Biloxi Days: Camille: She Warn’t No Lady

While many of my peers were celebrating at Woodstock, from August 15 to August 17 of 1969, I was defending America from Communism, irony intended, and more specifically, preparing our squadron of T-28 trainer aircraft for the arrival of Hurricane Camille, “the strongest hurricane to strike the mainland of the United States in the 20th […]

Biloxi Days: Chief Johns vs. Major Smith

Biloxi, Mississippi in 1970 was the 3380th Field Maintenance Squadron. We had about 20 separate specialty and trade shops for the various aircraft systems — fuel systems, hydraulics, airframe-structure, while and tire, propulsion, propeller, ground equipment, electrical, egress systems, pilot gear, parachutes, sheet metal, machine, welding, corrosion control and paint, fabric and uniforms, instruments, non-destructive […]

Biloxi Days: The Barracks Visit

I arrived at Lackland Air Force Base outside of San Antonio for Officer Training School in November of 1967. For reasons known only to my recruiter in Fresno, I was two weeks early for 90 days of instruction, after which I would emerge as a “90 day wonder,” a Second Lieutenant or “brown bar” as […]

Biloxi Days: Morning Standup

Every morning at eight o’clock sharp each of the six maintenance organization chiefs had to appear at the morning status briefing in the cramped, table-less headquarters conference room. The chiefs were joined by a supply rep and a senior pilot.  The purpose of the meeting was to review the status of all maintenance activity in […]

Biloxi Days: Mr. Trent

In the late 60s and early 70s the Civil Rights Movement burned hot and fierce, fighting its fight into every area of American life, including the military where, as many Americans don’t know, the first full integration took place during the Truman presidency.  Racism was strictly suppressed in the military, which I discovered first hand […]

Biloxi Days: The Monument

Toward the end of my four-year tour at Keesler Air Force Base outside Biloxi, Mississippi, it was becoming clear that President Nixon’s quixotic attempt to “Vietnamize” the Vietnam war by, among other things, training Vietnamese pilots to fly T-28s, would soon be ended. Base Commander General Madsen thought the hands-across-the-waters instruction should be commemorated, quickly […]

Biloxi Days: The Leak

I happened to be in the office of Chief Master Sergeant Ralph Johns, the Field Maintenance superintendent, when he received a call from Sergeant Wilkins in the aero repair shop over in Hangar 3. It was late July in a hot southern Mississippi summer. Sergeant Wilkins was annoyed because someone on the flight line had […]

Biloxi Days: The Complaint

The first T-28 trainers arrived at Keesler Air Force Base in early 1967. Colonel Slaughter and I arrived in late 1968. Prior to the arrival of the flight training squadron Keesler was primarily an electronics training base — communications, radars, etc. and had their own much larger organization on the other side of the base, […]

Biloxi Days: Crash Recovery

We were having occasional problems with the rebuilt carburetors coming back from the depot in San Antonio. The carburetors were installed behind the T-28’s radial engine where they combined air and fuel in a tightly controlled mixture operated by the throttle position in the T-28 two-seater training aircraft cockpit.  Normally carburetors do not require much […]

Biloxi Days: Pseudo-Folliculitis

In 1974 an Okinawa-based dermatologist and Army Major named Alvin Alexander and his co-author, a physician at Montefiore Hospital in New York, wrote a paper entitled “Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (PFB) in the Military.” Some excerpts: “Pseudofolliculitis Barbae, colloquially known as ‘razor bumps’ or ‘shaving bumps,’ undoubtedly has been with us for centuries, but it was not […]