Well of course anyone following this blog would immediately know who I am referring to ………
…..And somebody that understands what it means to be the most powerful man and deserve the title “Commander in Chief”
But first, a little about me, as a young man my mind on career had already been decided by the age of 12 when I joined 312 Squadron Air Training Corps in my home town of Canterbury UK.
Yes, I was going to join the Royal Air Force, no matter what, but of course I wanted to fly, and that meant being an Officer in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. 5 years in the ATC confirmed my opinion that this was right for me.
Just before my 17th birthday, and having taken all the necessary educational exams (GCE’s), I arrived at RAF Biggin Hill, the Officer and Aircrew Selection Center. I was one of 120 candidates to go through all the rigors, of the aircrew medical, interviews, aptitude, and leadership evaluation.
This was a 4 day selection and after initial arrival I was given a 4 man room for the duration of my stay. I wandered over to the Officer’s Mess Bar, which of course I shouldn’t have been in as the legal age was 18 back then, although if you look big enough nobody bothered you and we didn’t have ID cards back then either! Didn’t spend too long in there with the loud mouthed Rodney’s and Charles’s as I felt a little self conscious among these 23+ year olds.
Day 1 and the medical begins with X-rays, eyesight tests and of course the full physical. A very full day, with interviews, and a whole lot of aptitude tests…… back to the Mess with lots of stories and tales of what people had been asked to do. Come bedtime two of the 4 beds in my room are already vacant following eyesight and x-rays, so a rapid visit and exit for Rodney and Charles!
Day two, more of the same, with lots of aptitude tests, high g test centrifuges, and periodic interviews. After dinner back to the room to find I’m now the single occupant!
Day 3 and we are reduced down to about 20 souls remaining and now its a mixture of leadership exercises, interviews and more aptitude tasks. We are all given vests to wear and no surprise I’m number A1 as I’m the youngest. A lot of climbing through trees with poles and ropes telling other people what to do when you are the designated leader.
Day 4 a few more exercises then final interviews and on my way.
Within 2 weeks a very official letter arrives …… and feverish fingers nervously open same ……… I have been accepted for Officer and Aircrew Training starting March 2nd 1964……… YIPEEEE!
Still only 17 and a Commissioned Officer in the Royal Air Force …duty picture for Mother
Next phase, Flying Training, and by July 1966 I’m out in Cyprus at RAF Akrotiri on 32 Squadron Canberra bombers. Now promoted to Flying Officer the Pilot Officer pulled thread rank braid is removed and people actually salute you!
1969 and home from Cyprus and now on a special trials unit to develop and fire the Martel TV guided missile at Boscombe Down just outside Salisbury and not far from Stone Henge.
XJ 481 our primary training aircraft with the glass nose and CCTV
Primary firing aircraft, XJ 476
From here off to be an Instructor in 1972 including a 4 month task in Saudi Arabia to replace a British Aerospace Instructor who was killed when his horse kicked him in the head after he fell riding in the desert.
1976 and on to the mighty F4 Phantom which is now the RAF’s prime air defence fighter at RAF Coningsby where I would stay for an amazing 14 years!
8 air to air missiles and a gatlin gun
Armed and ready QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) 29 Sqn
Following my tour on 29 Squadron it was across the road to 64 Squadron or 228 Operational Conversion Unit. Various roles as an Instructor, Deputy Flight Commander and Deputy Squadron Leader Training.
4 months in London at the Ministry of Defence and then as the Falklands Conflict was still raging a sudden promotion to Acting Squadron Leader and off to the Falklands as Squadron Leader Operations. On return take over the post of Squadron Leader Training on 228 OCU . At the same time I had joined the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on the last remaining Lancaster Bomber where I spent 8 years on the display circuit before ending up in Saudi Arabia.
Lancaster PA 474 of the ROYAL AIR FORCE BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL FLIGHT
A true honor to fly on BBMF for 8 years
In the interim the OCU moves into the hardened (HAS) aircraft shelters and bosses and other personnel come and go. My new boss wants me to be the “XO” or deputy boss which I happily accept. Shortly thereafter he gets the Falklands call …… so I’m now the Squadron Commander of 64 Squadron and 228 OCU with 50+ instructors, 400 men, a Simulator squadron, and 32 F4 Phantom fighters! The powers that be decide not to give me acting rank as Wing Commander, but to give me substitution pay and allowances instead. Well in this case the pay grades for my “new” position are based on years commissioned service so in this case I get a lot more than my predecessor as he was a university entrant, ……. And I get the maximum for a Wing Commander with 6 years seniority!!! It was indeed a HUGE raise!
Being presented with my “2000” hours F4 Badge by RAF Coningsby Station Commander, Gp Capt Chris Coville. Chris was my Boss in the Falklands when he was Wg Cdr Ops, and prior to that he was also my Boss when he was Officer Commanding 228 OCU …… small world! I finished my time on the mighty Phantom with 2850 hours on the beast
The Phantom is coming to the end of its service life and the Tornado F3 will shortly be taking over. In my situation, having done my “Executive Tour” (you only get one in each senior rank) it would seem unlikely that I would get another bite of the cherry and having enjoyed my Squadron Commander position, perhaps unlikely, they would promote me so quickly and give me another Squadron. Sitting behind bigger and bigger office desks in HQ jobs had little appeal or take option Two ? Option Two is to elect to go “Specialist Aircrew” where they will keep you flying for the rest of your career but you will not be given Executive Roles or promotion. ….. which became my preferred choice, a sort of “Club Pro”.
The Tornado F3 OCU fires up in the old 228 OCU buildings on the other side of the airfield and I’m on the second squadron to form which will be 5 Squadron.
QRA with the F3 in the same shelters
The British Government sells Saudi Arabia the new F3 fighter and that creates new Instructor posts to teach the Royal Saudi Air Force which, as I know, is a tax free salary! I apply and I’m accepted and due to start there in September 1989.
My plans leading up to my departure are to go out to Cyprus for one last time and enjoy the Island and some air to air gunnery before coming back to the UK and taking the Lanc out to the Channel Islands one last time for Battle of Britain Week.
We depart UK at some ungodly hour on my birthday morning and join up with our tankers to take us to Cyprus and some nice warm weather.
Our tankers will night stop and then take our sister squadron, 29 Squadron, home the following day. Usual first night party until two very glum faced bosses arrive in the bar to tell us we are ALL going to Saudi Arabia on Saturday! We will be the first two fighter squadrons in theater for the start of Operation Desert Shield !
During my career in the Royal Air Force I only had one Commander in Chief
THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF
HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II
Moving to the USA in 1995 and eventually taking Citizenship I really had no political leanings but eventually “read myself in”. Democrat or Republican ? It really didn’t matter much to me and the world trundled along with, as far as I could see, sensible policies at home and abroad ……… however this changed quite dramatically when the “Prince of Clowns” gets elected in 2016.
It seemed from the “gitgo” that he just couldn’t be quiet or follow any advice and when it came to the military he was quite offensive when talking about Senator John McCain with snide comments about not liking P.O.W.s
Well he served honorably and endured being a POW
Apart from this definitely “non presidential” statement the rest of his increasing nonsense became more of a comedy sketch which I was hoping his advisors would take him to task on … but NO!
Remember ? Insulting NATO members?Blaming the Democrats for a rundown Military? Non believer in Global warming? Wanting to buy Greenland? Stirring up trouble in the Middle East and China ? etc, etc,…… and generally disgracing America on the World Stage with his lack of fundamental knowledge of history and geography? let alone manners, and of course zero grace!
On the Military front, which he clearly knows nothing about, it became offensive to me when he consistently takes the WRONG side of penny and champions the wrongdoer when all the evidence would point the other way.
The first two cases here are the Master Chief Navy Seal and the Captain of a major Aircraft Carrier
He was forced to act as a TRUE Captain …. well done Sir
More Trump incompetence!
Either a total lack of knowledge or yet more inept vocabulary, the word you needed is “Sink”
But it doesn’t stop
What a disgrace this Loon is!
Then this comes to light ….. and here we are MONTHS later and still NOTHING ???
What can I say ?
By now the Pentagon Top Brass has had enough and retired Generals and Admirals are stepping up to the plate
Well of course it doesn’t end there! More news on his truly awful and disgraceful comments on America’s Fallen calling them “Suckers” and “Losers” who the FUCK does he think he is?
….and this of course drew more comments from previous military men who were equally unimpressed by this outrageous halfwit’s stupidity and lack of feelings for all involved
Another with a distinguished career on the F4 Phantom
Let us be VERY clear, there is no apology, or retraction that could ever make this situation right, or begin to appease those whose memories have been shattered by his thoughtless and unwarranted behavior.
BONE SPURS ? my arse!
Views from more knowledgeable Commanders
Of course the Queen would NEVER demean herself with such direct language, even though she may have thought it!
How nicely and accurately put
With this buffoon in a position of so much power it is sad that I have ZERO respect for him, and I’m amazed that his antics are tolerated …. if I were in the Military (which thankfully I’m no longer part of, other than Retired) I could NOT and would NOT salute this pompous, ignorant and arrogant HALFWIT
NEVER IN A THOUSAND YEARS!
I live in hope that this is how it ends