During the winter 1961 we were in the midst of both the Cold War and Vietnam. Supporting Operation Chrome Dome meant that my wing in Northern California not only kept two bombers near the USSR Border 24/7, but also provided a refueling tanker to an air force base in Alaska for supporting the bombers. In addition, our shop kept one navigation maintainer to Guam and a radio maintainer in Alaska, both on a 90-day TDY.

The radioman, upon returning home from Alaska was a happy man as he walked into the shop.

“I heard you were late getting back,” I said to the radioman.”

“Ah, you noticed.”

“We thought maybe you extended for another 90 days.”

“In your dreams my man. My relief was aboard the relief aircraft. There was an engine problem, so they diverted to Grand Forks to get it fixed. Of course I didn’t know the reason for the delay. My only option was to wait. With the command post radio frequency dialed in on the shop radio and spent the longest day of my life listening for that tail number.”

“Was it cold there.”

“Cold? Yes. After my replacement was signed in and briefed I was released to go home. I grabbed my bag and charged out into the 58 below zero temperature and headed for that airplane. The engines were already running. In the illumination of the vapor lights I saw that God Awful frost falling out of the sky snow.

I was never so glad to leave a place in my life.”

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