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Operation ARC Light

Or What Did You Do During the War Daddy?

The first Arc light missions were flown from Andersen AFB on Guam beginning on June 18, 1965.   In 1967 U Tapao Royal Thai Air Base was added both to relieve the crowding at Andersen and to reduce the flight time to targets in Vietnam.   A year later Kadena AB in Okinawa became the third Arc Light base to support the increasing operational tempo that peaked in 1968.And yes, we had AMMS troops there.       

Arc Light Participants

70th - Clinton Sherman AFB,  454th - Columbus AFB,  28th - Ellsworth AFB
92nd - Fairchild AFB, 416th - Griffiss AFB, 320th - Mather AFB,  306th - McCoy AFB, 42nd - Loring AFB
465th - Robins AFB,  484th - Turner AFB,  2nd - Barksdale AFB

Note: If there any other AMMS Units that supplied augmentees to Operation Arc Light please let me know.

Kadena Okinawa

AMMS Missileers Memories

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Kadena Main Gate - 1969
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Photos courtesy of: Tom Klasterka
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Our Home - The 4252nd MMS Barracks
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Howard Hagar just taking it easy. (in a drainage ditch ?)
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Tom Klasterka at Kadena - 1969

Anderson AFB, Guam

AMMS Missileers Memories

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A Real War Story
By:David Matthews

The Analyst/Bomb-Loaders

AGMbombpylon_340x240When Turner AFB was picked to be one of the first two B-52D bases to do an Arc Light deployment, some of the members of the 484th AMMS were picked to augment the 62nd MMS. I became part of a load crew that included three 315x3 Analysts; myself (A2C), Charlie Ross (AlC) and Doug McAllister (AlC). We were combined with two regular 462 types to become the only load crew with this balance of AFSCs in the business. We were picked to participate in the final test phase at Eglin before the system was ready for deployment, so we had a leg up on the "real" load crews. We worked together from Feb. to Sept. of '66, including our six months on Guam, and our Arc Light tour concluded when we trained our replacements. During this period we loaded close to 5 million pounds of bombs. I was only 19 at the time, and my strongest memory of the trip was the time that an airplane came back with hung bombs and we were invited to download them. The bottom bomb in the stack had a non-withdrawal fuse, so EOD checked it's safety and put chains around it.  When it came time to remove the bomb, EOD watched us from about a hundred yards away!

Fuzetag_263x140Among the other fun things that Charley Ross, Doug MacAllister, and I got to do during our Arc Light augmentee days:
1. Loading 120 lb. photoflash bombs. The bombs were initiated by clockwork fuzes, so we had to pull the arming wire on each fuze and let it run down to the time called for in the mission. Definitely called for the two-man policy! Because of the time it would take to re-arrange the jammer, we usually loaded the bombs by hand, one guy at each end. 2. Loading bomblet dispensers. The bomblets were prepacked into cubical containers that had to be loaded three-high into what were called Haze racks. Each cube contained 74 bombs, and probably weighed well over 100 lbs. The only way to get the bomblet cubes onto the loader was to manually lift them, and the top of the three-cube stack was about four feet off the ground.  3. Loading .50 cal magazines. One magazine for each of the four guns, with about 400 rounds per gun, and no room to maneuver that last magazine. Support equipment?- no way....

There was a sign at the entrance to the storage area that said "Third MMS builds men". You can believe it near the end of a six month tour!

ARC Light Stories

We Are Training To Do What ?
By: Joe Tafolla


    I was stationed at Mather AFB, California in 1965.  Sometime during April or early May, things began to happen that indicated that something big was coming up.  Preparations were underway to make all aircraft ready for deployment.  We had not seen this type of activity since the mid-50™s when we had deployed with SAC units to overseas forward bases.

    AMMS guys had already been working on a modification to the bomb bays of B-52™s.  Many of us took turns performing checks on new equipment that was to be installed in the bomb bay.  By the size of this piece of equipment, it was obvious that no Hound Dog was going to hang from these racks.  Soon MMS joined the fray and began to attach 250- and 500-pound bombs to them.  AMMS guys were recruited to work with MMS types, not as missile techs but as loaders for these bombs. The rules of the engagement were indeed changing!  

    Sometime in May, a recall was initiated and all aircraft were placed on alert, minus the missiles.  They remained in that configuration for quite a while.  Eventually the claxons sounded and all aircraft were launched.  It was a bright sunny day; visibility was unlimited. 

    The first aircraft rolled, followed by another one, and another one, and another one, each 30 to 40 seconds apart.  As soon as the first aircraft cleared the ground, another aircraft was barreling down the runway behind it.  Each one veered to the right upon being airborne and formed a line of aircraft that disappeared into the smoke laden sky.  Approximately 30 minutes into the exercise, the ramp was clear of all 20 B-52’s and 15 KC-135’s.  I was part of a group of guys who watched the entire spectacle from the roof of the 320th AMMS hanger building.

     Although the day had been clear and bright before launch time, the sun soon become obscure due to the smoky residue left behind by the departing aircraft.  Imagine our surprise when through all the smoke and haze someone spotted the entire wing flying towards us in a low vee-formation behind the lead B-52 piloted by the Wing Commander.  The formation flew right over the base and headed west over Sacramento.  What a sight!  Twelve O’clock High all over again!

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    A San Francisco newspaper reported the next morning that over 400 SAC aircraft had flown due west over the city the day before but that all had returned later in the day.  We knew better:  The 320th Bomb Wing aircraft did not return.  They joined up over the Pacific with 7th Bomb Wing aircraft from Dyess AFB and continued on to Guam. 

    On 18 June 1965, this group made the first B-52 bombing run to Vietnam as part of Operation Arc Light.  Some 320th AMMS guys were indeed there ostensibly to maintain the pylon collets, but instead spent most of their time loading bombs.

Hey Buddy, Where's Your Badge ?
By David Matthews

One day while we were loading an airplane, I saw a staff car park just beyond the wing-tip of the Buff. An officer got out and started walking towards the plane, and I noticed that he did not have a line badge. I picked up a half-inch ratchet and started towards him, and challenged him. Just then I notice one star on his collar. I moved the ratchet to my left hand and saluted him as he scrambled to get his badge out of his pocket. Once we both had our heart-beats back to normal I gave him a short explanation of the loading process and he went on his way. I found out shortly after that he was the new vice air division commander! We returned to Turner in September, and at Christmas time this TWX showed up in my mailbox. Not bad for a nineteen year old airman!

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Aldoria Riendeau Remembers Guam

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That's Aldoria sitting in the middle doing
some paperwork.  Courtesy of: Aldoria Riendeau

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Is That Ron Bender on the right? Courtesy of: Aldoria Riendeau
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Aldoria says that this sight was hard to forget.  Courtesy of: Aldoria Riendeau

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Who left the “A” off when they typed my orders?  I’m not supposed to be in MMS, I’m supposed to be working on missiles.  Courtesy of David Burris

My Life As A Bee-Bee Stacker On Guam

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    As a little background, we left in June 67 and returned in Dec 67. We were temporarily assigned to the 3rd MMS to load bombs and repair the bomb rack’s electronics. It was usually a 12 hour shift 7 day a week. I happened to work the 7 PM to 7 AM shift, so most days were spent at the beach. The building  we were in was slightly above the runway and it was quite a stirring sight to see at night, all the bombers with just the vertical stabilizer light on, all engines whining and a string of 50 of them ready for takeoff. Our particular squadron lost two 52’s in the first month we were there. One was a midair collision and the other tried to land at Danang and went through the mine field at the end of the runway. Just wasn’t long enough to land a bomber. The picture of the old fishing boat was taken from an Air Force fishing boat. They must have found a good spot to fish, they never left the spot the entire 6 months!! When we did get the occasional day off, we rented a car and toured around the island. Not a real long drive, but interesting sites.  Courtesy of James Bond

    OK all you AMMS Missileers. I need all your Stories, Photos, Facts and Figures on your Operation Arc Light experience. We too played an important role in the Viet Nam war and our story needs to be told.

    Operation ARC Light Momentos

     

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    Last updated on:  Tuesday, March 19, 2013
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