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CCT @ The Eye of the Storm

FADED MEMORIES ­ A letter from James Howell, CMSgt, USAF (CCT) Retired November 21, 2009 ­ Marble, North Carolina ­ Gene, I enjoyed your combat control history book. Every combat controller should have one. We all owe you a debt of gratitude. If you don't mind, I will put in my two-cents worth; adding information that you may not have from the very early years of Combat Control. In September 1952, James B. McElvian, William Swope and James A Howell while stationed at Lawson AFB, Georgia volunteered for Para-rescue. At the time, the three were assigned to the 434th Troop Carrier Wing; then based at Lawson Field, Georgia. A week later the Air Force issued a request for pathfinder duty volunteers. The three of us volunteered for both assignments. Another week later, both the rescue and pathfinders requests came back approved for all, on the same day. We decided the pathfinder assignment was the better choice. The three of us attended jump school together, in different airborne training companies. I don't have a copy of their orders, but the following excerpt is copied from mine.

(Excerpt)

Headquarters 1st Student Regiment Ft. Benning, Georgia Special Order Number 35 This confirms the VOCO (vocal order of the commanding officer) on 24 November 1952, placing SSgt James A. Howell, 18256190 (student) DS (on detached service) from the 434th Troop Carrier Wing, Lawson AFB, this station on parachute status w/CI #21 (Company I Abn Bn) are CFM (confirmed).

(Excerpt)

During training, Swope fractured his ankle and was washed back one week, but later graduated. In December 1952, we first arrived at Donaldson AFB, we had no unit to report to, so we were quartered in the base transient barracks. Later we were moved to a barracks across from the base stockade. The base gave us a small, 10'x10' room at the end of this long, flat building with a pot-belly stove for heat. Later we were assigned to the 1st Aerial Port Squadron, which was located on the backside of the base. We did not move to the squadron area until we came back from pathfinder school. The squadron area was known as Steel City. All the buildings were Quonset huts, with ugly red ditches running between them. It was not a nice place. On November 18, 1952, Special Orders Number 228, HQ 434th Troop Carrier Wing, Lawson AFB, GA ordered the TDY of the USAF Pathfinders to Ft. Benning for the purpose of attending the US Army Pathfinder School at Ft. Benning. We graduated in March 1953. In January 1953, Benini and the original Pathfinder team (Shown in photo on page 125) deployed to Camp Drum, New York. I think it was the first official mission for the new USAF Pathfinders. I saw Benini only twice at Donaldson. The first was that January-day in 1953 when he and his team deployed to Camp Drum, New York. The second time I saw him was during a night jump at Lee Drop Zone, Ft. Benning. That was the last time I saw him at Donaldson. On March 27, 1953, the following USAF Pathfinders completed the US Army Pathfinder course. MSgt Harry C. Lawson

NOTE: This online-only information was added to the CCT history after publication of The Eye of the Storm ­ A history of Combat Control Teams.

CCT @ The Eye of the Storm

SSgt George R. Jones SSgt William L. Swope A1C Harold G. Foster A2C James E. Harper A3C Joseph P. Phillips A3C William B. Short SSgt Charles McCall SSgt James A. Howell SSgt Georgenton L. Tummold A/1C Ray Tedford A/2C Walter L Morgan A/3C Angus J. Ranteau Captain Stewart R. A. Richardson, British Army

After completing the Pathfinder course we stayed at Fort Benning to attend the Jumpmaster course. I never witnessed a better jumpmaster course. In mid-April 1953, we all reported back to Donaldson and were again housed in the transient barracks. As I mentioned earlier we moved near the stockade; some thought that we should be locked up inside. For some reason the Air Police gave us a difficult time. Maybe it was because we were a new unit and was allowed to blouse our boots and wore funny hats with jump wings. Anyhow, it wasn't long before General Douglass passed the word to the Air Police Commander to lay-off. In July 1953 we were sent TDY to Campbell AFB, Kentucky. Later the team as permanently transferred there with the OIC ­ 2/Lt Jakes K. Lowman and NCOIC ­ MSgt L. V. Lewis. On 15 April, 1954 PCS orders were issued for reassignment to the 2nd Aerial Port Squadron ­ CCT ­ Sewart AFB, Tennessee. Team members on those orders were: DAFSC UAFSC * 1. MSgt Lester Shaw 29370** 29370 2. SSgt James A. Howell 29351 29351 3. SSgt William L Swope 29351 29351 4. A/1C Ray N. Tedford 29351 29351 5. A/2C Frederick Hicks 29331 29331 6. A/2C Dennis H. Mazikowski 29331 29331 7. A/2C James B. McElvian 29331 29331 8. A/3C Joe Honeycutt 29331 29331 9. A/1C Lonnie G. Lynch 29331 29331 10. MSgt Harry H. Lawson 29370 29370*** 11. MSgt L. V. Lewis 29370 29370*** ________________ *Utilization AFSC ­ precursor to Primary AFSC **The 293 AFSC was in the radio operations career field. ***Were on leave when the group was issued, but traveled to Sewart AFB on a later set of orders. As new combat control candidates arrived at Sewart they were given pre-jump school training by the cadre listed above. At one time, I was assigned to give Lt Richard G. Sigman his pre-jump training. (As you know, he went on to be a long-time combat controller, retiring as a combat controller from a Pentagon assignment.) Newly jump-qualified combat controllers that arrived on station in 1954 were

NOTE: This online-only information was added to the CCT history after publication of The Eye of the Storm ­ A history of Combat Control Teams.

CCT @ The Eye of the Storm

given Pathfinder training by those individuals who had graduated from the Ft. Benning Pathfinder Course. Later, in 1954, we participated in the Tactical Air Command OPERATION BANDWAGON (as I recall). BANDWAGON ordered the 434th Troop Carrier Wing to organize a troop-carrier demonstration team for public exhibitions of the Aerial Delivery capability of the U.S. Air Force. The team included four aircraft, with the following exhibition responsibilities: 1. C-124 ­ Drop A-22 containers down the elevator well. 2. C-119 ­ Drop four Combat Controllers (Howell, McElvian, Tedford, Ostazewski) 3. C-119 ­ Drop a Jeep and ¾ ton Truck (Weapons Carrier) 4. C-119 ­ Drop monorail bundles. The exhibition team covered thirty-nine (39) states during their demonstration tour in the last half of 1954. In 1955, four of us from Sewart AFB, and four from Pope AFB attended the U. S. Army Parachute Packing Course at Ft. Lee, Virginia. More would attend the course in later classes. In January 1956, a small team was assigned to Detachment 1, 7th Aerial Port Squadron, Ashiya Air Base, Japan. The team included: 1. 2. 3. 4. Squadron Commander: Captain Adam S. Heller CCT OIC: 1/Lt Richard G. Sigman NCOIC: SSgt James A. Howell In 1956, a non-qualified SSgt, by the name of Billy Horton joined the team, transferring from Formosa. At the time, Billy was persona non-grata in Formosa; he was thrown out of the country for lewd personal conduct. Horton was later jump qualified by a nearby U.S. Army Quartermaster aerial delivery company and assigned as a combat controller. During follow-on assignments in Combat Control, Billy was infamous for lewd personal conduct and being thrown out of other countries for his socially unacceptable antics.

In May 1958, I returned from Japan I was assigned to Lackland AFB, Texas. I had no Primary AFSC or Duty AFSC listed on my orders. The only thing listed in my records was the 29351 AFSC (radio operator) in my 201 File. They gave me a career filed choice of medic, aircraft crew chief or base operations. I refused them all. I immediately called the CCT at Sewart, asking them to call Lackland to tell them that I was a combat controller. I told them that I needed help. But, it didn't help. The Lackland personnel people said, "If you don't select one of the fields we offered, we will do it for you." I stormed out of the assignment office; I was very upset. (I had just reenlisted for six years.) While setting outside trying to decide what to do, when I saw a colonel walk into the assignment office building, through the back door. I followed him into the building. I was immediately attacked by a Master Sergeant, from the assignments office. Fortunately, for me, the colonel was standing nearby and he asked, "What's the problem?" I gave him my version of the situation. To which the Colonel said, "I understand and I can give you your choice of three career fields: pararescue, combat control or the 6511th Parachute Test Squadron at El Centro, California." I chose the 6511th, and "you know the rest of that story!" (See The Eye of the Storm [EOS] pages 36 & 60) 1958 ­ 1962 ­ I participated in many projects; one was the HALO Test Project. After completing the test, I was fortunate to go TDY to the Airborne Board at Ft. Bragg to check them out on the HALO parachute.

NOTE: This online-only information was added to the CCT history after publication of The Eye of the Storm ­ A history of Combat Control Teams.

CCT @ The Eye of the Storm

During the same period, I worked with U.S. Army STRAC (Strategic Army Corps) Parachute Team; it later evolved into the U.S. Army parachute team. During the time I was working with them we made a jump at 25,000', another fortunate day for me. As a result of this association, they asked me to be part of the world parachute record-breaking team. My boss at El Centro refused to grant me permission, but Captain Jim Perry, the Ft. Bragg HALO Team Captain called my commanding officer and I soon got orders. (Also see EOS Page 38, JUNE 24, 1961 - COMBAT CONTROLLER MAKES FIRST SUPERSONIC

EJECTION.)

After the HALO Team broke most of the Russian parachute accuracy records, they were given the job of evaluating the HALO system for military application. I was selected to be part of that team too. After that we had to evaluate high-altitude HALO parachuting with equipment. Then the world altitude record was there to be had. The Air Force team members included: OIC, Captain Chuck Corey Captain John Garrity MSgt Jim Howell SSgt Vern Morgan SSgt George McLain

(See EOS page 62)

Soon after we broke the world high altitude records, I was back with the team at Hurlburt. We were assigned to the 319th Air Commando Squadron and the Squadron Commander was Lt. Col. "Road Runner" Thomas. Others assigned to the team include: OIC, Captain Eggleston NCOIC, MSgt Howell NCOIC Maintenance, TSgt Charlie Jones

In the 1964 time-frame I assigned to the Air Commandos at Hurlburt Field, Florida. One story from that time involves a two-man jump mission I was flying with Charlie Jones. We were jumping between the runways at Hurlburt from a U-10 Helio-Courier. I was number two in the door, behind Charlie. When Charlie went out, I immediately noticed he had a near-complete malfunction, it looked like a ball of nylon. Charlie was very alert and immediately deployed his reserve; but I could see it wrapping around his main. I didn't jump but immediately called to the pilot to land the aircraft. The pilot had the U-10 on the ground in a nanosecond, taxiing to and stopping very near where Charlie had landed. Charlie had impacted between the Hulburt Field active runway and a taxiway, in a drainage ditch. Luckily, it had rained really hard the day before and Charlie was buried in a deep mud puddle formed in the drainage ditch. That very wet landing area had saved his life. It was obvious that he had suffered a severe back injury. Soon the ambulance arrived and loaded Charlie on a stretcher. I accompanied him back to the hospital where he was taken by emergency room medics. They removed most of his clothing and placed him on a steel gurney, with no padded covering. "I just knew he was freezing!" Charlie was in great pain, but he recovered and lived to jump another day. Finally, in the book, you mention SSgt Von Ryik; I knew him well. The Cougar (Sam) was captured in Peru. When Sam got too big, Von Ryik gave it to Rick Chapman ­ one of the PJs working with us in the 319th Air Commando Squadron. Gene, that's about it, but I will close with an excerpt from the epic poem, TOMMY, THE BRITISH SOLDIER by Rudyard Kipling.

NOTE: This online-only information was added to the CCT history after publication of The Eye of the Storm ­ A history of Combat Control Teams.

CCT @ The Eye of the Storm

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!" But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot; An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please; But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees! Again, Great Job! Cheers, Your Friend & Team Mate

Jim Howell

1st Special Operations Wing, Combat Control Team (circa 1968) Jim Howell is seen here standing on the back row, fourth from the left; the author is standing on the back row, fourth from the right. The airmen standing, (left to right) are Lt. McCollough, Sgt Sampley, A2C Charvat, SMSgt Howell, SSgt Cavanaugh, maintenance man, SSgt Larkin, TSgt Adcock, A2C Smith, A1C Widman, Captain Farmer. Kneeling: SMSgt George Jones, A1C Gomez, A/2C Boykins, SSgt Allen, TSgt Dixon.

NOTE: This online-only information was added to the CCT history after publication of The Eye of the Storm ­ A history of Combat Control Teams.

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