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  The first unit I was assigned to was the 450th Flight Training Squadron (FTS), part of the 323rd Flight Training Wing based at Mather Air Force Base California.  The 450FTS's job was to take freshly commissioned 2nd Lieutenants and turn them into qualified Navigators.  The circumlum included dead reckoning, radar, celestial, and tactical navigation.  My training started in November of 1980 and completed in June of 1981 with the award of Air Force Navigator wings.  While in training we were allowed to complete a "dream sheet" of assignments.  I decided that being a back seater in a fighter was cool but my 6'2'' frame didn't fit well in tight cockpits.  I opted for larger accommodations such as the B-52.  At graduation it was announced that I has received my first choice assignment.  What wasn't said was that the assignment was to Minot AFB, ND.  I was disappointed, all that work for a assignment to Minot.  Minot turned out to be lots of hard work, good flying and many recreational opportunities
  I was part of Class 81-15, the 15th class to graduate in 1981.  Each class had it's own patch designed by one of the class members.  Back in 81 Star Wars was very popular and this patch shows the triumph of good over evil (Yoda over Darth Vader), the dark side and the light side, and celestial navigation over the INS (Inertial Navigation System (Nav-in-a-box)).  My thanks to Lt. George Linka for designing such a creative patch.  George was also assigned to Minot.  Were are you today, George?
  After receiving Navigator wings, the next unit was the 453rd FTS.  All Electronic Warfare Officers had the "opportunity" to graduate from the 453rd.  This training was filled with radar and jammer theory, beeps and buzzes, tactics, and more useless information than useful information.  Electronic Warfare Officers have been nicknamed crows for the black secretive work they do.  The T4 simulator on the previous page illustrates the extent the AF went to entrain the black ideals to us.  To the outside world crows were supposed to know how to jam police speed radar, but those speed radars were never purchased by our enemies so it was never covered.
  Upon arriving at Minot I was assigned to the 23rd Bomb Squadron.  I had little choice, it's the only bomb squadron on the base.  This is an interesting patch with the bombs entering the volcano, 2 on the left and 3 on the right.  In the history of the unit, while it was stationed in Hawaii, the squadron bombed a volcano to divert lava flow from a populated area.  Hence the patch.  The 23rd flew the B-52H bomber and had it's plate full of conventional (iron bomb) and strategic taskings.  Life at the 23rd revolved around at three week cycle: one week on alert (sleep with aircraft poised for immediate bombing missions) and two weeks of training flights and simulator work.

Today's version of the patch show the bombs being ejected from the volcano.
  This is the patch of the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot AFB ND.  The 5th BMW is the parent unit of the 23rd BMS.  When I was assigned to be the Wing Electronic Warfare Officer I moved from the 23rd to the 5th.  This patch has much symbolism on it.  I've been told that in today's kinder and gentler Air Force it is the only unit patch with the winged skull of death on it.

My duties as Wing EWO included SIOP planning, flight training management, flight and simulator instruction, and good ole ALERT.
The following is from the 5th Bomb Wing 65th Anniversary Celebration program.

Significance of Wing Emblem
"The 5th Bombardment Wing was organized at Luke Field, (now Ford Island), Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, on 15 August 1919.

The bull's head was derived from the family crest of Lieutenant Frank Luke, one of the first heroes of military aviation.

The wing death's head and the green and black shield represent the militant mission - warfare.  The series of lobes down the center represent clouds, completing the theme of war in the clouds.

The motto is is an English rendition of an Hawaiian phrase meaning "Guardians of the Upper Realm".  It is an ancient expression used by Hawaiian warriors as a battle cry and refers to two birds "Kiwaha" and "Halulu" which in historical mythology were regarded as birds of state, or guardians of the realm.

This emblem represents the heraldic statement that this wing was formed at Luke Field as an unit of the original Air Service for the purpose of waging war in the clouds to guard our nation."
  One of the "special" opportunities I was able to participate in was Bomb Comp 1983.  Each bomb wing selected 2 of its top crews to compete by flying a series of missions designed to see who could Bomb, Jam, Refuel and Navigate best.  In order to win the competition, the flight crew had to be good, the aircraft maintenance had to be superb, and luck had to be repeatedly on your side.   Many years later I believe that luck was the primary element that determined outcome. On one our missions I remember flying over the competition area and hearing a FB-111 from the 509th aborting low level; I thought tooo bad, they'll never win now (they had won many times before).  As we entered low level our radar suddenly went blank: no radar, no low level, no way to win.  Luck was not in our favor.  Later that night we did some high level bomb runs and ECM runs.  The ECM runs were a mess, the jammers didn't want to center, and my timing was all off.  Despite my uneasy feelings the scores were ok.

At the awards ceremony at Barksdale AFB our crew received an award for the best high level bomb scores.  Upon returning to Minot AFB our crew was on alert within 12 hours.  In the big picture Ron Reagan was paying us to be on alert not playing Bomb Comp.

In hindsight Bomb Comp was fun, lots of work and much flying, most of all it broke the the fly and alert life style rut.   During the 1984 Bomb Comp I was a staff puke training the 1984 select crews and in 1985 I was a Numbered Air Force staff puke traveling from base to base making sure the crews were ready for competition

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