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|This building is a hospital that shows a lot of bullet holes inflicted during the conflict of December 1989 when the U.S. invaded Panama (Operation Just Cause).||
Gen. Noriega had been allied with drug cartels and laundered immense amounts of drug money. He was deposed and removed to
the U.S. for trial.
Sightseeing on my second trip to Panama in 1994.
|These bullet holes are just like the ones that are still evident on some remaining buildings at Pearl Harbor.|
|Another view.||Forget sitting Alert - let's get to the important stuff - a diving trip.||
Taking a break on the beach in a nice little cove before we went diving and got swept out to sea.
Doug Wescamp, Aileron, Tandy Bozman.
|Doug Wescamp, Tandy Bozman, Jon Flaugher, Doc. Morgan.||Tandy Bozman on the left and Doug Wescamp on the right.||J.T. Taggett sawing logs.|
|I had to wake J.T. up after a while, though. You can't see them in this picture, but he was covered in big ants. Freaked him out :)||At one of our beer bashes - Rhon "Spanky" Manor, Gary "Mongo" Taylor, Doc Bill Morgan, Doug Wescamp.||TSgt. Felix Franco holding down the fort in Ops.|
I like this one. Cranking up for a flight with J.T. Taggett.
Due to the big assed birds around the shoreline, we had to do single-ship takeoffs and landings. No overheads either, just St-ins
On my first trip to Panama I came down early with Jack Hower and Mongo as the lead element for the deployment (crew rest).
I hadn't had a chance to even look at the local area stuff when Mulch handed me the alert packet and we heard "Viper West"
on the phone. Crap!!! I was senior and Lead so Mongo said he'd lead. We got airborne and ID'd a Salvadoran Air Force plane
hauling drugs. Go figure. We got recalled shortly after for thunderstorms at Homebase. As we got closer we heard that the
PAR folks had bailed out due to lightning, so we did a flight breakup and headed in for individual TACAN appoaches.
Story continues in the next panel...
|It was raining so hard that my RPM guage was fluctuating +/- 1-2%. Gary had the same thing in his jet. It was like we were getting hit by a seriously big fire hose. Shot the approaches - Mongo says "Watch out lots of water on the runway, almost had to use the hook." Landed, just barely stopping by the end. Shot the approach with way lower than legal visibility - just nowhere else to go! Got to the chocks and Ray Barnes brought me in with water up over his ankles. Chocks from other planes were floating away on the ramp. Next day I went out only to see the two hills on either side of the approach end. Glad I kept the Course Indicator centered up. What a hell of a first flight! Great flight with Mongo, though! One of my best memories too, Mongo!!! That was a real bonding experience :)|
|This one and the previous panel - can't tell me the Viper didn't have awesome visibility!||Hard not to smile flying around in Panama. Once you got to outside 40mn from Howard the flying was "Due Regard." Pretty much a blank check. Even when talking to Approach you just told them what you were going to do - and then do it.||Checking out some of the local islands.|
|You couldn't do a lot of fighting with gas in the external tanks so it wasn't uncommon to take little time at the beginning of the sortie for some sightseeing.||Gave one of my cameras to J.T. and he took this one of me.||I love this one that J.T. took of me. I think it's still floating around the squadron somewhere.|
|Cruising around was a blast - especially doing low level. Not much more than jungle down there. I wonder if you could actually piss off the Howler Monkeys.||More cruising.||J.T. Taggett relaxing during a hard day on Alert :)|
Bill Morgan, Tony Gaedicke, Jon Flaugher and me, Ron Yelton.
While we were diving we worked our way between the island and the mainland. Being an inexperienced diver I wondered why it was such easy swimming. Turns out the current swept in from left of the island, 'round through the cove and then out through that pass. There was no way to get back - just 2-3 kts of current and it's out to sea. Some Army guys came 'round to pick us up in a beer boat. That's when I decided I'd had enough of diving :)
|Take a good close look at this one. I wonder what she's laughing at :)||Ron "Aileron" Yelton, Doc Morgan (Bill) and Gary "Mongo" Taylor.|
|Danny Cerna, Bill Morgan, and Gary Taylor talking on the phone.||Two Dogs with crew chiefs Rick Newsome and Carlos (Speedy) Gonzalez.||The more beer - the more fun.|
|Rhon "Spanky" Manor preparing for a run at "Shooting the Gap." We don't need no stinking NVGs. He just closed his eyes :)||Hanging out in Ops. Two Dogs waving in the back. Jon Flaugher, Mongo and Tandy Bozman in the middle. Spanky and J.T. got first dibs on the good chairs.||Mongo (as I.P.) took Tandy Bozman up on an ACM ride in the B-model. After doing a demo for an entry he gave the plane back to Tandy. Tandy says "The flight controls aren't working." About that time Gary realized that he still had the override paddle held down. He lets go and instantly gets nine Gs and his head in his lap from Tandy's input in the front. Ouch!|
|Spanky, Mongo, J.T., Two Dogs, Flaugher, Doug Moore, Felix Franco, and Al Boone the Wing C.O.||Ludwig shopping for a new purse.||There's me out at the Southern Locks.|
|With just four of these tugs they can tow one of those giant cargo ships through the canal locks. Amazing!||The last lock on the Pacific side.||There's a ship heading north on the "low" side.|
|Here comes a cargo ship at normal height.||They let out some water on the locks and lower it to the Pacific side height.||Gary Taylor and Jan Pedersen checking out the locks from the Pacific side. Jan was sometimes known as "Slewfoot." He broke his leg skiing, a spiral break that did not heal straight. One foot was crooked outward at an angle :)|
This is just a sequence of pictures while cruising the northern (Carribean side) of Panama.
Russ "Ludwig" Kramer in #754 and Amos "Baggy" Bagdasarian in #582.
|Ludwig and Baggy.|
|Russ Kramer||Ludwig and Baggy.||Amos Bagdasarian|
|One view looking out toward the flight line.||Margy, Bill Gore's wife, came along on this trip.||A view of one of the residential areas.|
|More of the base.||There's Curly (Bill Gore) outside his room.||Russ Kramer thinking about one of his rum and cokes (made with 151 rum). Those things could kill a lot of brain cells :) I drank half of one of them and had the worst headache ever before I even could even finish it.|
|The back side of the Qs.||The front side of the Qs.||Margy Gore taking a peek at the cuatimundis. Those things were real jungle rats!|
|Mongo feeding the cuatimundis. It's like feeding pigeons - once you start they keep coming back for more. One actually snatched a bag of food from JAD.||The Tica Bus. Margy Gore and I both had to leave the deployment a couple of days early. Unfortunately, the Panamanian ATC folks were going on strike. Margy and I were going to have to take the Tica Bus to Costa Rica to catch an airplane back to Miami, an 18 hr. drive through the mountains. Luckily, the strike ended late on the day before we had to leave. I had already bought our bus tickets for $18 - turned out to be cheap insurance. We sure weren't exactly excited about riding with the chickens and other livestock all the way to Costa Rica :)||Ludwig riding with our Intel lady, Lynn Hetzel on the way to somewhere.|
This was a fun dinner!
Baggy, Mongo, Yonder, Two Dogs and Margy.
|Jack Bolt taking a whack at a little white ball. Canny Cerna and Amos Bagdasarian standing waaaaaay back. There was normally a case or two of beer in a cooler in the back of the golf cart. You NEVER went into the ruff looking for a ball. There were things in the jungle that were just plain nasty. Every once in a while, though, you would hear some rustling in the bushes and a local guy would come out to sell you your golf balls back. 12 for a dollar. What a great deal.|
|Russ Kramer and Fred Beltz after whacking their balls.||
Baggy, Two Dogs and Lightning.
There was a spot out on the course where you could tee up and take a shot at hitting one of the American warships plying through Lake Gatun. Some of the guys got chastised by the military police for playing golf at night with their NVGs (Night Warfare). Seems that the police had infrared cameras up on poles throughout all the bases to combat local vandalism and bad guys. Most folks liked having the Americans around, but some didn't.
The nineteenth hole.
Jack Hower, Fred Beltz, Danny Cerna, Russ Kramer, Ron Yelton and Jack Bolt.
The peppercorn steak was fantastic here. One thing about Panama - both the food and booze were great and cheap, too!
Looks like the guys are actually doing something related to work.
Two Dogs, Mongo, Stinky, Jack Hauer and Yonder.
Enjoying a light moment in Ops.
Danny Cerna, Bill Gore, Russ Kramer, Margy Gore and Lynn Hetzel.
|Mongo was here!|
|You always have to look busy when the boss is around. Jack Hower (our Air Force Advisor), Russ Kramer and Pat Belanger chatting with the Wing C.O., Al Boone.||I think this was the beginning of Pat Belanger's aerial photography career. I gave him my camera to take a few shots. This was a fantastic shot of me, Aileron in #754 and Fred Beltz in #689 right over the Southern Locks. This one was up on the wall in Ops for a long time.||I took a sortie with Col. Boone one afternoon to do some simulated IFR intercepts. We planned to do either an IFR sliceback or pitchback. We took our split to 30nm. and turned back. Col. Boone would always go high so I glommed on to the nice big return I found right away. As I came around in my pitchback I thought, "How nice of him not to do any evasive." I rolled up at about 2nm in his left-stern. When I finally looked out what did I see? I nice big 747. I hope no one was looking out of their window :) Al thought that was funny as hell.|
|The French started work on the canal in 1881 and soon gave up due to construction issues and disease. The U.S. took over and finished it in 1904. Lake Gatun was created in order to lessen construction and excavation labor. It's higher than both of the oceans on either side. The Panamanians took over administration of the Canal in 1977 when the control transition began.||A nice shot over some of the mountains in the interior.||
The next series of pictures are from our tour of north-western Panama. We wandered up to the Bocas Del Toro Islands.
Aileron in #754 and Fred Beltz in #689.
|Cruising over Colon right by the Northern Locks.||More Colon.||Sorry, this one's out of order. Back over the mountains.|
||I just can't get enough pictures of me!!! :)||
|I really hated flying this fighter -you can tell by the look on my face - NOT! Just in front of the canopy is the antenna for the AIFF, the bulge on aircraft-right is the antenna for the RAW and a pitot tube in the front side.||Here we are out on Lake Gatun heading out for a day of fishing. Ryan "Hawaiian" Orion and our boat driver.||"Hoe" Moe and Hawaiian.|
|Our squadron sportsman - Joe Leadingham. He would find a way to go fishing or hunting on any kind of deployment. Up in Alaska he managed to set up a fishing trip in the outback with PC. They came back and smoked a bunch od salmon. It was delicious.||Pete Moe waiting for a fish.||Snagged a BIG one :)|
|The hunters return. We caught a bunch of fish and the tour guys cleaned and skinned them for us at 10 cents/fish. We took them back to the Officers Club where the club cooks battered them up so we could cook them up later. Mmmmm good!||Manly men doing manly things.||Hawaiian and Spam cooking up the fish for dinner.|
|Ryan, Joe, Paul Gruver and Tony Gaedicke. I don't know the name of the young lady, probably from Maint.||Jim McNab and Jack Hower.||Doug Wescamp, Joe Leadingham and Jim McNab.|
Spam telling the tale of how he subdued "The Big One."
Doug Wescamp, Paul Gruver, Pete Moe, Jim McNab and Joe Leadingham.
The beer is starting to kick in.
Ryan, Doug, Joe and Jim.
Singing Fighter Pilot Songs.
Gruve, Doug and Hoe.
|Tony Gaedicke pulling SOF duties. Ryan Orion in the front and Spam trying on his new glasses.||Once you're a pilot your eyes can go less than 20/20. Joe, with some real coke bottle glasses.||Felix Franco holding down Ops. Pat Belanger and there's Tom Westbrook heading off to go fly. Note the programmable flight cartridge.|
|Pee Wee thinking about some snooze time. Linen swapout is on Tuesday.||B.O.B. after a nap. Either that or that fiber cereal just isn't getting the job done :) Pete Moe watching something on the tube.||Pete Moe again. Some of our health food on the table. We ate like kings in Panama.|
|B.O.B. and Aileron at the Locks. Shortly after this tour Jim and Connie went with Carol and I on a tour and cruise in Greece. We had a ball and were still friends afterwards. :)||We were easily entertained - watching the boats go up and down...||Doug Wescamp.|
|Dougie chillin' out with some tunes.||I'd be willing to bet money that something was about to happen.||Gruve and Cuda getting warmed up. "We don't need no stinking can openers."|
|B.O.B., Gruve, Fred and Cuda.||Fred and Pete.||Fred Beltz looking mellow.|
|Things are starting to get rolling.||
The smaller male primate shows his submission to the alpha male of the tribe :)
B.O.B and Fred.
|I knew those patch stickers would come in handy.|
|Even active duty guys can have a sense of humor. Jack Hower was a great AF Advisor and a fantastic guy!||I have no idea what't going on here, and don't know if I really want to - but M.C. Hammer wants his pants back.||Col. Al Boone chatting with Bill "Curly" Gore.|
|Ron "Aileron" Yelton and Paul "Gruve" Gruver. I used to write Gruve's OERs - and he's the one that makes General :)||Well, our hardship tour is coming to an end. Just before we shipped out to Fresno, the pilots would put on a feed for the rest of our troops in appreciation for all their hard work in keeping us flying. After a few weeks the Falcons started having adverse reactions to all the humidity (electric jets, and all).||Al Boone on the left in the striped shirt, Mr. Maintenance, Marvin (Marv.) Stone and Jack Bolt front and center.|
|Jim Blinn (Maint.) and Johnny Leal (from Supply) chatting up a couple of young ladies.||Same guys as before - just add Baggy with a ceeegar.||Baggy, J.T., Yonder with Ludwig on the right. Some of our Maint. troops spread throughout.|
|Doug Wescamp lighting up at our last night BBQ.||Good way to celebrate another sucessful tour, Two Dogs.||
The bag drag of 1994. Just hanging around waiting for the Customs guy to come by and inspect the bags.
This was in one of the hangers that normally houses the TR-1s. Every once in a while we would lock onto one of these guys while out flying. The things they could do to your radar! WOW!!!
|Joe Leadingham and me getting ready for our trip home. Joe was senior so he got the front seat. The perks of rank :)||Spam getting organized.||Jim McNab on our wing for takeoff. I don't remember who was in his back seat. Good position, B.O.B.|
|We made a few 360s over the base while everyone got airborne and joined up with the tanker.||Nice countryside.||The Bridge of the Americas. Howard is right below us.|
|Jim McNab tucked right in.||There goes B.O.B. getting comfortable out there.||Jim in the B-model once we got leveled off at altitude.|
|6-some hours requires a helmet break. I had to unstrap in order to get into position to use the piddle pack - and every time I got ready to get strapped back in Joe would unload a bit and laugh his ass off :)||Approaching the tanker. Through the distortion you can just make out the Director Lights.||The Director Lights are a bit more visible as we get a bit closer to "In Position."|
|Joe's just about ready to slide to the left and get "stuck."||As if you couldn't tell who it was that dragged us home. Thanks, Coyotes!||Somebody in #583 gettin' some gas.|
|#583 again.||One more view of #583.||There goes Jim again with a big shit-eatin' grin :)|
Nice shot of an F-16 coming in to refuel. One on the left and two guys hiding out near the clouds on the right.
Next stop - Home.