Jan. 1, 2013

Sexual Misconduct

The Air Force suffered serious repercussions in the media and Congress from the sex abuse scandal at JBSA-Lackland [“Sexual Misconduct at BMT,” November, p. 48]. Three basic military training instructors received prison sentences while 12 others remain under investigation. The story captured headlines and air time throughout the US, including all three network newscasts. An outraged Texas senator delayed the confirmation of Gen. Mark Welsh as Air Force Chief of Staff.

The news coverage affected me personally because I went through Officer Training School at Lackland in 1964. But nothing like this happened during my period of service (1964-1968) because the Air Force maintained gender segregation during all military training. Women MTIs led female flights, while men conducted training for male recruits. Integrating both sexes in training is a failed social experiment that led to a disaster. When you have male MTIs with total authority in charge of young female recruits who are powerless, it’s an invitation for abuse.

The Air Force has taken corrective measures, including placing a female colonel in charge of basic military training at Lackland. But that’s not good enough. Women MTIs must train all female recruits. Gender integration can wait until training is completed. Some women activists may complain about this, but they’ll scream much louder if sex abuse happens again.

However, I commend the Air Force for fully reporting these incidents and giving news media virtually unrestricted access to cover the trials at Lackland. During my tenure as a public affairs officer, if I had suggested allowing the media to cover court-martials, I probably would have been discharged for psychiatric reasons or charged with insubordination.

Richard Reif

Flushing, N.Y.

As a former Lackland BMTS training officer and squadron commander I have watched the totally predictable incidents of sexual misconduct that have occurred since male and female trainees were assigned to the same units.

The problem is not difficult to understand if you know anything about human sexual response. Females are attracted to high-status males, which are males in leadership positions that are respected, admired, and have prestige in the group. Males are attracted by physical appearance such as females that are young, pretty, and sexy.

From the female trainees’ viewpoint the male TIs are strong, mature, commanding, manly, high-status males. From the male TI standpoint, most females reach the pinnacle of their attractiveness between the ages of 18 and 21, and that is exactly the age range of most female trainees.

Now add the fact there are studies that indicate that sexual attraction is increased in high-anxiety environments. Plus basic training is specifically designed to tear down the trainees’ old patterns of behavior and substitute a new pattern of behavior, so many of the old “values” are being challenged.

The statement announcing Colonel Palmer being relieved as head of basic training operations stated, “Palmer did not create the environment that resulted in the misconduct.”

No, the environment was created by senior Air Force leadership who appear to lack a fundamental understanding of deep-seated human behavior.

Ted C. Hill

Wooster, Ohio

Classics, Hurrah! Classics, Boo!

I notice that, in the “Interesting Facts” about the F-5, you sidestepped the fact that the aircraft is basically a T-38 pooped up for combat [“Airpower Classics: F-5,” December, p. 72].

Another point of interest, probably too long for the page, is that the aircraft had a foreign object problem. Its profile was quite low to the ground and the intakes were low on the fuselage. When power was applied, vortices formed beneath the intakes and anything on the ground at that point was sucked in. I imagine the T-38 had the same problem, although the F-5E did have larger engines. In Southeast Asia screens were installed over the intakes before engine start. When the aircraft was positioned for takeoff, some guys in a pickup jumped out and removed the screens, and when the aircraft landed they jumped out and put them back.

I really enjoy the “Airpower Classics” series. I have them all in binders. I’ll keep collecting them as long as you keep printing them. Thanks!

Joe Hodder

Westfeld, Mass.

Could you have entered any more demeaning terms and information about the Galaxy [“Airpower Classics: C-5,” September, p. 140]? Under “Interesting Facts,” it was said that one of the C-5 nicknames was “Linda Lovelace”! How crude! How insulting! I was a pilot on the Galaxy from 1980 through 1996 and never heard that term used.

Other wonderful snippets include: “emerged from a 1970s morass of problems and cost overruns” and “suffered a thrown wheel and tire blowout on 1970 maiden operational landing,” and we should all know that the C-5 “became first development program with $1 billion overrun.” This is all true, but I thought the purpose of this magazine was to “promote a dominant United States Air Force and a strong national defense and to honor airmen and our Air Force heritage.” Would it have hurt to mention a few more positive things concerning the Galaxy?

Perhaps a mention of the two C-5C space cargo module airlifters that were specifically retrofitted to carry the space shuttle cargo bay would have been nice. As a Life Member of AFA, I expect more and I was extremely disappointed with this coverage of our largest transport.

Lt. Col. Richard Benbow,

USAF (Ret.)

Charles Town, W.Va.

For the Want of Honeycomb

Reference the article “The Hercules of An Loc” by Sam McGowan [October, p. 66], here’s [some more] of the story about the air-drop resupply of An Loc:

I was stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Headquarters, Tactical Air Command, Airlift Operations Division (DOALS). TSgt. John Limbach and I were sent to Vietnam to help with the high-altitude air-drop resupply of An Loc because we had extensive backgrounds in air-drop systems and operations. We were primarily sent to stop the bleeding deaths of our airlift forces that resulted from employing standard air-drop techniques at An Loc.

The first thing we did upon arriving at the 90th Parachute Maintenance and Delivery Base Unit was to have an already rigged parachute opened for inspection. The American advisors did not want us to do this for fear the Vietnamese might lose face if we discovered a rigging problem. So instead, we asked that they rig a parachute for us to see how it was done. This they did.

The riggers had placed a nail approximately 72 inches above the ground. Apparently, during their first efforts to rig the parachute, this nail was their method for measuring the 144-inch reefing line. They were supposed to bring the reefing line up to the nail and back to the ground. What they did in front of us was to bring the reefing line up to the nail and cut it at that point. When we saw this, we insisted they open the parachutes already rigged and ready for airdrop. This they did and every reefing line was 72 inches long instead of the 144 inches required for a successful airdrop. Unfortunately, so many CBS systems had been used at that point that not enough remained to provide the needed resupply.

Therefore, we came up with the idea of using a 15-foot ringslot extraction parachute as a main chute, and we established a high-velocity, high-altitude system with no reefing lines or cutting system. The 15-foot ringslot parachute would retard the cargo to approximately a 90 feet per second impact. However, what we needed was multiple layers of cardboard honeycomb to provide the needed energy absorption. Normally, two or three layers of honeycomb are used for standard 25 foot per second airdrops. We needed at least six layers of honeycomb and would have to accept some damage to the canned fruit if it were at the bottom of the stack. The USA advisors pointed out that, not having enough layers of honeycomb, they were sure some of the cans would burst open. We suggested they tell the Vietnamese defenders at An Loc to eat the burst cans first.

The next thing that happened was an acute shortage of honeycomb. We asked for an emergency shipment of honeycomb, which came within days on a C-5A aircraft. Plenty of honeycomb, but no place under cover to store it. The first rains destroyed much of it. We then asked for an emergency airlift of honeycomb wrapped in plastic. Soon a C-5A loaded with plastic wrapped honeycomb arrived in Vietnam. (I can only imagine these C-5A loads with their extremely low load weight probably caught the eye of the Military Airlift Command bean counters). The high-velocity GRADS airdrops were highly successful, and two satisfied Tactical Air Command people returned to the USA knowing [they had helped] save many lives.

A little side story is that the standard C-130s were eventually replaced by Adverse Weather Airdrop System (AWADS)-equipped C-130s brought in from a USA tactical airlift wing which provide self-sufficient C-130s, thus eliminating the need for a broomstick with a battery operated transponder and the MSQ mobile radar at Bien Hoa.

Col. Myles A. Rohrlick,

USAF (Ret.)

Carlsbad, Calif.

Many thanks to Sam McGowan and the editors of Air Force Magazine for “The Hercules of An Loc.” Over the years, I have read articles in Air Force Magazine that were of personal interest, but this story moved me enough to want to thank you all for filling in the blanks.

After all these years, I discover the details of that damaged CCK Hercules parked across the way from the 360 TEWS and next to maintenance debriefing.

I have reread the article several times trying to glean details that I might have missed on previous passes.

Sam McGowan has given voice to the unsung airlifters that I watched fly in and out of Bien Hoa and TSN as a maintainer and to this particular Hercules with the crimson 781 forms that were hurled through our door in maintenance debriefing with the destination and departure points that read “An Loc.”

I am happy to have finally learned the story of Captain Caldwell and the brave crew of one of those CCK Hercs.

As another captain once said or meant to say: Yes! It sure was that kind of war.

MSgt. James E. Cullivan,

USAF (Ret.)

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Fresh Pancake

We read with great interest your article entitled “Pioneers and Prototypes” [October, p. 54] by Thompson and Milberg. We thought your readership might be interested in knowing the current whereabouts of the strangest of your depicted collection of prototypes: the Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake.”

Chance Vought designer Charles H. Zimmerman reasoned that an extremely low-aspect ratio wing design would allow the aircraft to fly at very low speeds and went about placing the large propellers at the wingtips to achieve this concept. With drag created by disturbed airflow near the tips of wings, the propellers would, at least conceptually, minimize this effect, thus providing for low speed takeoffs and landings but on the other hand, respectable high-speed performance.

The aircraft was built under a US Navy contract in 1940 and made its first flight on Nov. 23, 1942. Power was provided by two HP Continental A80 engines turning two huge 16-foot three-bladed props. The aircraft was the predecessor to the larger and more robust Vought XF5U.

We are happy to report that the V-173 has recently completed a comprehensive ground-up restoration at the hands of the venerable Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation volunteers. Over 25,000 labor hours were required to complete the project, and no detail was overlooked. Transporting the aircraft on a flatbed truck to the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Dallas Love Field from Fort Worth, Tex., was no less of a feat. The final result is a breathtaking example of extremes in aviation design from the last century.

We invite the readership to include our museum in their travel plans, to see the V-173, many other Vought volunteer restorations, and other exhibits in this facility.

Lt. Col. Michael J. Opatowsky,

USAF (Ret.)

and Neil Teitelman


I always feel that I’ve learned something important when I read articles like “High Noon,” “Slow Climb for the F-35,” and “Game Changers in Space.” They are well-researched, well-written, and cover a wide range of history through current events.

But my spirit really jumps and shouts over features like “Pioneers and Prototypes.” Glorious images of an exceptionally exciting era. I know that you can’t sustain the magazine with a steady stream of this type of feature, but I really do appreciate it when you give us a taste of the way we want to remember things—all excitement and no politics. Thank you!

Hank Caruso

California, Md.

We Even Got a Samovar

I am heartened to know that 2nd Bomb Wing B-52s will again visit Russia, but claiming to be “paving the way for a long-range bomber exchange program with the Russian Air Force” [“Air Force World: BUFFs To Visit Russia,” October, p. 14] does a disservice to the 58 Barksdale airmen who took two B-52s and a KC-10 to Dyagilevo AB, Ryazan, Russia, in March 1992, just months after the fall of the Soviet Union. This visit commemorated the 50th anniversary of Russian Long-Range Aviation. It was my honor to have led that historic visit, and representing this July 2012 trip to be something new fails to recognize the history recorded in both the former Eighth Air Force Museum, the history book Defenders of Liberty, 2nd Bombardment Group/Wing 1918-1993, and the wing commander’s own showcase containing a samovar and model of a Russian bomber presented as gifts to the people of Barksdale. In May 1992, the Russian Air Force returned the visit by flying two Tu-95 Bear bombers and an An-124 tanker to Barksdale with 58 Russian airmen and maintainers. Those inaugural visits were followed in September 1994 with a visit to Ukraine in celebration of the World War II shuttle missions to Russia flown by the 2nd Bombardment Group.

I am sure Colonel Gebara, current 2nd Bomb Wing commander, is aware of the footsteps in which he follows and has more carefully fulfilled the promise created by 2nd Bomb Wing aviators and maintainers 20 years ago.

Col. James Phillips,

USAF (Ret.)

Granbury, Tex.

Put Momyer on the First Airplane

It brought many memories when I read your article on General Momyer in your October 2012 issue [“Air Force World: William A. Momyer, 1916-2012,” p. 21].

In 1966 I graduated from ICAF, Fort McNair, and was assigned to the 315th Air Commando Wing at Tan Son Nhut, RSV. I was a navigator (second class in the Air Force) but through politics was vice commander. Most enjoyable flying with several crews; different squadrons each week. This was for two weeks, [then] I was told to report to commander, 7th Air Force.

I did so and was greeted with: “I understand you are not a volunteer for the job you now have.”

I replied with the normal courtesy from a lieutenant colonel to a three-star. He acknowledged I had neither experience nor training! I bowed out with: “All I can do is my best with honesty, loyalty, and hard work.” He reflected for a moment and replied: “I cannot want more than that.”

I was now chief of protocol for 7th Air Force.

When General Momyer took over, 7th was a mess—men living in mud, very poor discipline, and no leadership. Almost instantly, his attention to detail and imposition of strict military discipline restored 7th Air Force to one of the finest in the Air Force.

I also served as executive officer frequently. I remember with amusement that in the first three months he found something to correct in my writings—thereafter never a comment!

This is atypical of most VIPs: Billy Graham was scheduled for 20 minutes, but spent over 40 [minutes] with General Momyer. Upon leaving, I escorted Reverend Graham from the headquarters, and his comment was: “Wow, what a man!” Later in the day, the general’s comment was: “Wow, what a man.” Remarkable that both used the same simple expression.

Another interesting remembrance is when General Momyer was called to report to President Johnson. Allotted was 20 minutes. He remained in the President’s office for one and a half hours. He was dismissed with this: “I’ll let you know when you can bomb Hanoi. I’ll see you’re in the first f***ing aircraft.” (Usual Oval Office language for this President.) General Momyer had spent the entire time attempting to convince the President to win the war!

As you will remember we could not bomb Hanoi harbor nor the enormous supply depot just 20 miles north of the Vietnam border with China. [Momyer] was an anomaly, ace, and an intellectual.

I have enjoyed my recall of these days long ago; there are many more.

Col. Thomas P. Harrison,

USAF (Ret.)

Springfield, Va.