Chapter 1 - Retirement at Scott AFB, Illinois
I had sent our Ford station wagon to New York earlier so it would be there when we arrived in the States. Going home was quite a trip. The United States government was subsidizing the US Merchant Marine and each trip the Air Force was allotted some passenger space for the Military. I found out about this and put a request for our family to return to New York via this plan. We got approval and took the TALGO train to Algeciras. This is a Spanish city adjacent to Gilbralter where we would embark on a American-Italian liner named (?). We arrived at Algeciras a day early and enjoyed the town shopping. Jane got her pocket-book with a fair amount of Pesedas "lifted" right out of her carrying bag. Police could do nothing about it.
The next day our ship was anchored in the harbor between Gilbralter and Algeciras. We took a motor launch from Algeciras harbor to the ship. The trip took 6 days and we were entertained the whole route as it was a regular cruise ship (The Independence). They had entertainment and care for Mark and David so we only saw them when we ate and slept. We shared out meals with a Navy Doctor (Commander and his wife who had been based at Sidi Slimane, French Morocco. They were going to Lafayette, LA for discharge out of the service. On the Atlantic ocean we only saw one other ship and it was the sister ship "The Constitution" and going east. We picked up the car and drove to Scott AFB, Illinois to find housing. Mark was going to stay with us and David was to stay with his grand parents in Orange and go to Junior College at Santa Ana. We found that Frank and Jeanne Barrett were based there and they told us housing was hard to find. This was very true. I found that there was some Officer housing on the base. They were converted barracks with living room, kitchen and one other room down stairs and 2 or 3 bedrooms upstairs. After checking for rentals of base we decided this was the best that was available.
I had put in for discharge after one year of duty in the Inspector General (IG) section so we figured these quarters would be OK for one year. With my rank and seniority we were assigned an apartment immediately. We left the Ford on base in front of our new home and took a taxi to Lambert Field in St Louis. We flew to Los Angeles and on to Nettie and Ewalds at Cambridge St in Orange, California. We stayed about three weeks and visited Rhea and Ray. We bought a used 1962 brown Mercury 4 door sedan to take back to Scott AFB, Belville, Illinois. Leaving David with the folks, Jane Mark and I drove back to Scott to get the new house ready and Mark in school. Our furniture finally came from storage. I went to the shipping and receiving to see about getting it moved to our apartment and there I saw a big dent in the side of the iron container that stored our furniture. As it turned out, the only piece damaged was the dinning room table. I was able to sand it down to remove the gouge. (WeĠre still using it and this solid maple table is still good as new). We went to Sears and bought a big window air- conditioner and installed it for the hot mid-west summer. Mark was back in little league playing 1st base as a lefty. This also gave him a step closer to 1st base when he Was batting. I remember when winter came with two cars I would put chains on the Ford so if it snowed we would use it. When the roads were clear we would go to the Mercury.
My job in the Air Weather Service IG was taking a team or if it was a National Guard unit I would go by myself to inspect the weather station, their personnel and check on how they were functioning. Being a Lt Col and the senior one in our IG section, I was always in charge of the inspection team. This meant lots of paper work and giving the final critic to the Unit. Sometimes there would be some unhappy Colonels. I guess it was well that I would not be assigned back to the field before I retired. A lot of the IG visits required only two officers so Frank Barrett and I went on a lot of these together. The following are the bases I remember:
Wurtsmith AFB with Frank
I'll always remember this one. When we arrived the Detachment Commander tells us he had just recently finished a tour with the IG section and we wouldn't find anything wrong here as he had a copy of our checklists. Well he was right, everything seemed to be excellent. But then on the second day I was checking the forecasting area and Frank was in the office checking their files, etc. All of a sudden he comes into the forecasting section and says "Bob, come see this". I go into the office and Frank goes to the safe and gently opens the unlocked door. Now I have to tell you that this base is a SAC base with B-52's that have missions to bomb Russian bases.
The weather station is privy to these B-52 flight routes and their Russian targets because a weather forecaster has to provide route weather briefings every day to the B-52 alert crews. This "stuff" is TOP SECRET and leaving a safe open with no proper secure authority in the room is just not suppose to be done. We called the DETCO Lt Col (?) and told him that we had found a little something wrong. Well the sh-t would have hit the fan if we had written this into our inspection report. We knew that he would have been happy if we had found anything else instead of a unlocked "TOP SECRET" safe. We decided since every thing else was so good that we would just kid him and give him a bad time verbally.
KI Sawyer AFB with Frank
Lots of snow and cold - 3rd Weather Wing Forecast Center at Offutt AFB Nebraska I had a team of about 5 officers and two Master Sgts. This unit used computers and our inspection team knew very little about them even though we had a briefing about them before we left. I wish I knew then what I know now. We probably could have found some things wrong besides just using too much computer paper.
Bunker Hill AFB Indiana with Frank
We checked out a Government vehicle and drove from Scott AFB to Bunker Hill AFB. With the base so close to Scott we would try to have our own (Government) car to get around the Air Base while we were making our inspection. We were able to inspect what we wanted and at any time of the day or night. This was a B-58 base and we arrived after dark. As we approached the base we could see that it was lit up by a B-58 that had just crashed on take-off. The B-58's never did really become operational. They were plagued with problems. I heard later that the B-58's never "Reflexed" to my old base at Zaragoza, Spain as planned when I was there.
Korea - Seoul, Oson and Puson AFB with Captain Lingle
We joined with the other teams that had inspected Vietnam bases and Okanawa bases at the 1st Wing Hdq at Tokyo and our combined teams inspected the Hdq and weather center. I biggest question was that they (Col Soury) were pushing the Weather observers on their errors too hard and the observers were spending too much time trying to beat the system and the observations were suffering because of this. Col Soury was really "sour" on our IG team for this. Also while I was in Seoul, Korea, I and Captain Bob Landsdell(Frank saysalso could be Capt Harvey C. Lingle) had the Detco reassigned for what we were told about him from the weather station airmen and what we had observed about him while we were visiting this Detachment.
Squantum Air National Guard at Boston - Just me
I stayed in Boston and had fish and clams for every meal.
Whiteman AFB with Frank
This was a missile base and the Detco was Lawrence Connoly, Washington DC. This station serviced Air Force ONE.
Oxnard AFB, California SMSGT Walter P. Mardyla and I
We arrived on a weekday early afternoon and the DETCO had already left for the day. I told the duty forecaster to let him (Detco) know the IG was here.
Other IG: CO
This was the end of twenty two and one half years in the Air Force. I was lucky to always have a job I enjoyed. I've later thought that Jane was always "jealous" of me for having this kind of "dumb-happy" attitude. August 1964 We had sold the 59 Ford Station wagon to a Airman who sent it to his brother in Denver. We packed and shipped our household items to California and Jane, Mark, and I left in the 63 Mercury for California. David was living with Nettie and Ewald Wegner in Orange and going to Santa Ana Junior College. His big love was a 1955 Jaguar coupe and his school grades were suffering because of misplaced interests. Ed Markham made full Colonel and was assigned as Base Commander to a Air Defense Base at Montauk on the eastern tip of Long Island, NY. He retired in 1964 or 65, Peggy and Ed bought a home in Arlington,CA.