Ops-Talk

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Folks, this was written by a friend and fellow transporter. Jim was in Vehicle Maintenance for most of his career so it is very interesting to hear what he has to say about Vehicle Operations from "the other side". You may recognize a lot of the names here, even your own. If you like what he has to say - post a message for him on the message board.

Although "technically" a Vehicle Maintainer for most of my career, I've had the good fortune of being a bit closer to the Vehicle Ops side of the house than your average wrench bender. I retired in 1995 and started my current job as the Senior Transportation Analyst and Advisor to the Director of Transportation and Fire Protection, HQ Royal Saudi Air Force, in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, in 1996. The job description called for a retired 0-4 or 0-5, but a former boss, Lt. Col.(Ret) Randy Cox convinced the RSAF I could do the job. I think the Ops experience in my resume' really made the difference. A little history....

1971-1973: 661st Radar Squadron at Selfridge ANG Base, Michigan. As the only active duty transporter the squadron, I got my share of the VIP driver duties and ALL the wrecker runs. I thought I could drive pretty well, but those M-816 wrecker runs into downtown Detroit to retrieve recruiter vehicles, during rush hour traffic will certainly increase your "pucker factor". Particularly when you're trying real hard to keep the only stripe you may ever have....

1973-1977: Beale AFB, CA, where I only had to fix what the Ops folks broke. The U-2 chase vehicles at the time were Chevrolet El Camino's with big block (454 cu. in.) engines...you can imagine the numbers of rear tires we replaced due "fair wear and play...er tear".

1977-1977: Det 9, 601st TCG, Kalkar AS, GE. Once again, the only Transporter, both driver and mechanic. I got a crash course in dispatch, shuttle bus operations, mail and medical runs, fuel coupon control and issue, drivers licensing (military and USAEUR Civilian) while doing it and from our support folks at Hessisch-Oldendorf; MSgt Dick Stickles. After about 3-months things were running pretty smooth - apparently too smooth. The Veh Maint position I was filling was changed to an Ops position, and USAFE/LGT made me a one-time good deal - Ankara!

1977-1978: TUSLOG Det 183, I spent about 8-months at Ankara (Balgat) by night and at Murted during the day. I arrived on a Friday, and Saturday morning I was on a wrecker run to retrieve an MWR Van that had been wrecked 100 miles away - Welcome to Turkey!. Not much conversation with the Turkish navigator, but an exciting back roads trip nonetheless. I though I was the only Transporter there, but I found out later there was two of us. The other was Capt. Richard Lee, TUSLOG/LGT. Our paths would cross again...

1978-1980: 600 CSS, Hessisch-Oldendorf, GE - back in maintenance again. Pretty uneventful assignment; a couple of TDY's to Moron Spain and to Lakenheath UK, lots of snow and ice. Then in November 1979, a new airman was assigned to Veh Ops. One very cold and snowy day, I went into the shop area and found the new AIC Acreman watching 3 of my mechanics put snow chains on her staff car for her. Being the sharp young NCO I was, I explained that we would allow her to use the shop but she'd have to put her own chains on. Which she did. I didn't make any points that day! Well to make a long story short, Ida and I started dating on New Years Eve 1980, were married in August 1980, now have two children (Chelsea 10 and Travis 8). Who says Maintainers and Ops troops can't get along....and yes I now wash, wax and maintain our vehicles, as directed.

1980-1983: 93rd Trans/LGTM Dyess AFB, TX. As Ida approached the end of her first hitch, she decided to cross train. Since she was breaking them faster than I could fix them, contracting seemed like a good career move. I got my first experience with mobility exercises; Sub-motor pool almost became a 4-letter word during those "hot" Texas night shifts.

1983-1986: 96th Trans/LGTM Castle AFB, CA. At Castle, there were several very colorful Transporters. Running Ops was MSgt Carl McCastle, but I really think Doug Tucker actually ran the place even though he was only an airman. We went through more commander's there than anyplace I'd ever been - not too sure what that means...but we had fun. We also broke in a trio of second lieutenants who have done really well - Lt Col Gary Johnson, Major Darren Baker, and Major (Retired) Toby Seiberlich.

1986-1990: 316AD/LGTM - The toughest transportation job in the USAF, base level Ramstein. I spent almost a year at the 316th AD/LGTM, then I got the call from on high. Col. Pat Curoe, the USAFE/LGT called and asked me how long it would take me to clear out my desk and move to the HQ? I'm not sure why, but I told him I didn't want to go to the HQ. After a few seconds of silence he replied, " you don't understand, I'm not asking....", and so I moved. What a great group of Ops and Maintenance folks led by Lt. Col. Randy Cox (we'd meet again!) - TSgt Glenda Ferrara; TSgt Norm Broulette; TSgt Wes Chilson; TSgt Jim Dolge; and USAF Transportation Icons - Bob Vardeman, Tom Kingsbury, Don Sanders and Bennie Roberts. What an awesome opportunity! We really had a good time and did lots of good things for the USAFE Transporters.

1990-1993: 7276ABG/SEA - Sometimes in your career you just have to spread your wings and try something new. I went to Iraklion AS, Crete, Greece in December 1990 as the SEA for the 7276 ABG, Commanded by Transporter, Col. Richard Lee (formerly of TUSLOG). Col. Lee was an awesome commander who gave a fellow transporter a once in a career opportunity. We had a couple of great transporters at that "hardship assignment" on the Aegean Sea; Ms. Debbie Spiece (MSgt/USAFR/LGTO) ran the contract Vehicle Ops section under the close scrutiny of QAE, Sgt Jody Mohler. I also got to experience the professionalism of other Ops folks in action at official functions at Aviano, Berlin, Ramstein and at Randolph.

1993-1994: Ramstein AB, GE - After 3-years on the beach, I went back to Ramstein - base level - for a short period of time. A Humanitarian Reassignment then took me to Nebraska and to Vehicle Operations.

1994-1995: 55th Trans Offutt AFB, NE; My first and last "official" LGTO position. It was those last 9-months at Offutt that cemented my respect for the Vehicle Operations Community. I saw the LGTO folks support an impossible number of taskings with tremendous results; STRATCOM, Conference after conference (including all the MAJCOM/CCs), Looking Glass, USAF Band, plus continuous community requests to support anything you can think of, and many you'd never think of. We even found time to cook a few burgers at the College World Series, Rosenblatt Stadium. Through it all, the professionalism and camaraderie impressed me the most. Needless to say, finally getting to be a real Ops Troop definitely ended my career on a high note!

There's rarely a day goes by that I don't draw on my USAF experiences and remember those I've been influenced by. In addition to those mentioned above, names like Ochoa, Charron, Provolt, DePaul, Peterson and Holmes come to mind and I wonder how well they are doing.

Many thanks to the Vehicle Operations folks who have often shown me the way, throughout my career. If you are lucky enough to get to Eskan or PSAB, call or email me and maybe (THREATCON permitting) I can show you some of Riyadh, or at least offer a different place to R&R.
Chief Jim Ryan, Riyadh, KSA, 966-1-249-9629, jryan@naseej.com.sa

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