual. “Ready?”

“We're back at it,” she said.

“That we are, and this time? Buddy wasn't with us.”

“Hope he slept through whatever brief he was in on.”

As pilot and GIB left the squadron office, they noticed two F-4Es already taxiing. They recognized Dave Golen's and Flossy's birds, and knew that Athena and Helo were in good hands. Then they walked to 512's revetment, and found the rest of the flight waiting. “Okay, a reminder: if you see those basketball-sized tracers at the target? Abort.”

“Noted, Major,” Kara said. “But what if we see them on ingress or egress?”

“Evade, and mark the location,” the CO replied. “Other than that? Usual procedures on the radio.”

Sweaty nodded. “Got it.”

“One more after this one?” Brainiac asked.

“Unless the Army starts screaming for CAS yesterday,” Guru quipped. “Oh, one last thing: when we get back from this one? Try and spend some time in the fitness tent. I know, Doc hasn't been on us, but if he sees us going in there, he won't be on my back about it.”

Heads nodded at that. Though it wasn't peacetime, spending some time keeping in shape was necessary. “Keep the Sawbones happy?” KT asked.

“And the Jarheads,” Sweaty growled. “They like seeing the girls in sports bras.”

“Down, girl,” Goalie said.

“And staring at you, all sweaty-no pun intended,” Guru said, nodding in Sweaty's direction, “Is no reason to deck them.” He nodded at Kara. “We're on good terms with the Jarheads, so let's keep it that way.”

Kara grumbled. “So all I get to do is clean them out at the pool table or in a poker game?”

“Do that,” Guru said. “And nothing else. All right, is that it?” Heads shook no. “Okay, we've got somewhere to be and things to blow up. Let's hit it.”

The crews headed to their aircraft, and when Guru and Goalie went into their revetment, Sergeant Crowley was waiting. He snapped a salute, which both pilot and GIB returned. “Major, Lieutenant? Five-twelve is locked and cocked. Ready to kick some Commie ass.”

“Thanks, Sergeant,” Guru said. He and Goalie did their usual preflight walk-around, and noted the air-to-air loadout. Four AIM-9Ps, and two AIM-7s. But when Guru checked the left rear Sparrow, he saw the stencils. “AIM-7Fs. Sergeant, who brought these?”

“Some guys from Ordnance, Sir. And the same with the rest of your flight. Thought we just had Es, Major.” Crowley said.

“I think I know,” Goalie said.

“So do I. Talk to Chief Ross, Sergeant. He'll fill you in.” Guru said. He noted the two wing tanks, the ALQ-119 ECM pod, and the twelve Mark-82 Snakeye five-hundred pound bombs. The CO also knew the 20-mm Vulcan cannon had a full load of ammo. “Everything looks good, Sergeant,” He signed for the aircraft, then he and Goalie mounted the bird. After getting strapped in, they went through their preflight in the cockpit.

“Back to the real deal,” Goalie said. “Nice to be back from the dead.”

“Just be glad it was a game,” Guru reminded her. “Been a while since my requalification and the last game time.”

“You're right on that,” she replied. “Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom. Check yours. And when this war's over? Be strange playing again.”

“It will. Arnie and INS all set. Preflight checklist complete,” Goalie said.

“It is that,” said Guru. He gave a thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. One, then both, J-79 engines were soon up and running. Once the warm-up was complete, he called the Tower. “Tower, Corvette Lead with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower,” the controller replied at once. “Clear to taxi to Runway Three-Five-Lima. Hold prior to the active, and you are number three in line.”

“Roger, Tower,” Guru replied. “Corvette Lead is rolling.” He gave another thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who motioned to the ground crew, who pulled the chocks away from the wheels. Then Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal, and Guru released the brakes, applied throttle, and taxied out of the revetment. When 512 was clear, Crowley snapped a salute, which was returned by Pilot and GIB.

The flight taxied to the runway, and found two flights, one Marine F-4 and one F/A-18, ahead of them. After the Hornets taxied for takeoff. Guru led Corvette Flight to the holding area, where the armorers removed the weapon safeties. Once the Hornets had taken off, it was their turn. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are two-six-seven for five.”

“Roger, Tower,” said Guru. He taxied 512 onto the runway, and Kara followed in 520, forming up in his Five O'clock position. Guru glanced over at 520, and both Kara and Brainiac gave a thumbs-up. Guru and Goalie returned it, then did a last check. “Everything set?”

“All set,” Goalie replied. “Time to go.”

“It is,” Guru said. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, there was no reply by radio, but the Tower flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Canopy coming down,” Guru said, pulling down and locking his canopy.

“Got it,” Goalie replied, doing the same.

Guru then glanced over at 520, which was just as ready. “Let's go.” He applied full throttle, and released the brakes. Then 512 thundered down the runway and into the air, with 520 right alongside. Thirty seconds later, it was Sweaty and Hoser's turn. The flight joined up at FL 110, and headed south for the tanker track.
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  #371  
Old 09-01-2017, 11:02 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Next strike:



Over Central Texas, 1325 Hours Central War Time:


Corvette Flight was headed south, having just passed the U.S. 377 bridge at Granbury. The pre-strike refueling had gone off without a hitch, and so had the initial penetration into enemy territory. The strike flight had encountered flak, this time from both sides of the Brazos, which was unusual, but given that somebody had just hit the Granbury Municipal Airport. unknown to any of the aircrews.... and so the flak gunners were still on edge-both East German and Nicaraguan.

“Somebody's got them worked up,” Guru said as the bridge disappeared behind them.

“No kidding!” Goalie shot back. “Who scheduled us to go past there right after a strike?”

“See what I can do about that,” Guru replied. “Flak ahead at the Dam.” He was referring to the Lake Granbury Dam up ahead. “How far to the Glen Rose Bridge?” That meant U.S. 67.

“One minute,” Goalie said. “And flak at One,” she called. Sure enough, 23-mm and 57-mm fire began to come up. This time, there were no radars guiding the guns, and the strike flight easily avoided the ground fire. “We're clear.”

“Copy that.” Guru then called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

A controller replied at once. “Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. First threat bearing One-six-five for sixty-five. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-eight-zero for seventy-five. Medium, going away. Third threat bearing Two-zero-two for ninety. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace,” said Guru. “Glen Rose coming up.”

This time, the flak only came from the west side, as the East Germans opened fire, but the Nicaraguan gunners stayed quiet. “And they're behind us,” Goalie said as the bridge flew by. “Thirty seconds to the next bridge.”

“Got it,” Guru replied. His head was on a swivel, checking outside the aircraft for threats, then glancing at his instruments, and then at his EW display. Sure enough, there was an air-search radar, but far away. “Mainstay again.”

“How many of those do they have?”

“Need to ask Sin that when we debrief,” Guru replied. “Brazospoint bridge coming up.”

“Got it,” Goalie said. “Flak at One,” she called, as flak came up again from the East German side of the Brazos. In a flash, they were past the bridge. “One minute to the 114 Bridge.” She meant the State Route 114 bridge. And once they got there, the flak would be from both sides, as the Libyans were on the east side of the river.

“Copy,” Guru called. He glanced at his fuel gauges. These low-level runs ate up a lot of gas. Well, that's why they made tankers, he knew.

The strike flight maintained its southerly course, following the river where possible. Pilots and GIBs were focused, the former watching out of the cockpit and scanning their instruments, while the GIBs handled the navigation. “Bridge dead ahead,” Goalie called. “And so's flak.”

“Got it,” Guru said. Sure enough, the gunners on both sides of the river were shooting, and more intense than usual. For there was a convoy crossing the bridge, and there were even tracers coming from some of the vehicles. “Too bad...”

“What?”

“Convoy on the bridge. Not their turn to die,” he said calmly.”

Goalie chuckled. “Maybe next time,” she said as the bridge, with the convoy, flew past. “One minute thirty to the turn point.”

“Roger that.”

The river soon turned into Lake Whitney, and the F-4s dropped a hundred feet lower. They weren't exactly skimming the lake, but the lower, the better. The fact there were no power lines crossing the lake helped. And much to the crews' surprise, there were some boats on the lake. Locals were fishing, to supplement the rationed food allowed by the occupiers, and even some Soviet soliders, looking for some fresh food instead of Red Army fare, and all were surprised to see four F-4s coming in low over the lake.

“Got some boat traffic,” Guru noted. “Turn in when?”

“Fifteen seconds,” Goalie said. “Stand by....and five, four, three, two, one, MARK!”

Guru put the F-4 into a hard right turn, and lined up on a 270 heading. “Meridian in when?”

“One minute ten,” Goalie confirmed.

Guru checked to his right. Kara in 520 was still there, tucked in at the Five O'clock position. He glanced to his left, and found Sweaty and Hoser also there. Good. “Still got the air-search radar.”

“Mainstay?” Goalie asked. “Thirty seconds,” she added. That meant Meridian.

“Probably,” replied Guru. “Meridian in sight, and no flak.”


In Meridian's City Hall, The Nicaraguan garrison commander was actually pleased with how things were going. Though a Soviet motor-rifle division had passed through, headed north, and another Soviet division was due in later, heading to the west side of Lake Whitney to rest and refit, things were calm. Even with the KGB and MVD troops, he was surprised to find. As for that PSD swine, well, the man seemed to think that the garrison should have known him by sight, but.....his fault for not being quick to show his ID after curfew when a sentry stopped him. No great loss, the Major felt, and even the Mayor, who he knew was likely biding his time until the U.S. Army returned, actually agreed with him.

Then, a very loud rumble got his attention. He went to his office window and looked outside. Sure enough, more Yanqui aircraft flew by overhead, and to his amusement, the MVD troops, isntead of
manning whatever air-defense weapons they had, ran to the shelters. He had heard from a Russian counterpart that the MVD troops weren't known for their smarts, and the Nicaraguan was finding out that this was largely correct. Not even some cheers from the local population didn't bother him as he went back to his desk.

“No flak,” Guru noted.

“Not this time,” Goalie said. “Hico next up. One minute twenty-five.”

“Roger that,” said Guru. Time to call the AWACS again. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-six-zero for fifty-five. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-seven-eight for sixty. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing Two-one-one for sixty-five. Medium, closing,” the controller replied.

“Roger, Crystal Palace.”

Just like the last time they were down here, the strike flight generally followed State Route 6, There wasn't much traffic on the road, meaning military traffic, as convoys or armored columns would likely be using towns to hide in during the day. It wasn't long before Hico came into view.

“Hico coming up.” Guru said. “No flak so far.”

“Roger that,” Goalie replied. “Stand by to turn.”

Then some tracer fire came up. “Lead, Two,” Kara called. “Flak at Eleven.”

“I see it, Two,” replied Guru. “Stand by to turn.”

Goalie started the count. “Turn in five, four, three, two, one, MARK!”

Guru put the F-4 into a sharp turn to the right, and picked up State Route 220, ignoring the light flak as he did so. The rest of the flight made the turn with him, and they lined up along the highway. “How long to IP?”

“Forty-five seconds.” Goalie reported. “Set'em up?” She meant the armament control panel. Though the pilot had a panel, the GIB did as well.

“Good girl,” Guru said.

She worked the armmament controls, setting up things so that all of the bombs would be released in one pass. “You're set.” Goalie called. “IP coming up.”

“Got it,” Guru said. “Flight, Lead. Switches on, music on, and time to pull.”

“Roger, Lead,” Kara replied, as did Sweaty and Hoser.

“Pull in...three, two, one, NOW!” Goalie said.

Guru pulled back on the stick, and as he did, the F-4 climbed, and more radars appeared on his RWR. He went wings level and then lowered the nose slightly to pick up the target. As he did, he was amazed at what he found. “Holy....there's no C3 site. But a whole damned regiment, looks like.”

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Goalie said.

“Flight, Lead,” Guru called. “Looks like our target just changed. Drop on the armor down below.”

In 520, Kara saw the sight and grinned. “Copy, Lead.” Their turn to die today, she thought.

“All set?” Guru asked Goalie.

“Ready back here,” she replied.

“Then let's go.”


At the U.S. 67/Route 220 intersection, the battered 254th Guards Motor-rifle Regiment was gathered. The regiment had been roughly handled in its first engagement in America, and many of the regiment's leaders had been killed or wounded. And, the acting regimental commander, a major who had been commanding the regiment's third battalion noted, as this regiment went, so did the division, the 144th Guards Motor-rifle Division.

Though the division had benefited from six months' training in at its home station in Estonia prior to deploying to Cuba, where it had gone through further training before arriving in Texas, the reality of combat was that the Americans had not gotten complacent after Wichita-which many of the Division's officers had heard horror stories about-but that they were more than ready for a fight after their Summer Offensive.

Now, the Major hoped, now that they had been pulled out of the line, the regiment-and the rest of the division, would be able to refit, reconstitute, and get ready to return to the front. And maybe, he could find a way to get rid of his Zampolit while they were at it. The man was on his nerves, upset that so many Party members and Komsomol organizers had been killed or wounded. Clearly, in their first action, the most enthusisatic Communists had led the way, and the Party man was not pleased that their enthusaism had led to high casualties.

That's his problem, the Major thought as he climbed down from his command vehicle, a BTR-70, and called his Chief of Staff over. That officer, a Captain, had the same job in Second Battalion, but from First? No officer higher than Senior Lieutenant had come out of the action in one piece, and those above that young officer were either dead or in the hospital. Just as the Chief came to him, the Regiment's Sergeant-Major, the Major's old one from Third Battalion, yelled, “Air Alarm!”

“What?”

“Enemy aircraft, Comrade Commander! Get down!”

The two officers jumped into a just-dug slit trench, as the air alarm sounded.


Guru rolled in on his attack run. “Lead's in hot!” he called. As he came down on the unexpected target, he noticed some tanks that appeared to be laagered up, just north of the 67-220 intersection. Your turn now, Ivan. Or is it Franz? No matter, he thought. Guru noticed some light flak coming up, and it looked like unguided 23-mm with some heavy machine-gun tracers mixed in. Ignoring that, and a MANPADS that flew past 512, he lined up the tanks in his pipper. “Steady...And...Steady....And....NOW!” Guru hit his pickle button, releasing his dozen Mark-82 Snakeyes down on the tanks below. He then applied full power, and began jinking to avoid any flak or missiles coming his way. “Lead's off safe.”

“Damn!” the Major yelled as the bombs exploded to the north. He felt the concussion, even in the trench. Though he'd been attacked from the air before, as well as fighting off the Americans over the past two days, still....He glanced up and took a quick look. Several T-72s were damaged, at least one had been flipped over by a near hit, and one had taken a direct hit and been blown apart. Then he got back down, for he'd learned the hard way over the past three days that American aircraft didn't attack alone.

“SHACK!” Goalie called from 512's back seat. “Got some secondaries.”

“How many?” Guru asked as a missile, maybe an SA-13, flew past him on the left as he jinked right.

“Got a couple.”

“We'll take 'em,” he replied as he headed north, eyes open for those damned basketball-sized tracers.


“Two's in!” Kara called. She came down on 520's bomb run, and she saw the CO's run in, and some secondaries as he pulled away. As she came in, Kara noticed what looked like artillery pieces and their prime movers down below, just southeast of the intersection. Regimental artillery? You'll do. She lined up the guns in her pipper.....”And....And...HACK!” Kara hit the pickle button, sending her dozen Mark-82s down on the guns. She then pulled level, applied power, and headed north, jinking as she did so. “Two's off target.”


The Major heard Kara's F-4 fly over, then the bombs went off in the plane's wake. Then several additional explosions came, and he knew that the regimental artillery had been hit. He wanted to take a look for himself, believing only two aircraft had come in, but seeing several tank commanders and soldiers turn their weapons back to the south told him otherwise. More American aircraft were coming in., so he ducked back into the trench.


“GOOD HITS!” Brainiac yelled from 520's back seat. “Loads of secondaries!”

“How many?” Kara asked as a missile flew below the aircraft as she jinked. She, too, was watching for large tracers....

“Enough!”

“Have to take that,” she quipped as Kara headed north and picked up the CO as she did so.


“Three's in hot!” Sweaty called as she came in on her run. She saw the effects of Kara's bombs going off, and noted the light flak coming back up. No ZSU-30s? Good. She picked out several APCs clustered together just to the north of the intersection, to the left of where the CO had laid his bombs on some tanks. Your turn to die, Sweaty said to herself as she lined them up in her pipper. “And....And....HACK!” Another dozen Mark-82s were released upon the Soviet regiment, then Sweaty applied full power and began jinking as she headed north, not seeing an SA-14 fly past her left wing. “Three off target.”

“Sookin sin!” the Major said aloud to himself as Sweaty's F-4 came over. . Son of a bitch. These Yankees were determined. Though he'd seen several American aircraft fall to air-defense systems over the past two days, the Americans had systematically gone after those assets. And now.....all his regiment had for air defense were the air defense platoons in the battalions, and a handful of ZU-23s operated by regimental artillery, and also the headquarters company, along with a single Strela-10 launcher. And they were nearly out of missiles. He glanced at where the F-4 had deposited its bombs, and saw that they had landed on Second Battalion's position. Several BTR-70s were either flipped upside down, tossed aside like toys, or, in at least one case, had taken direct hits from bombs, and were now so many pieces of rubbish flying in the wind. Shaking his head, he ducked down again as more anti-aircraft fire opened up. How many Yankee aircraft were coming?

“SHACK!” Preacher said. “We've got secondaries!”

“What kind?” Sweaty asked as she jinked to avoid flak. “Good ones?”

“You just answered your own question,” replied Preacher. He glanced to the right and saw a missile-a MANPADS, he thought, fly over them by about fifty feet.

“Then let's get the hell north,” Sweaty said as she headed for the Brazos.


“Four's in!” Hoser called as he came down on his run. He, too, ignored the flak as he went down on the regiment, and saw what looked like some supply vehicles at the Route 220/F.M. 197/F.M. 199 intersection, just south of U.S. 67. Nice...and you'll do, he thought as he lined the trucks up in his pipper. “Steady...” Hoser called as the flak came up. “And....and....HACK!” He hit his pickle button, and released his bombs. Another dozen Snakeyes fell onto the Russians down below. Hoser pulled wings level, applying power as he did so, and began jinking. “Four's off target,” he called.

“Damn it!” The Major shouted as Hoser's aircraft right over him, and explosions sounded in its wake. Fortunately, none were too close, and after the American had cleared the area, he and his Chief of Staff got out of the trench and surveyed the area. Howls of agony came from the tank battalion and Second battalion, as the wounded literally screamed for attention. Secondary explosions continued from where a battery of D-30 howitzers had been parked, and that meant the regimental artillery was now down to a handful of men and a couple of guns-if that. And smoke to the south meant the regiment's supply column had been hit. Shaking his head, he turned to the Chief of Staff and began issuing orders. Time to get this madhouse back in some kind of order.

“SHACK!” KT yelled. “We have secondaries!”

“What kind?” Hoser asked as he tried to pick up Sweaty as he jinked.

“Big ones!”

“I'll take those,” he said as he eyeballed his element leader. Hoser, too, kept an eye for those tracers. He and KT had been shot down once, and that was enough for the both of them, thank you very much.


“Hoser's off,” Goalie said in 512's back seat. “Four in and out.”

“Not until we're across the fence,” Guru reminded her. “Still got a game on.” He was watching for those tracers.....”Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

The AWACS controller replied at once. “Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-seven-five for forty. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-eight-zero for fifty. Medium, closing.”

“Copy, Crystal Palace. Say bogey dope.” Guru was asking for ID on the bandits.

“Corvette, Crystal Palace. Initial threats are Floggers. Second threats are Fishbeds.” That meant MiG-23s and MiG-21s.

“Roger that,” Guru said. He did some calculations in his head. “How long to the Fence?” He asked Goalie.

“Two minutes,” was the reply.

“Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Can you have a welcoming committee for the bandits?” Guru asked the AWACS.

“Roger that, Corvette. We'll have some friends waiting for 'em. Cowboy Two-one, Crystal Palace. Threats bearing one-eight-zero for forty-five. Medium, closing. Kill. Repeat: KILL. Clear to arm and fire.”

“Cowboy Two-one, Roger,” an F-15 flight lead called.

In 512, Guru grinned beneath his oxygen mask. “Those MiGs get a wall of Eagles.”

“Their lucky day,” Goalie said. “One minute thirty to the Fence,” she called as the Brazos River appeared.

Guru banked left to follow the river, then the U.S. 377 bridge at Granbury appeared. As usual, the East German gunners opened fire, but this time, the Nicaraguans stayed quiet.

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-eight-zero for twenty-five. Medium, closing,” the AWACS controller warned.

“Eagles coming?” Guru asked the controller, not bothering with mission code right then.

“Corvette Lead, that's affirmative.”

Then the F-15s appeared overhead, heading south. And “Fox one” calls came as the Eagles engaged the MiG-23s.

“Crossing the fence.....now,” Guru said as I-20 appeared. “Flight, Lead. Verify IFF is on, out.” He turned on his IFF transponder, and the rest of the flight did the same. Those Army air-defense pukes liked to shoot first and argue afterwards, especially the I-HAWK crews. And the I-20 bridges over the Brazos had an I-HAWK battery close by....

“Eagles had some fun,” Kara called. She had been listening in on the fight. The F-15s engaged the MiG-23s, killing three, and as the survivor turned for home, the MiG-21s came in. Two of those were splashed before the F-15s had to break off for fuel.

“Maybe next time,” Guru said.

“Guess so,” Kara replied.

The flight climbed back to cruising altitude, and met up with the tankers. As they took on fuel, they saw two more F-4Es and an RF-4C join up on another tanker cell, and that meant Dave and Flossy had brought Athena and Helo back. The Photo-Phantom turned west for Cannon AFB after refueling, while the fighters headed for Sheppard.

When they got to Sheppard, both flights had to wait, as outbound flights and an inbound C-141 had priority. Then they were cleared in. After landing, they taxied to their squadron dispersal, and popped their canopies. And as usual, the news crew was filming.

“They ever going to stop?” Guru wondered aloud.

“Has to be a slow day,” Goalie said. “But doesn't our interview air soon?”

“Should be tomorrow night,” Guru replied.

“Wonder how we'll look?”

“We'll just have to wait and see,” Guru said as he taxied into 512's revetment. He got the “Hold” signal from Sergeant Crowley, and after the ground crew put the chocks around the tires, then came the “Shut down” signal. After shutting down, and going through the post-flight checks, Guru took a deep breath. “Three and done, not counting the 'Check ride.'”

“And time for one more,” Goalie said. “Swell.”

“Don't remind me.”

The ground crew brought the crew ladder, and pilot and GIB climbed down. After a quick walk-around, Sergeant Crowley came over. “Major, Lieutenant? How's my bird?” He handed the CO and GIB each a bottle of water.

Guru took a drink, then nodded. “She's working like a champ, Sergeant. Get her turned around for the next one.”

“Sir, how'd you guys do?”

“Helped turn a regiment into a battalion,” Goalie said after taking a long drink from the bottle. “Hopefully.”

Crowley smiled. “Sounds good to me, Ma'am.”

“Same here, Sergeant,” Guru said. “Let's get her ready.”

“Yes, sir!”

Guru and Goalie went to the revetment's entrance, and found Kara and Brainiac already there. “Well?” Kara asked. “Where'd the C3 site go?”

“Good question,” Guru said. “Sometimes what was briefed is replaced by something else. Others....”

“Empty space,” Sweaty spat as she and Preacher came, with Hoser and KT following. “Where'd those guys come from?”

“Also a very good question,” the CO replied. “Let's get debriefed. Maybe Sin Licon has some answers, or he'll be just as surprised as we were.”

KT nodded. “Probably the latter,” she said.

“Yeah,” Brainiac added. “Now what?”

“Debrief, then get some kind of workout in, because we've got time for one more,” Guru said.

“Any kind of a stand-down coming?” Kara asked. “We could use the rest.”

“Not for four or five days,” Guru said. “I know, we can all use a break. But not until then.” He nodded in the direction of the squadron's office. “Come on. Sooner we debrief, sooner we can make Doc happy.”

“And we get to do this again in an hour and a half,” Sweaty said. “Have to earn our flight pay.”

“That we do.”
__________________
Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, but always have a plan to kill them.

Old USMC Adage
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  #372  
Old 09-02-2017, 12:54 AM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Auberry, CA
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Getting ready for the last one of the day:




335th TFS, 1500 Hours Central War Time:


Major Wiser had just gotten back into his office, having debriefed the previous mission, and then went to deal with some paperwork before getting in a four-mile run on the fitness tent's treadmills. He checked the papers and found not much there, to his delight. The CO attacked the papers, and it wasn't long until his OUT box was full and the IN box quite empty. With the “armchair warriors” now satisfied, he decided to go and get in his workout, but before he could do so, there was a knock on the office door. “Yeah? Come in and show yourself!”

The Exec came in. “Boss,” Capt. Mark Ellis said. “Got a few things for you.”

“Anything I need to sign?” Guru asked.

“No, not yet. This is all for your information, not action.”

“Okay, Mark,” Guru said. “Lay it on me.”

“First of all, the eastbound C-141 came in. The, uh, stabilizers that Ross and the scroungers found are on it,” the Exec reported.

“Tell Kev O'Donnell to keep 'em around,” Guru decided. “We've had two birds with that kind of battle damage in a month, so...”

Ellis nodded. He understood what his CO meant. “They will be handy.”

“That they will,” said Guru. “What else?”

“The RAF will be here in four days,” the Exec said. “They have to go to either Dow AFB in Bangor, or Otis in Massachussetts first of all.”

“What the hell for?”

“Among other things, clearing customs,” said Ellis. “I know, even with the war and all. Personally, I think that's all a bunch of bullshit.”

“Customs?” The CO asked. “This on the level?”

“It is, Boss,” the XO replied. “I know, it sounds crazy, but...”

“Reminds me of something I read in Newsweek, after my E&E. Catching up on news I missed,” said Guru. “Anyway, when they brought the Black Horse Cav from England, a couple of weeks into the war, their convoy pulled into Boston Harbor. Some Customs officer wanted to know what they had to declare, and if they had any fruit, vegetables, or house plants. Wanted customs forms from every soldier in the Regiment. The Colonel in command literally threw the guy into the harbor, and told the other officers, 'None of your damn business! So let's get these ships unloaded!' Peacetime mentality, two weeks into the war.” Guru shook his head at that.

“Kind of like Frank,” Ellis observed.

“Kind of,” the CO replied. “Anything else?”

Ellis grinned. “Our PAO should be here about the same time. Her R&R's almost up, and she'll probably be hitchhiking on a MAC Space-available to get here.”

“Good. Kodak Griffith's been good, but he's a Marine, and sooner or later, we have to give him back,” the CO reminded Ellis. “Because he wants back in the cockpit.”

“Yeah. I'd be chomping at the bit to get back flying myself,” said Ellis.

“Hope you're never in that position,” Guru said. “You may think you're ready, but if the Docs think you're not....” His voice trailed off.

“You're flying a desk until they say you're ready,” Ellis nodded.

“Yep. Anything else before I get my workout in?”

Ellis nodded again. “C-141 also brought in some newspapers: Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Stars and Stripes. That'll be good to read.”

“It will,” Guru said. “That's it?”

“It is for now.”

Guru got up from behind his desk. “All right. I'll be in the fitness center. You been there today?”

“While you were on your, uh, 'Check Ride' with the General,” Ellis said. “Be warned: Doc's got one of his medics with a list, and he's checking off names.”

“Thanks, Mark.”


Guru went to his tent to change into some workout clothes, and went over to the fitness tent. Sure enough, one of Doc Waters' medics was waiting outside. “Doc have you keeping tabs on who's working out?” He asked the ex-PJ Tech Sergeant who had a clipboard in hand.

“Yes, sir,” the sergeant replied. He checked off the CO's name on the list.

“Figures,” the CO nodded, then he went inside. He got on a treadmill and started his run, and after a few minutes, noticed the rest of his flight come in, plus Dave Golen, Flossy, Jang, and Dave's GIB. Sure enough, several of the others-mostly Marines, but a few Navy, stared at Kara and several of the other women in their sports bras or tank tops, only to receive icy stares in return. Most of the old hands knew not to go any further, but a few persisted, only to be told by others that Kara in particular had a long memory, and would get her revenge-usually at the pool table or a poker game. After his run, and some time on the weight machines, Guru told the NCOIC of the ten to have his crews at the briefing room in fifteen, left to take a quick shower, and get changed back into a flight suit.

When he got back to the squadron office, his Ops Officer was waiting. “Don,” Guru asked.

“Boss,” Don Van Loan nodded. “Got a new mission for you.” Just then, Dave Golen came in.

“Anything for us?” Golen asked the Ops Officer.

“As a matter of fact, yes,” Van Loan said. “Boss, you've got a target here, north of Hico. It's a SAM support facility, and it looks like they're moving in some SA-2 and SA-3.”

“Lovely,” Guru said. “At least we get to take them out before they can get the sites set up.”

“That's the idea, Boss,” Van Loan replied. “Dave? You and Flossy are going to Walnut Springs. Fuel dump, which explains a two-ship.”

Golen nodded. “It does. That escort for the recon didn't draw MiGs, but everyone and their mother was shooting at us.”

“Libyan sector?” Guru asked.

“As a matter of fact, yes,” Golen replied. “How'd you know?”

“Simple,” Guru said. “The Libyans are the only ones who shoot as if ammo is going to be outlawed in the next five minutes. Not to mention they hardly aim at all.”

“That they did.” Golen checked his packet. “We're still Mustang. You?”

“Corvette,” the CO said. “If you hit trouble, Dave? Holler. We'll be there.”

“Same for you,” replied Golen.

The two shook hands, then went to brief their respective crews. When Guru got to his flight's briefing room, everyone was there, along with a four-legged guest. “Okay, who let Buddy in?”

“He was here when we got here,” Kara said. “And he's sound asleep.”

“Good,” Hoser nodded. “He was alert during the DACT brief, and we all know what happened.”

Goalie grinned. “He was, and we do. What's up for us?”

“SAM support facility,” Guru said, opening the briefing packet. “Here, about seven miles north of Hico. There's a town-more like a collection of houses with a church than a town, called Duffau. Five of those Farm-to-Market Roads come together there. Our target is north of the town itself. Right at the F.M. 2481/F.M. 212 intersection. There's a ranch there, and Ivan's using it as a SAM support facility.”

“So we get to kill them before they set up the SAM sites?” Sweaty asked. “Sounds good to me.”

“Better that way,” Kara said. “What's there?”

“SA-2, and there's not only several SA-2s on transporters, but more in their shipping containers,” Guru said, pointing to a recon photo. And note the trucks with two missiles on top. Those are SA-3 transporters.” He noted the intel notations in the photo.”

Preacher looked at the photo. “And SA-4 transporters, I noticed. Nice of them to put all their SAMs in one basket.”

“It is that,” Guru said. “Okay, targets. I'll take the SA-2 area. Kara? You go for the -3s, and Sweaty? The -4s are all yours.”

“Thanks, Boss,” Kara replied.

“Hoser? You take the ranch house and barns.” Guru said, tapping the imagery with a pen. “The ranch house is probably their CP, and where the officers bed down. The missile techs are in the barns, in all likelihood.”

“Got it,” Hoser said. “Ordnance?”

“Six Mark-82 Snakeyes, six M-117Rs each airplane,” said the CO. “The Mark-82s have the Daisy Cutter fuze extensions. Other than that? Usual air-to-air load, ECM pods, and wing tanks.”

Heads nodded at that. “Defenses?” Goalie asked.

“Several ZU-23s around the place, and you can expect MANPADS as well. This is the East German rear, so SA-4s from Stephenville are possible. And there's this.”

“What?”

“Some of the Russians and East Germans we helped bomb the shit out of are probably close by, resting up and refitting. So you can expect regimental and divisional level air defense anyhere. See the look on Sin Licon's face when we told him what we hit, instead of the C3 site?” Guru reminded everyone. The squadron intelligence officer, Capt. Darren “Sin” Licon, was very surprised when the crews told him what had been at the location of a C3 site they had been briefed to hit, to say the least.

Heads nodded at that. “So, we could run into almost anything going in or going out?” Hoser wanted to know.

“That's about it. If you see any of those basketball-sized tracers on the target? Abort,” said Guru. “Anywhere else? Evade, and call out the position.”

Kara nodded. “Got it, Boss. MiG theats?”

“Unchanged since this morning. So are bailout areas.”

“Sounds good,” Sweaty said. “And ingress?”

“Coming to that,” Guru nodded. “After the pre-strike refueling, we cross the fence here, at Ranger, on the I-20. Get down low, and head due south for Proctor Lake. Once we hit the lake, head east to Route 6 and the town of Clairette. Then we go to U.S. 281. After that, we pick up an old railroad right of way just to the east of the highway. That's the IP. After you make your run, get back down low, and head northeast. Pick up the Brazos somewhere between Glen Rose and Granbury to the north, then we head for the I-20.”

“We're on the Soviet/East German boundary,” Brainiac noted. “On the way in, I mean.”

“That we are. Soviet 32nd Army to the west of the East Germans. We've been along that boundary before, and they don't coordinate air defense for some reason. Anyway, this may be the last one of the day, but treat it like it's the first. DO NOT get complacent,” Guru said firmly. “Understood?”

“Loud and clear, Major,” Kara said. As usual, when someone addressed Guru by his rank, that meant they were very serious about the subject at hand.

“Good to hear,” Guru nodded. “All right; anything else?” Heads shook no. Guru nodded, then glanced at Buddy. The dog was sound asleep.

“Looks like Buddy thinks it'll be an easy one,” KT joked.

The CO grinned. “Let's hope he's right. Time to get back at it. Gear up and meet me at 512.”

The crews went to their locker rooms to gear up. When Guru came out of the Men's Locker Room, Goalie was waiting outside, as usual, geared up and ready. “Ready to rock?”

“Game time,” she replied.

“It is that,” Guru nodded.

Guru and Goalie then left the squadron building and headed for the squadron dispersal. When they got to 512's revetment, the rest of the flight was there, waiting, as was General Olds.”General,” Guru said as he and Goalie sketched a salute.

“Major,” Olds replied. “Lieutenant,” he added. “Just wanted to see you all off this time.”

“Thank you, sir, and I didn't ask earlier, but hoped you liked the Check Ride.”

“Major, that flight made me feel twenty years younger. Hope you have a good mission,” Olds said.

“Thank you, sir,” Guru replied. “All right, people. Gather round.” He was giving his final instructions.
“Usual procedures on the radio.”

Sweaty nodded. “Call signs between us, and mission code to AWACS and other interested parties.”

“Right you are,” Guru said. “Remember, if you see those basketball-sized tracers at the target? Abort.”

“Got it,” Kara nodded, and so did the others.

“Any other questions?” Guru asked. Heads shook no. Then he clapped his hands. “Time to go get 'em. Let's hit it.”

The crews headed to their aircraft, and as Guru and Goalie went into 512's revetment, General Olds accompanied them. Sergeant Crowley was waiting, and the Crew Chief snapped a salute. “Major, Five-twelve's ready to go.”

“Thanks, Sergeant,” Guru said. He and Goalie did their usual preflight walkaround, then he signed for the aircraft. The bombs were in their racks, and the usual air-to-air load of four AIM-9Ps, two AIM-7s (now Fs), and an ALQ-119 ECM pod in the left front Sparrow well, along with the two 370 gallon wint tanks were all loaded. Then it was time for him and Goalie to mount the aircraft, and before they climbed aboard, General Olds was waiting one last time. “General?”

“Major,” Olds said, extending his hand. “Good luck. And you, Lieutenant,” he said to Goalie.

Guru shook hands with the General, who did the same with Goalie. “Thank you, sir.”

“Bring everybody back,” Olds said with due seriousness.

“Do my best, General,” Guru said as he climbed the crew ladder. “No guarantees in this business.”

“Ain't that the sorry truth,” Olds admitted. “Just do your best,” Major. Then a Dodge Crew-Cab pickup pulled up and Master Sergeant Ross waved to the General. “That's my ride, Major. See you when you get back.”

“Yes, sir,” Guur said as he put his helmet on and got strapped in. Then he saw the General get in the pickup and it drove off. Then he and Goalie did the preflight. “Last one.”

“Always good,” Goalie said as she went through the checklist. “Once more unto the breach. Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom. Check yours,” Guru replied. “Just leave out the 'close the walls with our dead' crap. Arnie?” That meant the ARN-101 DMAS.

“Arnie's set, and INS ready,” Goalie said. “I'll go along with that. Preflight complete and ready for engine start.”

“Roger that,” said Guru. He gave a thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. First one, then two, J-79 engines were up and running. Once the run-up was complete, Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Corvette Lead with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower,” the controller replied at once. “Clear to taxi to Runway Three-three-Charlie. Hold prior to the Active, and you are number two in line.”

“Roger, Tower. Corvette Lead is rolling.” Guru then gave another thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who waved to the ground crew. The chocks were pulled away from the tires, and Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal.

Guru released the brakes, and taxied out of the revetment. When 512 cleared the revetment, Sergeant Crowley snapped a salute, and both pilot and GIB returned it. Guru then taxied to Runway 33C, with the rest of the flight following. When they got to the holding area, a Marine F-4 flight was ahead of them as a flight of Navy A-7s went down the runway. After that, a flight of Marine Hornets landed. After the Marine Phantoms taxied onto the runway, it was their turn.

Corvette Flight taxied into the holding area, where the armorers removed the weapon safeties. As they did that, the Marine F-4s took off, then it was their turn to taxi. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are two-seven-two for five.”

“Roger, Tower,” Guru called. He then taxied 512 onto the runway, and he and Goalie did a final check. Guru glanced to the right, and found Kara and Brainiac in 520 in their Five O'clock position, ready to go. Both crews exchanged thumbs-up, then it was time. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower didn't reply, but flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Ready?” Guru asked his GIB.

“Let's go,” Goalie said. “Canopy down.” She closed and locked her canopy.

“Time to fly,” Guru said as he closed and locked his canopy. A quick glance to the right showed 520's crew had done the same. “Here we go.” Guru applied full power, and released the brakes. 512 then thundered down the runway and into the air. Right with them was 520. Thirty seconds later, it was Sweaty and Hoser's turn. Then the flight rendezvoused at FL 110, and headed south for the tankers.
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  #373  
Old 09-02-2017, 01:06 AM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Last strike of the day:



Over Central Texas: 1615 Hours Central War Time;


Corvette Flight was inbound, having crossed the I-20, and into enemy territory. They were ingressing roughly along the boundary between the Soviet 32nd Army to the west, and the East Germans to the east, and so far, neither one had reacted to their presence. While the GIBs concentrated on the navigation, the pilots were busy keeping their heads on a swivel, checking instruments, then scanning outside for threats.

“How long to Proctor Lake?” Guru asked Goalie in 512 as the Texas landscape flew by. A few hills in this part, though flat otherwise. They were flying just west of, and parallel to, State Route 16, which was no doubt in use by the Soviets and East Germans.

“Two minutes to the lake,” Goalie called from the back seat.

“Copy,” Guru replied. He checked his EW display. So far, so good. No threats detected...yet.

The strike flight followed the Leon River, then crossed Route 16, and headed for Proctor Lake. A quick glance west had the setting sun, and that was a good thing. Anyone looking for them visually would have the sun to contend with, not to mention interfering with an IR missile's seeker head. “Lake coming up,” Goalie called. “Fifteen seconds to turn.”

“Roger that,” Guru said. Just then, a spoke appeared on his EW display, and the SEARCH indicator came on. “Looks like a search radar.”

“Not close,” Goalie observed.”Turn in five, four, three, two, one, and...TURN!”

Guru put the aircraft into a left turn, then settled onto a heading between northeast and east. “On the second leg.”

“Gotcha.” Goalie checked her map-a good GIB always used the old-fashioned backups. “Two minutes to the next turn.”

“Roger that.”

Then the AWACS came on the line. “Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threats bearing One-six-five for fifty-eight. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-eight-zero for sixty-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing Two-zero-two for seventy. Medium, Closing.”

“Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead,” Guru replied. “Say bogey dope?”

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace, First two threats are Floggers. Threats at Two-zero-two are Fishbeds.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace,” Guru said. He kept his eye open as several farm-to-market roads flew by below, and any one of them could have a hidden threat, such as any type of ZSU gun or mobile SAM launcher as a mobile flak trap. “Flight, Lead. Music on,” he called. That meant to turn on their ECM pods.

“Copy, Lead,” Kara replied, and the others followed suit.

Just then, the flight overflew a convoy. Goalie glanced at the trucks and even a tank transporter. “Not their turn.”

“Maybe tomorrow,” Guru called.

Below, moving north on F.M. 1702, an East German Major was leading his supply convoy. It had been a long way from the port in Corpus Christi, and they had actually had no incidents with the counterrevolutionary bandits who infested rural parts of Texas. However, they had encountered the deadly aftemath of several of their attacks, where either patrols or small convoys had been attacked, leaving burned-out vehicles and bodies in their wake. As they got closer to the Army rear, signs of Fascist air attack had also become common, with facilities in the rear being targeted, or engineers repairing bomb-damaged bridges. Clearly, the Imperialist air forces were a threat, and so, when the convoy had arrived in Hamilton, orders were waiting for them to divert west along Route 36, then north on this Farm-to-Market Road 1702. They would get to Dublin, then follow Route 67/377 to Stephenville, where their cargoes were to be delivered.

Suddenly, four American aircraft overflew the convoy, headed in a northeasterly direction. The Major screamed over the radio for the convoy to halt, and soldiers deployed from several BTR-60s with Strela missiles on their shoulders. No follow-on aircraft appeared, much to his relief. They were running late as it was with the detour, and this... “Better late than dead,” the Major said as he ordered his men back into their trucks and APCs.

“How far to Clarette?” Guru asked. That was the next checkpoint. They had one more after that before the IP.

“Thirty seconds,” Goalie replied.

“Copy that,” Guru nodded. He shot a quick glance at his EW display. That search radar was still there. “Mainstay may have us.”

“Hope they've lost us in the clutter.”

“You're not the only one,” said Guru. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

The controller responded right away. “Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat Bearing One-seven-zero for fifty-five. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-eight-zero for sixty-two. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing Two-one-one for sixty-five. Medium, closing.”

“Copy.”

“Clarette in five, four, three, two, one, MARK!” Goalie called.

The town, more a collection of houses alongside Route 6 than a town, flew by. Then U.S. 281 flew past a few seconds later. “IP in when?”

“Twenty seconds,” Goalie called. “Set 'em up?” She meant the armament control panel.

“You read my mind,” replied Guru. “All in one go. Flight, Lead, Switches on, and stand by.”

“Two copies,” Kara called.

“Three ready,” from Sweaty.

“Four, roger,” was Hoser's call.

Goalie worked the backseater's armament control panel. Though the pilot had one up front, setting up the weapons was often the GIB's responsibility. “All set. IP coming up.”

“Got it,” Guru said. “Flight, Lead, stand by to pull.”

Goalie made the call. “And....NOW!”

Guru pulled back on the stick, and as he pulled up, the little town of Duffau appeared to his right. And right at the intersection, as described in the mission brief was the target. “Target in sight,” Guru called. “Ready?”

“All set back here,” Goalie said. “Let's go.”

“Going in,” Guru said as he rolled in on his bomb run.


At the missile support facility, a Voyska-PVO Lieutenant Colonel was wondering how he'd wound up halfway around the world, serving the Rodina when he should be lecturing to students at the University in Kuibyshev. He had served in a S-75 battalion and then a missile brigade during his service, only to be lured out of uniform by a need for engineering instructors at several universities, so he had been discharged into the Reserves in 1978, only to be recalled in 1986, a year into the war. With the “war emergency,” he had been promoted to first Major, then Lieutenant Colonel. The Colonel had been to Cuba once, during his time on active duty, and his father had actually been deployed there in 1962, as a battalion commander in one of the Motor-rifle regiments sent there as part of Operation ANADYR. Now, he was in America, and not only had he gotten to hate the place called Texas, he had also found out that the local population, with few exceptions, resented the Socialist Forces' presence, and had made that clear on several occasions, either with mortar attacks on his missile support battalion at previous locations, snipers, and even a culvert bomb that had blown one of his missile transporters-and the S-75 missile being carried-into tiny pieces.

Now, his missile support battalion was in the rear of the East Germans, supporting both the Voyska-PVO S-75 and S-125 (SA-2 and SA-3) sites in the area. To make matters worse, the Army had moved in a missile support unit of its own, for the 2K11 (SA-4), 2K12 (SA-6) and 9K33 Osa missiles used by both Soviet and East German units, and they all happened to be sharing the same area. To his surprise, the Colonel got along fine with his Army opposite number, a Lieutenant Colonel like himself, only younger-it seemed that the man had been promoted to take a dead man's place. Something all too common in the Soviet military these days......So far, he'd never been attacked from the air, but he'd heard from battery commanders who had, and often the first warning was the WHOOSH of the antiradar missile, followed by the missile exploding on target.

The Colonel got up from behind his military-issue desk, and left the ranch house being used as a headquarters, and went to see how things were going. The Stephenville S-75 site was due to be back online in two days, and finally, all of the necessary equipment had arrived. Command was also hoping to add an S-125 site in the same area, and one of his officers had left with a part to survey possible site locations, for the Imperialists had been very active in the air, and both the Army and the East Germans were screaming for additional missile cover. He walked over to where several missile transporters were parked, each with an S-75 on a trailer, and was about to sign them out when he heard shouting, then the ZU-23 AA guns around the site began firing. Air raid? He scanned the sky, then was suddenly pushed into a slit trench by someone, who said, “Comrade Colonel, air attack!”

“Lead's in hot!” Guru called as he rolled in on his bomb run. Coming in, he easily picked out where the SA-2 transporters were parked, and centered them in his pipper, and noticed the tracers coming up at him. Ignoring the light flak coming up, and even a SA-7 type missile that flew by on the left side, Guru got ready to release....Not your day, Ivan, or Franz.....”Steady...Steady...And.....HACK!” He hit the pickle button, releasing his six Mark-82s and six M-117Rs onto the target below, walking them across the transporters and the missile containers nearby. Guru then pulled wings level and headed north, jinking as he did to avoid flak and any MANPADS. Only then did he make his call. “Lead's off safe.”

“Damn!” Muttered the Colonel as Guru's F-4 came overhead. This was his first time under air attack, and he shuddered in the trench as the bombs went off. Then there were several sympathetic detonations as something had been set off by the bomb blasts. The Colonel was tempted to look, but remembered his training, and the air raid drills. More enemy aircraft were coming in.

Goalie yelled from 512's back seat. “SHACK!”

“Secondaries?” Guru asked as he jinked again.

“Good ones,” Goalie replied. “And a missile at Seven,” she added.

Guru jinked right, and glanced over as a missile-probably another SA-7 type, flew past. Then he headed to the northeast, intent on finding the Brazos. Now he and Goalie were flying for themselves.
“Keep an eye out,” he said.

“You got it.”


Kara came in next. “Two's in hot!” She called, putting 520 in on its bomb run. She saw the CO's run, and noted with satisfaction as the SA-2 transporters-and what looked like missiles in their shipping containers-going up in fireballs. Kara lined up on the SA-3 area, and picked out several SA-3 transporters. Your turn, she thought. She, took ignored the flak coming up as she lined up the transporters in her pipper. “Steady.....And....And... NOW!” Kara hit her pickle button, sending her bombs down on the Russians below. She, too pulled wings level, and began jinking to avoid flak and SAMs. Only then did Kara call, “Two off target.”

“Of all the...” the Colonel said as Kara's F-4 came over. Again, he felt the concussion of the bombs going off in the trench, and just as before, there were sympathetic explosions. The Colonel didn't need to lift his head and have a look around, for he knew where the explosions had come from. The S-125 area, he said to himself. He stood up, only to see the ZU-23s track back to the south and open fire. The Colonel ducked back into the trench, for more Imperialist aircraft were coming in.

“GOOD HITS!” Shouted Brainiac from 520's back seat. “We got secondaries!”

“How good?” Kara asked as an SA-7 type missile flew right overhead by about fifty feet. Then she jinked again to throw off any bad guys' aim.

“Good and big!”

“Then we'll take those,” Kara said. She picked up the CO's smoke trail, then got eyeballs on his bird.


“Three's in hot!” Sweaty called as she came down on the target. She picked out the SA-4s on their tracked transporters, and rolled in. Though the defenders down below were sending up 23-mm fire back at her, along with what looked like machine-gun fire, Sweaty ignored the flak as she lined up the SA-4 transporters in her pipper. “And...And....And.....NOW!” She hit her pickle button, releasing her six M-117Rs and six Mark-82s down onto the target, walking her bombs across the SA-4 area. Sweaty then pulled wings level and headed north, jinking as she did so to avoid flak. “Three off target.”

“Sookin sin,” the Colonel muttered in the trench. Son of a bitch. That was his thought as Sweaty's F-4 came by. He glanced upwards, and saw the F-4 actually releasing its bombs. Now what was the target? Then he knew, as the aircraft’s path took it over the 2K12 area. Then the bombs exploded, and sure enough, several more explosions followed. He stayed in the trench, even as fragments of shrapnel and were they vehicles-landed in the trench. The Colonel then lifted his head and looked to the south. The AA guns were traversing again in that direction. More aircraft....


“SHACK!” Preacher shouted. “Got some secondaries!”

Sweaty was jinking as she avoided some 23-mm tracers. “How many?”

“Several good ones,” replied Preacher.

“Good enough for the guy upstairs?” Sweaty asked her seminary student-turned GIB.

“He'd be happy.”


“Four's in hot!” Hoser called as he came in on his run. He saw the explosions on the ground where Sweaty had laid down her bombs, and the fires and smoke where the CO and Kara had done the same. He picked out the ranch buildings, and saw a missile cook off and fly into one of the two barns, which immediately exploded. Thank you, Major,” he said to himself as the ranch buildings came into his pipper. Hoser lined them up in the pipper, and muttered. “Steady.....Steady....HACK!” He hit his pickle button, releasing his bombs onto the HQ area. Hoser then pulled wings level, pulling up and away from the target, then made his call. “Four off safe.”

The Colonel heard Hoser's F-4 come over, and saw the bombs coming off. He ducked involuntarily into the trench as one bomb obliterated the ranch house headquarters, but then another bomb landed right next to the trench....the Colonel and several others in the trench never had the chance to scream.


“GOOD HITS!” KT yelled. “Got a few secondaries. And a couple of fireballs.” That usually meant fuel going up.

“How good?” Hoser asked, dodging an SA-7 and noting the tracers falling short.

“Big enough,” she replied.

Hoser smiled as he picked up his element lead's trail, then saw Sweaty's F-4 up ahead. “We'll take those.”


Back at the SAM facility, a Soviet Army Lieutenant Colonel got up out of his own trench and shook his head. He'd been bombed before, but this one was bad. He took a look around and noted three of the 2K12 transporters were nothing but junk, their missiles either detonated or had shot off on their own, and where several missiles had been stored in their shipping containers, only a couple of bomb craters and some fires remained. A quick glance over at the V-PVO area for the S-75s and S-125s told a similar story. The man shook his head, and when a V-PVO Captain came up and told him his opposite number had been killed, he simply nodded. Time to get this madhouse back in some kind of order, he knew. His training and experience kicked in, and he began issuing orders.


“Here we go,” Guru said. “Time to fly for ourselves.”

“Four in and out of the target area,” Goalie said. “No flak yet.”

“Hope it stays that way,” replied Guru. He was watching for tracers, especially the basketball-sized ones. That meant ZSU-30-2s, and those he did not want to see.

“Lead, Two,” Kara called. “Coming up on your Five.”

Guru glanced at his Five O'clock, and saw 520 coming up in combat spread. “Tally on you,” Guru replied. “Sweaty?”

“On your Six, and coming fast. Hoser's with me,” Sweaty called back. “Light flak at Two O'clock.”

“I see it,” Guru said. Light tracers were coming up, either heavy machine guns or 23-mm. None of the flak was accurate, for the tracers either fell short or flew wide. “Crystal Palace,” Guru called. “Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-six-five for fifty. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-eight-zero for sixty-two. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing Two-one-zero for seventy. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace. Say bogey dope?”

“Corvette Lead, nearest threats are Floggers. Second threats also Floggers. Third threats are Fishbeds.”

“Copy that,” said Guru.

“One minute to the Brazos,” Goalie said. “More flak at eleven.” She checked her map. “It's the nuke plant!”

“Flight, Lead,” Guru called. “Follow me.” He banked right to give the Triple-A around the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant a wide berth, and the rest of the flight followed. Some black puffs of 57-mm came close, but thanks to their ECM pods, the F-4s were able to evade the flak. And a few seconds later, they were at the Brazos and the Glen Rose Bridge on U.S. 67, where more flak from the East German gunners came up. They evaded that barrage, then crossed the river into the Nicaraguan II Corps sector, then turned north, then banked slightly west to pick up the river. “How long to the Fence?” Guru asked Goalie.

“Two minutes,” she replied. “And more flak at the Granbury bridge.”

“First time in a while we've had fire from these chumps on the way out.”

“Even they have to earn their pay,” quipped Goalie.

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace,” the AWACS controller called. “Threat bearing One-eight-zero for thirty-five. Medium, still closing. Second threat bearing One-seven-two for forty-five, Medium, closing.”

“Crystal Palace, Corvette,” Guru replied. “Can you arrange a reception for those party-crashers?”

Aboard the AWACS, the controller chuckled, then replied, “That's affirmative, Corvette. Break. Rustler Three-one, Crystal Palace. Bandits bearing One-seven-five for fifty. Clear to arm, clear to fire. Kill. Repeat: KILL.”

“Rustler Three-one copies,” an F-15 leader called, then led four F-15Cs in on the bandits.


“Fence in thirty,” Goalie called.

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “Flight, Lead. Verify IFF is on, out.” He reached down and turned on his IFF transponder. The last thing anyone wanted as they cleared the Fence was a friendly-fire incident, either with their own kind, or worse, the Army down below.

“And there it is...” said Goalie as the twin ribbons of I-20 appeared, then flew past in a blur.

Then the F-15s engaged the MiG-23s, killing three of the first flight, then the second flight came in. Two more from that flight also went down, before the F-15s broke off due to fuel.

After clearing the I-20, Corvette Flight headed for the tanker track. Guru saw that two of his flights from the 335th were also joining up for their post-strike refueling, and he was glad to see a four-ship and a two-ship drinking fuel. The four-ship happened to be the Ops Officer's while the two-ship was Dave Golen and Flossy.

After their own refueling, Corvette Flight headed for Sheppard, and when they got there, their flight was the last one in. After landing, the flight taxied to the squadron's dispersal, and noticed, as usual, the news crew filming them. “They ever stop?” Guru asked.

“Have to ask them, I suppose,” Goalie said. “They'll have plenty of stock footage of F-4s when this is over.”

Guru shook his head as he and Goalie popped their canopies and taxied into their revetment. After getting the “Shut down” signal from Sergeant Crowley, and shutting down, both took a deep breath. Four and done, and not a scratch. They went through the post-flight checklist as the ground crew brought the crew ladder. Then they climbed down and did a quick walk-around. “Sergeant,” Guru said as Sergeant Crowley brought him and Goalie each a bottle of water.

“How's my bird, sir?” Crowley asked.

“She's going good, Sergeant. Whatever you're doing? Don't change a thing,” Guru told his Crew Chief. “Get her ready for the morning.”

“You got it, Major!” Crowley said. “All right you guys! Let's get the Major's bird ready for tomorrow.”

As both pilot and GIB left, the ground crew got right to work. “You do know, those guys need a break,” Guru said. “Even more than we do.”

“Any chance of bad weather?” Goalie asked.

“Not for another four days at least,” the CO said as they got to the entrance to the revetment, where Kara and Brainiac were waiting. “How'd you guys do?”

“Made the SA-3s go away,” Kara said.

“And some of 'em flew off horizontal, if you get the drift,” Brainiac added.

Guru let out a grin. “I sure do,” he said as Sweaty, Preacher, Hoser, and KT arrived. “Have a good one?”

“Good for us,” Sweaty replied. “But not so good for Ivan,” she grinned.

“I'm sure the Good Lord would approve,” Preacher added.

Hoser nodded. “There were quite a few secondaries there, and killing SAMs this way beats Wild Weasels doing it.”

“Seconded,” KT said.

As they walked back to the squadron's office, they passed the F-20s in their revetments, with company tech reps going over the aircraft. “Still got something to teach those boys,” Guru said.

“For that 'Greatest since the P-51' remark?” Kara asked.

Guru nodded. “That, for one. But it'll have to wait until after the war, assuming we're all still alive,” he said.

“There is that one little detail,” Sweaty noted.

“Yeah, and tomorrow's the day Frank gets notified he's not going to the F-20 Program.”

“Happy Day,” Kara grinned. “This'll be the second time that bastard finds out not everything goes his way.” She was referring to when their previous CO, the late Lt. Col. Dean Rivers, had been killed, and Guru had gotten the squadron as he was XO, even though he was only a Captain at the time.

“Which begs two questions: first, how's he going to react?” Preacher asked. “And second? How long until he gets a case of the stupids?”

Guru winced, but replied. “Both are valid questions. Just as long as any such case doesn't get any friendlies-or himself for that matter, killed.”

“Lovely,” Kara spat.

“Yeah,” the CO agreed. “Okay, let's talk to Sin and debrief. Check your desks for anything for the armchair warriors want, then we're off the clock.”

Heads nodded. “And menana,” KT said. “We're at this again.”

“That we are,” Guru said. “Come on. Let's get debriefed.”
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  #374  
Old 09-02-2017, 01:20 AM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Winding down the day:



335th TFS, 1700 Hours Central War Time:


Major Wiser was in his office, going over some last bits of paperwork before he could call it a day and go on over to the Officer's Club for dinner and some “stress reduction.” He had finished what was in his IN box when there was a knock on the door. “Yeah? Show yourself and come in!”

The Exec came in. “Boss, got a few things for you before we're off the clock.”

Guru nodded. “Lay it on me, Mark.” He was looking forward to discussing the fight with the F-20s at the Club-hopefully without using his fists, because he still wanted to cut the F-20 jockeys down to size.

“First, aircraft status report for tomorrow. We'll have two birds down,” Ellis said. “Kerry's bird, you know about, but Van Loan's bird has an issue with the oxygen system. They're pulling it now.”

“How serious?” The CO asked.

“They may replace all the oxygen generators, and purge the system, Kev O'Donnell says. His guys will pull an all-nighter, but plan on it being down.”

Guru looked at his Exec. “It might be ready by the morning?”

“Might, underlined about four or five times.” Ellis reported. “We did get the two new birds from Japan, and he can use one. Frank's been using the other since his bird had a hundred-hour check.”

“He gets his regular bird back when?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Good. What else?” Guru wanted to know.

“R&R roster, and no officers on this one,” Ellis said, handing the CO the list. “Some lucky enlisted folks get their two weeks.”

Guru nodded, taking the list. “Okay....one of these days, I'm probably going to put my Crew Chief on that list. Even if I have to order him to take some R&R.”

“Take two weeks with your family, enjoy yourself, and oh, by the way, that's an order?”

“Something like that.”

Ellis chuckled. “That's a first. At least, that I know of.”

Guru nodded. “First time for everything, Mark. What's next?”

“General Yeager told me that three of our people have applied to the F-20 program. Two got in,” Ellis said. “The third.....”

“We know about,” finished Guru. “Let's just hope that Frank takes it like a man, instead of going off half-cocked.” And that's as likely as the Russians throwing me a birthday party, he thought.

“Yeah. Anyway, they've got two weeks before they have to report to Edwards. So we don't lose them right away,” said Ellis.

“Which gives us time to get a couple of replacements,” the CO noted. “Okay, get the ball rolling on that. We get a new PAO in two days, and hopefully Goalie's friend Cassidy shows up sooner than expected.”

“Meaning, she finishes the next ferry run and comes this way instead of going back to Okinawa,” Ellis nodded. “Hopefully.”

“Yeah,” the CO said. “What's left?”

Ellis handed him a sheet. “Weather update, and no change for four more days. So when those RAF guys get here....”

“The day after, we get a storm, and no flying. Good. We get a day off to catch up on maintenance, and on sleep,” said Guru. “That it?”

Ellis smiled. “It is until morning.”

The CO got out of his chair and looked at the clock, which read 1710. “Now we're off the clock. Let's get to the Club.”


When the CO and XO got to the Club, it was already filling up. Both officers bellied up to the bar, and found Colonel Brady already there. “Colonel,” Guru said.

“Major,” Brady replied. “Heard about the hassle with the F-20s. You guys thought you'd clean up on those young pups. Instead....”

“Instead, sir, we came out even,” Guru admited. “Smitty? What's available?”

“No Sam Adams until tomorrow, at least. Bud, Foster's, Sapporo, Miller Lite...” replied the bartender.

“Bud for me and the Exec,” Guru said. Smitty produced two cold bottles, and Guru paid him. Then he turned back to Colonel Brady. “Both sides had every pilot-or in our case, GIB, an ace, and yet...”

Brady nodded. He'd had his backseat ride a couple days earlier. “Both sides learned something.”

Guru nodded as General Yeager and his people came in. And he noticed the icy stares being exchanged between the F-4 people and the F-20 jocks. “And both sides have some unfinished business. Uh, sir.”

Brady nodded. “That'll have to wait, though.”

“Yes, sir. After the war. Assuming, that is, everyone involved lives that long,” Guru noted.

“There is that little detail,” Ellis observed. “Something to keep in mind.”

“That's always a factor,” Brady said. “You going up with them, Major?”

“Tomorrow after our second mission,” said Guru. “But if anyone's expecting me to give up the 335th for the F-20? They are sadly mistaken.”

Colonel Brady nodded. “And there is someone in particlular who'd be happy if that happened.”

“He'll be doubly disappointed, sir,” Guru replied. “General Yeager's already told me that someone is not getting in an F-20 ever again.”

Brady knew what Major Wiser was talking about. “In that case, Major, you'd best keep an eye on that someone.”

“Sir, we've already started that.”

“Good,” said Brady. Then General Olds came in. “Looks like General Olds wants a word with me. You two have a good evening.”

“Yes, sir,” Guru said, and Ellis did the same.

Guru went to the table his flight normally used, and found them already there. “Well?”

“Next-to-last night for these guys,” Kara said, and everyone could hear the nasty mood in her voice. “I'll clean them out after what happened today.”

“If you want to fleece them? Go ahead,” the CO said. “I'm not in a good mood myself. If that had been real, I'd be writing a bunch of letters.”

“Not good,” Sweaty noted. “So, where are they building those things, anyway? Heard the Northrop factory in California's busy with F/A-18 work.”

“Taiwan and South Korea is what I heard,” Hoser said. “Heard Prada and Clancy talking about that.”

Hearing that, KT asked, “Why there?”

“Both of them built F-5s under license,” Brainiac said. “Not that much of a jump to the F-20.”

“No,” said Guru. “Anything new in the papers?” He asked.

“Just getting to those,” Goalie said as Ms. Wendt and her crew came in, and they were talking again with Flossy and Jang. “I'll bet they're doing a story on the two female crews.”

“No takers,” Kara said. She handed Guru the Los Angeles Times. “Here you go.”

“Thanks,” Guru replied. “Anything in Stars and Stripes?”

“Says here the 6th Marine Division was awarded a PUC for that raid on Kola.”

“Didn't Colonel Brady say that was a Charlie-Fox from his view?” Brainiac asked. “I remember him saying something about that.”

“Pretty much,” Guru nodded as he scanned the L.A. Times. “Well, now.....Looks like the neutralist cowards in West Germany just lost another cabinet member.”

“Another 'car accident?'” Goalie joked as she went through the local section of the same paper.

“Nope,” Guru said. “Says here the Minister of Justice said-and in public, mind-that 'I can no longer serve a government supposedly dedicated to freedom and democracy when those very institutions are under attack, and have been for two years. I call upon the Chancellor and Foreign Minister to resign, and, like the fellow travelers they are, join their friends in East Berlin, if not Moscow.”

“Where'd he say that?” Dave Golen asked from a nearby table. He'd been politely listening in.

“Says here at a rally of some kind in Cologne.”

“More than that,” Jack Lord, their RAF Liasion Officer, said as he came by. “Just heard the BBC on shortwave. “They had 200,000 there, people from all over the Ruhr and the Rhineland. Another one in Munich had about 100,000.”

“And all demanding the Greens pack their bags and go to Moscow.” Kara noted.

“That's it,” Jana Wendt said as she and her crew arrived. “And this was probably too late for the paper, but the Greens tried to get a new Defense Minister. The fellow they wanted turned down the job offer. Said he wouldn't serve a government that was a stooge of Moscow and East Berlin.”

Hearing that, General Olds observed, “Somebody didn't want to get run over by the tanks when the coup goes down.”

“Well, General, somebody over there has some common sense,” Guru said. “Either the Greenie scum get the message, and go join their pals in East Berlin, or the tanks roll. Question is, when?”

“Soon,” Sin Licon commented. “Won't be too long. Two weeks, earliest, A month, most.”

“Sooner the better,” General Olds said.


A few minutes later, the Mess Crew arrived, with meals prepared by the restaurateurs who had taken over the mess operation. “People, we've got grilled chicken, or Salisbury Steak, with all the fixings. Come and get it.”

After people got their meals, it was time for the CBS Evening News, and the “Most trusted man in America” came on. “Good evening from Los Angeles. In Texas, U.S. Forces continue to meet Soviet and East German counterattacks in Central Texas. Our Richard Threlkeld has a report.”

The screen then showed U.S. Army armored cavalry moving forward, with M-1 tanks and M-113 ACAV vehicles pushing ahead. Occasionally, there would be a BOOM as a tank fired its main gun, and a fireball. “Here, west of the Brazos River, the Third Armored Cavalry is busy dealing with Soviet and East German rearguards and stragglers. Some of the Russians are eager to surrender, while others, and most of the East Germans, are not, and have to be blasted out.” The screen then showed cavalry troopers flushing some East Germans out of a farm or ranch house, and most of them being cut down by fire from both vehicles and small-arms fire. “But after a fight, the enemy wounded get the same care as a wounded American.” Then there were scenes of a medic treating an East German soldier who had a severe belly wound, then the man was loaded onto an M-113 ambulance and taken, along with some American casualties, to an aid station. “I'm with Major Monica Vansen, and her squadron has been in the thick of it. Major,” Threlkeld asked a blonde woman in a Cavalry Stetson and full armor officer's regalia, 'How's it going today?”

“So far, pretty good,” Vansen replied. “I'd like to be a little further south than we are, but sometimes, that's up to the bad guys.” She waved at several wrecked T-72 tanks and BTR-70 APCs. “Overall, though, we're doing well.”

“How tough is the enemy?”

“The East Germans are pretty tough, and most of the Soviets, but these guys-”she pointed at several Soviets who were chatting amicably with a couple of American officers, “are Estonians. They don't want to be here, and they gave up when they found the chance. Wish more of 'em would, though.” She took a drink from a canteen, then picked up a radio handset and began speaking into it.

“And so far, the Army in this sector is pushing back south. And this part of Texas, is once again, in American hands. Richard Threlkeld, with the Third Armored Cavalry, Central Texas.”

After a couple of reports about the war at sea, one from a destroyer that had an ASW action escorting a coastal convoy, a commercial break, then a story that warmed the hearts of those in the Club. “Our sister Network from Australia, 9 News, has a correspondent with the Air Force in Texas, Jana Wendt interviewed two of the pilots who are flying every day into the Bear's mouth.”

The report began. “Here, at an air base in Liberated Texas, is an Air Force squadron that has been fighting since the first day of the war. The squadron's commander is a young Major who is one of a few veterans of the first day of the war. And he's not much older than those he leads.” Then Guru's interview began. As those in the Club watched, there were more than a few smiles on the faces of the aircrews, AF, Marine, and Navy. “And, something that would've been unheard of two years ago, he has a female back seat weapons officer.” Goalie then came on the screen, and the interview continued.

“We have this relatonship in the cockpit,” Guru said. “I do the pilot stuff, she does the WSO stuff. And I told her, 'Lisa,I don't want to die surprised. If my last conscious thought is 'What the hell was that?' I'll hunt you for eternity.”

“And you know what?” Goalie said with a chuckle. “He really did say that.” And hoots of laughter followed, for a number of pilot/GIB combinations did the same.

“This is just one of several crews we're following. Including two all-female crews, which may be an first for the Air Force. And this squadron keeps on going, taking the fight to the enemy. . Jana Wendt, with the U.S. Air Force, Liberated Texas.”

Applause followed, and several slaps on both Guru's and Goalie's backs followed. “Nice job, Boss!” Don Van Loan said.

“Hope the GRU likes that interview,” Flossy added.

Guru smiled, then turned to Goalie. “Well?”

“If our peers like it, hope the GRU does,” Goalie grinned.

Jack Lord stared at them. “How can they get it to Moscow?”

“They've got a big SIGINT Station in Cuba,” Sin Licon said. “They can either tape it there, or just relay it to Moscow. Either way, this winds up in their files.”

Lord shook his head. “Well, Guru,” he said. “Hope they enjoy it.”

“They'll get more,” Ms. Wendt grinned. “That was just a part,” as the rest of the news aired. “The whole thing aired in Sydney, and chances are, CBS will want the whole thing as well.”

“So be warned?” Guru asked.

“Be warned.”

After a couple of more segments, and a Charles Kuralt On the Road piece, this time from Atlantic City, NJ, where the casinos were still open, but catering to military personnel on R&R, then Walter Cronkite signed off. “And that's the way it is. For all of us at CBS News, good night.”

“Well, Major?” General Olds asked. “You might want to be careful now. Remember what happened to Robbie Risner and Jim Kasler in Vietnam when they got profiled by Time?”

“That I do, General,” Guru said as he got up to go back to the bar. “They got shot down, and the North Vietnamese weren't happy to see both of them. They got more than their share of abuse in Hanoi.”

Goalie nodded. “They did.” She had attended an Academy lecture with several Vietnam POWs speaking, and both General Risner and Colonel Kasler had been among those present.

“In that case, I do need another beer,” Guru said as he went to the bar. When he got there, he found a familiar-and loathed-figure in undress blues getting his own beer. “Frank.”

“Major,” Major Frank Carson replied politely, though Guru could tell the arrogance in his voice.

“I see someone's all dressed up, even if they don't need to,” Guru said, referring to the other animals in the zoo.

“Someone has to uphold Air Force standards, especially with Generals Olds and Yeager here,” Carson replied.

“Notice they're in flight suits?” Guru pointed out. “One more,” he nodded at Smitty.

“So?”

“There's a time and a place for dressing up, Frank. And guess what? This ain't it,” Guru reminded him as Smitty handed him a cold beer. He paid the barkeep, and said, '”Thanks.”

“Anytime, Major,” the barkeep smiled.

“The way you're strutting around, Frank? Looks like you're looking forward to something.”

“I've applied to the F-20 program, and I'm looking forward to the transition,” Carson said smugly. “Then my talents will be properly appreciated by the Air Force.”

Guru regarded Carson. The most loathed figure in the squadron, and yet..... “Well, Frank? Take some advice my Grandma gave me a long time ago: Don't count your chickens until they're hatched.”

“What do you mean?” Carson asked, and the CO could tell the contempt in his voice.

“Just that three people applied to the F-20 program from this squadron, and two got in,” Guru said. Take my advice: Be prepared for some possible bad news.”

“I'm pretty confident that I will be accepted into the program.”

“Okay, Frank. Just, well, don't say you weren't warned about the alternative,” Guru said, returning to his table.

“What was all that about with Frank?” Kara asked. She was getting ready to hold court at the pool table.

Guru let out a grin. “Just telling him not to count his chickens, because I did say three people from this unit applied to the F-20, and two got in.”

Goalie nodded. “And he thinks he's one of the two.” It wasn't a question.

“Bingo.”.

Brainiac shook his head. “Wouldn't want to be the one who tells him.”

“You're not the only one,” Hoser said. “How's that going to work?”

“Chances are, the old letter that says, 'Dear candidate, your application has been carefully reviewed...' And we know the rest,” Preacher nodded.

“Yeah, and I'm just hoping he'll take the hint and ask for a transfer,” Guru said. “Either that, or Sundown Cunningham shows up and kicks him off this base so fast Frank never knows what hit him.”

Kara grinned. “That'll be the day.” She then got up and went to the pool table. To her surprise, General Olds' aide, Major Brandon Kinney, came over and laid down his money. Kara showed hers, then went to work. A few minutes later, the aide came back, his wallet lightened. “Next!”

“She always like that?” Kinney asked. He was angry, and wanted his money back.

“You've been around here long enough to find out,” Don Van Loan pointed out.

“First time it happened for real,” Kinney grumbled. He went straight to the bar. Since he was the General's aide, Twelve-Hour didn't apply to him, and he decided to get sloppy drunk.

“Uh-oh....” Guru said. “Looks like Kara's got some competition.”

“Who?” Sweaty asked. Then she saw it. “General Yeager.”

“Uh-huh...” Guru nodded. Both combatants laid down their money, then went at it. It didn't take long for General Yeager's skills to show, and Kara found her wallet lightened by $50.00. She came back to the table in a fit of the sulks. “Well?”

“That's twice with him,” Kara grumbled. She checked her watch. “Twenty minutes to Twelve-Hour. I can get a little bit drunk, then go back and teach some manners to those young punks.” To prove her point, she went straight to the bar, got another beer, then went back to the pool table.

“That's three generals who've beaten her,” Mark Ellis nodded. “What happens if Sundown comes and she beats him?”

“Good question,” Guru said.


A few minutes later, it was Clancy's turn. He went to Kara, shook hands, then laid down his money. Kara did so as well, and they went at it. This time, Kara's skills were superior, just as they had been in the air that morning, and Clancy's wallet was now $50.00 lighter. “Where'd she learn to play pool like that?”

“Auburn,” Goalie said. “Try some of the student hangouts there, because that's where she went to college.”

“Swell,” Clancy grumbled as he went to the bar and came back with a Pepsi.

“That all he drinks?” Preacher noted. He wasn't puritanical, far from it, and wasn't shy about buying a round and hoisting a cold one. But he did notice.

“Looks like,” KT said. “Reminds me of something they said in OTS. There was a Medal of Honor winner in Vietnam, some guy who flew A-1s. Anyway, they say the strongest thing he drank was iced tea.”

“To each his own,” Dave Golen observed. He noted Flossy and Jang along with Cosmo and Revlon talking with Ms. Wendt. This was an “Off the record” conversation as the cameraman and sound man weren't there. “I see our guest from the media's talking with the, well, “unmanned” crews. Again.”

“Oh?” Guru asked. Then he saw for himself. “She'll be doing the same with the Day One vets. Those of us who are left.”

Golen understood. “Just like the Battle of Britain,” he said. “You guys are this war's version of Churchill's 'few.'”

“And just like those guys, we have a habit of getting fewer,” Guru said, remembering lost friends.


A few minutes before Twelve-Hour, Colonel Brady rang the bell. “People! Got something to share with you all. The F-20 people had a DACT with some F-4s from the 335th, and both sides went in expecting to clean up. Didn't quite work out that way, and well, in a fight where everyone involved is an ace, honors came out even. General Yeager? Major Wiser? Anything to say as the only ones who are, well, 'alive', other than General Olds, who had a hell of a Check Ride?” He glanced over at General Olds, who nodded.

“Colonel,” Yeager said. “Both sides got humbled. Though a few lessons were taught to each.”

“They were, General,” Guru replied. “On both sides. But, I'll wager that both also have scores to settle.”

“Oh, we do,” Kara muttered.

“You've got that right,” Clancy grumbled, just loud enough for Pruitt and Prada to hear.

“General Olds?” Brady asked.

Olds stood up. “I'll say this much: It was one hell of a check ride, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.”

“No doubt, General,” Brady said. “Ten minutes to Twelve-Hour, so drink up!”

People finished their drinks, for at 1900, one of the Navy flight surgeons rang the bar bell. “Twelve-Hour's now in effect!”

For those on the flight schedule in the morning, they either turned in their drinks or poured them out. Then it was strictly nonalcoholic from then on.

“Well, Boss?” Hoser asked as he brought a plate of nachos over. “More of the same tomorrow.”

“As long as it's not CAS,” Sweaty nodded. “Had enough of that a few days ago.”

“Down, both of you,” Guru said firmly. “We take what they give us. And tomorrow, I get a ride in the F-20D.”

Goalie looked at her pilot and lover. “And?”

“And I'll tell them it's a nice little interceptor that's small, nimble, and deadly. But I'll stick with Double-Ugly, mind, until the F-15E comes along,” said Guru. “No ifs, ands, or buts.”

“Hear, hear,” Brainiac said. “No F-15E means GIBs are out of a job.”

“Can't have that,” Sweaty added. “When?”

“Year and a half, maybe two,” Guru said. “If Aviation Leak is accurate.” He was referring to Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine, which, despite the war, was still living up to its nickname.

“Happy day when those come,” said Goalie.

“Really happy.”


Time flew, and it wasn't long until 2100, when Doc Waters rang the bell. “Aircrew curfew in effect!”
With that, those on the flight schedule headed off to their tents to grab some sleep, because it wouldn't be long until 0430 and the beginning of a new day. And getting on with the war.
__________________
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Old USMC Adage
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  #375  
Old 10-06-2017, 09:16 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Auberry, CA
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The next morning dawns....


335th TFS Offices, Sheppard AFB, TX; 0530 Hours Central War Time:


Major Matt Wiser walked from his tent to the squadron's office. A building that housed a T-38 training squadron as part of Air Training Command prewar, he noted the bullet holes in the walls, left over after the 23rd ID had taken the base. Something that needed to be taken care of, especially with winter coming, he knew. Making a mental note to ask Colonel Brady about that, he glanced skyward. Some middle-level and upper-level clouds, were visible in the predawn sky as the eastern horizon grew lighter, and that meant good flying weather. The CO went into the office, and found the night-shift SDO there. “Hacksaw,” Major Wiser said. “How's the cold?”

“Getting better, Major,” Hacksaw replied. “Not sneezing as much. Doc says it'll be another four days before I'm cleared.”

“Been there, done that,” Guru replied, remembering a cold that had kept him grounded for two weeks back in March. “Doc say anything else?”

“Just that I'll be back flying then. Other than that? Have to bear it.”

“Listen to him,” the CO reminded Hacksaw. “And keep in mind that if you think you're missing anything?”

“Boss?” Hacksaw asked.

“You're not,” the CO said firmly. He glanced towards his office. “XO in?”

The SDO nodded. “Waiting for you, Boss.”

“Good,” said Guru. “What's Wolfman Jack playing?” He gestured to the radio on Hacksaw's desk.

“Little bit of everything,” Hacksaw replied. “Journey, Van Halen, Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, Had Nancy Sinatra on a few minutes ago.”

Guru smiled. “Let me guess: These Boots are Made for Walkin'.” It wasn't a question.

“Four-oh, Boss.”

“Okay. Now, someone from General Yeager might come by and leave a letter on folks' desks. Three people applied for the F-20, and two got in. He may notify by letter, and so...”

Hacksaw nodded. “Gotcha, Boss. And when Major Carson gets one....”

“Let me know,” Guru said, and Hacksaw noticed the firmness in his voice. “No telling what's going to happen when that goes down.”

“Will do, Boss, and I'll pass it on.”

“Do that.”

Guru then headed to his office, and found the Exec waiting with a cup of steaming liquid. “Morning, Mark.”

“Morning, Boss,” Capt. Mark Ellis said pleasantly as he handed the CO a cup of hot cocoa. “Not much paperwork wise.”

“That'll change,” Guru noted as he started on the drink. “What's up?”

“Morning reports for both MAG-11 and Tenth Air Force,” the XO said. He had a clipboard with the papers for the CO's signature.

Guru signed, then nodded. “Next?”

The Exec checked the papers. “RAF guys will be here in three days.”

“Good, and we'll have some dedicated strike escort, for once. They can also cover the recon birds. Dave and Flossy flew escort for Athena and Helo yesterday,” the CO noted. “And General Yeager and his people will be with the ROKs then.”

“They will,” said Ellis. “Next? Weather. Good weather for the next three days. In four....”

The CO finished for him. “We're due for a storm. Nice way for our British cousins to get a welcome to Texas.”

“One way to put it,” the XO replied. “Ever fly with the Brits?”

“No, but if there'd been no war, a REFORGER or a Crested Cap exercise would've come along. Ross told me that if the balloon had gone up in NATO? We were supposed to go to Bentwaters in the UK,” said Guru.

“Like in those two Hackett books? Boy, did he get World War Three wrong.”

“Everybody did,” Guru reminded him. “What about our two sick birds?”

“Maintenance is working on Kerry Collins' bird as we speak. They did an all-nighter, and Van Loan's bird is good to go. His element ate at Early-Bird, and they'll be up shortly on the check flight.”

Guru nodded. “Okay. Now, anything else, besides General Yeager notifying people about their applications to the F-20 program?”

“Nada, Boss,” Ellis said as there was a knock on the door.

“Gome in and show yourself,” Guru said.

His GIB, First Lieutenant Lisa “Goalie” Eichhorn, came in bearing two cups of hot liquid. “Morning, Boss,” she said. “And XO.” She handed the CO a cup. “More hot chocolate for the Boss.”

Guru grinned. “And you want me alert and awake,” he said.

“What's wrong with that?” his girlfriend replied. Everyone in the squadron knew about their relationship.

“Nothing. Now, Mark? Any idea when General Yeager informs the lucky two, and the unlucky Frank?”

The XO shook his head. “Nada, Boss.”

“Speaking of F-20s,” Goalie asked. “When's your ride?”

“Today, after our second run,” Guru said. “Get a little perspective on those after yesterday,” he added, recalling their DACT with Yeager's people.

“And?”

“I'll tell the General that the F-20's a nice little interceptor, good for air forces that can't afford anything better, and maybe Aggressor and ANG use postwar is probably the most they can expect,” said Guru.

“Good, because GIBs aren't going out of style,” Goalie replied. “Everybody else here is waiting on the F-15E.”

Guru let out a grin. “You're not the only one with that in mind. Now, Mark. Anything else?”

“Not now,” the Exec replied.

“Good. Tonight, we'll make Buddy an honorary Captain, get him a card for the O-Club, all of that. I'd like to do it while General Olds is here. And he's leaving day after tomorrow.”

“Will do, Boss,” Ellis said.

Guru nodded, then looked at the wall clock. 0555. “Let's go eat. We've got a busy day ahead.”

On their way out of the office, the three officers paused to listen to Hacksaw's radio. “Well, haven't heard that in a while, Boss,” Hacksaw said.

“What?” Guru asked.

“Petula Clark's Downtown.”

That had been the song from which the phrase “Going Downtown” had come during Vietnam. “Want to bet an oldies station in Miami gets that requested a lot?” Goalie quipped. “The guys at Homestead Go Downtown to Havana all the time.”

“No bet,” Ellis said. “This is one Kara wouldn't take.”

“I'll go along with that,” the CO said. “Let's go eat.”



When they got to the Officer's Mess Tent, people were milling around, and General Olds was talking with not only Colonel Brady, but the news people and their RAF liaison officer. “General,” Guru said, sketching a salute.

“Major,” Olds replied. “Just touching base with our friends from the Fourth Estate.”

“Be warned, General,” said Guru. “Ms. Wendt there can be a sneaky bitch. She'll have you in front of the cameras again before you know it.”

Hearing that, Ms. Wendt smiled. “He's already paid that compliment to me already, General.”

“Once was enough, thanks,” Olds grinned. “After General Yeager leaves, it'll be time for me to move on.”

Brady and the other officers nodded. “At least, sir, you'll see tonight who got into the F-20 from this base.”

“Two lucky ones, sir,” Guru added. He glanced around, looking for Major Carson. The skunk was nowhere to be seen. Good. “And one who's not going to be too happy, and we all know who that person will be.”

“A certain snotty major?” Olds asked, and he saw Guru nod. “Good.”

“Speaking of General Yeager, you have a hop today with him, Major?” Brady asked.

“Yes, sir. Right after my second strike. Debrief, then jump into the D, then go,” replied Guru. “And I'll be polite. They're nice little interceptors who'd make a decent aggressor bird, and Northrop will be happy with FMS sales postwar, but other than that....”

“Guard and Reserve?” Olds asked.

“Yes, sir. Unless the Congress-Critters tell the Air Force otherwise.”

Olds shook his head. “Politics.”

“Yes, sir,”

Then the Marine Mess Officer came and flipped the sign from CLOSED to OPEN. “Chow Hall's open.”


After breakfast, the crews headed to their respective briefing rooms, while the flight leads got their missions. When the CO got to the Ops Office, he found his Ops Officer already back from his check ride. “Don,”

“Boss,” Capt. Don Van Loan replied. “Check ride went good, before you ask. No issues, and 564's back on the schedule.”

“Always good to hear,” the CO said. “What have you got on tap for me?”

Van Loan handed Guru a briefing packet. “Town called Morgan, on Route 174, about a dozen miles west of Lake Whitney. Southeast of the town, there's a helo dispersal field. Ivan's been using it for Hinds and Hips.”

“And we get to take it out.”

“Not just that: the Hillsboro SA-2 site is back up, and you're within range of at least the Waco North SA-2 as well,” Van Loan said.

“We're getting Weasels, I hope?” Guru asked. Two SA-2 sites in range? Lovely.

“You are, and they'll join you at the tankers,” the Ops Officer replied.

Guru nodded. “All right, Don. Thanks.”

“Good Luck, Boss. Don't want to be XO yet,” Van Loan told his CO.

“And Kara doesn't want to be Ops just yet,” Guru reminded his Ops Officer. “You be careful yourself.”

“Will do.”

Guru then went to the briefing room his flight used, and when he got there, there was a four-legged guest. Buddy. He opened the door to the room and said, “After you.” Guru followed the dog into the room and found the rest of the flight there. “Okay, people! Settle down, because we've got our first mission.”

Goalie looked at him. “And where to this morning?”

The CO opened the briefing packet, and maps, and photos, along with some intel sheets, came out. “Here, about a dozen miles west of Lake Whitney, along Route 174. Town called Morgan. Just southeast of the town is a helo dispersal field. Ivan's been using it for Hips and Hinds.”

“And we're taking it out,” Kara said. It wasn't a question, from her tone of voice.

“That's it. Now, ordnance load is twelve Mark-82 Snakeyes each bird. I know, this is usually a target for CBUs, but not this time.”

“Too close to the town?” Hoser asked.

“Um-hmm,” Guru replied. “This may be a field that kids play in, or it's used for farming. If this was away from the town, no problem on CBUs. However....not this time.”

“Fair enough, Boss,” Sweaty said. “Air to air?”

“Uusal: four AIM-9Ps, two AIM-7Fs, thanks to the F-20 folks, usual ECM pods for lead and wingmates, full gun, and two wing tanks.”

Kara nodded at that. “Ingress?”

“Getting in the back way,” Guru said. He traced the route on a TPC chart. “Cross the Fence near Lake Leon, head south to Proctor Lake. Head east to Hico, then Meridian. Turn north for thirty seconds and we're at the target. Meridian is the IP for all intents and purposes.” He saw he had his flight's full attention. “Once you make your run? Head north for the Brazos and get your asses to the I-20.”

Hoser nodded. “Good way in. What's the defenses?”

“We're getting Weasels as this area is under 4th Guards Tank Army, so SA-4s are possible, along with the usual divisional level defenses. Throw in the Hillsboro and Waco North SA-2s. At the target? There's ZU-23s and MANPADS, plus small-arms fire,” said Guru.

Brainiac asked, “When do the Weasels come?”

“Good question,” KT added.

“Miller flight joins us at the tankers, and we're going to Tanker Track CHEVRON, north of Hubbard Creek Reservoir,” Guru replied. “As for MiGs? Same threat level from yesterday. And we do have Intel confirmation of Mainstays in theater.”

There were scowls at that. “They need to tell us something we don't already know,” Preacher said. “This 'we're betting your life' can be a pain.”

“No kidding, Preacher,” Guru said. “Just remember, Sin Licon's only passing on what they give him. Don't blame him.”

“We know,” Kara replied. “Just that he's convenient.”

“Yeah, and I've blown my stack on him once or twice,” Guru admitted. “Okay, weather: unchanged. Good flying weather for four more days. Then we get a storm.”

The rest of the crews looked at each other and grinned. About time. “So, we get a stand-down?” Preacher asked.

“We do, and the day before? The RAF comes.”

Kara let out another grin. “And we get our strike escorts.”

“That we do. Now, one last thing: bailout areas are anyplace away from roads. And stay sharp, because we've got four missions today, unless CAS rears its ugly head.”

Sweaty frowned at that. “Lovely.”

“You're not the only one feeling that way,” Guru said. “Anything else?” Heads shook no. Then he glanced at the dog. Buddy was sitting up and alert. “Uh-oh...”

“I was about to say that,” Hoser said. “This might be a rough ride.”

“Hope he's wrong,” Goalie added.

“Seconded,” Guru nodded. “All right. One last thing: we're Camaro Flight. Now let's gear up. We've got a full day coming.”

The crews headed to their locker rooms, and as Guru left, an NCO from Ops was waiting to collect the briefing materials. That done, he went to the Men's Locker Room to gear up. When he came out, Goalie was there as usual. “Ready?”

“Time to earn our flight pay,” she replied.

“It is that,” Guru nodded as they went out. As they did, the dog followed and then laid down on the sidewalk outside. “Hope he's wrong about this one.”

“You and me both,” Goalie said as they walked to the squadron's dispersal.

“Roscoe was wrong on occasion,” said the CO when they got to their revetment, and the rest of the flight was there. “All right: gather around.”

“Usual procedures on the radio?” Kara asked.

“You got it,” Guru replied. That meant mission code to AWACS and other parties, call signs between them. “All right, if you see those basketball-sized tracers on the way in or out? Evade. If you see them at the target? Abort.”

Heads nodded. “Got it, Major,” Sweaty replied.

“We meet at ten grand overhead. Any other questions?” Guru asked. Heads shook no, then he added, “Then let's go. Time to hit it.” He clapped his hands.

The crews then headed to mount their own aircraft, as Guru and Goalie went to 512. “Sergeant,” he said to Sergeant Crowley, his Crew Chief.

“Major, Lieutenant,” Crowley replied, snapping a perfect salute. “Five-twelve's ready to rock.”

“Thanks, Sarge,” Guru said. He and Goalie did their usual preflight walk-around. After signing for the aircraft, Guru and Goalie then mounted up. After getting strapped in, they went through the preflight checklist.

“Arnie?” Guru asked. “And today's the day Frank finds out he's not in the F-20.”

“He'll pop his cork,” Goalie replied. “Arnie's all set. So's the INS.”

“Good. He'll whine and complain, especially to his dad, then what?” Guru wanted to know.

“That is a very good question, and I doubt you know the answer,” Goalie said. “Ejection seats?”

“You're right on not knowing,” replied Guru. “Armed top and bottom. Check yours.”

“All set. Preflight complete and ready for engine start,” said Goalie as she put away her checklist.

“Roger that,” Guru said. He gave a thumbs-up to his CC, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. First one, then two, J-79 engines were up and running. As they warmed up, Guru called the Tower. “Tower,
Camaro Flight with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Camaro Flight, Tower,” the controller replied. “Clear to taxi to Runway Three-Five-Charlie. You are number three in line, and hold prior to the active.”

“Roger, Tower. Camaro Flight rolling.” Guru then gave another thumbs-up, and Sergeant Crowley waved to the ground crew, who pulled the chocks away. Then Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal, and Guru released the brakes, taxiing out of the revetment.

Guru taxied Five-twelve out of the revetment, and as he taxied to the runway, the rest of the flight followed. When they got to the runway, they found a Marine Hornet flight first, then a flight of Marine S model F-4s second. After the Hornets launched, the Marine F-4s taxied onto the runway, and Camaro Flight taxied into the holding area, where the armorers removed the weapon safeties.

After the Marine F-4s departed, it was their turn. “Tower, Camaro Flight requesting taxi for takeoff,” Guru called the tower.

“Camaro Lead, clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are calm,” the controller called back.

“Roger, Tower,” Guru called as he taxied onto the runway. Kara and Brainiac followed, taxiing into their Five O'clock position. Guru glanced over, and found 520 in position. Thumbs-ups were exchanged, then Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Camaro Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower didn't reply by radio, but flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Ready?” Guru asked Goalie.

“Let's go,” Goalie replied.

“Let's,” said Guru. “Canopy coming down.”

Both pilot and GIB closed and locked their canopies, and a quick look saw 520's crew had done the same. Guru then applied full power on the throttle, released the brakes, and 512 rumbled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right with them.

Thirty seconds later, it was the turn of Sweaty and Hoser, then Camaro flight met up at FL 100. They then headed south to their rendezvous with the tankers and their Weasels.
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  #376  
Old 10-06-2017, 09:25 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Auberry, CA
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The day's first mission:


Over Central Texas, 0740 Hours Central War Time:


Camaro Flight had met up with their KC-10 tankers, and after topping up their fuel tanks, had joined up with two F-4Gs that would provide the Wild Weasel support on this one. Coors One-five and One-six were the two, and they were now just above and ahead of the strike flight as they went into enemy territory.

Now, Camaro Flight was following the Leon River, south of I-20 and the front lines, and along the boundary between the Soviet 32nd Army and the East Germans. The pilots had their heads on a swivel, keeping an eye on their instruments, and then out of the cockpit, looking for threats, while the GIBs concentrated on the navigation and the electronic warfare displays.

“How long to Proctor Lake?” Guru called from 512's front seat.

“Two minutes,” Goalie replied. “EW still clear.”

“Copy that,” Guru said. He was scanning for threats, and he knew that those could come with no warning on their EW displays. Optically-aimed flak, missiles, or an IR missile, all were killers, and he took nothing for granted, even with a clear EW display.

State Route 16 served as the boundary, and as the strike flight headed south, there was some military traffic on the road, but they took no fire. Apparently, the Soviets or East Germans were surprised to see the F-4s heading south, and by the time they were ready to fire, the strike birds were gone.

“Got the lake coming up,” Guru said. He glanced at the EW display. Sure enough, a faint strobe appeared, followed by the SEARCH warning light. “Got a radar.”

“I've got it,” Goalie said.

Then the Weasel lead came up. “Camaro Lead, Coors One-five. That's a Mainstay radar.”

Nothing anybody can do about that, Guru thought. “Roger, Coors.”

“Turn point in ten,” Goalie called.

“Visual on the lake,” Guru said as Proctor Lake appeared.

Goalie made the call. “Turn in five, four, three, two, one, and MARK!”

Guru put the F-4 into a left turn, and both the others in his flight, and the two Weasels, followed. “New heading of Zero-nine-zero.”

“You took the words out of my mouth,” Goalie said. “One minute thirty to the next turn point.”

“Copy,” Guru replied. He glanced at the EW display. The strobe was still there. “Crystal Palace, Camaro Lead. Say threats?”

An AWACS controller replied almost immediately. “Camaro Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-nine-one for forty-five. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-four-zero for sixty. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing One-seven-five for seventy-five. Medium, Going away.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace.” said Guru, keeping up with his visual scanning as he headed east. So far, so good. And no more radars.

“Thirty seconds,” was Goalie's call from the back seat.

“Got it,” Guru called as the Central Texas landscape flew by. At least they were here, and not flying out in the desert of West Texas, with few lakes or rivers to serve as visual landmarks. “Hico dead ahead.”

“Steady..” Goalie called. “Turn in five, four, three, two, one....MARK!”

Guru put the F-4 into a easy right turn, roughly being parallel to State Route 6, with Meridian the next stop. “How long to Meridian?”

“One minute thirty.”


In Hico, the local garrison commander, an East German Major, was concerned with not only keeping U.S. 281 and Route 6 open, as they were main supply routes, but also keeping the local population under control. Though the Soviets often patrolled the roads-and there was a Rear-Area Protection Division that handled that, a bridge on U.S. 281 on the outskirts of town was his problem, and that concerned him. Then there was the Stasi detachment, who seemed intent on making his life, and that of the local population, miserable. Several of his men had been arrested and sent to a penal unit for “Defeatist remarks”, or “Non-belief in the Final Victory.” while the Stasi was also searching for “Counterrevolutionary and Fascist Elements” among the locals-and that only made the locals' attitude only worse. Clearly, their political and social development made socialism here a very impractical notion, even though there had not been much in the way of bandit or guerilla activities in the area. But with the Stasi-and the PSD around as well, though he had hardly anything to do with them-their conduct might just be the spark to ignite such activities. Especially with the front lines to the north, and any fool could see that the U.S. Army was closer than the propaganda news sheets or the “Liberation Radio” broadcasts said.

Now, the Major was going to have his morning staff meeting, and hopefully, that PSD swine-who even the Stasi loathed, would stay away. He was approaching City Hall, having just passed through a checkpoint, when sirens started to howl. The Major glanced up, and saw six F-4 Phantoms flying over, the howl of their jet engines attracting cheers from the civilians, and as he took a look around, his men running to shelter, while anti-aircraft gunners raced to their guns. But by the time the guns were ready, the aircraft were gone. Well, that's this morning's excitement, the Major thought as he went into City Hall.


Camaro Flight headed east, roughly parallel to State Route 6, with the pilots navigating visually, and the GIBs handling the INS, but also doing it the old-fashioned way, with stopwatch and map. “How long to Meridian?” Guru asked.

“One minute,” Goalie replied.

Guru checked his EW display. The SEARCH strobe was still there, and brighter. That Red AWACS might have them. “Flight, Lead. Music on,” he ordered. That meant turn on their ECM pods.

“Two copies,” was Kara's reply, and the others followed.

“Meridian coming up,” Goalie warned. “Turn in thirty.”

“Copy,” Guru said. He glanced ahead, and saw the town appear. “Call it.”

“Turn in five, four, three, two, one....MARK!”


In Meridian, that town was full of Soviet soldiers, and the locals were commenting that they hadn't seen this many Russians since the invasion. These were from the 144th Guards Motor-Rifle Division's 254th Guards “Matrosva” MRR, and they had been shattered by their encounter with the First Cavalry Division and the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. To the acting commander of the regiment, the former commander of the Third Battalion, it would be a while before his regiment was ready for offensive action again. They, and the rest of the division, had been pulled out of the line to reorganize and refit, and the Major in command knew it would take a while, given the Army's supply difficulties. And, he expected, a division half made up of Estonian reservists was likely to be lower on the priority list than a prewar Category A unit that had come from GSFG.

Getting his regiment refitted was not his only problem. The local garrison, soldiers from a rear-area protection division, were content with staying in town and keeping the road open-which they did by simply staying put. There had been very little guerilla activity, and the Captain who commanded the company that made up the garrison, didn't want to do anything that would stir that pot up. Then there was his Zampolit, who had held the job in the regimental artillery battalion, and the man came across to the Major as being too eager, and was equally upset, for the Party man had found out that many of the Komsomol members and party workers in the regiment had been killed or wounded. That, at least, kept the Zampolit busy, and not in the way of getting the Regiment ready to fight, and not getting involved with the garrison commander or his hands-off attitude towards the local civilians.

Suddenly, there were shouts, then hands pointed skyward. Six American F-4 Phantoms-some of which had inflicted considerable grief to his Regiment-flew by. The regimental antiaircraft battalion had been savaged in the recent fighting, with not a single 2S19 AA vehicle left, and only a couple of Strela-10 (SA-13) launchers. By the time the crews got their weapons ready to fire, the American aircraft were gone. Shaking his head, the Major went back to his command vehicle. There was a lot of work to do to get the regiment ready to fight again, and not a lot of time.


Guru put the Phantom into a hard left turn and begain to climb. Seven miles to Morgan, and that meant about twenty seconds to target. “Flight, Lead. Switches on, and let's go in.”

“Two, copy,” Kara said.

“Three, roger,” Sweaty called back.

“Four copies,” was Hoser's call.

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “Weasels cleared in.”

“Roger that, Camaro,” Miller One-five called. The Weasel leader and his wingman climbed and all sorts of radars began to come up. “MAGNUM!” And a HARM antiradar missile left the rails. Miller One-five had four HARMs, while One-six had two Standard-ARMs and four Mavericks.

“They're in,” Goalie commented. “Switches set. We're hot.”

“Got an SA-2,” Guru said as he climbed. That would be the Hillsboro SA-2 site. Then it suddenly went off the air, as “Magnum” calls continued from Miller One-five. “Target in sight.”

“Ready back here,” Goalie said as another HARM missile shot went in.

“Time to go,” Guru said as he rolled in on his bomb run.


At the Meirdian helicopter field, the Second Squadron, 116th Helicopter Regiment was busy with the day's operations. One flight had already gone forward, on an armed reconnissance mission, while the rest of the squadron was awaiting mission orders. The squadron's crews had heard that the motor-rifle blockheads had taken a serious pounding the past few days pulling the East Germans out of a fire, and now the 4th Guards Tank Army was coming in to shore things up, if the rumor mill was accurate.

The Lieutenant Colonel commanding the squadron was not a happy man, for his regiment had been shot up twice already. Once at a place called Casper in Wyoming, and then again, at Wichita. Originally equipped with Mi-24V (NATO Hind-E) helicopters, those had been given to some other regiment, and Mi-24Ds with the 12.7-mm Gatling Gun had been provided instead. To the Colonel, that indicated that not only were things not going well in the war-and any fool could see for himself, even the Zampolit-but that production was slipping back home, or that the Navy was having trouble in getting the Army and Air Force what it needed across the Atlantic. Even such things as mail from home were either being delivered late, or not at all, and naturally, there was some grumbling about that. Though the Zampolit had promised that one way or another, the mail from home would get through, along with everything else they needed, the Colonel was having doubts. He knew the Soviets weren't winning, for if they were, why was the front back in Texas? Even General Suraykin, when he visited the Regiment the day before, had expressed concern about developments, but the Party hack was optimistic.

Having briefed his crews, he was heading to his supply officer when the AA gunners around the field began to fire. The Colonel didn't need a siren to tell him. Air attack coming in. So he jumped into a slit trench, and was unceremoniously joined by several other pilots and gunners.


“Lead in hot!” Guru called as he rolled in on his attack run. He spotted several Hind helicopters parked, at least two flights, and selected a flight parked on the east side of the field. Ignoring the 23-mm flak coming up, along with at least one SA-7 shot that flew harnlessly by on the right, Guru lined up one of the Hinds in his pipper. Killing you is easier on the ground, Ivan.....”Steady.....Steady....And....HACK!” He hit the pickle button, and released his dozen Mark-82 Snakeyes onto the choppers below. After bomb release, Guru pulled up and away, jinking to avoid flak and any SAMs, and staying below the SA-2's minimum altitude. “Lead's off target.”


The Colonel heard Guru's F-4 fly by, and then not only heard the bombs going off, but felt the concussion in the trench as it shook. Then he heard two additional explosions, and knew right away that at least two of his helicopters were now wrecks. He started to poke his head out of the trench to have a look, but one of his men pulled him back in. American aircraft didn't attack alone-at least, not since the early days, he remembered.


“SHACK!” Goalie called from 512's back seat. “We got a couple of secondaries!”

Hearing that, Guru smiled beneath his oxygen mask. That meant a couple of ground kills. Though they didn't count, still...two less Hinds to bother the ground-pounders. “How good?”

“Good and big,” Goalie replied.

“I'll take those,” Guru said as he picked up the Brazos River as an SA-7 flew by just below the aircraft.


“Two's in!” Kara called as she came in on her run. She saw the CO's run, and two fireballs where Hinds were parked. Good job, Boss, she thought as she lined up where another flight of Hinds was parked, and decided to walk her bombs right across the helos. Kara, too, ignored the 23-mm flak that came up, and saw a Standard-ARM missile fly past her as it tracked down a gun radar west of the town and exploded it. Not your day, Ivan.....She lined up the second helo in the group she had selected, and her thumb settled on the pickle button. “Steady....And...And....NOW!” Kara hit the pickle button, releasing her bombs. She then pulled up and away to clear the target area, jinking as she did so, just as the CO did, to avoid flak and any SAMs. “Two's off safe,” Kara called.


“Damn!” The Colonel said as Kara's Phantom came over and dropped its bombs. He heard the explosions, and once again, heard two more as helicopters exploded, then came another. Pulling himself from the men, he poked his head out of the trench to look around. Not only were several helicopters burning wrecks, but a fuel truck had also been hit, drenching the surrounding area with burning fuel. No one was attacking the flames, for the antiaircraft gunners were swinging their weapons around again. More Americans? He didn't doubt it for a second as he ducked back into the trench.

“GOOD HITS!” Brainiac called. “Got a big secondary!”

“How big?” Kara asked, jinking to avoid some 23-mm tracers.

“Fuel big, I think,” her GIB replied.

“Their lucky day,” Kara grinned beneath her oxygen mask as she picked up the CO's bird.

Sweaty came in on her run. “Three's in hot!” She, too, ignored the flak coming up as she looked for targets, and selected two Hips that were parked on the south side of the field. Good morning, Ivan....This is your wake-up call, she thought as she came down on the target. Sweaty, too, ignored the flak coming up as she lined up the Hips, and was one turning its engines? Too late. “Steady...And...HACK!” Sweaty hit the pickle button, and released her twelve Mark-82s down on the target. She then pulled up and away, avoiding the flak as she jinked. “Three off target.”

“Of all the...” The Colonel muttered as Sweaty's F-4 came in, and left a dozen bombs in its wake. Then he heard another explosion, followed by a second, and wondered what had been hit. This time, he didn't let his curiosity get the better of himself, and stayed in the trench as the AA gunners kept firing. Three in and how many more left?

“SHACK!” Preacher shouted as Sweaty pulled off the target. “Got a secondary, maybe two.”

“The helos?” Sweaty asked as she headed north, and saw one of the F-4Gs fire a Maverick missile at some target east of the town.

“Think so,” her GIB replied. “Something blew.”

“Fair enough,” she replied as Sweaty picked up Kara's bird, then the CO's.


“Four's in hot!” Hoser called as he came in on his run. He noted where everyone else had put their bombs, and saw the fuel dump hadn't been hit. No fuel, no choppers flying, he knew, so he lined up a collection of fuel bladders and what looked like fuel drums in his pipper. Hoser, like the others, ignored the flak coming up, as he concentrated on his bomb run. You're grounded, Ivan, was his thought as he lined up the fuel dump in his pipper. “And...And...And....HACK!” Hoser hit the pickle button, sending his bombs down onto the fuel dump. Then he pulled up wings level and pulled away, jinking to avoid the flak as he did so. “Four's off safe.”

“Sookin sin...” the Colonel muttered. Son of a bitch. Now what? He asked himself as Hoser's plane came in. The Colonel actually caught a glimpse of the F-4 as it came over, and he wondered what the target was, only to have several explosions follow in the Phantom's wake. The Colonel got out of the trench and saw that his fuel dump was now exploding, and several fuel drums had been tossed out of the dump, and when they landed, they, too, exploded. Shaking his head, he grabbed his deputy commander and his senior maintenance officer. “Get as many ground staff in the fire-fighting. Save what undamaged helicopters you can.”

“Comrade Colonel, what about the pilots?” The Zampolit asked. He'd overheard the Colonel.

“They're too important.” His flight surgeon came by with several medics. “Have as many pilots and gunners as you can get help with first aid. GO!”

The surgeon nodded, and ordered several of the crewmen in the trench to come with him. The Colonel watched them go, then shook his head. Someone didn't want them here, and he knew it. But he was a professional, and went on with doing his duty, no matter what.


“GOOD HITS!” KT shouted. “We got the fuel dump!”

“How many secondaries?” Hoser asked as he pulled away.

“How many do you want?”

“Enough,” replied Hoser as he picked up his element leader, eyeballing Sweaty's F-4.


“Four in, four out,” Guru said. “But we're not done yet.”

“Now we fly for ourselves,” Goalie replied. “Not Uncle Sam.”

“Right you are,” replied Guru. “Coors One-five, Camaro Flight clear of target.”

The Weasel leader acknowledged. “Roger that, Camaro Lead. Coors is clear-” Then there was a burst of static.

“Coors One-five is down!” Coors One-six called. The Weasel wingman was female, and she was trying to stay calm, but everyone could hear the excitement in her voice.

“Any chutes?” Guru asked.

“One, and we've got a beeper.”

“Copy,” replied Guru. “Crystal Palace, Camaro Lead. Coors One-five is down near our target area. One chute and one beeper.”

“Roger, Camaro Lead. Will relay to Jolly Greens. Be advised you have bandits inbound. Threats bearing One-eight-zero for fifty. Medium, closing.” the AWACS controller called.

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “Coors One-six, on us. Nothing you can do for your lead.”

“Copy, Camaro Lead,” One-six called back. “Got a visual on you.”

Guru looked to his left and then right, and saw Kara joining up on him in Combat Spread. “Got visual on Two,” he called.

“On your wing,” Kara replied.

Sweaty came in next. “Three's in, and Four's with me.”

“Roger that,” Guru said as he saw the remaining F-4G join up with them. He noticed that all of its ordnance had been expended. “Crystal Palace, Camaro Lead. Say bogey dope?”

The controller replied immediately. “Camaro Lead, Crystal Palace. Inbound threats are Floggers. Second threat bearing One-six-six for fifty, Medium Closing. Bandits also Floggers.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace,” Guru said. “Can you arrange a reception committee?”

Aboard the AWACS, the controller grinned. “Can do, Camaro,” he called. “Cowboy Lead, Crystal Palace. Banidts bearing One-seven-five for fifty. Medium, closing. KILL. Repeat: KILL. Clear to arm, clear to fire.”

In his F-15C, Cowboy Lead acknowledged, then led his flight south. MiG-23s? Good.


“How long to the fence?” Guru asked Goalie as the U.S. 67 bridge at Glen Rose appeared to the left. As usual, the Nicaraguan gunners weren't firing, but the East Germans on the west side of the Brazos were.

“Three minutes,” Goalie said.

“Roger that,” Guru said. He noticed the A/A radar light on his RWR panel, and two more strobes. High Lark radars from MiG-23s, he knew. How good was their LD/SD? Not intending to find out if that had been upgraded, he dropped from 550 feet AGL down to 350, and the others followed suit.

“Two minutes,” Goalie called. “Flak at the dam,” she added as they came to the Lake Granbury Dam, and the AAA gunners there opened fire, but the strike flight was too low and too fast to track optically.

“Got it,” said Guru. Once they passed the dam, there was still the U.S. 377 bridge at Granbury itself. And the MiGs were getting closer.....”Crystal Palace, Camaro Lead. Where's the help?”

“Cowboy Flight inbound,” the controller replied.

Then Goalie called, “Granbury bridge,” as flak from the west side opened up.

“Copy,” Guru said as they flew past. Next up was the FLOT and I-20.

“Camaro, Cowboy Lead. Got some bandits on you?” The F-15 leader called.

“Cowboy, Camaro,” Guru called back. He'd been glancing back on occasion, hoping to get a visual on the MiGs, but no joy. “Get some.”

“Roger that,” the F-15 leader replied. “Cowboy Flight, Lead. Go radar, and take your shots.”

The F-15s locked up the first flight of MiG-23s and launched Sparrows, killing two of the Floggers. Then a second flight came in, and the F-15s splashed two more, then it became a free-for-all in the air. Two more MiG-23s went down, and one F-15 was damaged, before the fight ended.

“Crossing the fence....now!” Goalie called as the twin ribbons of I-20 appeared. Though the actual front line was a few miles to the south, the freeway was considered the FLOT for navigation purposes.

“Roger that,” Guru said. “Flight, Lead. Verify IFF is on, out.” He turned on his IFF transponder, knowing the Army I-HAWK battery guarding the I-20 bridge over the Brazos could be light on the trigger finger. Like all air-defense pukes, their motto was “Shoot them down and let God sort them out.”

“Camaro Lead, Coors One-six,” the Weasel wingmate called as they joined up on the tankers. “They told me there'd be days like this.”

“First time?” Guru asked.

“Losing a lead? You could say that.”

Guru knew what she meant. He'd lost his squadron CO two weeks into the war, and had watched it happen. It never got any easier. “Been there, done that.”

After the post-strike refueling, with KC-135s this time, the F-4G headed west, back to Reese AFB. “Camaro, Coors. See you later. If we can avoid losing a lead, maybe we can do this again.”

“We'll be here,” Guru said.

The Weasel gave him a thumbs-up, then she turned for home.


The flight headed back to Sheppard, and when they got there, this time, they were first in the pattern. They formed up and came in, and after landing, the flight taxied to their dispersal. As they did, two MC-130s were seen near the old SAC molehole, which had been taken over by SOF after the base was recaptured. “Wonder what that's about?” Guru asked.

“Snake-eater business,” Goalie said. She had run into a classmate a year before the war who had gone into the SOF business as an nav on their special-ops C-130s, and he'd been tight-lipped about what he did and where.

“No bet on that,” Guru said as he popped his canopy and raised it, and Goalie did the same. Then he taxied to the squadron's dispersal, and the rest of the flight did the same. Then they found their respective revetments.

After taxiing into 512's revetment, Guru shut down the engines and the ground crew brought over the chocks and the crew ladder. Pilot and GIB went through the post-flight checklist, then climbed down from the aircraft. As usual, Sergeant Crowley was waiting. “How'd things go, Major?”

“Made some parked helos go away,” the CO said as Crowley offered him a bottle of water, and he accepted.

“In pieces,” added Goalie as she downed half a bottle herself.

“Shit hot, sir! And Ma'am,” Crowley said. “How's my bird?”

“Working like a champ, Sergeant,” Guru said. “Get the strike camera footage, then get her prepped for the next one.”

“You got it, Major!” Crowley said. “All right you guys! Let's get her turned around,” he waved to the ground crew.

Pilot and GIB left the ground crew to their business, as they walked to the entrance to the revetment. They found Kara and Brainiac already there. “Good work on those choppers, Boss.”

“How many?” Guru asked. “Thought we had at least two.”

“That many, and they were Hinds,” Kara said.

“Same here,” Brainiac added.

Sweaty, Preacher, Hoser and KT came up next. “That was a good one, Boss.” Sweaty said.

“Better than that,” said Hoser. “You guys tore up those helos.”

KT grinned. “And all we got was the fuel dump.”

“Good job,” Guru said. “Okay, we need to debrief. Check your desks for any paperwork, and get something to eat, because in an hour or so, we're at it again.”

“And then you get your F-20 ride after that,” Goalie reminded the CO.

Guru nodded. “That I do. How about you, Kara?”

“Had enough of those -20s, thank you very much,” she spat. “Only F-20 I want to see is in my gunsight at a Red Flag when this is all over.”

“Be careful of what you wish for,” Preacher said. “You might just get a little more than that.”

“Especially if that punk Clancy or his pal Pruitt become Aggressors after the war,” Sweaty nodded.

“Let's wait until there is an 'after the war',” Guru reminded them. “Still got this one to take care of.

Kara nodded. She knew there was a fair chance that either one of those punks might get themselves killed before all was said and done. And herself, too, for that matter. One more little detail... “First, we go Downtown to Mexico City.”

“That we do. Come on, let's go see Sin,” Guru said, referring to their intel officer. “Then we get ready to do it again.”
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  #377  
Old 10-06-2017, 10:02 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Some squadron business, those who tried for the F-20 get notified, and prepping for the next mission:



335th TFS HQ; 0850 Hours Central War Time:


Major Wiser sat in his office, going over some papers. Fortunately, most of what was in his IN box was for his information only, not action. Though one of the former did surprise him. Didn't they shut this down in '69? And yet, in the Club, and elsewhere, he'd heard stories from pilots, navigators, and other officers, who swore such things had happened. Even at Kingsley Field, during his requalification following his E&E, there had been a few swapped. Though he'd never had such an experience in the Air Force, he'd read the usual books while in High School and College, and had wondered.

His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the office door. “Yeah? Show yourself and come on in!”

The SIO, Capt. Darren “Sin” Licon, came in. “Major, just had a talk with the Weasel intel folks about your mission.”

“And?” Guru asked. The debriefing had been straightforward, though no one had seen what had happened to the Weasel leader.

Licon had a folder with him, and opened it for the CO. “Got some photos that came with the early eastbound C-141,” he said. “Too late for your brief, by the way. Took a while to get these analyzed, but it looks like SA-11.”

“No radar detected,” Guru commented. “So they shot in optical mode.” It wasn't a question.

“Afraid so, Boss,” the Intel nodded. “And before you ask, no word on the survivor. He may have been too close to the town.”

The CO nodded. “Well, then, that's that.” He took out the papers he'd been going over. “You're the Intel, get anything like this in your mail?” Guru showed them to Sin.

Licon scanned the paper. “Yeah, Boss. Got mine today in the morning mail. Thought it was a joke. Then I called Tenth Air Force Intelligence. No joke, they said.”

Guru went over the paper. “Point of Contact is a Major Jake Gatlin at Wright-Pat. NAIC's Foreign Technology Division.” That meant the National Air Intelligence Center. Though busy with wartime work on Soviet and Soviet-bloc aircraft, missiles, and electronics, they no doubt had the staff to handle.....other projects.

'Thought they did away with this in '69,” Licon said. “Guess I was wrong.”

“You, me, and probably a whole bunch of others,” the CO said. “Read the usual books in High School and College, saw Close Encounters, then that Project UFO show on NBC, but still....”

“Yeah. Seen anything?”

“Once, in college. That's all I'll say. Though I did have an RTU Instructor at Homestead back in '84 tell me he'd seen something really strange. Twice. Once on his way to Vietnam for LINEBACKER I. The other? With a student only three months before I arrived. Both times, he said, there was a ton of paperwork to fill out. And the last item was a nondisclosure form,” siad Guru. “He did tell me, though, that at any time when you're flying, you may run into something weird.”

“Hmm. Anyway, let's hope we don't have to call these folks,” Licon said.

“You and me both. That's that. Anything else?”

“We may be getting a two-ship of RF-4Cs here soon. No word on who or when.”

“Mark know?” Guru asked.

“He does, but I thought you should hear from me first.”

“Okay. Sin? Those SA-11s? How close were they to the target area?”

“Four or five miles,” the Intel said. “And with no radar on, nothing for the ECM to work on...Sometimes you find out things like this the hard way.”

“Ain't that the sorry truth?” Guru replied. “Okay, not blaming you. It could easily have been one of us. Anything else?”

“Nada, Boss.”

“Thanks, Darren.”

After the Intel left, the XO came in. “Boss,” Mark Ellis said. “Saw you talking with Sin. The mission?”

Guru nodded. “You got that right. Beware of SA-11s with optical backup, he said. That's what killed the Weasel Lead this morning, in all probability.”

The Exec shook his head. “Lovely.”

“Yeah. Just pass the word to keep their eyes peeled. Somebody down there was smart.”

“No doubt about that, Boss. Anyway, General Yeager's either notified people or will be shortly,” Ellis said. “Lost my wingman to the F-20.” First Lieutenant Glen “Firefly” Markham was the Exec's wingman. Until now.

Guru let out a grimace. “Didn't he originally want F-16s? That was what he said when he joined the squadron.”

“Yeah. And Don lost his as well,” replied Ellis. Their Ops Officer's wingman was 1st Lt. Bill “Rabbit” Mason.

The CO nodded. “And we all know about Frank. Has he been told?”

“Not yet,” said the XO. “He's still out.”

“Remember to keep an eye on him. When he finds out.....There's going to be a ton of pressure on him, and it'll be waiting to pop.”

Ellis winced. “Ain't that the truth.”

“Yeah,” Guru admitted. “General Yeager say how long until the lucky stiffs have to report?”

“Two weeks.”

“Good. Gives us time to find replacements,” the CO said. He then showed the papers he'd discussed with Licon to the Exec. “Guess what was in this morning's mail.”

Ellis scanned the papers once, turned to the CO and said. “Is this a joke?”

“Nope,” Guru said. “Sin got a copy himself, as he's the intel officer. He called Tenth AF Intelligence. No joke: this is the real deal.”

'”So,” the Exec observed as he went over the papers again. “Not just the Russians and their lackeys to worry about.”

“Something like that,” Guru said. “Let's just hope nobody sees anything, and we don't have to call those guys.”

“You and me both. You ever see anything?”

“Once, back in my college days. That was an interesting two minutes, I'll grant you. All I want to say,” Guru said. “You?”

“Never had the pleasure-or fright-I'll admit,” the XO replied. “Had an RTU instructor say he'd had two sightings.”

“Same here. The name Jim Meyers ring a bell?” Both CO and XO had passed through Homestead AFB's RTU, the 31st Tactical Training Wing, though both had been one class apart.

“Major Jim Meyers?” Ellis asked. “You betcha. Vietnam vet, Tough but fair as an IP.”

“You got it. Wonder what he's up to?” Asked the CO. “Okay, that it?”

“It is for now,” Ellis said. As he turned to leave, he noticed General Yeager putting a letter on a desk in the office. “Looks like General Yeager's giving the bad news to Frank.”

“How?”

“By letter.”

“Remember what I said: Keep an eye on him. When Frank reads that letter, no telling what he'll do.”

Ellis looked at his CO and had a grim look on his face. “No kidding, Boss. Want me to get Doc?”

Guru thought for a minute. “No, not yet. But tell him that Frank's about to get some bad news.”

“Gotcha,” said Ellis. Then he went to notify Doc Waters.

A few minutes later, Goalie came in. “Just had a talk with Brian Slater,” she said. First Lieutenant Brian Slater was GIB for Frank. “He says Frank's been taking a few chances last few days.”

“What kind of chances?” Guru asked. “Bad enough to ground him?”

“Depends on how you look at it,” Goalie said. “He'll drop half of his load on the assigned target, then come around and go after a flak battery or a SAM.”

The CO shook his head in disbelief. “One of the first things you learn at the RTU is not to get into such pissing contests.”

“No kidding. Brian thinks he's trying to impress visiting brass. With two Air Force legends on base...”

“Sounds like it. Okay, I'll have a talk with Doc. Maybe ground him for a day or two. You did pass by his desk?

“On the way here,” Goalie nodded. “Saw the letter, and we all know what that is.”

“We do,” Guru agreed. “No telling how he'll react. Might just tell him to get sloppy drunk tonight and sleep it off tomorrow. Give him the day off.”

“Just hope he doesn't go off half-cocked, and take friendlies with him. We don't want to lose a perfectly innocent GIB and wing crew,” Goalie pointed out.

Guru looked at his GIB and girlfriend. “You and I are thinking on the same lines. Okay..” He was interrupted by a knock on the door, then Kara came in. “Kara?”

“Boss, we've got a mission.”

“All right, then. Round everybody up. Briefing room in ten,” Guru ordered.

“On my way,” Kara replied, then she headed out the door.

Goalie nodded. “Back to the grind.”

“Back to the grind,” Guru admitted. “Okay, talk to Brian and tell him to come to me if he thinks Frank's taking way too many chances. If he is....”

“You can ground him.”

“Or Doc, and we can send him away for some tests, and they put him in a non-flying job.”

“To be wished for,” Goalie said wistfully.

“Yeah. Let's get back in the game,” said Guru.


Pilot and GIB went to the Ops Office, and found Don Van Loan there, waiting. “Don, heard about you losing your wingman.”

“Thanks,” Van Loan replied. “Don't know whether to congratulate him or beg him to stay. He's good.”

Guru nodded. “He did want F-16s instead of F-4s, and the -20 is the next best thing. So, what have you got for me?”

The Ops Officer handed the CO a briefing packet. “You're headed to Dublin. The Municipal Airport is the target. Ivan's flying some helos and Forgers there. Transports, too.”

“And we get to take them out,” Goalie observed. “Forgers? Didn't we put the hurt on some of these guys a while back?”

“We did,” said Guru. “Guess they got some replacements. Okay, thanks, Don.”

“Boss? Has Frank been told? If the two lucky stiffs are on Cloud Nine...” Van Loan asked.

“Not yet, but there's a letter on his desk, unopened,” Guru told the Ops Officer. “When he finds out, he'll pop.”

Van Loan nodded grimly. “And we get to see the fireworks.”

“We do,” Goalie observed.

“Yeah,” sighed Guru. “Okay, Don. You be careful out there. Don't want to break Kara in as Ops.”

“And I sure don't want to be Exec,” Van Loan finished. “You be careful yourself.”

“Will do,” the CO replied. Then he turned to Goalie. “Let's go.”


The two wen to their briefing room and found the rest of their flight already there. “Okay, people!” The CO said. “We've got a new one.”

“Where to?” Kara asked.

“Dublin, twelve miles southwest of Stephenville. We get to put the hurt on the municipal airport.”

Sweaty nodded. “What's there?”

“A mix. Helos, some transports-think An-24s or -26s, and Forgers as well.”

“We killed a bunch of those not that long ago,” Brainiac pointed out.

“That we did,” Guru nodded. “But there's some more. And Intel says some of them may have been fitted with the MiG-29's radar. So those pieces of shit-and they are, pretty much-just got to be potentially dangerous to us, and not just their users.”

Heads nodded at that. The Yak-36, according to Intel, had the worst accident rate of any Soviet tactical aircraft, but in the right hands, it could be deadly. The Soviet Naval Air Force flew them, and they were mainly confined to the COIN role. “Any idea what kind of Forgers these are?” KT asked.

Guru scaned the intelligence brief. “Negative. Now, the ingress route is this: we go in along the Brazos down to Lake Whitney. Just before the dam, we turn west, and head for the town of Olin, on U.S. 281. We turn right five degrees and head for the town of Purves. It's eight miles southeast of the target. That's our IP. We pull up and make our runs.”

“Good so far, Boss,” Kara said. “Ordnance loads?”

“Getting to that,” Guru said. “Element leads have a dozen Rockeye CBUs. Wingies have a dozen Mark-82 Snakeyes. Now, aimpoints? I'll take the north ramp area.” The CO passed around a photo, probably from an RF-4C. “There's a couple of Forgers there. And some of the CBU bomblets will cover the runway. Kara? You take these hangars to the south. Just walk your bombs among them, and that'll take care of those.”

Kara grinned. “Got it.”

“Sweaty? South ramp,” Guru tapped the photo, and he had her undivided attention. “And Hoser? Fuel dumps seem to be your specialty. East of the runway, here,” said the CO, pointing out the fuel area on the photo. “Make those guys go away.”

“Will do, Boss,” Hoser said.

“And egress?” Sweaty wanted to know.

“Simple,” Guru said. Head west to the Leon River, then turn north. Get your asses to the I-20 quick as you can.”

Kara then asked, “Air-to-air load?”

“The usual,” replied the CO. “Two AIM-7Fs, four AIM-9Ps, usual ECM pods for lead and wingmates, full gun, and two wing tanks.”

“Good to know,” Goalie nodded. “And defenses?”

Guru nodded back. “Glad you asked. There's a pair of 57-mm batteries-one north, one south, of the airport. Three ZU-23 batteries at the target, and you can expect lots of guys with small arms and MANPADS. This is still the East German sector, with the Soviet 32nd Army to the west of the Leon River, so you can expect SA-4s, and there's a division to the north that didn't get caught up in that fracas between Stephenville and the Brazos, so they have their air-defense assets-Sixes or Eights.” He meant the SA-6 Gainful or SA-8 Gecko SAMs.

“We getting any help on this?” KT asked.

“Affirmative. Two A-7s will go with us, and do the IRON HAND thing. Each with two Shrikes or HARMs and some CBUs. They meet us at ten grand overhead.”

“MiG threat?” Asked Kara. Everyone knew she was looking for kill number ten, which would make her a double ace.

“Unchanged since this morning. Nearest MiGs are at Brownwood Regional, and those are both Soviet and East German. Bailout areas also unchanged: anyplace away from the roads and rural.”

“Got you, Boss,” Sweaty nodded.

“Anything else?” Guru asked. Seeing no answer, he went on. “Let's gear up.”


After returning the briefing material to the Ops Office, Guru went to the Men's Locker Room to gear up. When he came out, Goalie was waiting for him, as usual. “Well, this one and then it's F-20 time.”

“Just glad the F-15E's coming,” she said. “Otherwise, I'd be out of a job.”

“Can't have that,” Guru chuckled. “Let's go.”

The two left the office and headed to the dispersal, and on the way, came across IDF Maj. Dave Golen and 1st Lt. Sandi “Flossy” Jenkins, along with their GIBs. “Dave, where are you and Flossy headed?”

“Town called Hico,” Golen said. “You?”

“Dublin, west of there,” Guru replied. “If you hit trouble, holler. We'll be there.”

“Same with you,” Golen said, and the two shook hands.

Then Guru turned to Flossy, and her temporary GIB, Jang. “You two going great?”

“Jang here needs a permanent slot,” Flossy said. “But, if anything ever happened to Digger, I'd fly with her anytime.”

“Can't wait for that slot, Major,” Jang said. She and Flossy were one of two all-female crews in the squadron.

Guru nodded. “Be patient. Your time's coming.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Dave? You all have a good one,” the CO said.

“You too,” said Golen.


Guru and Goalie then went to their revetment, where their mount, 512, was waiting. The rest of the flight was there. “Gather 'round, people.” He gave his final instructions. “Usual procedures on the radio.”

“Got it,” Kara said. “Boss, can anyone do something about that Red AWACS?”

“I'd like to know that myself,” Sweaty added.

“You're not the only one,” the CO replied. “Everybody in this AO wants them to go away. Anything else?”

“Looking forward for that F-20 ride?” Hoser asked.

“First things first, but yeah,” Guru admitted. “Anything else?”

Preacher said, “Two more after this one?”

“At least,” Brainiac reminded them. “No CAS, though. Had enough of that for a while.”

Guru nodded. “We're on the same page. That it?” Heads shook no. “Time to get it done, people! Let's hit it.” He clapped his hands.

The crews headed for their aircraft, and Guru and Goalie went into the revetment, where their mount, 512, was waiting. The Crew Chief, Sergeant Crowley, was waiting. “Major, Lieutenant,” he said, snapping a salute. “Five-twelve's ready to kick some more commie ass.”

“Always good to hear, Sergeant,” Guru replied as he and Goalie returned the salute. Then pilot and GIB did the usual pre-flight walk-around. Then they climbed the crew ladder and mounted the aircraft. After strapping in, they went through the pre-flight checklist. “Frank should know shortly.”

“He should,” Goalie affirmed. “Then we watch any fireworks,” she added. “Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom. Check yours. Just hope he doesn't crash and burn-and take friendlies with him,” Guru replied with due seriousness. Arnie?”

“Arnie and INS all set,” Goalie said, referring to the ARN-101 DMAS and the INS. “We're set.”

“That we are,” Guru agreed. He gave a thumbs-up to his Crew Chief, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. First one, then two J-79 engines were up and running, and after the warm-up, Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Camaro Flight with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Camaro Lead, Tower,” a controller replied at once. “Clear to taxi to Runway Three-five-Lima. Hold prior to the active, and you are number two in line.”

“Roger, Tower. Camaro Lead is rolling.” Guru gave another thumbs-up to his CC, who waved to the ground crew. The wheel chocks were pulled away, then Sergeant Crowley gave the “taxi” signal.

Guru taxied 512 out of the revetment, and as he cleared it, Sergeant Crowley snapped a perfect salute, and both Guru and Goalie returned it. As they taxied out, the rest of the flight followed. When they got to the holding area, a Marine F/A-18 flight was ahead of them, and they were waiting on an inbound C-130. After the Herky-bird landed and taxied clear, the Hornets taxied for takeoff, and Guru taxied into the holding area. There, the armorers removed the weapon safeties, and once that was done, Guru called the tower. “Tower, Camaro Lead requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Camaro Lead, Tower,” the controller said. “Cleared to taxi for takeoff. Winds are two-six-eight for five.”

“Roger, Tower.” Guru called. He taxied 512 onto the runway, and Kara followed in 520. Guru glanced back, and saw them in position. The crews exchanged thumbs-ups, then went through a final check. “Ready?” Guru asked Goalie.

“All set back here,” Goalie replied.

“Tower, Camaro Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Canopy coming down,” Guru said as he pulled down and locked his canopy. Goalie did the same, and he glanced over at Kara's bird, and they were ready as well.

“We're locked and cocked,” Goalie called. “Ready.”

“Then let's go,” Guru said. He went to full power on the throttles, released the brakes, and 512 rumbled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right with him.

It was Sweaty's and Hoser's turn thirty seconds later, and after climbing to FL 100, the flight met up with the two Navy A-7s, and they set course south for the tanker track.
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  #378  
Old 10-06-2017, 10:08 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Airfield strike, and Guru gets ready for an F-20 ride:



Over Central Texas, 0935 Hours Central War Time:


Camaro Flight was going in, low, as usual, and south of the I-20. They had met up with the two A-7s that were flying IRON HAND, and had their usual pre-strike refueling. Now, they were going in at 450 feet AGL, and following the Brazos. And this time, unlike many previous strikes, the Nicaraguans were alerted and occasionally shooting. Several columns of smoke rising from areas east of the river explained why. “Somebody's reminding the Nicaraguans they're still in the war,” Guru observed after passing the Granbury bridge.

“Reminding them they should have stayed home,” Goalie noted. “One minute to Glen Rose, four minutes to turn point,” she called.

“Got it,” Guru said. He glanced at his RWR. So far, clear of any radar threats. Not even the Red AWACS. Then a beep came over his headset, and a strobe appeared on the RWR display. The SEARCH light came on. “Search radar,” he said.

“Same here,” Goalie replied. “Want to bet it's the Mainstay?”

“No takers,” said Guru. “Crystal Palace, Camaro Lead. Say threats?”

The AWACS controller came back immediately. “Camaro Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-seven-five for fifty-five. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-eight-zero for sixty-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing Two-zero-two for eighty-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger that. Mainstay active?”

“Affirmative, Camaro. Mainstay is up and active,” the Controller said.

“Roger, Crystal Palace,” replied Guru.

“That's that about the Mainstay,” Goalie said. “Glen Rose coming up.”

“Roger that,” Guru said as the U.S. 67 bridge appeared. Just as at Granbury, the flak gunners on both sides of the river opened up. As they flew by, a convoy was lined up on U.S. 67 headed south, waiting to cross the bridge. “Not their turn to die.”

“Too bad,” said Goalie “Thirty seconds to the Brazospoint bridge. One minute to Route 174 bridge.”

“Copy.”

The strike flight maintained its course, and the Brazospoint bridge appeared, with the flak gunners on both sides alerted and firing. They were too low, though, and too fast, for the gunners to properly track, and Camaro Flight easily avoided the flak.

“One-seventy-four bridge coming,” Guru noted. “North tip of the lake.” That meant Lake Whitney.

“Roger that,” said Goalie “Thirty seconds.”

The Route 174 bridge appeared, and again, there were convoys lined up, waiting to cross. Here, the gunners on the east side were Libyan, and they started shooting before the East Germans did. As usual, the Libyans acted as if someone was going to outlaw ammunition in the next five minutes, for they put out a lot of fire.

Camaro Flight cleared the bridge, and went out over the lake. “How far to turn?” Guru asked.

“Forty-five seconds,” was Goalie's answer.

“Copy.” Guru then dropped to 300 feet AGL over the lake, and the rest of the flight followed. The F-4s and A-7s thundered over the lake, and unknown to the aircrews, a number of locals were on both sides, fishing. Hoping to get some fish to compliment the rations allowed by the occupiers, seeing the F-4s, though the roar of jets frightened the fish, made their day.

“Turn point in ten,” Goalie said. “Five, four, three, two, one, MARK!”

Guru turned right onto a heading of two-seven-one, and some forty seconds later, blew past Meridian, where they had been earlier that morning, and headed west. “Next turn point?” He asked Goalie.

“One minute thirty to Hico,” Goalie said.

“Got it,” Guru said. He kept his head on a swivel, watching for visual threats, then checking the EW display. That Red AWACS was still there. He called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Camaro Lead. Say threats?”

The AWACS controller came back right away. “Camaro Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-seven-zero for forty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-nine-one for fifty-eight. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing Two-one-five for sixty. Medium, closing.”

“Roger that, Crystal Palace,” Guru said.

Goalie checked her navigation. “One minute to Hico,” she called.

“Copy that,” Guru said as he maintained his visual scanning.

The rolling hills passed beneath them as the strike flight approached Hico. “Hico dead ahead,” Goalie advised.

“Got it,” Guru said as the town appeared at Twelve O'clock. “Visual on Hico.” Again the F-4s had caught the town by surprise, for there was not the slightest reaction from the town's garrison. “How far to the IP?”

“Forty seconds.”

In Hico, the East German Major who commanded the garrison had come out of his morning staff meeting, and deep down, he was wishing he was in a combat unit. He had come out of the Frontier Troops, and thus had been earmarked for garrison duties, much to his chagrin. Though he had a company of East German rifle troops-mainly reservists who had served in the Frontier Troops as he had, but there were also Soviets. Here, the Soviets from the Rear-Area Protection Division-and these were reservists in their forties from Minsk, men who were not fit for front-line duties, but any fool could patrol roads and provide a presence in town, which these overage reservists could do. However, if a serious fight ever developed, the Major felt that these men would likely take to their heels if the U.S. Army came over the hills north of the town.

The Major's biggest headaches were the Stasi and PSD detachments, who often had their own disagreements with not just the garrison, but each other. The Stasi insisted on posting guards at all “Vital installations” in the town, which included the U.S. 281 bridge south of town, as well as City Hall, the jail, and the various county buildings. Even though there wasn't the manpower, given the needs of the front, the Stasi was insistent. Then there was the PSD swine, who had arguments with the Stasi over matters of ideology, while both insisted on searching for any “Fascist and Counterrevolutionary elements” in the area. The lack of bandit or guerilla activities in the area would have indicated to a rational person that there were no such elements, but both the Stasi and PSD had insisted. The Major was certain that what resistance people were in the area were laying low, biding their time until the front got closer, then, he knew, they would make their presence known.

Wishing the Stasi and the PSD would settle their differences-preferably by fire-fight, the Major went back to his office and looked out the window. A T-34/85 from the Soviets was parked outside City Hall, and the crew was busy with maintenance, when, suddenly, there was cheering from the civilians, who had been going about their business. He looked out and up, and saw four F-4 Phantoms and two smaller aircraft, which kind he wasn't sure, fly over the town. This had been the second time today, and he was wondering, will the third time bring an air strike?

“We're clear,” Goalie said. “Thirty seconds to IP.”

“Roger that,” Guru replied. “Flight, Lead, Switches on, Music on, and stand by to pull.” That call was to arm their weapons and turn on their ECM pods.

“Roger, Lead,” Kara replied.

“Three copies,” Sweaty added.

“Four, roger,” was Hoser's call.

In 512, Guru said, “Set'em up,” as he turned on his ALQ-119 ECM pod.


“Got it,” Goalie said as she worked the armament controls. “You're set. All in one pass.”

Guru smiled beneath his oxygen mask. “Good girl.”

“IP in ten,” Goalie said. The town of Purves, more a collection of houses than a town, came into view. “And five, four, three, two, one, MARK!”

Guru pulled up as he called, “Flight, Lead. PULL.”The others acknowledged, and as he pulled up, he turned slightly right. Sure enough, Dublin came into view a couple miles ahead. And some flak started to come up. Somebody's alert down there, Guru thought. “Punchers go to work.” That call was for the A-7s to start their flak suppression.

“Puncher 306 copies,” a male voice came over the strike frequency. The A-7 leader and his wingman went after the flak batteries. “MAGNUM!” A Shrike missile was in the air, looking for a radar.

“Target in sight,” Guru called. Dublin Municipal was off to their left. “All set back there?”

“Ready,” Goalie chimed in.

Guru put the F-4 into a dive and onto his attack run. “Here we go.”



At Dublin Municipal Airport, the acting CO of the 77th Independent Naval Ground-attack Squadron (OMShAE) was in a fit. His squadron's Yak-38M fighters were practically useless in any kind of fighter mission against American fighters, and had been limited to anti-helicopter patrols as well as counterinsurgency. The Naval Aviation Major remembered going up against American fighters in Kansas, and the squadron had suffered for it, for the Yak-38 was practically helpless aginst an F-4, let alone the F-15 or F-16. They had rarely faced their expected opponents at sea, the F-14, but then again, having gone against the other “Teenaged” fighters as the Americans called them, he wasn't complaining. Here, though, contact with enemy aircraft had been rare, and even encounters with American helicopters had dropped off. Intelligence told him that the Americans were limiting their helicopter missions behind the lines to night flights, and his aircraft were daytime-only, VFR capable, and one attempt at intercepting an American helicopter had ended in disaster, when the Yak-38 pilot had misjudged his altitude and slammed into a hill, and the American CH-47 had gotten away.

Now, his squadron, normally twelve aircraft strong, was down to six on the field, two out on a patrol, and of the six nominally available, one was in a hangar undergoing an engine change. To cap matters, his squadron commander had been shot down the previous day by a marauding F-4, and was now in the hospital with a broken shoulder and a broken leg. The Major looked to the north, where the Americans were, and wondered what was coming next. This field had been hit previously, but the last raid had been a couple of weeks earlier, and the damage to the runway had been made good. He then glanced around and saw the five available Yak-38s sitting on the north ramp, an An-26 transport from the East German Air Force on the south, and a pair of East German Mi-8 transports near the transport. The Major was about to go to his headquarters tent to deal with the bureaucrats and the endless paperwork that they delighted in sending combat units when shouts of alarm rang out, followed by anti-aircraft fire. A quick glance to the southeast revealed smoke trails in the air and closing fast. American F-4s, he knew. As the air raid alarm sounded, he ran for a slit trench and jumped in.

Guru rolled in on his attack run. “Lead's in hot!” He came down on the airport just as the 23-mm flak opened up, and one of the two A-7s rolled in on the flak site and dropped on it. To him, it looked like a couple hundred firecrackers going off on the ground as the CBUs tore into the site. The A-7 pulled off, and as it did, he saw what he was looking for. Three Yak-38s on the ramp. Good, Guru thought as he lined them up in his pipper. Your turn, Ivan......Ignoring the remaining 23-mm tracers and the puffs of 57-mm, Guru bored in. “Steady....Steady....and....HACK!” He hit the pickle button, sending his Rockeyes down on the runway and the North Ramp. Guru pulled up and away, jinking as he did to avoid flak and any MANPADS. “Lead's off safe.”

“Damn!” The AV-MF Major yelled as first, the A-7, then Guru's F-4 came in on their runs. The Major had been bombed before, a number of times, but it had been a while. He heard the CBUs going off on the anti-aircraft site, then as the F-4 came in, more of the bloody bomblets went off. This time, there were bigger explosions in their wake, and he knew. At least three of his Yak-38s had gone up. He raised his head to take a look, but ducked back down as another F-4 appeared.

“SHACK!” Goalie called from 512's back seat. “We got big secondaries!”

“How big?” Guru wanted to know. He was jinking to avoid flak, and saw a missile-probably a shoulder-fired one, pass by his left side.

“Caught them on the ground big,” replied Goalie.

“Good enough,” Guru said as he headed for the Leon River.


Kara rolled in on her run. “Two's in!” She called. Kara, too, ignored the flak, and there was some 23-mm tracers coming up, and even some 57-mm. Ignoring the Triple-A, she saw the CO's bird pull up and his CBUs go off. She eyeballed the hangars and lined them up in her pipper. Okay, Ivan....she thought as they grew larger in her sights. “Steady....And...And.....NOW!” She hit the pickle button, and a dozen Mark-82s came off the racks. Pulling up and away, Kara applied power and began jinking to avoid flak. Despite some tracers flying over and around her aircraft, she egressed the target and got clear. “Two's off target.”

In his trench, the Major muttered, “Of all the....” He heard Kara's F-4 come in, and a dozen bombs exploded in its wake, and he heard a couple of secondary explosions as well. The Major lifted his head, and saw the hangar-more a wooden frame with tin walls and roof, really, blown apart, and the Yak-38 inside scattered to the four winds. Two other such hangars also were wrecked, and another Yak-38, parked outside the hangars, was nothing but burning junk. He started to get up, but ducked back down as the AA guns kept firing. More Yankee aircraft coming in.

“GOOD HITS!” Brainiac shouted in 520's back seat.

“Secondaries?” Kara asked as she egressed the area, ignoring the flak, and a missile that flew right overhead by about a hundred feet.

“Got a couple,” her GIB replied. “And those chumps are still shooting.”

“Let 'em shoot,” Kara replied as she picked up the CO's bird.

“Three's in hot!” Sweaty called as she came down on her run. As she did, the 57-mm flak stopped as one of the A-7s laid down a couple of CBUs on the battery, and not just a couple hundred firecrackers went off as the bomblets exploded, but there were secondary explosions as AA ammo went off as well. Bad day, Ivan, she thought as Kara made her run and Sweaty saw the hangars go up. Sweaty picked out the South ramp and spotted a twin-engined transport and a couple of helos. Okay...She lined them up, and got ready to release. “And....Steady....Steady.....And....NOW!” Sweaty hit her pickle button, sending her Rockeye CBUs down onto the South Ramp area and the runway. She pulled up and away, jinking like the others to throw off any AAA gunners or SA-7 operators. “Three's off target.”

“Sookin sin!” Yelled the AV-MF Major. Son of a bitch. He heard the A-7 make its run, followed by Sweaty's F-4, and both aircraft left CBUs in their wake. The F-4, though, left three large sympathetic explosions as well, and that meant the An-26 and the two Mi-8s had gone up, the Major knew. Shaking his head, he stood up in the trench, only to be pulled back in by someone he didn't hear, and he knew full well the raid wasn't over.

“BULLSEYE!” Preacher shouted from the back seat. “Three good secondaries!”

Sweaty was still jinking as she cleared the target area. “How good?”

“Big and good,” was her GIB's response.

“Good for us, bad for them,” Sweaty quipped as she spotted the lead element.


“Four's in hot!” Hoser called as he came down on the target. He saw Sweaty's run, and the fireballs erupting on the ground as the two helos and the transport went up. There was still some 23-mm flak coming up, but, like the others, he ignored it as he spotted the fuel dump. You're having a really bad morning, whoever you are, was Hoser's thought as he lined up the fuel bladders and drums in his pipper. “Okay....And...And...Steady....NOW!” Hoser hit his pickle button, and sent his twelve Mark-82s down onto the dump. He pulled up and away, and like the others, he was jinking on pullout to avoid flak. “Four off safe,” Hoser called.

“Damn it!” The Major yelled as Hoser's F-4 flew overhead. He heard the explosions as the Phantom flew past, and oily fireballs and smoke meant that the fuel depot had been hit, and more explosions followed as more fuel drums and probably the fuel trucks as well, went up. He stood up and got out of the trench, and turned to his maintenance officer. “Get the fire-fighting efforts organized, and see to the wounded.” This was shaping up to be a bitch of a day, and if the Yankees came back later, it would be worse, he knew.

“GOOD HITS!” KT yelled from the back seat. “You got the fuel dump!”

“How good?” Hoser asked as he cleared the town, and picked up Sweaty's exhaust trail, then her bird.

“Big and good,” said KT. “Big and righteous, as Preacher would say.”

Hoser grinned beneath his oxygen mask. “Good enough,” he said. Just then, there was a call for him on the radio.

“Camaro Four, break right!”

He instantly broke, and as he turned, there was a Forger trying to line him up for a shot. The Yak-38 driver, though, didn't last, as one of the A-7s was behind the Forger, and fired a Sidewinder.

“FOX TWO!” A female voice called. It was Puncher 310, the A-7 wingmate. She had spotted the Forger and called the warning, then rolled in behind the Forger, then she took the shot. The AIM-9J smashed into the Forger's tail, engulfing it in a fireball, and as the Forger fell to earth, the pilot ejected. “SPLASH!”

“Hear that?” Guru asked in 512's cockpit. “One of the A-7s got a Forger.”

“Navy killing Navy,” said Goalie.

“It is that,” Guru said. “Puncher, Camaro. We're clear of the target and headed out.”

“Roger that, Camaro Lead,” Puncher 306 replied. “We're on you.”

“Copy,” Guru replied. He glanced to his right and found Kara and Brainiac in 520 with them in Combat Spread. “Sweaty, what's your position?”

“One mile behind, with visual, and Hoser's with me,” Sweaty called.

“Roger that,” Guru said as the two A-7s joined up with them. “Crystal Palace, Camaro Lead. Say threats?”

“Stand by one,” the AWACS controller replied. After a moment's silence, the controller came back. “Camaro Lead, threat bearing Two-four-zero for fifty. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-eight-five for fifty-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing One-five-five for sixty-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace. Do you have bogey dope?” Guru asked as he picked up the Leon River and turned north.

The controller came back at once. “Camaro Lead, Crystal Palace. Closest threats are Fishbeds. Second threats are Floggers, with Fulcrums the third.”

MiG-21s closest, Guru thought. Good. At low level, they could easily turn with a -21. MiG-23s and even MiG-29s? Well, they'd be across the fence before any of the three could be a factor. “Roger that, Crystal Palace.”

“Fulcrums?” Goalie asked. Out of GIB good habits, she began scanning visually.

“Not close enough,” Guru replied. Just then, Lake Leon appeared, then I-20 and the FLOT. “Flight, Lead. Music off and IFF on, out.”

After clearing the freeway, the flight climbed to altitude, then headed for the tankers. They plugged in for their post-strike refueling, then all six aircraft, F-4s and A-7s, headed back to Sheppard.

When the flight got back, they were told to wait in the pattern. Four flights were ahead of them, as well as outbound strikes-AF, Navy, and Marine. When their turn came, they saw the F-20s were behind them by two flights. Good, everyone thought. Let them wait. Then it was Camaro Flight's turn, and they came in and landed.

They taxied in, canopies open, and as they did, the news crew was filming them again. “Why are they still filming? They've got enough of that,” Guru wondered aloud.

“You've got me,” Goalie said. “Might be a slow day for their perspective.”

Camaro taxied into the squadron's dispersal, and the F-4s found their revetments, as did the A-7s, who went to VA-135's own area. Guru taxied into 512's revetment, and after taxiing in and shutting down, let out a deep breath. “Two and done.”

“Two more,” Goalie reminded him. “And your F-20 ride, remember?”

“How can I forget?” Guru asked as the F-20s came in and landed. “Wonder if Frank got the bad news?”

“One way to find out,” Goalie said as they went through the post-flight checklist, and the ground crew brought the crew ladder over.

Guru nodded, then took off his flight helmet. He took a handkerchef out of a flight suit pocked and wiped his forehead. Then he got up and climbed down, and Goalie followed. Sergeant Crowley was waiting, as usual. “Sergeant,” Guru nodded.

“Major,” Crowley said. “Lieutenant,” he nodded at Goalie. “How's my bird, and how'd she do?”

“Five-twelve's still truckin', Sergeant, and she did good. Made some Forgers on the ground go up-in pieces.”

“Shit hot, sir!” Crowley said, handing the CO and GIB each a bottle of water. “What's next?”

“Get her turned around, and then you guys get yourselves something to eat,” Guru said. “Still got two more to go.”

Crowley nodded. “Yes, sir!” he said. “All right, you heard the Major,” he told the ground crew. “Get her turned around for another one.”

Both Guru and Goalie nodded, then put on their bush hats and headed for the revetment's entrance. They found Kara and Brainiac waiting. “How'd it go with you?” The CO asked his wingmate.

“Tore up the hangars, and saw you take those Forgers,” Kara said. “And one of the A-7s got a Forger off of Hoser's tail.”

Sweaty and Preacher heard that as they came up. “Looks like we'll have to send the Navy something to drink,” she observed. “Got the helos and a transport on the ramp.”

“And we got the fuel dump,” Hoser added. “I'll have to buy that A-7 driver a round,” he said.

“That's the usual,” Kara said. “Anyone you know of get a kill in an A-7?”

“Prada,” Guru reminded them. “She even got a MiG. Maybe an Su-25, the rest helos, I think.”

Heads nodded at that. “And speaking of which,” Goalie said. “They're taxiing in.”

“You're flying with her, right?” Hoser asked.

The CO nodded. “You got it, and I won't even need to change.”

Kara had a grin. “So, Boss, what are you going to tell 'em when that exercise is through.”

“Nasty little interceptor for anyone who can't afford an F-16 or F/A-18, has the makings of a decent aggressor, and that's about it,” Guru told his people. “Then again, that's for 'after the war'.”

Heads nodded again. “That little detail is always there,” Preacher commented.

“It is,” Guru said as a Dodge Crew-cab pickup pulled up, and out came Chief Ross. “Chief?”

“Major,” Ross said. One thing about being on the ramp, was that nobody saluted. “Captain Licon wants you all for a debrief.”

The CO nodded. “Let's go, people. Get the debrief done, then time for my F-20 check ride.”

“You going to take the stick?” Kara asked.

“If Prada lets me,” Guru joked. “Come on. Let's get the debrief out of the way. While I'm with Yeager's people, you all need to check your desks.”

“Because the paper warriors never seem to stop,” Goalie spat.

“No,” Guru agreed. “Pile in and let's go,” he said, and they all piled into the pickup, and Chief Ross drove them back to the Squadron's Office. Get the debrief done, get the F-20 ride out of the way for the CO, then eat and get ready to go do it all over again....
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  #379  
Old 10-06-2017, 10:15 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Guru's F-20 ride, and a loathed figure finds out he's not getting the F-20:



335th TFS, 1045 Hours Central War Time:


Camaro Flight's crews were getting their debriefing done outside the squadron's offices. There were several picnic tables there, and not only were they a popular spot for those who wanted to eat lunch outside, but they were also handy for quick debriefings. Sin Licon, their Intelligence Officer, went over things, and when the debrief was finished, asked the CO, “Major, word's going around you're going up in the F-20.”

“Right you are,” Major Wiser said. He glanced over at the dispersal area the F-20s were using-which would soon be used by the RAF when they arrived. “Waiting on their own turnaround.”

“And I don't need to be a spook to figure out what you're going to say,” Licon nodded. “Nasty point-defense interceptor. Good for an F-5 replacement for those who can't afford an F-16, and a potent aggressor.”

“You picked that up fast,” Goalie said, glancing at the CO, who nodded.

“Word gets around,” the intel replied. “So....looks like you all did a number on that field. I'll check the strike camera footage once it's developed, then send it off to MAG-11 Intelligence.”

“Thanks, Sin,” Guru said. “I'll check the office, then all I have to do is wait for the F-20 guys to call.”

Kara grinned. “And since you'll be likely riding with Prada, she may not let you touch the stick.”

“You did 'splash' her,” as I recall,” Sweaty added with some relish. She was still smarting over losing to General Yeager, and not recording a training kill in their DACT round with the F-20s.

“He did,” Goalie smiled at her pilot and lover. “And something else's been on our minds. How'd Frank take the news?”

Licon shook his head. “Haven't heard anything on that.”

“Find out soon enough,” Guru said as he got up from the table. “Remember, check your desks before you all get some chow,” he reminded his flight. Then he went into the office, and after chatting with the Admin folks, went into his office. To his surprise, there wasn't much cluttering up his desk. The CO quickly took care of the two papers that required his attention, then went back out of his office. He ran into the Assistant Ordnance Officer, Capt. Kerry Collins. “Kerry.”

“Boss,” Collins replied. “Glad to see my bird getting worked on.” His mount had taken flak damage a couple days earlier, and now that the needed parts had arrived, the maintenance people were getting it back in shape-and getting the hundred-hour check done at the same time.

“How's the bird from Japan?” Guru asked.

“Just fine, Boss,” Collins said. “Nothing to complain about.”

“Good,” the CO nodded. Just then, a figure that was universally loathed in the squadron-if not the base-came in. Major Frank Carson was a pain in the ass to just about everyone, and had rubbed everyone the wrong way. His Frank Burns-type personality, Academy know-it-all attitude towards anyone not a USAFA graduate, and Boston Blue-blood arrogance earned him very few friends and a great many enemies in the squadron. Not to mention the CO's promise to kick him out by New Year's if he didn't shape up. Still, Guru felt it best to be polite to Carson when he wasn't pissed off. “Frank,”

“Major,” Carson nodded politely, though everyone in the office could hear the contempt in his voice. It was an open secret that Carson felt he was entitled to command the squadron, and resented that he had been skipped over and Guru confirmed in command instead. “Captain,” he said to Collins, then went to his desk. There, he found the envelope from General Yeager.

“Watch it...” Guru warned Collins as Carson opened the envelope.

Everyone in the office watched the Major scan the letter inside. Then he did it again. “This can't be...must be a mistake.”

“Good news, Frank?” Guru asked politely, though he knew full well what was in the letter.

Collins looked at his CO. “Boss?”

Carson looked at Guru as if the CO had suddenly grown another head and set of arms. His eyes then returned to the letter. Then he kicked the wastebasket next to his desk, stuffed the letter in his flight suit pocket, and stormed out the front door just as Chief Ross was coming in. The door was still open, and everyone heard a scream. “ARRRGH!”

“Let me guess, Boss,” Collins grinned. “He didn't get into the F-20 program.” It wasn't a question.

“General Yeager told me a few days ago. No way was Frank going to F-20s. With his record....” Guru's voice trailed off. “Do me a favor, Kerry.”

“You got it, Boss,” Collins said. He could tell the concern in his CO's voice.

“Pass the word to watch Frank. He just saw his hopes of getting a squadron, maybe even a wing, of his own, crash and burn. Lot of pressure on him, and he's going to pop sooner or later.”

Collins nodded. “And we had better hope he doesn't get anyone in the squadron-or other friendlies-killed.”

“You took the words right out of my mouth, Kerry,” Guru said. “You too, Chief. Pass it on about Major Carson.”

“Yes, sir,” Ross said. “Major, the F-20s are set to go. They sent me to get you, with General Yeager's compliments.”

Guru nodded. “Thanks, Chief.” He turned to Collins. “Let the Exec and Van Loan know about Frank.”

“Will do, and have a good hop, Boss,” Collins grinned.

“Thanks, Kerry,” Guru said. He nodded at Ross, and went out the door, with Ross behind him. His flight was still on the lawn, and he had had a slight scowl on his face. “What are you guys still doing here?”

“Well,” Kara said. “Wanted to wish you luck with the F-20s, then we saw Frank come out, and he was not in a good mood.”

Preacher nodded. “Was that what we think it was?”

“It was, and he's now going to pop,” the CO said. “The question is when? Goalie?” He turned to his GIB. “Find Brian Slater, that's his GIB, then find his wing crew. Give them the news, and tell them to watch Frank like a hawk, especially in the air. If he starts taking unnecessary chances, that's emotional instability and Doc can ground him for that.”

Goalie nodded. “On my way,” she said, going off to look for the crewers in question.

“And the rest of you? Pass the word about Frank, but get this: no razzing him or anything like that. Understood? Don't want him taking it out on anyone in the squadron. Clear?”

“As a bell, Major,” said Kara. Though she had her own issues with the man, that was the last thing she-or anyone else-wanted.

“Good. I'll tell him to get sloppy drunk tonight, and sleep it off tomorrow. Give him the day off, maybe two.”

“Gotcha,” Sweaty nodded. “Now, going to try out the T-20?”

“Now, now,” Hoser said. “But yeah, they going to get even with you for, uh, 'killing' two of them?”

“We'll see,” Guru grinned as he went to the pickup. “Let's go, Chief.”

“Yes, sir,” said Ross as they got into the pickup.


A quick drive brought the pickup to the F-20 area, and as Guru got out of the truck, he noticed the tech-reps busy about the aircraft, while the drivers were discussing something that had happened in the air, for there was quite a bit of hand gestures being employed. He picked up his helmet and said, “Thanks, Chief.”

“Have a good one, sir, and I'll be waiting when you get back,” Ross said.

“Remember what I said about Major Carson,” Guru reminded him.

“Yes, sir,” Ross said. “I'll pass that on,”

“Good man, Chief,” Guru nodded as he got out of the truck and went over to the F-20 crews. He sketched a salute as General Yeager recognized him. “General.”

Yeager sketched a return salute of his own. “Major,” he said pleasantly. “You'll be with Prada on this one.”

Guru nodded, and turned to the pilot in question. “Hope you don't mind flying somebody who 'splashed' you the other day.”

“Not at all, Major,” Prada replied, but he did noticed the slight evil-looking grin on her face.

“Ready, Major?” Clancy asked. “Now you'll see what these can do from the cockpit.”

“No doubt,” Guru grinned. “But...I'll tell you all what I told General Yeager earlier: you've got yourselves here a nasty little dogfighter and point-defense interceptor. It'll do all right in the ground-attack arena, especially for those who can't afford an F-16 or F/A-18, and the Aggressor Community will be glad to see this bird. And that's about all the positives.”

“And the negative?” Jeb Pruitt asked, though he already knew some of it.

“Endurance, for starters,” Guru said. “Your unrefueled endurance is about forty-five minutes, an hour with the centerline tank. More tanks means drag, and you all know what that means.” Seeing the three juniors nod, along with Yeager, he went on. “Northrop's squeezed just about everything out of the F-5 design it can. Maybe after the war, they can take a look at something new, but...we have to get to the 'after the war,' first.”

“That we do, Major,” Yeager said. Then one of the tech-reps came over to him and whispered in his ear. “We're good to go. Let's go back to the Scud Box and do some ACM. Hassle with each other, and maybe see if anyone passing through wants a fight. And yes, Major, if the bad guys come, I'll let you young ones handle it.”

Guru nodded. “That's good to hear, General.” The last thing he wanted was another talk with General Tanner, and then a tongue-lashing from the Air Force Chief of Staff. So far, the big brass hadn't called him on the carpet for the F-20s having encountered Red Air, but.....

Yeager grinned, then said in his West Virginia drawl, “Then let's fly.”


Prada took Guru to the F-20D, and gestured to the back seat. “Last time I was in the back seat was for my first orientation ride in an F-4, back at Homestead.”

“Prewar?” Prada asked as they got into their seats and the Crew Chief-who was Air Force, along with the Assistant-helped them get strapped in.

“Yep. Three years ago. Seems like that many lifetimes.”

“I know what you mean,” said Prada. “I was at the University of Maryland when it all started. Just started my junior year,” as she took care of the preflight checklist, then started the engine.

“Well, when this is all over, you get your sister back from Cuba, then go back to school on the Air Force's dime.”

“General Yeager used those exact same words last night,” Prada said. “Time to taxi.”

The F-20s taxied out of their revetments, and taxied to Runway Three-Five-Romeo. They were fourth in line, behind a C-130, two flights of Marine F/A-18s, and a two-ship from the 335th. By the tail numbers, it was Dave Golen and Flossy going back out. Once the F-4s had launched, then it was the turn of the F-20s.

“All set back there?” Prada asked Guru.

“Ready,” Guru said. This was new, flying in the back seat again after so long in the front.....

“Showroom Flight, Lead,” Yeager's drawl came over the radio. “Clear for takeoff.”

Both Prada and Guru saw the Control Tower flash the green light, then the first two F-20s, Clancy and Pruitt, rolled down the runway and into the air. Then it was their turn and General Yeager's. His C and their D were in formation as they thundered down the runway and then climbed skyward. Once airborne, they formed up and set course due west for the Scud Box.


The four-ship of F-20s had a ten minute flight to the Scud Box, then, much to the disappointment of Clancy and Pruitt, there were no transiting flights from Amarillo in the area. AWACS pronounced the area clear, so all they had at the moment was each other.

After a couple of fights where Clancy and Pruitt “killed” each other, always under the watchful eye of General Yeager, Prada charged in, with Guru in the back seat. For this one, he was just a passenger. On the way to the Scud Box, Prada had explained what the Multifunction Displays did, and he had played around with them. A moving map display, EW display, radar, HUD camera, ADI and HSI, digital compass display, weapons status, it put his F-4 cockpit to shame. For all of the gauges and dials were now available at the touch of a finger. “Prada, what do you want me for?”

“Clear six, and keep an eye out for any party-crashers.” Prada said as she rolled in on Pruitt.

“General Yeager referees these?”

“He does,” Prada acknowledged as she tried to line up Pruitt for a Sidewinder, but her quarry rolled away and dived to the right.

“Practical,” Guru nodded in the back seat, then had his head on a swivel. “Clancy at five,” he called, spotting an F-20 coming in.

“Oh?” Prada said. She broke left, then went into a vector roll as Clancy overshot. Then she came in behind Clancy. “Check six.”

“You're clear,” Guru said. “Take him.”

“Steady....and...” The tone growled in both their headsets. “FOX TWO on Clancy.”

“That's a kill,” Yeager ruled from his perch above.

“Fuck!” Clancy swore out loud in his F-20, but he was careful not to on the radio. Then he headed out for a minute, then came back in.

“So, Major,” Yeager said while Clancy was headed out. “What do you think?”

“General, Still unchanged, but I'll say this: I'm getting a sneak preview of what the F-15E will be for us,” Guru said.

“Glad to hear that,” Yeager said. “Clancy coming in.”

“I see him,” Prada called, turning to face him. Another kill this hop...

Guru turned his head and saw an F-20 coming down on them from above. “BREAK LEFT!” He called on the IC.

Without thinking, Prada broke just before Pruitt got Sidewinder lock. Cursing, he tried to turn, but overshot his opponent. He had kept her away from Clancy, but...

“Got you, Jeb,” Prada muttered as she rolled back in onto Pruitt's six. “FOX TWO on Jeb.”

“Kill,” Yeager ruled. “Sorry, son.”

As Pruitt headed out, Guru said to Prada on the IC, “Dave Golen told me these two take a lot of risks.”

“They do,” she replied. “They fly the -20 like they stole it. Kind of like you guys and your F-4s. Then again, probably because they're a little younger than I am, and a lot more foolish.”

“He also said you thought they had climbed the ladder a bit too fast for your taste.”

“I do, but given the losses the 474th took, I'm not surprised. And I'm not surprised that General Yeager's taken them under his wing, given the crazy stuff they pulled at Wichita and during PRARIE FIRE.”

“Two younger versions of himself?” Guru wondered as Prada did a barrel roll and tried to line up Pruitt again.

“Clancy is BINGO,” the call came over the radio. They watched as an F-20 turned east for Sheppard.

“Unless there's a tanker around, this little exercise is over,” Guru noted. He checked the MFD that showed the HUD view, and Pruitt was jinking all over, then he leveled out and made a left turn.

“Pruitt's BINGO,” the call came, confirming Guru's observation.

In his F-20C, General Yeager made the call. “Form on me and let's go home,” he said. “This one's in the book.”

The four F-20s formed up and headed for Sheppard. When they got to the base, they had a couple minutes' wait while a battle-damaged Marine F-4 came to the head of the line, then the Tigersharks had their turn. As they taxied in, Guru noticed a familiar setup: Jana Wendt and her news crew were filming again.

“Have they ever stopped?” Prada asked.

“You'd never guess how many times I've asked that, or Goalie,” Guru replied.

When they got to their dispersal area, and shut down, Prada asked as she did the post-flight checklist. “Well, change your opinion?”

“On this bird?” Guru asked. “No. But this was a nice sneak preview of what we'll be getting a year or two down the line.”

“You mean the F-15E?”

“I do.”

After the post-flight checklist, the canopies were popped and the ground crew brought the crew ladders. Guru and Prada climbed down from the D as Yeager, Clancy, and Pruitt got down from their Cs. Then Chief Ross came in his Crew-Cab pickup, and they gathered there. The three C drivers and the Chief watched as Guru and Prada shook hands. Then they came over to the truck. “General,” Guru nodded. “Wish she'd come over to F-4s. Thanks to your poaching, sir, my Exec and Ops Officer are now looking for new wingmen.”

“You trying to recruit, Major?” Yeager asked. “Your guys have two weeks until they report to Edwards.”

“Can't hurt,” Guru said. “Though I imagine Prada's going to take that IP job you offered.”

“I am,” said Prada.”Haven't talked to my folks just yet, with the land lines here. But when we get back to California?”

“Don't worry, Captain,” Yeager said. “I'll wrangle that call for you. Then you're taking the job.”

“Yes, sir. I'll have plenty of time to settle with the Cubans for Daria,” she said, referring to her sister who was a POW in Cuba.

“There is that,” Yeager nodded agreement. “Major? Your take on this little ride?”

“General, I'm not changing my mind,” Guru said firmly. “I'll stick with Double-ugly until the F-15E comes along. This was a sneak preview. And if you don't mind my saying so, I'll bet that Northrop tries to hire these two young pups”-he motioned to Clancy and Pruitt-to be company demo pilots. Lot of F-5 operators who can't afford to upgrade to the F-16 or F/A-18 are going to be placing orders.”

“That'll make the folks I work with back in California happy,” grinned the General.

“And if you two do take the job?” Guru asked. “Keep your bags packed and your passports up to date.”

“IF they hire a couple of crazies,” Clancy deadpanned.

“You never know,” replied Guru. “Looks like my ride's back to the squadron.”

“Looks like,” Yeager said. “Oh, by the way, Major. Did that....other officer get the word?”

Guru nodded. “Before I came over here,” he said. “Now we need to find some kind of pressure valve, because he's going to pop before too long.” And just hope he only gets himself killed, Guru thought to himself.

“He is a snotty asshole,” Prada declared. “Just glad I'm not going to teach him to fly the F-20. Uh, sir.”

Yeager knew what she meant. “Not to worry, Captain,” he said. “Worse has been said about him, no doubt.”

“It has, General. Thanks for the ride, and see you tonight, sir.”

“Glad you enjoyed it, Major,” replied Yeager, and they all shook hands.

“Thanks again, sir,” Guru said, then he walked over to Chief Ross. “Chief, anything going on I should know about?”

'”No, sir,” Ross said. “If you're referring to Major Carson? He and his element left twenty minutes ago. Everything seemed fine.”

“Hope so, and he takes his anger out on the enemy,” Guru said as he got into the truck. “Now I need some food, Chief. Let's head back.”

“Yes, sir!” Ross said as he put the truck in gear, and drove back to the squadron office.
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Old 11-20-2017, 10:07 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Fellows, after some RL issues, and having my laptop undergoing some maintenance, the story resumes. In case you're wondering, they did call the Pave Tack pod "Pave Drag" in the F-4 community.


335th TFS, 1150 Hours Central War Time:


Major Wiser came into the squadron's office and immediately went to change out of his flight gear. That done, he went to his office, and found his Exec waiting for him. “Mark,” the CO said. “You've heard about Frank, I gather?”

“Yeah, Boss,” Ellis said. “Word's gotten around. So far, he hasn't gone off half-cocked and done anything stupid.”

Nodding, Guru asked, “He back yet?”

“Not yet, but he should be in shortly,” the Exec said. “You going to ground him?”

Guru nodded again. “Tonight. Let him get sloppy drunk, then let him sleep it off tomorrow. Just hope he gets over it.”

“That may be asking too much, Boss,” Ellis pointed out. “Frank just saw his squadron command go down the shitter, and he may not be in the mood.”

“I know,” Guru said. “If he starts acting unusual, Doc can ground him for emotional instability. Frank gets shipped off for some tests, and then gets reassigned to a desk job someplace.” And that, Guru knew, solved his problem. Though he didn't relish inflicting Frank on a fellow officer.

“One can hope.”

“You're not alone,” said the CO. “Okay, anything else?”

“Yeah,” Ellis grinned. “How'd the F-20 ride go?”

“Look at it this way: it's a nice preview of what we'll be getting when the F-15E comes our way. Even if the -20 is a short-legged, souped-up F-5. Northrop pretty much squeezed the F-5 airframe dry and this is the result. I'll say this: it'll make a nasty aggressor, and those guys will be chomping at the bit to have F-20s at Nellis.”

“And Prada?” Asked the Exec. “You did fly with her?”

“No grudges, if that's what you're looking for. Nope. And she'll make a good IP when that opportunity opens up,” said Guru.

“Good to see General Yeager talent-scouting for that duty,” Ellis nodded.

“She's done her bit for God and Country,” Guru pointed out. “With her sister a POW in Cuba, she's earned time off the line. Okay, anything else?”

“Updated weather forecast,” the XO said, handing over a sheet. “No change for two days, then we get some clouds, and the next day? Plenty of rain.”

“And a nice first day in Texas for our British cousins,” Guru quipped. “Big change from sipping rum and cokes on the beach, and staring at either nurses from the base or stranded tourists, all in bikinis.”

Ellis let out a laugh. “Some hardship duty station,” he joked. “And that's it.”

“Thanks, Mark. Get yourself some chow, then some rest. Won't be long....”

“Until we're back at it,” Ellis finished.

“So true,” the CO said.


A few minutes later, Guru went over to the Mess Tent to get lunch for himself and Goalie. He got their order, then came back to the office. On the way back, he ran into his Ops Officer. “Don,” he nodded. “Anything on Frank yet?”

“Not yet,” Van Loan said. “His element did come back-both airplanes, and they're being debriefed as we speak.”

Just then, 1st Lt. Brian Slater, who was Major Carson's WSO, and the wing crew, Capt. Sean Hennings and 1st Lt. Melissa Brewster, came out. “Glad that's over,” Hennnigs said. “Never seen him like this before.”

“Frank being more of a hard-ass than usual?” Guru said. Was this the opening he'd been waiting for, and an excuse to ground him?

“No, Major,” Brewster said. “He went over every little detail you could think of, even if they weren't relevant to the strike.”

“Okay...” the CO nodded. “Did Goalie tell you what happened earlier?” He said with a very serious tone in his voice.

All three nodded as well. “She did, Major,” Slater said. “So Frank didn't get into the F-20, and he's taking it out on whoever he can.”

“Great,” Van Loan spat. “Sooner or later, somebody's going to get killed because of him.”

“That is what I'm afraid of,” Guru said. “Okay, Brian? If you have to confront him, as GIB to pilot, don't be afraid. If he wants you written up, I get it and it feeds the office shredder.” He then turned to Hennings and Brewster. “You two? If you have to do the same as wingman to lead? Don't hesitate. Same drill on anything he sends me. Comprende?”

“Clear as a bell, Major,” Hennings said, and his GIB nodded.

“Good. Now, Major Carson will be grounded tomorrow and probably the next day. Brian? You get at least tomorrow off.”

“Thanks, Boss,” Slater grinned. “One good thing to come out of it.”

“Sean? You and Melissa have to fly tomorrow, so....” Guru thought for a moment. He'd had five- and six-ships before, but without any hint of what was in the ATO.....”Okay, you two fly with Dave Golen and Flossy. He'll be glad to have you two.”

“Likewise,” Hennings replied with relief.

“Major?” Slater asked. “If I confront him, and remind him that if anything goes wrong, I die six feet behind him, is that okay?”

“It is,” Guru said firmly. “Brian, you have my permission to do just that if necessary. One other thing: do you want a new pilot?”

“Major, I'll stay, as crazy as that sounds. I know Major Carson, and if he got a new GIB, chances are, you'll be writing two letters. I'm the best chance of controlling him in the air that this squadron has,” replied Slater.

Guru understood. Though he was wondering what he'd have to do if Carson was shot down and some Congressional aide or Senate staff member came asking on behalf of Carson's dad what had happened... Guru decided then and there to have Ryan Blanchard's CSPs throw said staffer off base. “Your call. Just keep it in mind, okay? And remind him every time before you go out: no trolling for MiGs or SAMs.”

“Got it, Major.”

“All right. You all get yourselves fed. Still got a busy afternoon coming,” the CO reminded them.

“Yes, sir,” all three replied.

After the three had left, Van Loan turned to the CO. “Boss, why do I get the feeling something's going to happen involving Frank, and it'll be soon?”

“You're not the only one,” Guru replied.


Guru and the Ops Officer went into the squadron's office, and found Goalie on her way out. “Just who I was looking for,” she said. She saw the plastic bag and drink carriers in his hands. “So, today you're buying lunch.”

“I am,” Guru grinned.

“Good to know, and I do want to hear how the F-20 ride went.”

Van Loan headed for his office, while the CO and his GIB went into his. Over barbequed chicken sandwiches with cole slaw and lemonade, the two discussed the morning's events. “Too bad you didn't get a ride,” Guru said. “Nice little interceptor, and a potent bird for the Aggressors postwar.”

“Not flying anything not two-seater by design,” Goalie said firmly. Anything else and I'm out of a job.”

“Can't have that,” Guru laughed. “You talk with Brian and Melissa?”

Goalie nodded. “I did, before they left. Saw you talking with them-and Sean, too, before you came in. They'll watch Frank.”

“That's what they told me, so....” Guru paused as he took a bite out of his sandwich. “One of three things happens. First, Frank comes to me and asks for a transfer. Not very likely, but possible.”

“Second,” Goalie picked up. “He shapes up. Also unlikely, but lightning has been known to strike in the right place on occasion.”

The CO nodded again. “And last, he fucks up one last time, and then one of two things come about. Either he gets himself shot down, or....”

“Or he earns himself a General Court-Martial,” Goalie finished. “But you forgot one thing.” She barely concealed her glee at the latter.

“What?” Guru asked.

“Sundown Cunningham shows up two or three weeks from now and kicks Frank's ass off this base.”

Guru smiled, remembering the probability of that happening. “How one forgets.”

“Yeah.”

They were almost finished eating when there was a knock on the door. “Yeah?” Guru said. “Show yourself and come on in.”

The office door opened and Don Van Loan came in. “Boss, this just came in on the ATO. You've got a mission in forty-five. But have a look at the target.” He handed the CO a paper.

Guru took it, and scanned the paper. “Wonderful. A 'Liberation Radio' transmitter facility and a nearby supply dump or truck park.” He sighed. “Sweaty and Hoser can take the latter. But the former?” He looked at the ordnance called for in the ATO. “This is a load of bullshit. A laser bomb target, and they want Snakeyes?”

“We've got Pave Tack and Pave Spike pods, crews qualified to use 'em, and some bomb kits,” Goalie pointed out. “They must not know we do.”

“Probably,” Guru spat. “Kerry Collins back yet?” He was referring to the Assistant Ordnance Officer. The loathed Major Carson's nonflying job was as Ordnance Officer, but everyone bypassed him when possible and dealt with Capt. Kerry Collins.

“He is,” Van Loan said. “You're thinking what I think you are?”

“Let me guess,” Goalie said. “A LGB strike.” She wasn't asking a question.

Guru let out a grin. “Right you are.” He picked up his office phone and dialed the Ordnance Office. “Kerry, this is Guru. Listen, my bird and Kara's? Switch out what you've been told, and load a centerline Pave Tack pod on both aircraft. Two GBU-10Es, two Sparrows, ECM pod, wing tanks, and full gun.” There was a pause, then the CO went on. “How long? Forty-five? Okay, Kerry, don't waste any more time talking to me. Get it done. Right.” He hung up. “Now we can use those three Pave Tack pods and the LGB kits we've picked up. Don? Tell Ross to find some more Paveway kits. How he does it, I don't care, as long as the usual scrounging rules apply.”

“Got you,” Van Loan said. “Anything else?”

“Find General Olds. If he's having lunch, request his presence in the Ops Office at his convenience. If not, find him anyway and request that he come over. We've got something that will warm his heart.”

“On my way,” Van Loan said as he headed out the door.

“So...we get to fold, spindle, bend, or mutilate the ATO,” Goalie smiled. “Haven't done that in a few days.”

“No, and I do know what you're going to ask next. No Sidewinders. And I know how to take care of that,” said Guru. “Dave Golen and Flossy are coming with us.”

“Strike escort.”

“You got it.”

Pilot and GIB finished lunch, then went to the Ops Office. Kara and her WSO, Brainiac, were there. “Boss,” Kara said. “We're going smart-bombing?”

“That we are,” Guru said. “Haven't done this in a while. Birds should be ready in time, Kerry says.” He turned to Goalie. “Get Dave, Flossy, and their GIBs. If they're eating, tell them to hit the briefing room in twenty.”

“Got it,” Goalie said. She left the Ops Office to find their IDF “Observer” and his element.

“And Dave's element?” Kara asked.

Guru nodded, then picked up Van Loan's office phone. He called the Ordnance office. “Kerry? Yeah, me again. Have you guys started loading Dave Golen's element? Good. Their orders changed as of now. Give them four Sidewinders, two Sparrows, usual ECM pods, wing tanks, and gun. Clean centerline. How long? All right, get started.” He hung up. “They'll be ready when we are.”

A few minutes later, General Olds came in with Van Loan. “Major,” Olds said.

“General,” Guru replied politely as those in the Ops Office rose. “We've got something cooking that's near and dear to your heart.” He showed the General the mission order and the target. “Sir, this is what we have in mind. Four bombs to do what the order calls for two dozen.” Guru then outlined what he had in mind.

“I like it,” Olds said. ”UNODIR.”

“Sir?” Kara asked, slightly confused.

“UNODIR, Captain,” Olds said. “Unless Otherwise Directed. Pulled a few stunts like this in Vietnam, and it's how I had my F-4Ds rewired back to Sidewinders after the Falcon Fiasco.” He referred to the wretched AIM-4 Falcon's uselessness as a fighter combat weapon, and having his Wing's F-4Ds rewired to carry Sidewinders within twenty-four hours of his order. And the rest of the Air Force had followed his lead. “When you report back to Tenth AF Ops that the mission's been launched? You say UNODIR, that the mission against this target has LGBs instead of the ordnance in the ATO. Once you're briefed, I'll call General Tanner and explain what's up. And I'll see about getting you some more laser bomb kits and maybe another pod.”

“Thanks, General.” Guru said. Then Goalie came in. “And?”

“Dave's people are in the briefing room, and so are Sweaty's,” Goalie said. “Oops, sorry, General, didn't see you.”

“Not to worry, Lieutenant,” Olds said. “Let's get this briefed, then you have a mission to fly. I'll talk to General Tanner while you're in the air.”


When they got to the Briefing Room Guru's flight used, Sweaty, Preacher, Hoser, KT, Dave, Terry McAuliffe-Golen's GIB, Flossy, and Jang were all there. And Buddy, the squadron's dog. “People, we've got a new mission,and it's not quite what the ATO has in mind.”

“So what's the target?” Sweaty asked.

“Right here, five miles northeast of Stephenville. Right at the F.M. 179/180 intersection. There's a 'Liberation Radio' facility with a transmitter tower and a control building. Just to the east of that is a truck park at the very least, if not a supply dump. Lots of stuff under that camo netting. Sweaty? You and Hoser get that, and before you ask, you both get a dozen Mark-82 Snakeyes with the Daisy Cutter fuze extenders. Make them burn, bleed, and blow up.”

“Our pleasure,” Sweaty grinned. “We still have the Sidewinders. And you and Kara get the radio facilities.”

“Right on that,” Guru said. “Here's where we depart from the ATO. Kara and I will carry Pave Tack pods and two GBU-10s. I know, they don't call those pods 'Pave Drag' for nothing. So, once we've burned our wing tanks, Kara, we get rid of them.”

Kara nodded. “Got it, and the target?”

“Coming to that. I'm taking the tower. You get the control building. We pop up, designate and drop, then get back low.”

“Sounds good, Boss,” Kara said. “But that leaves us with hardly any air-to-air. Just two Sparrows and gun,” she pointed out.

“Which is why Dave Golen's element is coming with us,” Guru nodded in Golen's direction. “You guys are going as strike escort. Four Sidewinders, two Sparrows, ECM, and gun.”

Hearing that, Golen and his people looked at each other and grinned. “So, we get to be fighter pilots on this one?” Flossy asked.

Guru grinned. “That you do. No trolling for MiGs, though. Once Hoser's clear of the target? Get your asses down and head north.”

Golen nodded. “Understood,” he said. Nothing new here. “And ingress?”

“Follow the Brazos down to Lake Whitney. Turn right, get to Meridian. Go west to Hico, then turn north. U.S. 67 is the pop-up point. ID the target by looking for four ranch ponds.” Guru passed the overheads around. “One northeast, one southeast. The actual target is just north of the intersection.”

“And once we drop, get back low and north,” Hoser said.

“Right.”

“Sounds good, Boss,” Kara said. “MiG threat?”

“Unchanged since this morning. Now, we're in the East German sector again, so that means SA-4 and SA-6, plus guns and MANPADS. So....make a few 'Magnum' calls. Those guys will think Weasels are around, and shut down their radars. Good for us, because we don't have Weasels or IRON HAND with us on this one,” Guru said. He let that little fact sink in. “Anything else?”

“And we just ate,” KT quipped. “Looks like it might be an easy one.”

“How's that?” Jang wanted to know.

“Look at Buddy,” Guru said. The squadron's mascot was fast asleep. “If he was alert, it'll be a bear.” He turned to General Olds. “Anything to add, sir?”

“As soon as you're all wheels up, I'll call General Tanner,” Olds said. “Unless anyone has other questions, you've got a mission to fly. And good luck. All of you.”

Nodding, Guru said, “You heard him. Let's gear up, people. Meet at 512.”

As people headed to their locker rooms to gear up, General Olds told Guru, “Major? Good luck. And bring everyone back.”

“Do my best sir,” Guru replied. He went to the Men's Locker Room and got into his flight gear. When he came out, Goalie was waiting for him, as usual. “Ready?”

“Been a while since that pre-PRAIRIE FIRE strike. That's the last time we did this.”

“Yeah. Too bad that's all we can say about that one,” Guru said. “Let's get going.”

They left the squadron's office and walked over to their dispersal. When Guru and Goalie got to 512's revetment, the others were waiting. “Gather 'round, people,” Guru said, giving his final instructions.

“Usual on the radio?” Kara asked.

“Yep. Mission code to AWACS and other parties. Call signs between us. Dave? You and Flossy are Camaro One-five and One-six, respectively,” said the CO.

“Got it,” Golen said, and Flossy nodded.

“Other than that? Bailout areas and weather are also unchanged.”

“And there's one more after this,” Flossy said.

Sweaty grinned. “As long as it's not CAS.”

“Down, girl,” Guru said. “But yeah, here's hoping for one more. Anything else?” Heads shook no. “Okay,” the CO nodded, clapping his hands. “Let's get it done. Time to hit it.”

With that, the crews went to mount their aircraft, and when Guru and Goalie went to 512, they found Sergeant Crowley waiting, and he snapped a salute as they came in.

“Major, Lieutenant? Five-twelve's ready to go. Been a while since she was loaded like this.” He motioned to the aircraft, with a Pave Tack Pod on centerline, and two GBU-10 laser bombs on the inboard wing stations.

“It has, Sergeant,” Guru said. He and Goalie did their preflight walk-around, then after signing for the aircraft, they mounted up. After strapping in and putting on their helmets, they ran through the preflight checklist.

“Pave Drag is right,” Goalie reminded her pilot and lover. “Hope we don't have to jettison this. Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom,” Guru replied. “Those things go for a million dollars a pop, I bet. Armed top and bottom, and check yours.”

“Set,” Goalie replied. “INS, Arnie, and DMAS all set.” The last two referred to the ARN-101 and DMAS nav systems. “We're ready to rock.”

“Copy that,” Guru said. He gave a thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. First one, then both, J-79 engines were soon up and running. During the warm-up, Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Camaro Lead with six, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Camaro Flight, Tower. Clear to taxi to Runway Three-Five-Lima. Hold prior to the Active, and you will be number two in line.”

“Roger, Tower,” Guru replied. He saw that the engines were up to temp. “Camaro Lead is rolling.” He gave another thumbs-up to his CC, who waved to the ground crew, who pulled the chocks away from the wheels, then he gave the “Taxi” signal.

Guru taxied 512 out, and after clearing the revetment, he and Goalie saw Sergeant Crowley snap another salute, and they returned it. They taxied to Runway 35L, and when they got to the Holding Area, a Marine F-4 flight was just taking off. Ahead of them was a C-130, but before the Herky-bird could taxi, a flight of Marine Hornets came in. Then the C-130 taxied onto the runway and it was their turn to move into the Holding Area. There, the armorers removed the weapon safeties, while the C-130 took off. Then it was their turn. “Tower, Camaro Lead requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Camaro Lead, Tower,” the controller replied. “Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are Two-six-zero for five.”

“Roger, Tower,” Guru replied. He taxied onto the runway, and Kara followed in 520. Guru and Goalie did a last check, then turned to see Kara's bird in the usual Five O'clock position. Kara and Brainiac gave their flight lead a thumbs-up, and Guru and Goalie returned it. Then it was time. “Tower, Camaro Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower didn't reply by radio, but flashed a green light instead. Clear for takeoff.

“Canopy coming down,” Guru said, closing and locking his canopy, and Goalie did the same. A quick look showed 520's crew had done the same. Now, they were ready for takeoff. “Ready?”

“Let's go,” Goalie said.

Guru acknowledged by releasing the brakes, and applying full power. 512 then thundered down the runway and into the air, with 520 right alongside. Thirty seconds later, it was Sweaty and Hoser's turn, and after that, Dave and Flossy followed. The flight met up at FL 100, then set course south for their tanker rendezvous.
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