37th Bomb Squadron Revisited

The 37th Bomb Squadron Revisited – 2002

C.O. Smith
Ex Navigator /Bombardier 37th Bomb Squadron
K-9 Korea 1953
(Click on Blue Names to see Pictures)
(New Pictures Added 11/15/02)
The 37th Bomb Squadron is now flying the B-1B bomber out of Ellsworth AFB, SD. I was recently invited to a Dining Out as a guest speaker and accepted the honor with a great deal of pleasure and anticipation. How would the modern professional bomber crew treat and old Korean cowboy? Let me hasten to add – with outstanding hospitality and respect.

On the first afternoon I was met by Lt Aneel Alveres, a 37th pilot, and, after depositing my luggage in Distinguished Visitors Quarters (DV Quarters) (where the 37th Spouses had a great welcoming basket for me) I was escorted to the 37th’s “Tiger’s Den”, (The Tigers Den) (They are 'Tigers' as were we in Fifty One/Fifty Two and Fifty Three) a private club operated by and for the 37th. The camaraderie and dedication was very apparent. I was introduced, said a few words and everyone made an effort to meet me. I signed a couple of B-26 pictures that I had previously provided. We them went to the O Club where I met several more 37th Members along with Col Brown the Group Ops officer. The squadron members, including the Squadron CO, took off their Squadron Patches and insisted that I autograph them. That night the Squadron CO (LTC Todd Westhauser) Lt Alveres, Captain Mike Miller and a group of officers took me to dinner, where I told some war stories and showed some pictures that I had brought.(Dinner)

Lt. Alvers then took me on a sight seeing tour of Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument. Both were interesting and impressive, then we returned to Ellsworth.

LTC Westhauser arranged for me to have a session in the B-1 Simulator. (Simulator).  I rode in the A/C’s seat and Major Ted Presley took me for about an hour and a half ride with me in the pilot seat and he in the copilot seat demonstrating the outstanding capabilities of the B-1 through out the flight envelope. Great A/C! And it does fly with a stick. The instrument panel is so complicated as to be overwhelming. I did recognize some of the old “steam gauges’ including our old friend the B-16 Magnetic Compass. He did vary the wing sweep during various maneuvers. Then a WSO Captain Mike Miller had me sit in the Offensive and Defensive Officers stations and go through bomb runs, navigation, etc. Outstanding – beats anything we had in the B-26 or the B-47. What we would have given for these in those dark low-level runs over the “land of the Morning Calm”. We were scheduled to go to flight line for pictures of a B-1, but VP Cheney’s arrival caused the flight line to be secured.

That night I attended the Dining Out with about 120 squadron members and their wives, sitting at the head table with Col Brown (Group Operations Officer) and his wife, LTC Kono (Deputy Group Ops) LTC Westhauser and his wife, and the Chaplin and his wife. Quite an honor. After an impressive opening ceremony, which included Posting of the colors, the Sword Ceremony, the Invocation and the customary toasts the Dining Out proceeded during which the Rules of the Mess were rigidly enforced and several recalcitrant individuals made the obligatory trip to the Grog Bowl.

With the closing of the Grog Bowl I was introduced as the guest speaker and gave about a thirty minute speech, mixing in humor with seriousness and told a few war stories from Korea and my B-47 SAC days followed by a Power Point slide show - mixing in mostly Korean War pictures but with a few SAC slides (B-47, crew picture, KC-97). It was well received – I received a five-minute standing ovation from all. Quite moving! I presented them with a book “History of the 17th Bomb Group” (which covers the 17th during WWII and Korea) and a pamphlet “History of the Air War in Korea”. They in turn presented me with a framed picture of the B-1 flying past Mt. Rushmore with the 28th Bomb Wing and the 37th Bomb Squadron insignia on either side of a plaque inscribed with my name and the dates I served in Korea. Quite impressive and something to cherish. I took along the B-1 book which Colo. Walter Boyne had so graciously sent to me and asked the squadron members to sign it. They all stood in line to sign – including and ex-B-52, 5000 hour LTC Aircraft Commander. (I considered that to be quite a tribute) I then stood and met all of the squadron members. There are two women in the squadron – one is a Captain co-pilot and the other is a 1st Lt WSO.

Sunday morning, the CO took me to the flight line and showed me a through a B-1. (Flight Line Pictures) I sat in the A/C seat, and then into the WSO compartment. Finally I took pictures of the inside and outside of the A/C.

All in all a great weekend! I was over whelmed with the reception and the hospitality. The trip to the ‘Tiger’s Den’ showed me the camaraderie and good fellowship which exists among the crewmembers. The simulator ride convinces me of the degree of professionalism and dedication that exists in the present 37th. My interaction with the leaders, the crewmen, the maintenance personnel and the 37th Spouses indicated to me that the future of the 37th Bomb Squadron is in good hands. I wish that I could remember all of their names. They are proud of their heritage; dedicated professionals led by dedicated professionals and will continue to up hold the highest traditions of the USAF in general and the 37th Bomb Squadron in particular.

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