25 years ago today

Discussion in 'Modern' started by evangilder, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Today was a day I will never forget. We had been playing war in our "local SALTy nations" exercise and it had been really dull. We all knew something was up, you could feel it in the air. We had seen more staff cars with stars in the last couple of weeks and there was a tension in the air.

    We had been working 12 hour shifts for the last couple of weeks. Our standing orders were to maintain equipment and not touch anything unless it was broken. All of our PMIs (Preventive Maintenance Inspections) were put on hold unless the risk of not doing them could cause any outages.

    We saw the 'Varks taxiing down to the flight line, loaded for bear. The cover story that they told us was that it was a "live fire exercise in Germany". I don't think anyone believed it. There were so many holes in the cover, it was almost comical.

    You can tell the difference between live ordinance by the color bands. Blue bands were inert, usually filled with something to mark a target after it landed. Yellow, green, red and other colors were live ordinance. These were live.

    Maintaining complete radio silence, the aircraft were launched in groups of four. As the fourth went out, a KC-10 from Mildenhall would pass over. It didn't take a genius to figure out what was up. If this was a mission to Germany, they wouldn't need the gas passers (tankers). Given the tensions of the day, we knew that we were going to drop a few GBUs on Libya and ruin Muammar's day.

    It was at that moment, I thought of the many times that crews on air stations during WWII must have felt like. Seeing the aircraft from your base take off, flown by people you know, to someplace where the reception won't be welcoming. The worse part is the waiting.

    After the aircraft from the USAF and from the Navy had come off target, Ronald Reagan made the announcement on the news. We watched the news and it was interesting to know that we were the folks behind the news story.

    Being in the comm squadron, you get scuttlebutt earlier than others as the comm guys are the ones who pass message traffic and keep the comm links up and running. Even then, it took a while to get a clear picture.

    Initial reports were that all aircraft were off target and headed home. Then there were 2 missing. Finally, the details became clearer. One aircraft had made an emergency landing in Spain and the crew were safe. The other appeared to have been lost over the Gulf of Sitre.

    The long flight was followed by a long flight home. We counted the aircraft in and watched for anyone in trouble. It wasn't any morbid fascination. You wanted to see everyone get home safe after facing a long flight, the adrenaline of going over the target with AAA and missile threats followed by a long flight home. These guys were probably exhausted and we all were there to cheer them on for a good landing and welcome home.

    It's hard to believe it was 25 years ago already. Its even more ironic that we are bombing Libya again.

    Today, I remember Maj Fernando Ribas-Dominicci and Capt Paul Lorence, who were lost in the Gulf of Sitre after being struck by as SAM missile. Capt Lorence remains MIA.

    The missing aircraft, 70-2389, and F-111F, callsign Karma-52.

    It should be noted that with Vatican interference, Khaddafi reluctantly handed over the remains of Major Ribas-Dominicci and claimed he had no idea about Capt Lorence. Considering that news footage from Libya showed someone holding a white helmet with the name "Lorence" stenciled on the back, it is clear they knew exactly where the remains were.
     
  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Here is a shot of the loadout for the raid, using inert weapons, on display at Air Fete a few months later.
     

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  3. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Remember it. Was in college. Very dim memory. I recall they hit all the targets. At least that was what I recall. Had some collateral damage from one of the F111s dropping it's load after taking a missle. Probably the one that is missing.

    Things were quiet over there after that. He got the message.
     
  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Actually, the F-111 didn't have a real good showing. Equipment malfunctions and ROE had several aircraft dropping their ordinance into the sea, if at all. But the targets selected were hit. The French embassy took some slight battle damage, but that was it. The one shot down was shot down over water on the way out.
     
  5. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    :salute:

    Maj Fernando Ribas-Dominicci and Capt Paul Lorence
     
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