CombatACE Spotlight: Interview with 331 Killerbee
In today’s CombatACE spotlight we’ll be focusing on Killerbee who is a long time member and mod developer for the Strike Fighter series. He is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
So, 331 Killerbee, please, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born on August 27, 1954 in Maryville Tennessee. I come from a long line of Tennesseans that have served the United States Military since the Battle of Kings Mountain. My Ancestors were Wautaugans and are considered one of the first Families to settle in the Frontier in 1772. This applies to both sides of my family as that both have direct ancestors whose names are on the Wautaugan Charter which was a treaty with the Cherokee Tribe and is generally regarded as the first act in the formation of the Great State of Tennessee. As mentioned, I had family at Kings Mountian, also at New Orleans in 1813. Chickamauga in 1863,Saint Mihiel 1918, Leyte Gulf 1944, and Ton Son Nhut 1968. As you can see, I come from somewhat one might call a Military Family.
I attended Farragut High School in Knoxville, TN. I graduated in 1971. I played and lettered at Football all four Years as an Offensive End. On June 13, 1972, I joined the U. S. Marine Corps and left for Parris Island, South Carolina. 20 Years later, I retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. After My Military Career was over, I went to work for the Government again at Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant at Oak Ridge, TN for the Department of Energy. I took a partial retirement from DOE after 10 years as weapons production has come to a halt, and layoffs were about to begin. I'm been lovingly married to my wife Ann for 27 years.
What prompted you to join the United States Marine Corps?
At that time, The Draft was still in effect. And being a prime candidate for the Draft, I just didn't want to end up in just any Branch of service. This is not a Public Knock against the other Services, but it was my opinion that the Marine Corps was the very best there is. So in true Tennessean fashion, I volunteered before I was drafted. Also, Vietnam was still going on. If I was going over there, it would be as a Marine. But that never came to be.
What did you do in the Corps?
I was an Aviation Ordnanceman. We had a saying in the Corps that said this: Avation Ordnanceman. A Man that transforms a Commercial Airliner into a Death and Destruction Device.
If it went "BOOM" and went on an Aircraft, I messed with it. I also maintained the Weapons Systems on the Aircraft the Aircraft I worked on were the F-4S, A-4M, AV-8A, TA-8A, Av-8C, AV-8B. As you can see, mainly, "Light Attack" aircraft. But they were far from ever being "Light".
Do you care to share any fond memories you have about being in the Corps?
Not at all. But there are so many after 20 Years it's hard to think of just one. But I'll share this one because it first comes to mind. I was with the VMA-223. The "Bulldogs" stationed out of MCAS Cherry Point, NC with A-4's. We deployed to MCAS Yuma, AZ. for an AWTU (Air Weapons Training Unit) Exercise. My load crew and I were out on the flight line loading Mk.82's on the Squadron's A-4Ms for that day's flight schedule. All of a sudden there was an A F-4 that was rolling on takeoff and in full burner, heard two loud rocket blasts. We Ordies looked up right away because we knew something wasn't right because we knew what rockets sounded like. Sure enough, the Pilot and RIO just ejected and parachuted to the ground. Crash Crew got a hold of them, not for a few bumps and scratches, they were OK, but the amazing thing was the F-4. It continued to circle the base for what seemed to be at least 15 Minutes. The F-4 had lost all hydraulic pressure during roll, froze the control surfaces. The Gears started to collapse and the arrestor hook had dropped. It's a wonder that they ever got airborne. But I can still see that canopy-less F-4 going around, around and around....before it ever hit the ground.
Wow I’m glad the pilot and RIO are okay. Thank you for telling that amazing story so, what interest you about aviation?
Everything. Even if it goes into Space, I dig it... I'm a true Aviation Geek.
What types of aircraft do you like and what do you find fascinating about them?
The first aircraft I ever worked on was the F-4S Phantom. So it'll have to be that. Even though I worked on Harriers a lot and they are fascinating in their own right, it’s the Phantom. It just looks "Mean" to me. I think of it as the "Pit Bull Dog" of fighter aircraft. The U.S.'s first true Multi-Rolled Fighter in my mind.
So it's Phantoms because I was a Phantom Phixer' first in My Career.
What got you interested in flight simulation?
My late Son. It was an Interest we were able to both share. I feel he wouldn't have been interested in Aviation and Flight Sims had I not be around Military Aviation for all those Years.
Do you remember the first flight sim you ever played?
Falcon X.0........ It was DOS driven
What motivated you to arrive at CombatACE and stay over the years?
It was more migration than anything a dedicated Community. Friends, Members and Contacts that I was able to establish over the Years. It's truly the Friends.....They are Priceless.
When did you start modding?
When my son and I picked up a copy of Strike Fighters Project 1 by Third Wire, Published by Strategy First. That would be back in 2002.
What do you enjoy most about modding?
The since of Accomplishment and being able to share with others your accomplishment.
What are some of things unpleasant things about modding and how have you dealt with them?
What's unpleasant is investing a large amount of time in a mod only to come to the conclusion that it won't work. It's frustrating, but I step back for awhile, gather myself back in, and always keeping in mind that this happens in "Open-ended" Sims. It's the nature of the Beast.
What modding tools do you use and why?
Presently, I use PhotoShop, PaintShop and Gimp. Texture Painting is my true niche. I also do object placement in Strike Fighters, but I use only Graph Paper and Pencil for that.....
What is your favorite mod that you have created?
I think the Series of AV-8B Harrier II Skins have to be my favorite.....
What is your favorite mod that you did not create?
Man, this is a tough Question....And I'm sorry, there is just not one single Mod, but there are several that I could point to as being a favorite. It's a testament to the quality of Artist were have here.
Who is a Modder or group of modders you admire and why?
First of all, I admire our whole Community. For the most part, since 2002, This community has stuck together through thick and thin. It also grows stronger by the additions of others that join our Ranks on a daily basis. I have established Friends here over the Years that are just Priceless. And I'll do anything for them.
There are two gentlemen I'd like to call out as being My "Friend" and high quality Artist. On top of that, these two have been there when I've needed them the most. And likewise, if they needed anything from me....All they have to do is ask. Its' done.
They would be Sundowner and Ravenclaw_007. Gentlemen, you are true "Friends" and I'm very honored to have you so.
Do you have any favorite quotes or thoughts about being here at CombatACE you’d like to share?
Being a "Hard Corp" Flight Simmer for the last 11 Years, has taught me this. There is no better Flight Simming Web Site out there than CombatACE. It's second to none. Thank You for allowing me to be involved in this Interview.
Again, I feel privileged and honored to have had this Opportunity. Thank Yall' so very much.
Thank you Killerbee for taking the time to tell your story and for being here at CombatACE over the years. Below are some photos Killerbee shared with us of his USMC days. Thank you for stopping by to check out today’s CombatACE Spotlight.
A Young Buck with VMFA-235...
My last Duty Station. VMA-331 Bumblebees. I'm the 4th on the Right Second Row Kneeling......
Even Changing Crews seemed to be a Big Deal....