Crew Chief Corner

This page contains information and stories from and about the ground and support crews associated with the mission requirements of SAC and the B-47 aircraft. Please feel free to request your experiences be published in this area.

1. The Crew Chief’s Symposium held at the Tucson Reunion.

2. Pictures from the Crew Chiefs Symposium  (click on any photo to enlarge)        (by Gus Letto)

                                Dave Neel, Moderator -*- Crew Chiefs on the panel -*- Jim Diamond’s story

Those in attendance

 

RAF Brize Norton had four B-47s assigned  for air crews that were assigned to the 7th Air Division to remain proficient in the B-47. The assigned Crew Chiefs were Joe Rosario, Marvin Nelms, Earl Jones and Claude Loveless. They called their four aircraft flight the 7th Air Division Aero Club.  

Brize Norton Base Flight B-47 52-581

Joe Rosario’s B-47 52-581

Marvin Nelms about to fly on 52-581 on a trip to Spain.

Msgt GlassThis above photo is of Msgt. Carl Glass who was known quite well by all in the RAF Brize-Norton maintenance area. He was the NCOIC of the Alert Branch and an Indian from Oklahoma. He ran the section with a firm hand, no exceptions!

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The 40th Bomb Wing Maintenance personnel and their wives had their biannual meeting in Branson, MO on Sep.30 to Oct. 3, 2013.  A lot of stories were told and re-told. Most of us came into the USAF in 1953-54 time frame so this was our 60th Anniversary  of getting to know each other.         (Click on each photo to enlarge).


Our entertainment for the last evening was a show by Barbara Fairchild. During the show Bud East told me she had her eye on me as we were sitting right beside the stage. I told him it is you she is looking at and sure enough she came right over and sang to Bud. 

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The following 7 pictures are from Wes Bender and were taken at RAF Brize Norton This photo taken while standing on top of the sod covered WWII hanger.A view of the plane undergoing after-flight inspection.Same day different view.POL has arrived with a load of fuel. Appears to be Carterton or Brize Norton village in the background.Looks to be bedded down for the night! Opps!, Wes the optics cover is left open. Yes, the optics cover is open for sure!It sure looks lonely out there all by itself.

530th BS Crew Chiefs; Standing, A2C (Unknown), TSGT Tom Monaghan C/C 2349        A2C Kenny Bloom AC/C 2028, SSGT Wes Bender C/C 2028, A2C Henry Appleby AC/C 2340, A1C Jim Barron PE Spec. Knelling: A1C Parker, SSGT Larry Brahaney C/C 2340, TSGT Harold Lippens, SSGT Ed Gleason C/C 3370 

 

Crew Chief Bob Stokes at Whiteman AFB going over the Aircraft 781 Forms with the flight crew. Bob would like help identifying this flight crew, any help is appreciated. Picture was taken in 1958 or59. (Click on picture for larger view)

 

 

 

 

 

80 thoughts on “Crew Chief Corner

  1. My favorite plane was 53-1953. It seems when we were scheduled a flight time we were on time almost always. I never understood why we were in a critical field and promotions were frozen. Revelation -then came the B-52. The “broken Arrow” and alert status were a challenge to test your resolve, but sadly I wonder if the new generation of Americas appreciate our efforts. When we were young we were told” work hard, save wisely and plan for the future.

  2. I was stationed at Dyes A.F.B TX from 1959 thru 1962, Crew chief on B-47E , 341 OMS and then transfer to 96 OMS in DYESS AFB Tx til I finish my four years . work at Enid OK, from 1963 thru 1965, from 1965 thru 1970 work at Sheppard AFB Wichita Falls TX , work on T-37b acft .I retired from the Puerto Rico Air Guard rank, C.M.S 1998. I still live in P.Rico.

    • Hey Guy. I was with the 341st A&E from Feb 1959 – About May 60 then I cross trained to Nuclear Weapons Tech (331X0) wokring in the assembly/diassembly/inspectiuon section of the 42nd MMS also at Dyess. Left Dyess in April 61 and went to Nouasseur AB, Casablanca Morocco and the “Plant” of 6th MMS. Came back to states in May 62 because all SAC bases were closing in Morocco. Sent to Biggs AFB until Dec ’65 then to March AFB, Calif until I was discharged in Spet ’66. Went back in the reserves in July 74 with 507th TFG at Tinker AFB, OK working F105C/D 74-84, F4C/D 84-94, F16A/Bs 94-96 all flightline weapons. Retired Dec 2000 at Mcalester Army Ammuniton Plant. Mcalester OK as E7 and AFRAT detachment NCOIC for Operations. Gl;ad to see someone else from Dyess during my period. I was beginning to think I was the only one. Good Luck.

  3. Stationed at Little Rock AFB early 60*s. First with 70th OMS, they phased out, sent to other end of flight line to 384th Oms, stayed there till they closed out and brought the B58 in. Finally left SAC and transferred to MAC, liked it far better than SAC. CC on C141a , Fine aircraft.

    • Sandy Sandberg I was stationed at Little Rock AFB from Sept 1955 to July 1962 was in 70th OMS and moved to 384 OMS and then reassigned to 55th SRW at Forbes Kansas. Just missed living in tents at Camp Robinson and moved in to first barracks built at Little Rock AFB.

      • Good day gents,308th PMS, Hunter from 7/’53 till 9 /55,LRAFB 384 PMS Post Dock (backline) Chief,till discharge 2/11/’57, flying status in ’56 on all test hops out of PMS.We would perform a retraction test out of the docks,checked OK,test hop and get a gear wtite up (ELGE),duplicate the test,check ok.Approached my CO,suggested I fly on test hops,he agreed,went to Schreevesport for Altitude chamber,and started flying (eliminated duplicate retraction tests) I would Elge the gear down.4th man flying was no fun but it kept beer on the table Point of info Jim,Jery Woolderidge and I signed up together,they took my about 2 weeks before Jerry,Friends for life,we used to double date.pre AF. Fred

  4. On the listed (Stories), an RB47 land with the nose gear retracted. The crew were featured in the Combat Crew magazine in 1962, (according to the story), then it shows the RB47 in Yokota, Japan 13 months later after repair. In the background are two C141 aircraft. That RB couldnt have been there 13 months later. The Air Force didnt take formally accept the C141 until 1964.

    • Gerald; While not knowing the exact date the later photo was taken it was about 4 years later as stated in the story, not 13 months as you suggested. Therefor the C-141s were there in the photo. Don Foster was still in the 55th SRW more than 4 years later I’m sure he was aware of the operation of the 55th SRW. Thanks for your input.

      • I was a crew chief along with Don Foster who was aboard that RB47. I was working flight line when the RB from Forbes had the tanker boom come thru the canopy durning refueling.

  5. Hello, given your extensive knowledge of the B-47 I was hoping that you or one of your colleagues there might know about the B-47 Spotter Recognition scale model? I know Allyn made a desktop model of this aircraft but this model is one piece of monotone acetate/plastic with a clear canopy + it has the smaller hole through the fuselage for a string. The only markings are B-47 and July ’51. It has a 9-3/4″ wingspan and is 10″ long. If anyone has any ideas at all I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts.
    Regards, Gary Goodson

  6. New to site. Mechanic 1960-63 SAC 509th OMS Pease AFB NH B-47E 51-2480 (Scrapped)
    C/C 1963-65 56th WRS Yokota AFB Japan WB-47E 51-2387 (Wichita KN) Where/when is next get together?

    • Dan; We will be listing the complete information on the Next Reunion as soon as all information is firmed up. What we have now is that it will be held in Ft Walton Beach, FL – Dates and other info not yet firmed up. Look for the information on the ‘Reunions’ page.

  7. Great site guys !
    I was a crew chief on F-4Cs at RAF Bentwaters England from 1970-72.
    Only 2 engines to take care of and a lot smaller the B-47. I was surprised how much work it took to load a drag chute in the pictures.
    The B-47 was a beautiful aircraft…..looks like a giant fighter !.
    Sad that they are all gone
    Really enjoyed looking thru this site.

  8. Was it a regular practice for the CC to fly in the B-47 ?
    A few years ago I spoke with a B-52 CC at Oceana NAS who had flown to Oceana in his aircraft.
    CCs did not fly in the F-4, it was strictly against regs, although my CO ( 100 missions over North Vietnam ) ) a Lt Col, used to arrange for the CCs to fly when we were TDY for weapons range time. It was his way of thanking the CCs and also felt that it would inspire them to take better care of the aircraft ! LOL
    He was liked and respected by the men and would sometimes walk out on the flight line to talk with “his” crew chiefs.
    Even took a group of us into the officers club for a few beers once while TDY to Aviano Italy.

    • John; No the Crew Chief was not a member of the flight crew on the B-47 but most did at times fly with the plane. Normally this was done when a possibility of the B-47 landing at a air base that normally was not used by B-47s. It also allowed the Crew Chief to be on hazardous duty pay to compensate for the extra duty of traveling with the plane and extra hours maintaining the aircraft as well and the extra pay was helpful as well. To maintain this pay you had to fly at least 4 hours a month, but at times it greatly exceeded that. It was boring duty to fly where you could only see outside by looking straight up as the seat for the 4th crew member was located along side the co-pilots feet just above the cockpit entry door.

      • Thanks Jim….at least in the back seat of the F-4 we had a great view. While TDY at Zaragoza AB Spain, our F-4s were like toy aircraft on those enormous ramps previously used by the B-47s. In England, we had “revetment” style parking areas which held 2 aircraft, back to back. Zaragoza was nice with that big flightline !
        One more question please.
        I have a “Steve Canyon” DVD and it shows a B-47 starting engines. As the engine is starting a crew chief appears to be squirting water (?) on the ramp under the engine.
        Could you please explain this ?
        Thank you

      • John; That was not water squirting on the ramp, it was JP-4. The normal start procedure went like this. When the Crew Chief (CC) was in position slightly behind and off to the side of the engine, he told the Aircraft Commander (AC) “ground ready on #4″ (starting sequence was 4,5 6,3,2,1.) The AC would engage the starter and the CC would see the exhaust turbine start rotation and say “rotation on 4″. When the engine reached 6% RPM the AC would advance the throttle on #4. When that happened the fuel would flow to the engine causing the air from the plumbing to escape until the fuel started out the drain on the bottom of the engine until it reached a slight pressure that would close that drain. When the CC saw the fuel flow out of the engine he would say on the inter phone “fuel flow #4″. Then the CC would wave his hand slightly to the side of the exhaust and when he felt heat he would say “Combustion #4″ (at night we could stand further back and to the side and see the combustion take place) Then we would proceed to #5 and say ground ready on 5. Along with this conservation the Co-Pilot would be saying “Oil Pressure #4″ and “EGT reading on 4″ etc. To start #6 we always stood inboard of #6 so as to not walk behind or in front of the engine after it started, and then under # 4 & 5, then under the aircraft to # 3 engine, repeating the above sequence, all the while dragging a 50 Ft. inter phone cord and a fire bottle.

      • Being a crew chief from 1956 to the day the b-47 was phased out , which was in the middle 1960s ,I was stationed at little rock afb in the 384 th oms. I was on flying status ,it was not called hazardous duty .an we were not scheduled to fly on an aircraft because it may land at a base that did not cater to the b-47 . We were scheduled once a month on the weekly flying schedule along with the aircraft number , date an time . I guess I probably know as much an probably more about that old airplane as most crew chiefs .

  9. Hello,
    Great site! I love the B-47 and the more I read, the more I crave technical information. I was fortunate to find some SAC instructional manuals on the J-47 engine and how to build them up for installation on the B-47. But the information is very basic. As a master mechanic/ technician (my wife and I volunteered over 5,000 hours each to the restoration of the Memphis Belle B-17 in Memphis some yrs ago), the quest for knowledge never ends. Does anyone have the engine o/h, illustrated parts manuals, and service instructions? Also looking for erection and maint., illustrated parts, service, and tech orders for the B-47 series. Any help greatly appreciated.
    Jack

  10. Hello stationed at Little Rock AFB 384 OMS MOS43151E A2C E3 from 1960 to 1963. Worked on the 54 Series. Reflex Morocco and Spain and Terrahote, Indiana during Cuban Missile Crisis.
    Launched and lost an aircraft that blew up over Little Rock. The co pilot survived with chute still on his back and said that the hand of God laid him on the ground.
    All us crew chiefs worked hard rank was frozen the base commander stated we not promoted because we were dispensable. More likely indispensable.

    Jim Diamond you remember a lot would like to hear from you and all my fellow crew members.

    Joe

    • I was station at Little Rock AFB at the time the aircraft blew up over Little Rock I was involved in pick up some pieces at the crash site if my memory serves me right part of a wing took the back porch of one house and entirely destroyed another.

  11. Hi new to site was assigned 384 oms SAC lrafb 1960 to 63 mos 43151e reflex duty morocco then spain, tear haute indiana for Cuban crises , like to hear from fellow crew chiefs from 50 plus years ago . Jim diamond started me thinking because he remembers perfectly about the B47 ,we all worked hard.really enjoyed reading this site

    • 384 oms 1955 CC B-47 3373 stayed there until B-47 was phased out, don’t remember when. Transferred to Titan missiles. Retired at LRAFB 1973. Clyde Padgett

      • Sgt. Padgett,I was stationedbat LRAFB about the same time you were.384PMS,post dock chief,Sept/Oct.’55 till Feb 11 1957 (discharge).I was also on Flying status (only person in the squadron at the time.We would run traction tests out of the docks ,no problems,test hop ,return with gear write-ups(usually ELGE),I approached CO about flying status,he agreed, went to altitude chamber in Lousiana,and flew on all test flights out of the docks,eliminated duplicate retraction tests.I ELGED the gear down.Flying 4th man was no joy but it kept food on the table.Good site,enjoy reading it.Domer Wooldridge(Jerry) and I signed up at the same time(1953)

  12. I was a EB-47 crew chief while stationed at Lockbourne AFB, Oh yes Jim the B-47 4th mans seat was very small. One time when flying to Upper Heyford AFB on reflex the pilot banked the B-47 and I was standing looking out of the copilots side of the canopy and the view of the hedge rows and castles was amazing. I retired as Chief in 1984, 22 years SAC, 4 years TAC and ADC, 4 years in Test Wing.
    Ron

    • Chief Patterson, my father, the late Col John E. Dickson flew on EB-47’s out of Lockbourne as an EWO. I lived there too. Two of his aircraft still survive, one at Pima Air Museum in Tucson and one at Dyess AFB. I took pictures of the Pima B-47 this year.

  13. My dad is 76 years old, and was a Master Sgt. Crew Chief on a B-47 in Spain, Greenland & Texas. He’s still with us and sharp as can be. He’d like to find his friends. Can you help us find anyone from his Wing? I’m working on getting that info from my mom. I have a partial tail number of either 4011 or 1011, and it was taken in the USA. He got a crew chief award for 350 consecutive bombrons, but it’s one of his many boxes that I’ve yet to find.

  14. I was a B-47 crew chief in the 380th BW at Plattsburgh AFB, NY. We used to Reflex at Brize-Norton. I never thought that I would ever see MSGT Carl Glass again, but there is his photo at the top. He sure was a character. Jim do you still have the photos of the City of Plattsburgh that you posted on the old website for me, if so I would like to see them on here.

    • Jim, I was a young troop at Plattsburgh in 1964 on B47’s. I’ve been looking for my first crew chief SSGT Ralph Vickery. Do you remember him?

      • John, sorry I’m late answering your inquiry. I just now noticed it. I was at Plattsburgh from 59 to 63. I can’t seem to remember SSGT Vickery.
        Jim Brown

  15. This is my first time posting on this site, I was stationed in the 301st OMS at Lockbourne AFB, Ohio from late 1960 to Feb 1964 and transferred to the 376th OMS in Feb then I got out in April which didn’t make anyone happy. I re-enlisted 11 months later and spent the rest of my career on C-130-B and E models. I would like to hear from anyone who was in the 301st OMS during that time frame. My e-mail is bl1816@hotmail, use 301st OMS in the subject. I live in Niceville, FL and am planning the reunion next year in Fort Walton Beach.

    • I was stationed at Lockbourne AFB from April 1955, came there from Pinecastle AFB to form the 70 SW at Little Rock AFB and shipped out to Little Rock in Sept 1955. Had a B47 land short and torn the #2&3 Engine pod loose and dragged in down the runway I was part of the maintence team to go out and put a flat bed under the eng Pod to be able to tow the aircraft in.

      • Sandy do you remember Donald grim from 70 sw he was in 70 when did you leave lrafb did you go to 384 bw when the 70 disbanded

      • I left Little Rock AFB in summer of 1962 for Forbes AFB Kansas and was assigned as Crew Chief in the 55th SRW. Left Forbes in 1967 when 55th noved to Ofutt AFB
        Neb. Left Offutt for Thailand in 1969 and then to Loring Maine in 1970 and to Blythville AFB in 1975 and from there to Anderson AFB Guam 1980-1982 back to Ellsworth AFB and retired in 1984.

  16. I was a young Jr assistant third wiper to the Crew Chief on a WB47E at McClellan AFB, acft 218. Some good times back then. Was on them when the last ones went to the bone yard. Ended up in the Nam and wished I was still on the 47 and back home.

  17. I was at Amarillo AFB for Aircraft Mechanic School for April 1954 to Sept .
    First assignment was PineCastle AFB from Sept 1954 to April 1955, then to Lockbourne AFB April 1955 to July 1962 to form 70th SW had a short stay with 384th, reassigned to 55SRW at Forbes Kansas from July 1955 to August 1962, and with 55th at Offut AFB Neb till Sept 1969 then to Thailand for a year then to Limestone AFB Maine. Would like to hear from any one who was stationed at any of these locations. Spent a two years in Guam 1980-82. Returned to Ellsworth AFB and retired in 1984

    • Hi, I was stationed at Forbes AFB from April 54 to March 57. I started in the B29 program and then went back to Amarillo for B47,s. We received new RB47E from Wichita and ended up as crew chief from 1955 to discharge in March 57. I was assigned to
      321st SRS, 90th Wing. Aircraft No.2825. Hoping to hear from you. Promoted to S/Sgt in 1955 and T/Sgt immediately after discharge while in the AF Reserves.
      Mel

  18. Was stationed at Lockbourne AFB from Jan 54 till Apr 55, made the SES to MacDill AFB,FL. Nov. 54. Electronics Technician B-47

  19. I was bom/nav mech at Schilling A.F.B. in Salina, Kansas from1957 until 1959 (in 310th A&E). Would like to hear from anyone that shares this period.

  20. Brings back good memories seeing Msgt Glass picture (Crew Chief Corner Page). now if you could find Sandlin, Marsh.and the rest of the OL-1 from Forbes it would be great.

  21. Spent about 5 years at Davis Monthan AFB as a crew chief on B-47s. It was the 303 rd bomb wing. Was then transferred to Plattsburgh AFB in Plattsburgh NY. Pulled reflex in Guam and Alaska from Tucson and Brize Norton and Upper Heyford in England. Left Plattsburgh (thankfully) in 1965 for 8 years of recruiting duty in South Dakota . Then to Hickam in the MAC Maintenance Control supporting enroute MX into the pacific area. Retired in 1977 as An E7. Recruiting was a great job but promotions were very slow. Tucson (303rd) was a great organization as was Hickam. Plattsburgh was just so so.

    • Hello Ed, I was especially attracted to your comments dated 9-21-13 regarding the time you were stationed at Davis Monthan in Tucson. Why? Because I’ve been searching for a old friend, a crew chief who was stationed at DM beginning in early 1957 forward, (his name is illustrated below) We both completed the Jet Mechanics Tech School Courses in Amarillo, Texas. We lost track of one another after our PCS relocation. I did receive one letter from him after his arrival at DM dated February 1957. Subsequently I’ve not heard from him AND I’ve not had any success in locating him through out the years that have subsequently passed, even though I’ve tried. I DO have his AFSC number.
      He was transferred to DM and I to Altus AFB in Oklahoma and subsequently to Dyess AFB in Abilene, Texas. His name is George Walker who lived in Missouri prior to his enlistment, Having said that, you did not mention the dates that you were stationed at DM……. BUT, I thought I would give you a shout anyway, HOPING that you might have been there during that time period. What say you? OR, if you have any suggestions that might be applicable to my effort, they would certainly be appreciated.
      Thank you Ed for your time and effort regarding this subject. I can be reached directly at georgehbrewer2004@yahoo.com OR you can leave a reply on this site. I’ll check this site regularly for any response…………Thanks, George H. Brewer Illinois

  22. George, Received your e-mail yesterday & started to respond & while checking the b-47 site found your request HERE. I located a roster of attendees but did not see George Walker listed. If you have already contacted Dave Neel then disregard.
    I did have a call from a gentlemen prior to the 2012 Tucson reunion that had been a radio/electronics technician at DM (Davis-Monthan) in the same time frame, after discharge stayed on in Tucson & attended the University of Arizona (engineering) & upon graduation secured a job with General Dynamics in San Diego & eventually retired near there. Name was not Walker but he may have known your friend. Unfortunately I don’t recall his name.

    Also: my contact info has changed FYI:

    William L Clark (Bill) (wife Ginny)
    13900 Panay Way Unit M-317
    Marina del Rey, CA 90292
    Mobile: 310-694-1508
    e-mail: billcfwd@gmail.com

    We have moved from the desert to the beach.

    Should I come across any tips on persons that might know of George Walker I will pass along.

    • I did have a call from a gentlemen prior to the 2012 Tucson reunion that had been a radio/electronics technician at DM (Davis-Monthan) in the same time frame, after discharge stayed on in Tucson & attended the University of Arizona (engineering) & upon graduation secured a job with General Dynamics in San Diego & eventually retired near there. Walter K. White. DM from Aug 1856 to Feb 1958

  23. Was stationed at Davis Monthan From the fall of 53 to spring of 57, 43rd Bomb Wg. 63 Bomb Sqd. Went to England, Fairford, onTDY in 55. It does’t get much better duty than Tucson. Went on to become an electrial engineer. One of my highlights was having LT Col Dutchendorf as A/C for about a year. Not only was he great guy but found out much later that he was John Denver’s dad. I found this site and it really brings back good memories of the AF and what good experience it was.

    • Hello John Dillbeck I read your message dated 10-22-13 above regarding your days at DM in Tucson until your departure in the Spring of 1957. My question, which I posted originally on 9-29-13, was regarding my effort in trying to locate an old crew chief friend who was stationed at DM beginning in early 1957 forward. (Please read my comment above for additional information) Did you ever meet George Walker on the Flight Line while you were stationed at DM?
      Thanks for your effort John,
      George H. Brewer
      georgehbrewer2004@yahoo.com

  24. Good to see some one is looking after the B-47 Crew Chiefs.It was a trying job at times and not many folks gave a second thought about the hard work and long hours that Crew Chiefs put in.
    I was a Crew Chief on B-47 with the 441st Bomb Squadron At March AFB CA in 1953 & 1954 and 339th Bomb Squadron at Altus AFB OK in 1955 till 1957. I was burnt out and got out of the Air Force as a S/Sgt in 1957
    I am now 79 and am working on C-130s.I have now been working on commercial aircraft from DC-3s to B-747s all over the world for over 60 years and still love the work.
    S/Sgt James Dodds
    USAF Quit

  25. I was stationed at Forbes AFB from Apr 64 thru Apr67 as asst crew chief under Shorty Adams on RB 47 then transferred to Offutt on RC 135 got out in 67 &returned in 71 to finish 24 years

    • I was stationed with Shorty Adams at Forbes AFB Kansas. We were TDY from Forbes Kansas to Clark AFB, if my memory serves me correctly, a group of us were doing some bar hopping and went in to a place and found Shorty standing on the bar singing bringing in the sheafs.

  26. I was stationed at Platsburg AFB from 1963 to 1966 on the flight line, went to Brize Norton several times. Anyone out there from this period send me an E-mail. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best wishes, Elmer Billips joyeb28273@yahoo.com

    • Elmer, I tried to email you twice, but, bounced back both times. I was at PBurgh 59 to 64. I’m still in touch with Merril Sanders,Bob McBall, Charley Johnson, and Dave Neal. Jerry Wooldridge

  27. After reading the long blog by a Jim diamond I feel that some of his recall on engine starting procedures need a little review . The co- pilot did not call out to the crew chief any readings on egt ,oil pressure etc an the crew chief never called fuel flow when he saw fuel on the ground. Our memory can some time fail us

    • Merle and Elmer, we were at Plattsburgh together straight from Amarillo tech school in 1961. We lost touch after being transferred to other bases.
      Merle and I and our wives spent quite a bit of time together while at Plattsburgh.
      Elmer, the last time I remember seeing you was with Sam Goforth in Bluefield about 12-13 years ago.
      Both of you Email me at stoneyjr@sw.rr.com if you please.

  28. Hi, I’m Steve Carkeek, a onetime E4, a onetime 43151E, a B-47 assistant crew chief, an OMS troop. I was lucky enough to be assigned to the 303rd Bomb Wing at Davis Monthan AFB beginning October 1961 to about a time just before it was deactivated, roughly April 1964. I was the not so very sharp troop who rode a ten speed bike on the flight line, probably the only ten speed bike on the base at that time. Not so sharp, fatigues that were too big and not ironed. My initial job was working in Inspection Branch assisting with B-47 periodic inspections and servicing. I learned how to clean pancake fuel filters, repack drop tank drag chutes, grease flap jack screws and service hydraulic accumulators. Staff Sargent Smith, he was never addressed by his first name, was my mentor. He was a hard working and highly competent African American, one of the few African American men not guarding planes or working in the chow hall.

    After a while I was transferred to the flight line, and functioned as an assistant crew chief. Working on the B-47 was fun. It was a challenging, it required the development specialized knowledge and skill, it was something a person could get to be really good at. I could spread engines, change EGT harnesses, hang tanks, change tires, service fuel and oil, up load, down load, launch and recover “like ringing a bell”. My last year in the AF was spent at Fairchild crewing KC-135s. Not nearly as much fun. KCs didn’t break often enough to be able to get good at fixing them.

    DM maintained a reflex alert operation at Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage AK. Being a low ranked unmarried troop, I was ordered there September, 1962. God, I loved Alaska! My memory is questionable, but I believe there were 21 birds cocked on alert and three turnarounds four day a week. Sometimes I was on alert, sometimes recovering and launching the turnarounds. I remember the alert birds being setup so that when the AC hit the first rung on the entry ladder, power from the ground power unit was put on the plane. Number three engine started turning, hydraulic pumps started running, the flaps came down, lights came on etc.

    Seeing a B-47 alert force start engines and taxi caused some serious thinking.

    Memorable was the time a ’47 landed on an icy runway, missed the exit to the pits and ended up all by itself in the snow a couple of hundred feet away from any pavement. I was running the Follow Me truck. Seeing a B-47 sitting in the middle of a snowy field with six engines running is an interesting sight. I ran over, did a very quick look around for unusual wrinkles, unhooked the outrigger scissors, opened the entry hatch and gave the AC a thumbs up hok sign. We had that bird back on the pavement before any Suits arrived, thankfully, the ground was frozen hard.

    When I was in high school I helped with rebuilding wrecked light aircraft. We replaced a Cessna 195 box section, repaired a ground looped Cessna 140, recovered a Stinson 108, installed wide spray rails on and painted a Seabee, so I had some experience with light aircraft maintenance. One afternoon I discovered the “A & E School” not too far from the barracks. Elmendorf supported the operation of what was supposed to be an educational facility that would provide the training required to pass a test for a FAA airframe and engine mechanics license. It was really a hobby shop, a place permanent party troops could work on their toys under the supervision of the “instructor”, a licensed A&E with an inspection authorization. I spent many hours, helping to recover a Piper PA-20 owned by a C123 AC, did some work on a Ranger Powered Fairchild 24 owned by a F-102 pilot, and helped our Wing Commander with his Stinson.

    In exchange I was invited to fly down to Ninilchik for salmon fishing, caught some interesting hops on C-123s flying supplies to remote radar sights, was introduced to caribou sausage and moose teriyaki and logged my first hours as a student pilot.

    Supporting recovery was a four day work week assignment, Monday thru Thursday. Those could be long days, receiving three in-comings, cocking one and turning the other two around, rotating a cocked bird out of alert, and then launching the three returns. I remember eating early morning chow, morning chow, noon chow, evening chow and late evening chow. I weighed about 135 and didn’t gain a pound.

    I expect everyone reading this knows enough about alert. I wonder how many remember the occurrence that made the Cuban Missile Crisis such a memorable time for those who were on alert at Elmendorf.

    Skiing was great at Mt. Alyeska. If I was off alert I would take my skis and a rucksack with overnight gear and hitch hike to Girdwood on Fridays. I met some folks there who had a place I could sleep. The Double Musky served an evening meal family style, you had to call early in the afternoon to let them know you wanted to eat. In the fall the lodge was open to locals on the weekends. The bar was on the honor system. I never had more than four cars pass before I got a ride in either direction. A lift ticket cost a GI five dollars. Life was so good! As I said, I thought Anchorage was a wonderful place. I always volunteered to extend and ended up credited with almost two years “Over Seas” time and pay.

    DM ended its Elmendorf alert support after the Good Friday earthquake, another memorable experience.
    I was transferred to Fairchild and ended my four year enlistment crewing tankers. DM and B-47s were a far better assignment.

    After the Air Force I completed a college education and worked more than thirty years as a college faculty member. I have owned a couple of Cessna’s and am a current private pilot with close to 3000 hours logged.

    In my entire life I have never had a chance to work with a more dedicated, able, and professional group of people than those I was lucky to meet and work with during my Air Force enlistment.

    • Steve, I would like to communicate with you regarding your time spent on the Flight Line at DM. Do you have an e-mail address other than this site that you would be able to share with me? I can be reached at georgehbrewer2004@yahoo.com
      Thanks

    • Steve, did you go to B-47 tech school at Amarillo in 1961? There was a Carkeek in my class but I forget his first name.
      I, too was stationed at DM, but at a later date. 1975-1978 on DC-130s.
      Seems that you have had an interesting life since leaving the AF.
      Sebert Toney
      stoneyjr@sw.rr.com

  29. I was a CC in 44th BW in Lake Charles, La. from 1956 to 1960 my B47E was 53-1891 loss in a fire on the ramp with one other B47E. Had a bad wreck and left Sac in late 60 ( loss my profile) finished out my 20 yrs. in the Army (3th Cav. Regiment) Tanker

  30. Hello,

    I’m trying to help my brother-in-law, Jerry, apply for disability for his Parkinson’s. He served as a crew chief on a B-47 from 1953 to 1957 with the 19th Bomb Squadron, 22nd Bomb Wing, and was stationed at March AFB. His full name is Gerald E. Stoller, but he goes by Jerry. He’s 80 now and has advanced Parkinson’s. We filed for a service-connected disability claim for Parkinson’s based on his exposure to certain toxic chemicals such as trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene and jet fuel. We believe that his exposure to TCE and other chemicals increased his risk of developing Parkinson’s. He also suffered a head injury while in Upper Heyford, after falling off the wing of a plane. He was hospitalized for two days and confined to barracks for a week after the fall. His VA claim was denied because the VA couldn’t access his records. Apparently they may have been destroyed in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in 1973. I found this site and am hoping someone can help me get information to support his claim. Specifically I would like to find out the following:

    1. Is there any way to document what solvents or chemicals a B-47 crew chief or mechanic would have been exposed to at that time?
    2. When he fell and injured his head at Upper Heyford, would he have been taken to a military hospital on base or to a local hospital? We’re trying to document his fall and resulting hospitalization.

    Any help any of you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Connie

    • JP-4
      hydraulic fluid
      synthetic engine oil
      zinc chromate paint
      MEK
      solvents
      jet engine exhaust fumes he inhaled during engine start
      In fact the AF now requires rubber gloves when hndling these chemicals

      Also regarding how to sumbit the VA claims either go to the local VA and contact one of the reps i.e. American Legion, DAV, VFW or go to one the orgs in your city. They will be helpful.

      • Thanks, Ron. We did file a claim through the San Diego VSO, but it was denied, in part because Jerry’s records may have been destroyed in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center. I’ve contacted them and requested any records they may have. It appears they would be the only source of information on Jerry’s fall off of an aircraft while at the Upper Heyford base.

        Do you know where I could get some kind of documentation on the use of the chemicals you mentioned, or specific duties of a crew chief? Would there be any manuals or documents on procedures, even in archives?

        Thanks so much for replying. I appreciate it. We will be filing an appeal with an attorney who specializes in VA claims.

  31. Hello, I just submitted a post regarding my effort to find information to help my brother-in-law Jerry, apply for a service-connected VA disability claim. If any of you has information, please email me at: cmcdowell@palomar.edu

    Thank you1

  32. Hello. I am a great fan of this site! My father flew B-47s 1954-1960 at Castle and Little Rock AFB’s. I am familiar with the “ops” side of the B-47, but I am asking for any comments on the maintenance side. My uncle was a member of the 321st PMS at Pinecastle AFB, FL.

    What was live like in a PMS squadron? (I’m not even sure what the did compared to say OMS or AMS troops) Did they get to go on reflex tours with the crews?

    Would anybody have a lead on a 321 PMS patch?

  33. Just found the site. Was ECM Tech in 307th BW at Lincoln in 1955-56. But of course there was no RECON ECM in our B-47E’s, so was cross-trained to Special Weapons Release Systems…J Hooks, Sway Bars, Ring-outs and all that.

    On TDY at Keesler, missed the return flight to Lincoln in C-119 from Lakenhurst that went down in the Azores killing so many in my maintenance organization.

    Sent to Yokota in 1957-58. Worked on RB-50’s (the B-29 with the better R-4360 Engines and taller tail). Then to Maintenance Control/Workload Control, making S/Sgt in three years. Discharged at 4 years.

    Interest gained in Japan brought me back with BA in Economics & Japanese. Stayed 20 years as executive for US companies as well as Kawasaki.

    Now retired and enjoying the trip down memory lane.

    Gene Werlich

  34. 49thBomb Squadron Hunter A.F.B. Savannah, GA, Feb. 1957- Sept.1960
    Just a reply to the Crew Chief’s comment on engine starting. After the flight control checks were made, and the engine start sequence was to take place the crew chief positioned himself at the side of the tail cone of # 4 engine, the A/C after flipping the 6 ignition switches to ON ( PLEASE GOD ) would start rotation of # 4. The Crew Chief would observe the turbine wheel turning and call out rotation. The Co- Pilot would announce 6% and the pilot would advance the throttle and fuel was then sprayed into the engine cans and ignition would then occur. This procedure would be continued until all the engines were started, beginning with # 4,5, & 6 started first, then #3, 2, and # 1 last..

    There is a great deal of concern about an atomic bomb that was dropped off the Savannah coast, during a inflight accident. It was my understanding at that time that the arming device called “THE BIRD CAGE” was never installed in the bomb until the aircraft was in route to a war destination. I hope I am correct as I live in Savannah and am not a big fan of going to the beach !! I have recently had some 49TH squadron patches made and I am proud to have served as a member of S.A.C.

  35. Attn: Wes Bender

    I read your article today “Flipped by a fuel quanity indicator” and will tell you my story. When I was stationed at Lockbourne on EB-47 aircraft on the alert pad the AC told me that the Forwar aux tank was not reading full. So the pilot told us about the procedure and for me to open the valve and for me and my assistant to come up the ladder and he would show me the procedure. Well he did the procedure and we came down the ladder and there was fuel everywhere. The IFR seal blew and it was like old faithful, fuel even on the MD-3. I immediately shut down the MD3 and pulled it away from the aircraft and the fire department and others showed up at the aircraft.

  36. to Tony Calandra;; I too was in the 49th bs from oct 1953 till dec 1962,, course we went over to the oms system I guess in 1959 ot so.am wondering if you remember any of these crew chiefs from the 49th. Herb Huffstutler, Jerry Gregory, Carl Murphy, Richard Thomas,, Tweety Mckay,, yhink Bobby Clark was our last line chief before we merged with 308th BW. the last bird I crewed was 53-2170.. took it to bomb comp. Ben Hines,, Lester Warren and I were selected for the missile program and went to Minot in dec 1962.. keep tryin to place You,, bit don’t remember You. thnks Bill Henderson ret Cmsgt in 1974.

    • Hi Bill,
      I remember you. I was assistant to Sgt. Donald Dale later to Sgt. Thomas, then to Sgt. Jim Poston. MSgt.. Bobby Clark was the Line Chief, and Lt. Col. Hammner was the C.O. I also served as a roving Temp. Crew
      Chief when the regular Crew Chief went on leave or TDY. I loved the job , but it was a very demanding job & I was newly married. I still live in Savannah. I have fond memories of a lot of the guys. Bobby Cowden and I were coming back to base on motor cycles after having a few cool ones at the Brass Rail in Tybee. We were trying to beat a thunder storm that was brewing, and it caught up with us on Victory Drive & Bull Street.
      I was wearing a navy blue jacket and It took weeks to get my under ware white again.

  37. I’m looking for anyone who may have served with my father. His name was Furman Smith and he was a CC at Homestead between ’58-’61.

  38. Anyone help me out – looking for Master Sergeant Richard Lee – was in UK and maybe part of a crew in the tdy 1955-56 Fairford or Brize Norton

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