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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.

Bart Simpson always went with me.
I also found a deck of playing cards in my Vietnam era flak vest. I took it along on every mission and still have it. Like I said, we're a superstitious bunch.
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.

Originally posted to Major Kong on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:02 AM PST.

Also republished by Central Ohio Kossacks, Kossack Air Force, and Military Community Members of Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (32+ / 0-)

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:02:34 AM PST

  •  Porn Magazines were banned in Iraq (7+ / 0-)

    As was alcohol.  We didn't want to offend the Muslim population.  Which was funny because due to the new government we put in place they were allowed to have both.

    I will never forget the standard procedure of swapping hard-drives whenever you got to a new FOB.  The Exchange never had good games for your computer, but amazingly the local shops all had them them the day they came out.  

    Since they were cracked versions, only one guy ever bought em.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:29:53 AM PST

  •  "A Kansas ANG KC-135 out of Jeddah tucked in much (7+ / 0-)

    too close behind his flight lead and hit severe wake turbulence. The resulting violent wing-rock literally flung two engines off the right wing."

    That was their story, and they are sticking to it.  I saw it, and it looked a lot like an attempted barrel roll with not enough roll rate at the beginning (partial speedbrakes gives the greatest spoiler differential, and therefore the greatest roll rate), leading to the nose falling too low on the backside, and a high G rolling recovery, and resultant excessive side-load to the pylons on the wing to the outside of the roll (if flown from the left seat).

    When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

    by Bisbonian on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:51:23 AM PST

  •  Speaking of trying to drink with the Brits (8+ / 0-)

    It reminds me of a story my father told me about the Aussie navy in WWII.

    Aussie destroyer was docked at the same port as Dad's and they were out cleaning & painting the ship. Since this was New Guinea the Aussies were wearing as close to nothing as could be managed.

    Drunk American sailors returning to ship pass by. One of Dad's friends says something insulting and homophobic (not that homophobic was taboo in 1942 ...).

    Aussie: "What did you say"?
    Sailor: Repeats self
    Aussie: "Sorry, old boy, there's a terrible racket over here. Could you repeat that?"
    Sailor: Takes two steps closer "I said ..."
    Aussie: UPPERCUT!
    Sailor: Lands on shoulders and back of head, a la Joe Frazier fighting George Foreman
    Dad & rest of friends: Very quietly collect friend and carry him back to ship

    Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

    by blue aardvark on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:56:48 AM PST

  •  If I save all your diaries (7+ / 0-)

    will I still have to buy your book when it comes out?  Or are you going to be sneaky and slip in new material we haven't read?

    This is good stuff.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 09:58:43 AM PST

  •  Yes he was (10+ / 0-)

    "The enemy," resorted Yossarian
    with weighted precision, "is
    anybody who's going to get you
    killed, no matter which side he's
    on, and that includes Colonel
    Cathcart. And don't you forget
    that, because the longer you
    remember it, the longer you might
    live."

    Hobbs: "How come we play war and not peace?" Calvin: "Too few role models."

    by BOHICA on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 10:32:41 AM PST

    •  It is a bit of a puzzle (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BOHICA, KenBee, LeftyAce

      Considering just how hard it is to fight a war, how expensive, and just how much crazy/stupid results even when things are going halfway right - what is it about peace that makes it seem like the worse alternative to going to war?

      I can see responding to aggression/attack because you're dealing with someone who has just demonstrated that reason and diplomacy is not their friend, but launching a war? Not for nothing does it seem the biggest hawks are people who've never actually been in combat.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 03:28:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Drinking with the British (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan, Joy of Fishes

    will teach a lesson you won't forget.  I'm convinced their Armed Forces Inductance Exam includes an alcohol tolerance test.

    •  their enlisted folk make a killer cuppa (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes, KenBee

      something, for sore throat ... Russian tea, sort of, only with real fire in it.

      So I kinda want some now, and am glad to not be flying today. I do have a blocked sinus and an earache already, and I know from flying with just a cold in the summer that it can take a long damn time for the "bubble" in the ear to dissipate. I thought I'd gone deaf coming home from the Valley in 2004 ... about that focus: yep. Understatement.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 11:48:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Stuff Kong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Joy of Fishes

    Heck, I recommended it BEFORE I read it.

    BTW, what does it take in the Air Corps to "get your combat ticket" punched?  I know the Combat Infantryman Badge requires 30 days in a designated combat zone.  

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 12:39:29 PM PST

    •  1 mission (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, markdd, Joy of Fishes, KenBee

      in a combat zone was all it took.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 02:36:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And don't forget the tax breaks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        markdd

        All one needs do these days is fly into an area declared part of a theater of operations in a war zone (I forget the exact wording) and spend 24 hours there to get your pay for that month exempted from income taxes.

        If I understand the deal, that's why crews operating in Europe will try to get in at least one flight to Turkey a month....

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 03:19:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Oh, forgot, even if this is an AF theme (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Kong, LeftyAce

    What's the difference between a sea story and a fairy tale?

    Sea stories start "This ain't no shit.."

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 03:22:28 PM PST

  •  fire on a tanker...not good, not good at all... (0+ / 0-)

    and what did he use since when I set my shop on fire and used the fire extinguisher suddenly there was nothing to breathe. How does that work, drop your oxygen mask, extinguish said fire, hold your last breathe, run to the oxygen mask? I presume it's something suitable for confined spaces, but geez louise!

    yer scaring me of ever flying again!

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 07:24:54 PM PST

    •  Wouldn't one of the dry chem extinguishers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee

      work? (And have the added bonus of not killing you :-)?
      I'm guessing you were using a CO2 extinguisher.

      The really scary stuff is Halon; with CO2 you can tell you don't have enough oxygen.  Halon systems require warnings for potential fire fighters.

      •  don't know at the moment, a dry powder yearly (0+ / 0-)

        I am all tucked away or I'd go out and look, they are cheap so probably CO2, thanks, I'll look tomorrow.

        still, on a plane in a confined space, I am reminded of the  workers who go in a storage tank and die and the rescuers die too. Then somebody says, 'hey, wait a minute..'

        This machine kills Fascists.

        by KenBee on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 10:40:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  We had portable oxygen bottles (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee

      There was also a portable breathing apparatus that had an oxygen generator.

      I knew this guy personally, and he used the portable oxygen bottle, which had a full face mask similar to what firefighters use.

      I haven't been on a tanker in about six years so I'm not sure what kind of hand-held fire extinguishers we had.

      I know on the 757 we have halon extinguishers.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 02:55:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  At least no one thought I was faking it. (0+ / 0-)

    There's your book title!
    ~

  •  Heh- drinking with Brits? Try Russians.... (0+ / 0-)

    I had a number of occasions to drink with Russians. After a while I got pretty good at it. But then one day I woke up with about 10 minutes to go before our work bus left. I managed to get a shower and breakfast in those 10 minutes. Made sure to go to bed no later than 1 AM after that. lol.

    On the HEU Transparency program, 2004, 2005.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 12:43:38 PM PST

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