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.
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)
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
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.
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.