46th Air Refueling Squadron (SAC) Association

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Stories of the 46th from former members.

Homer and LG, Who are they?


During the Cuban Crisis our crew of LG Simmons, Bud Price and Charlie Cook were flying out of Moron AB, Spain. The other 46th crew there at that time was Homer Gaouette’s.

            On the flights to refuel the B-52s during their circumnavigation of the Med we flew two ship cells. During the flights LG and Homer didn’t use the published call signs, they just used their first names. “Homer this is LG, where are you?”  “LG this is Homer, we are about two miles behind and closing.” This drove the Command Post weenies and the ATC crazy, don’t know why.

            After completing the refueling we made it a practice to race back home to Moron just to see who could make it back the quickest.

John Stevens


The Copilot Who Disappeared


While flying out of Moron AB, Spain during the Cuban Crisis one of the copilots disappeared from the flight schedule and also from the BOQs.

It seems that he decided that he needed a Stereo set and the BX had a nice one. So he just walked out of the BX with it. He would have gotten away with it except he forgot the power cord. To solve the problem he went back to the BX the next day and walked out with it also. He didn’t make it that time. The BX staff caught him and then found out that he had stolen the Stereo the day before.

Like I said he just disappeared.

John Stevens

Almost bit the Farm!


We were TDY to Madrid supporting the B-52s in the Med. We had completed our refueling and headed back to Madrid but the field was below minimums but Zaragoza was ok so we headed there. In the meantime, I had lost all my navigation systems and was trying to keep track of the plane by VOR and Tacan.

            We came into Zaragoza from the east and were vectored to downwind to the north of the field with a ridge between us and the field. It was broken to overcast and we could see the field occasionally through breaks in the clouds. On downwind ATC descended us and we lost sight of the field. We thought that it was just the clouds.  ATC turned us base and started another descent. Luckily we had Bud Price in the jump seat and the landing lights on because he saw the ridge before anyone else and yelled “Pull up, pull up!” I don’t think we missed the top of the ridge by more than 30 feet because I sure could see individual rocks out there as we popped over the ridge.

            Needless to say the controller was out of the cab and decertified before we landed.

John Stevens


Tanker Drag Race


Although names will be anonymous, I can remember an Open House and Air Flyby in the late 70's or 80 when two Tanker IP's and the DO plotted a flyby. There were two F-106's, a Buff, and a T-37. The tanker was to have these planes on wing and the fighters and Buff were to accelerate ahead and do a pull up. With a little talking and cajoling, the Tanker IP's worked a deal with the DO to have the tanker have a load of water for the flyby. When the formation came down the runway in formation, at breakaway point, the tanker hit the water and blew the other planes away in a drag race. This was a big hit with the spectators, but the Wing Commander was not so thrilled. A tanker with water augmentation can really haul fast. It was exciting in the cockpit to say the least, but was impressive to the people on the ground. The current Wing Commander was not so pleased, but it all worked out. It was a fun day.

Walt Russell





When I became an aircraft commander in the early 1980s, I really enjoyed going TDY with 61-0313.  She was a very well-maintained aircraft with an excellent crew chief, but the best part was the kind of extra T-L-C you could get from ramp personnel when you told them to "take good care of her, this is the famous glider."  Some years before a senior instructor pilot had managed to run her out of gas on short final at K I Sawyer after driving over to Kincheloe for a requalification ILS approach so the "other" pilot on board could go on alert the next morning.  All could have been well, had the IP gone over and back at a "flight level" with more than a single digit!  Anyway, on very short final the last engine flamed out and the very senior boomer took the total silence as a command of execution for "BAILOUT."  In very short order, everybody on board except the IP was gone.  The IP "saved the day" by managing to land the bird just short of the overrun, giving her a good high bounce and then coming to a stop in the first thousand feet of the runway with relatively minor damage.  The copilot (the last man out) had bailed out over a small valley and got one swing on the parachute before he landed -- hard.  Some local farmer found the crew entry door and dutifully returned it to the main gate.  Love the U.P.  No wonder we could all leave our doors unlocked.


James H. Evans, USAF (Retired)


Check your Floor Mats


During our time at K.I. Sawyer, I had an old MGB with rubber floormats and a battery under the back seat.  My friend, Bob Tapaszi, bought a beautiful Corvette just prior to his LAST winter at K.I.  It was a beautiful car, although before he left Bob mentioned that he was surprised how many places on that car had rust after only part of one winter, since so much of the car is fiberglass. The ultimate indignity, however, came the first time he brought the car through the main gate at K.I. Sawyer and he found out what a "drug-sniffing dog" (trained on marajuana, of course) does to HEMP FLOORMATS.  Disgusting!  Hope to see you at the Reunion, Bob.


Jim Evans, USAF (Retired)  



Once Upon a Time


Once upon a time, at a SAC base in the Far North (K I Sawyer), an aircraft commander (Blue Zoo graduate but near his D.O.S.) decided to go to the B.X. even though the beloved klaxon was out -- he needed a haircut!  Since the boss was going, the foolish young copilot (R.O.T.C. and actually not-so-young) and the intrepid navi-guessor (also R.O.T.C. and he knew better, too) went along.  When the alert horn went off, so the story goes, the brave and steely-eyed boomer and crew chief took an alert truck out to the KC-135, powered her up, and made all the same radio calls everyone else was making.  Wouldn't want to stand out!  By the time the A.C. and the rest of the crew arrived at the airplane, everyone else had been released and sent back to the "old legal office" Squadron Building and alert facility for tankers.  Some weeks later, on another alert response, this same crew managed to get three out of four to the bird on time -- the old navigator had locked himself in his room since this was his last alert tour ever and, if it were actually real, he didn't really want to go.  The A.C. (did I mention he was USAFA?) thought briefly about turning the crew in as the "most improved."  After all, it was a 300% improvement over the last time!


Jim Evans, USAF (Retired)

Night of the Gliding Pig

I just read something on the squadron site about the great KC-135 glider flight of august 1969, and decided I’d better put the story right. I was the substitute navigator on the crew that day; we spent several hours in transition, up-down, up-down; the crew’s copilot needing a recheck on an ILS approach. After several hours the IP came out and climbed aboard and wanted to get the ILS done, but was informed the KI Sawyer ILS was inop, so we had to go to Kincheloe. Why he didn’t already know this has always puzzled me. He asked for clearance going east at 10 K feet. When asked if he was sure about the requested altitude, he said, "You’re right, get 6 K or 5 K.’ whichever was the appropriate level for east bound. As a crew we expected to pop up about 20,000 run east, then drop back down.

All the way to Kincheloe the two pilots debated the need to stop and refuel. The IP would hear none of this. The copilot on final at Kincheloe said he was going to land to top off our fuel. The IP said, "You will make a missed approach and that is an order. Our fuel is all right." We thus dutifully made the missed approach and headed back to KI Sawyer, this time only a thousand difference in altitude than on the trip over. You could almost hear the engines drinking JP-4. The copilot looked back at me and raised his eyebrows. We began to experience fuel starvation around Munising. At that point the IP told the AC to get out of the left seat, and in sliding down into position he pulled back two throttles, not to idle, but to off. Once in his seat, he restarted the engines, another waste of fuel.

Thus we lumbered west and somewhere between Munising and Skandia the AC and copilot made it clear we had serious fuel problems. Thus, the IP now shut down two engines (the same two he had shut down and restarted once before). Then things began to become frantic as the copilot and IP played with fuel tanks, trying, I assume, to get a handle on what we actually had. At one point between Skandia and the runway, the copilot suggested we declared a mayday and the IP vehemently blocked him . "We do not have an emergency." But now engines were beginning to starve out and go silent and reluctantly the IP said on the interphone: "Prepare to bailout." By then we were all chuted and the boomer stepped up and pulled the bar and blew the hatch. I stood by my nav seat, looking down, watching trees pass below. The IP was silent through all of this, and the boomer, seeing that we had no engines and were in flying brick mode, said, "I’m out of here, sir," grabbed the bar, pulled up his knees, let go and away he went. I stepped forward and looked at the fuel panel. The IP was fiddling with everything. The AC was silent. The panel was all zeros. I said, "Okay, we’re gliding, I’m out of here." I then did what the boomer did and my chute popped, I had time to check that it was deployed and full, and then I was sliding down the side of a white pine. Beyond my chute I could see two other chutes, the boom operator and I was not sure who else.

On the ground, I popped my riser releases and reeled in my beeper and turned it off. Then I heard a voice yelling for help. I spread my chute on a tree so I could mark my place and went and found the AC hanging in a small tree, and helped him to get down. We then build a fire in a small clearing and waited for the cavalry. The copilot landed on an island in creek, after one swing in his chute, and built a fire and had a bobcat or lynx screaming at him and a fire from 20-30 yards away until dawn.

The night before the flight evaluation board I got inappropriate phone calls from someone with stanboard suggesting I testify a certain way, which made it clear someone wanted to blame the boom operator for all that had happened. I told him I was going to testify the way it happened. Period.

At the FEB, Colonel Bruner (our former 46 ARS CO) said, "You guys didn’t have the order to bailout. I said, "That’s true because the pilot was out of his seat and silent and the tanks were empty, the four engines were out and as far as we were concerned the IP was dead. We had been told to prepare. That we did. And altitude was falling fast and we knew it was time to get out. I told the board if they were going to try to pin everything on the boomer, I knew ways to make the whole thing quickly nationally public and very, very messy. After the boomer, myself and the AC had bailed out, the copilot asked the IP if he could go to and only then somewhere between Skandia and the runway did the IP agree that a Mayday should be declared. Which it then was, and then the copilot jumped from his seat to the bar, took one second to stabilized and dropped out the escape hatch.

There were lots of funny events during the course of this goat rodeo, but the funniest was my wife. The CO and a chaplain showed up at our house and she talked them through the screen door and the CO sort of mumbled and hemmed and hawed and finally said, without looking her in the eye, "We think your husband’s crew has had a little problem."

"What kind of little problem?" she shot back.

"They bailed out – but we think they’re okay." By now the two are trying to push their way inside to take care of the little lady of the house.

She stared at them and said, "Did they bail out over land or over water?"


Sandy said, "Okay, my husband will be fine, you guys can go, and closed the door in their faces.

I had parachuted before and I had always told her that if I got out over land not to worry, that the only worry should be an over-water bailout. She had taken what I had said as gospel.

When we applied to the Caterpillar Club for membership we were turned down because our aircraft had "never been disabled" and thus there had been no need for a bailout. Despite the finding of the FEB that the deployment of the weighted hatch and loss of 600-800 pounds of human meat had probably been the critical factors that allowed the IP to dead-stick the pig to the ground short of the runway.

Ah, them were the days. We were the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th people to ever parachute safely from a KC-135.

Joe "Hump" Heywood


I was a crew chief from 1976 through 1980 in the 410th OMS. I had 61-0299 the whole time I was there, and this one story sticks out. The plane had sat in Cann status for about the normal 30 days and was scheduled to fly a local after we had put it back together. The pilot was Capt. Chuck Lambuth who was known informally as "Choo Choo" for his love of trains. Everything went pretty smoothly until gear up, when the cockpit started to fill with smoke. The plane came back on an in-flight emergency. It turns out that while the plane sat for 30 days someone had "borrowed" (there is no honor among thieves-old crew chief proverb) about a 3" piece of rubber hose which connects the ditching hand hold drains on the top of the aircraft to the main drain line that exits through the bottom. It was located right behind the whiskey compass so when it rained, or the ice from the winter melted the water went straight down behind the glare shield. This all pooled in an area that had the gear solenoid in it and when the solenoid was activated, poof. From then on Chuck was known as Smokey.

Dave Wallace

Ben’s Last Hoorah

During the month of November 1965, just six months after getting my first KC-135 aircrew as Aircraft Commander we were sent to March AFB, CA to form up with a task force to escort F-4’s to Viet Nam. The morning of our departure from March was one of foul weather. We were surrounded by thunderstorms and the twelve F-4’s were all ready airborne, having launched from a distant base (unknown to us) and in need of refueling.

As it turned out my crew was designated as the lead crew and I was assigned as the Cell Commander and the aide to the Task Force Commander rode with me. I launched first, followed by the other two KC-135 aircraft in my Cell. I had hardly gotten the aircraft cleaned up when we went right into the weather. My Navigator worked us through the squall line with the other two tankers following us. I had never before sustained such turbulence and the Commander’s aide was clenching his teeth. We finally broke out into the clear and formed up in formation with the other two tankers. We immediately rendezvoused with the twelve F-4’s, refueled them and proceeded on to Hickam AFB, HI where we spent the night.

The next morning at our weather briefing the Commander’s Aide told me that the Task Force Commander, Col. Beauchamp, was impressed with my performance during the departure from March AFB, CA and was going to be riding with me for the rest of the sortee. The F-4’s were all ready airborne waiting for our tankers to takeoff and refuel them before we headed to Guam. As the lead aircraft I was the first of the tankers to takeoff. During the take off roll water augmentation that gives us added thrust for take off didn’t cut in on No. 3 engine. My co-pilot set dry take off power on that engine and we continued our roll. Just as we broke ground the fire warning light for No. 3 engine came on. I called to the Boom Operator (BO) to scan No.3 engine and immediately started a 15 degree bank away from the city of Honolulu, throttled back No. 3 and, at that moment the BO reported back there was no sign of fire on the engine. The co-pilot checked the engine instrument gages and verified that everything was in the ‘green’ (meaning everything was normal). I instructed the co-pilot to set climb power on all engines and we climbed to 31,000’ where rendezvoused with the F-4’s, refueled them and continued on our way. The rest of the flight to Guam (Andersen AFB) was uneventful, where we again remained over night, before departing for Viet Nam.

The next morning after our weather briefing the Commander’s aide again took me aside to let me know that my performance during the takeoff at Hickam had won me more points than I could spend in a life time. I thanked him for the information, but really didn’t understand the significance of his comment. During out departure from Guam we were at maximum takeoff gross weight of 301,600 lbs. and the takeoff end of the runway had no overrun. For that matter, the takeoff end of the runway ended at the edge of a steep cliff, and below that was the Pacific Ocean. With that in mind, I took the active runway in preparation for takeoff and taxied on to the 1000’ overrun on the approach end of the runway and turned around for takeoff and set the brakes. I had the co-pilot set the throttles for takeoff power, released the brakes and began to roll, everything went like clockwork; however, as we passed the end of the runway at the cliff our aircraft passed from warm air into cooler air over the ocean causing a settling affect on the aircraft causing those on board who were not expecting it to pucker a little bit. We climbed to our assigned altitude, rendezvoused with the F-4’s who were all ready airborne, refueled them and proceeded on our way, passing just south of the Philippines, to the drop off point just off shore of Viet Nam. Our instructions were to give the F-4’s whatever fuel they needed and every one of them asked to be topped off. We complied with their request and that put us a little tight on fuel. I had to make a decision whether to divert to Clark Air Base as we passed the southern tip of the Philippines or proceed on to Guam arriving at our initial point (IP) for approach to Andersen AFB with a minimum of 55,000 lbs of fuel.

I checked with the other two tankers in my Cell and they both had more fuel remaining than I did. I asked my co-pilot to go into our planning charts and calculate the fuel required to fly from the fix our navigator had given us to the IP for our approach for landing and let me know if we met the minimum fuel requirement at the IP. After awhile he told me we needed to divert to Clark Air Base for refueling. I didn’t want to do that, so I gave the co-pilot control of the aircraft and, using my experience as a Flight Engineer, calculated our fuel remaining at the IP. I told the Task Force Commander that we would have 55,000 lbs of fuel over the IP. He said, "Captain, you’re the Aircraft Commander, the decision is yours." I told him we were going on to Guam. I watched our airspeed and fuel flow gages and nursed those engines all the way there.

As we got closer to Guam, I heard the Control Center telling other aircraft they needed to have 10 miles separation before they could they could begin their approach to Andersen AFB, otherwise they would have to go into a holding pattern until there was 10 Miles separation. I instructed the other two tankers to get 10 miles separation between aircraft in trail formation before we arrived at the IP.

When we arrived at the IP, I checked our fuel totalizer and we had exactly 55,000 lbs. I motion to the Task Force Commander and pointed to the fuel totalizer. He saw the fuel remaining and gave me a "thumbs up". I was cleared for immediate descent and approach for landing at Andersen. Normally, I would extend the landing gear and raise the speed brakes for descent; however, this time I kept the aircraft clean and lowered the nose and let the good times roll. We picked up speed in the descent and got greater separation from the two tankers in my cell approaching the IP. When I got to traffic pattern altitude, I put the speed boards to slow to approach speed and the landing gear down for a safe landing with plenty of fuel remaining.

The flight from Guam to Hickam was uneventful and the Task Force Commander and his Aide stayed behind to take care of the details closing out the Task Force, I suppose. We flew from Hickam directly back to K.I. Sawyer the next day. Some time later in the month of November (November 23, 1965 to be exact) I received a letter of Commendation for Commendable Crew Performance for my crew and I. This was my last Hoorah before getting grounded with diabetes.

Ben Carde

One of my best memories occurred on May 7, 1969.  I was flying transition  at Sawyer with Col. Klena, while my wife Evelyn was taken to the base hospital. She went into labor and delivered Lori Beth.  Evelyn insisted on being wheeled to a pay phone, to call the command post. Major Purdy tried to find out what she had, but she insisted on telling me first. A phone patch was set up, and I received the good news. Great memories 40 years ago.

Earl Goldberg


Stories 1

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