Tales from my Father pt2

Tales from my Father pt2

Shortly after my father married, he was scheduled for a transfer. Another airman from the same unit was slated to transfer at the same time. As such things go, the Air Force allowed them to state their top three choices in order of preference.

This other airman wanted to serve at McChord AFB near Tacoma WA. So he put that choice right at the top.

My Dad strategized his selections based upon his knowledge of how such things usually worked in the military. He too wanted to go to McChord, but he put in for Larson AFB as his first choice instead. When the postings came through, my Dad was pleased to see that his new posting would be to McChord. His airman friend landed at Larson. (Confirming once again his understanding of how the government worked.)

At the time my Dad moved to McChord, the ACW unit had their own separate quarters on the base. As in his time at San Antonio for basic, supply problems were still rife. The airbase had a shortage problem, not enough blankets to go around, but unlike San Antonio there was plenty of food.

The nearby army base Fort Lewis had exactly the opposite problem – a shortage of food, and too many blankets. Such complementary problems created many opportunities for horse trading a la Sgt. Bilko. The ACW unit soon had plenty of blankets to go around.

The ACW kitchen at McChord was located right on the flight line. So all day long they could hear the F-86 Sabre jets roar in and out. The facility was principally for the personnel manning the radar, but it became a favorite spot for the base pilots to drop in for a meal. This kitchen was the only one open 24 hours a day and hence was more handy than the pilots’ own.

The ACW cooks always kept very good care of the pilots, giving them anything that they wanted, even items not on the menu for the day. The pilots in return would regale them with stories about their recent patrol of the Pacific coastline.

The pilots created quite a buzz around the kitchen when they came back from flights in which they had chased some slow moving lights off to the west. They would be closing in and then try to overtake these objects on afterburners, and these lights just as quickly warped away from them. Such actions left the pilots with the distinct impression that they were being toyed with.

This was the time of many UFO sightings, and a few years after the famous snapshot of the objects over Mount Rainier.

There was never any indication that the pilots were fabricating a tall tale. The cooks had the sense that the pilots were dead serious, and weren’t relaying anything other than what they had seen.


Living Under Runway 2

Living Under Runway 2

A lot of homes in the immediate vicinity of SeaTac airport had been bought up by and were now available for rent from the Port of Seattle, one of the owners of the facility. The runway and its supporting structures were expanding and they had aquired many of the homes in the surrounding area to that end. So until they were torn done they were let out on short leases for habitation.
We moved into a one story brick house with a basement. It was a stop gap measure to be sure. Something to meet our immediate need while our parents continued their search for a more permanent home.
It was comfortable. Besides I had my cards, comics, books and models (Old Ironsides had made the trip cross country) to keep me busy and amused. The classes at my new (to me) high school turned out to be slightly behind their East Coast counterparts. But I was able to continue in most of my electable interests. There was only one class that was lacking, but more on that next time.
There wasn’t much to see out and about in the neighborhood. To the west of us, all of the dwelling places nearer the airport had been torn down. Other house properties nearby were for the most part deserted, all awaiting the bulldozer. I remember walking by some properties whose landscaping was running amok.
Dad was gone a lot. He frequently stayed at the theater site, looking after things, and making sure all ran smoothly. If the builders had any doubts about how something was supposed to go together and be used afterwards, he was the go-to guy.
The living room was set up with a TV – black and white. We had not yet graduated to color. But at times it was fun just to turn it off, draw back the curtains in front of the picture window and watch the airplanes go by, the big passenger liners. Though sitting down on the couch our view was limited to the tall tails passing in review, like so many shark fins.
I remember one time when we were planespotting, my attention was drawn to some lights – four of them – moving in an aerial ballet over our end of the runway. That they weren’t normal air traffic was obvious. They hovered around the same area for the longest time before suddenly streaking straight up and out of sight. We couldn’t identify it, so by that mere fact it was an UFO.
Or maybe it was just Boeing experimenting with a new platform.