Every war produces some weird stories. The Gulf War was no exception. Some of these happened to me and some were related to me.
Some are funny, some are tragic and some are absurd.
Keep in mind that a few were second or even third hand when I heard them. They may be little more than urban legends.
Graffiti found in navigator's compartment of B-52: "Yossarian was right!"
Pilots are a superstitious bunch. I really don't know where I found the picture of Bart Simpson saying "War is hell, man" but I took it along on every mission.
The Saudis allegedly threatened to shoot down the next tanker that flew over Mecca.I can't confirm this, however the departures from Jeddah did take you near Mecca and the Saudis did have missile sites protecting Mecca and Medinah. As the Mythbusters would say "plausible".
An Air Force RF-4 and a Navy A-6 supposedly mistook each other for the enemy and got into a dogfight one night.Mind you, neither of them was armed. Both of them were spiraling down towards the desert while popping out chaff and flares trying to evade each other.
A similar event happened when an Air Force F-15 locked his radar onto an EF-111 one night. The EF-111 went defensive - right into the ground.
The British once upon a time had plantations on Diego Garcia. As a legacy of this there are still wild donkeys on part of the island and there are chickens all over the place. British Customs owns the only dog on the island but stray cats are common. The area around the island is a shark breeding ground. Supposedly there were no sharks in the lagoon where we swam......so they told us.
Showing up at Diego Garcia a week after a Navy enlisted person was caught with drugs will result in your aircraft being met by a some official looking Brits with guns and a large German Shepherd. You will then enjoy spending the next hour or so with the contents of your baggage spread out on the tarmac.
I learned that "adult magazines", while openly sold at the base exchange, were not permitted to be brought onto the island. The British Customs officials did not take "but I bought it here" as a valid excuse. I suspect they had a pretty large collection back in the office.
I thought we were supposed to be fighting a war here.A Kansas ANG KC-135 out of Jeddah tucked in much too close behind his flight lead and hit severe wake turbulence. The resulting violent wing-rock literally flung two engines off the right wing. The boom operator went back to take a look.
The conversation went something like:
"We just lost #3 and #4!"
"I know that"
"No! We LOST both engines. They're not there any more!"
I was told that for a British Royal Marine, an assignment to Diego Garcia was considered a "good deal" after having been in Northern Ireland. I also learned never to drink with them.
I left the party when one tried to kiss me. I'm not sure if he was really interested or just too drunk to know the difference. A few more months on the island and I might have taken him up on it.
No good has ever come from me trying to drink with the Brits.An Ohio ANG KC-135 out of Jeddah had a spare can of hydraulic fluid fall behind the galley and hit the electrical contacts. A severe fire resulted.
The navigator looked back from the cockpit and all she saw was a wall of flames.As luck would have it, the boom operator was a firefighter in his civilian occupation and was able to put it out with a hand-held fire extinguisher. His eyebrows never grew back in completely.
The route from Guam to Diego Garcia sometimes takes you very close to Vietnam. At one point our oceanic controller turned out to be Ho Chi Minh City. The irony was not lost on me. They seemed friendly enough.
The B-52 that had most of its tail shot off on the third night was probably not hit by a HARM as many believe to this day. My friends that flew the F-4G tell me that a HARM is designed to shoot stationary radar sites and cannot compute the intercept to hit a moving target. Especially something moving as fast as a jet.
I couldn't quite make out what the Mauritian ex-pat who cleaned our rooms was trying to tell us one day. He was quite agitated and his English was pretty broken at the best of times.
It sounded something like "Sir! I went in to clean the room.....and....he was in there......with a woman.....and ...."
Apparently my Navigator had found the one unoccupied dorm room on the island to stage a tryst with the female intelligence officer.I didn't know whether to chew my Navigator out or put him in for a medal. There were probably a dozen women on the whole damn island and he managed to hook up with one.
The Colonel from Jeddah that I was certain was going to get me killed - almost got himself killed.On one of the last days of the war they put a staff crew together so that these guys could get their combat ticket punched. They were "tail end charlie" in a 3-ship going against a target near Basra. He slowed way down over the target area to watch the other plane's bombs hit.
This was just too good for the Iraqi SAM gunners to pass up. They put two SA-2s into him. Without much airspeed to maneuver, the best the EWO could do was turn a direct hit into a (very) near miss.
They brought the plane back with a couple engines shot out and a bunch of holes leaking fuel and hydraulic fluid. Probably got a medal.
I learned that flying with viral pneumonia is a really, really bad idea. Even if you're doing it so people won't think you're trying to get out of flying.In a related matter. The effect of re-pressurizing the aircraft on a blocked sinus feels approximately like someone driving an icepick into your face. It will really focus your attention.
You lose cool points when you have to spend the entire descent and landing (flown by the copilot) frantically trying to keep your eardrum from rupturing (it didn't).
At least no one thought I was faking it.