Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
"One of the reasons Cold War Fast Jet flying was so hazardous was because risks had to be taken to get the job done with some of the crummy equipment we had. For example, how many aircrew today continue on task in peace or war with no HUD or no radio? We were having to do that in the Falklands war and it was SOP in peacetime training. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, it’s just a fact. As an example, if you had ever observed a Harrier Field site operating under TACEVAL conditions then you might have some idea of what I’m talking about."
Amen to that: NWE in most seasons potentially, and often, evil; skies often swarming with aircraft high speed low level, choppers [never mind Harriers] operating out of tiny clearings, popping up here there [and sometimes AAC, to add to the confliction] and everywhere, active airfields very close to each other and to civil ...... I was only a Met. man but the weather that "my boys" flew in would sometimes make you hesitate to use the car. Hats off to 2 and 4 squadrons' Hunter men in particular, and their successors at Guetersloh in the Harrier. Not to mention 19 and 92 with very short endurance ....... I used to pray that an accident did not happen on my watch, because all sorties were briefed face to face, either at a 1000 bomber raid stand-up job, or later in the office. In bad weather OC Flying/Ops used to camp out in the Met.Office, alternating with trips up to ATC ...... I suspect he cadged coffee and fags in both. I don't think METARS and colour code trends had been invented in the Hunter days, everything had to be decoded, easy for me, not good for authorisers.
"The Bronze Star is the U.S. military's fourth-highest individual decoration for bravery, heroism or meritorious service.
Gamez distinguished herself by meritorious achievement as the NCO in charge during a 365-day deployment, January 2011 to January 2012. While in Afghanistan, she accurately executed operational funds across eight remote bases, providing commanders with flexibility in support of counterinsurgency efforts. Gamez trained 68 operational fund teams, reviewed 34 projects and funded 280 joint acquisition board packages enabling critical base sustainment."
After post #94, you need to fess up as to whether your Cold War recollection is based on experience or hearsay.
I’ll follow up by saying that it’s apparent that medals are a contentious issue. I have friends who have earned serious “top row recognition” and will never mention why. I have others who will tell tales of derring-do which leave me humbled. I was briefed on the bravery of Chinook and C130 crews who braved the same fire fights of which our WW2 ancestors made us proud. Take nothing from them.
I flew for years. I flew sorties where I vegetated for hours on end. A Russian during the event was a bonus. I flew short exercise sorties (read air combat at low level) from Wildenrath where we never got as far as the POL (those who were there will understand). 20 minutes in an F4, 3 tank fit and back on the ground with 7 simulated “kills”. Hectic days. A friend landed after just 40 minutes with a real kill in 1981 but, sadly, one of our own aircraft. I had days where I was telling my man in the front where the “lumpy bits” were so he could avoid bumping into them while I was watching on radar to intercept anyone else daft enough to be down in the North German murk with us. And there were plenty daft enough - but mostly Brits! I saw French Mirages pull up using plenty of French expletives when they decided the Brits were mad. I nearly died on a bright blue day surrounded by 50 other aeroplanes when a planner thought WW3 in a 30 mile CAP box was good training. It was; but it was the only time that I left CAP before the fuel was on minimums. Three serious 500 ft “bubble infringements” ( 1 unseen until the pass) – read dust offs - was enough for one sortie. My pilot that day died later in the Falklands on a benign training sortie. I nearly died when one engine failed and a 2nd emergency meant the only remaining engine decided not to play ball. Luckily it reconsidered and allowed us to land. No Queens' Comm because we put it safely on the ground. I also nearly expired when my mirrors were filled with my leader’s airframe. That was life in the Cold War where unbriefed combat was the norm.
Contrast that with my “operational flying” – granted mostly F4s in the Falklands in the immediate aftermath of the conflict – when the real risk of a rogue Argentinean attack was relatively remote. Deny Flight was not really a period when we might have met an air to air threat, more likely a SAM.
I wasn’t under threat when I earned one of my medals when I was running the Ops floor in a well known CAOC when Milosovic left the Farm. No Scuds were likely to hit me unlike some of my friends during GW1. Interesting, all the same. I was awarded 4 medals on exchange in the US (including a top shelf offer) but “Brits Don’t Do Medals”. At least they look good in the shadow box in my study. My American friends felt at least I should be able to look at what I might have been awarded - but for HMG. A nice sentiment. Again, granted, no rockets were landing on my head and I never saw any sandy places. Different standards but the same wars.
And you're right. I was home regularly in 2ATAF. We only had one (or 2) week long lock-in exercises a month. We only had APC, MPC and ACMI detatchments that took us away for 3 to 6 weeks at a time so it was plain sailing. At least the 4 month Falklands detachments came a little later.
In our free time, a Warrant Officer was shot by the IRA at a crossroads in The Netherlands on his way to the ferry.
Ultimately, I go back to my original point. You play the fight you’re given. We all might be heroes. Some are. Some of us might have been. Those who are, deserve respect that even a medal can’t construe.
I wear the Cold War Commemoration Medal referred to here Cold war history exhibition - RAF Museum with some pride on Anzac Day parades. Why? Because down here on the Mornington Peninsula some 50 kms South of Melbourne, Oz the locals were so isolated from the realities of the 1950/60's Europe and world affairs that their knowledge of the Cold War is commensurate with their knowledge of the Crimean War or the Boer War, and it helps me remind them that the Cold War was for real, irrespective of whether people died or not.
When asked I say it commemorates the time I spent manning the barricades against the Soviet hordes. I believe that those who were involved at the time took it very seriously, as did I. If we hadn't there may not have been many around afterwards to wear any actual WWIII medals awarded. The commemoration medal only gets an airing once a year, but when it does it fulfills a very worthwhile purpose.
PS. I regularly socialise with people who have no idea what the "V" Force was, have never heard of the Vulcan, and know even less of the threats posed by the likes of Khrushchev, Breznev, et al. And yes they are of a similar age to myself, so they should know.
PPS. Medals and the like aren't worn for the benefit of the wearer, unless one is taken with continuous glances in a mirror, they are worn to let others know that certain events took place, and the wearer had some direct involvement.