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Starting in 1976... That's when I enlisted

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Just got back from Basic Training and visiting my folks in Sunnyvale. Another picture with Carol before we were married. This the first house that Carol and I bought. It was not long after we got married and I was managing the Me-n-Ed's in the Tower District. Still working in the ODC as a weekender, JAD Dennis showed us a few houses and we decided on this one. We bought it from Larry Baker, a Guard pilot that had since moved on to Western Airlines. Some of the other pilots helped Larry build a really nice adobe fireplace in the living room. What had started as a small project ended up covering one entire wall with adobe. It turned out great and the main reason we bought the place. Larry gave us a good deal. Thanks JAD! Local legend has it that this is the house where Jim McNab got his mysterious callsign.
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When I got back from basic training, I went to work in the ODC (Operations Dispatch Center). That was when it was upstairs in the hanger. The Alert Room was right below the ODC. What a great place to work! That's where we could keep track of just about everything on the base. George Hansen and Al Deluca were my main trainers, and of course, that's where I met Willie Benton. We really had a ball back then. This picture was taken when the ODC moved into the new Ops building. It later became the scheduling office. I was really lucky as an enlisted guy to get a ride in the F-106. That was pretty rare. Walt Blore flew me out to Tyndall AFB, FL so I could deliver some classified documents. We filled the travel pod up with Coors. Coors wasn't available east of the Mississippi back then and you could always make a little money on the Coors black market :) Spent a couple of days there and then Bill Lucido came to pick me up. We stopped at ABQ for gas on the way home. Not being used to riding in an afterburner jet it scared the heck out of me every time we came out of afterburner. It always felt like the engine stopped. Here we're taxiing out at FAT. Not long after that first F-106 ride I got to go down to Luke AFB, AZ and back with Danny Clack. What a blast! On the way back we did some acro and then some low level over the desert in Arizona. Sadly we lost Danny not long afterward over the ocean off Big Sur.
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Back in these days I was working on my private pilot license washing airplanes in exchange for flying lessons at Mazzei's which was owned by Mike McCoy and Terry Kane. I finished my license with Ray Barnes, one of the crew chiefs on the flight line. We flew Col. Markesano's Traveler. Flying in a Cessna 150 at 100 kts. compares in no possible way to getting to ride in a high perfmance jet with a cool guy like Danny Clack. We were heading down to Luke AFB. That was the HQ for our South-West ADCOM region (Arizona-Pete). That is the smile of a guy that is having a ball! Here are a bunch of pictures of the F-106 with the California Bear tail. Back then I would go out to "Mobile/Snowcone/ RSU" with whoever would let me go out with them. Security wasn't really an issue then - you could walk right out to the edge of the runway to take pictures or just watch. The jet noise there was incredible! Remember doing a morning runway check for FOD in the SOF truck? The Alert Bikes are all gassed up and ready to scramble. There's even training wheels :) O.K. - who remembers what an Elephant Walk was? "Papa November One-Two taxi, flush." Too bad the 'ol scramble light board is now a piece of history. Look closely at this one - the drag chute is just starting to pop out.
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In 1975 my Uncle Bob, who was a pilot (he flew T-33, the Dagger and the Dart) told me to join up as the Guard was looking to hire pilots. They were even advertising in the Fresno Bee for people to join up to fly. I did want to fly jets but didn't understand the concept of feast or famine in the hiring process. I waited a year since I was still attending Fresno State. The delay cost me four years. In the background, note the B-17 that was used by the Forest Service as a Borate Bomber. It lost its vertical stabilizer to a cable spanning a canyon while fighting a fire. They made it back by using the engines to turn. Thank goodness they still had the elevators. What a hell of an airplane! After fulfilling my one year eligibility period I applied for a UPT slot and was selected as Willy Benton's alternate. For some reason the results of the selection boards were kept secret. Even those selected didn't get the word until they were ready to tell you. Fortunately, LtCol Boehringer's secretary, Suzy Hubert, even on pain of death, kept Willy and I informed about everything that was going on. We just had to ply her with drinks at the club to get information :) Three years later another slot would come around and I would have to apply again. Both times I was competing against ten or twelve other guys. It was very nerve-wracking. In the meantime I would spend as much time as I could getting facetime with the pilots filling out flight plans, driving them out to their jets and picking them back up afterwards. I bought as much beer as I could afford down at the club. BTW, trying to up keep with B.O.B., Two Dogs, General Kilpatrick, Baggy and The Animals from the flight line was deadly. Learning the dice games cost me a lot of beers as well :) Anyway, I figured if I bought enough beers I could get a good word from the guys when the next board came along. "Hire Yelton - he buys the beer." It sure didn't hurt :)
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Nice landing. There is nothing like the sound of an F-106 in afterburner coming right at you. Should have been wearing ear plugs. This might explain why I can't hear my wife when she's talking to me. :)
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Doug "Cuda" Munday. He was working at Duncan Ceramics back then. One of our F-106's at an airshow. I think it was over at Lemoore NAS. No other fighter had lines like an F-106 Delta Dart! I'll bet that Joe "Spam" Leadingham would argue for the F-101, though. Steve Ishmael got a job working for NASA down at Edwards AFB. He would come back for Drill Weekend in his NASA F-104. Whenever he came down Initial the engine noise was so distinctive that wherever you were in town you would know that Steve was back and it was time to head for the club for Friday afternoon drinks. The F-104 Starfighter, just like a P-51 sounded so unique there was no mistaking what it was. Steve wrote his masters thesis on the F-16 Fire Control System. F-16s were brand new then and very mysterious. His professor had to get a security clearance just to be able to read Steve's paper.
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Out over the water. My second selection board finally came around. I really wanted to get the slot as I was working at Me-And-Ed's slinging pizzas and didn't want to do that for the rest of my life. I was lucky enough to be selected as the Primary. But after waiting six months with no official word on the board results I felt that I needed to make a life decision - I couldn't wait forever. I was so frustrated that I wrote a letter withdrawing myself and late on a Friday afternoon left it on the desks of the six pilots that were on my board. As I was leaving through the revolving gate at the hanger I ran into Bo coming back from the club. He told me to go down to CBPO on Monday and start processing for Officer School. I excused myself and high-tailed it back to Ops and snatched up the letters before anyone else saw them. Whew! Got 'em all!
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