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|My old friend, Willy Benton. Willy was already working in the ODC when I got back from Basic Training. He came up from the Van Nuys Air Guard Unit with Bob Boehringer as an Air Technician. Willy helped train me along with Don Nordstron, George Hanson, Russ Hairell among others. CMSgt DiSanto was running things back then. His son Vince also worked in the ODC and was good buddy.||Way back then, the ODC was right above the Alert Room in one corner of the hangar. The Alert Room was a pretty cozy space with framed puzzles of topless Playboy models on the walls. One Saturday Baggy was on alert and right in the middle of a nice nap when Willy and I went for a visit. All of a sudden a pack of firecrackers went off in there. How they got there I don't know, and you can't prove it was us :) Amos came stumbling out all blurry-eyed, his sense of humor intact. The Sky Cops didn't have much of a sense of humor, though.||Carol and I used to go over and have dinner or drinks on the weekends with Willy and Debbie. Tequila Sunrises were all the rage back then. Willy's kids were great to play with. Mark Knowles, Vince DiSanto, Willy and me used to pal around together generally getting in trouble. The night before my first ORI in the Command Post we all went out to the Silver Dollar bar and drank margaritas 'til the wee hours. The next day at work was brutal. B.O.B. later told me that that was the best way to get through your Instrument Check. You're too hungover to have any nervousness about passing.|
|OK. The best Willy Benton story ever. Fresno went down to Tyndall for the 1982 William Tell live fire competition. Willy and B.O.B. had a Ronald Reagan mask and was the basis for a grand hoax on the attendees. He had been telling everyone that the President was coming for a visit to support his old states' boys.The Weapons guys put on their competition blazers and we all piled into the rental sedans. We put some small flags in the hood gaps to look official and drove around through the base. I was driving the black sedan with Lynne Budd with flour in her hair to look a little older like Nancy, and Willy wearing the Reagan mask. (cont.)||We drove through the residential areas and one full Colonel working on his boat in his front yard stood at attention and saluted as Willy waved while driving by. Every time we came to an intersection all the Weapons guys would jump out of their cars and direct traffic just like the guys in black suits. We ended up at the Officers Club to hoots and hollers. About the time that the base Protocol Officer arrived all a-twitter that she hadn't been notified about the presidential visit a shot (cap pistol) rang out and then all hell broke loose. That was probably the best practical joke ever executed. And on an entire AFB to boot! Well done Willy and Jim!||Willy went to UPT just before me and I was his alternate. Once I got back we had some great times flying together or just hanging out. I was bummed when he took off for Hawaii but carried on anyway. Ask him about our cross-country to Luke AFB for a low level. On another trip there we were waiting for some gas on the ramp when the emergency siren went off. We looked around for a while but didn't see any planes coming in. All of a sudden we looked up and saw a Republic Airlines DC-9 doing a flame-out pattern. He was coming from Fresno and the night before the captain assumed that he had been refueled. Even though he had an inop fuel guage he didn't check before he took off. He had just about zero gas when he landed but made it to the ramp alright. I felt sorry for all the folks onboard that were welcomed by being surrounded by the Sky Cops and had to sit in that hot tube with no airconditioning.|
These are shots of Willy conducting training at U.S. Air. I bet it's always great training with Willy. Nobody, and I mean nooooo body
(that's Bucky from Fresno Dodge in the old days, remember him?) can tell a story like Willy Benton. Willy ended up moving over to the
Hawaii ANG to fly F-15s when we transitioned to the Lead Sled, flew for Hawaiian for a while and ended up teaching ground school for
We really need to get him out for our Christmas Parties!!!