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An Interview with Jug

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Thank you Jug for agreeing to do this interview.


Can you tell us little about yourself?

Born in Virginia, raised in Tennessee, undergraduate at Auburn University, AL, where I lettered in varsity football and varsity wrestling. ROTC to pilot training and graduated UPT in 1971. 20 years in USAF air operations, MS from Southern Cal, 84 grad of the Brazilian Air Command and Staff College, Assistant Air Attache US Embassy Brazil, returned to school upon retirement and now I am a computer programmer working these past three years with Joint Special Forces Command (JSOC, Ft Bragg, NC), III Marine Expeditionary Forces (IIIMEF Okinawa, JA) and Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA Ft Belvoir, VA). I hold two copyrights for software and program in C#, Sharepoint, and ASP.NET.



What all aircraft did you fly and how many hours have you accumulated?

Spent most of my USAF career in SAC. I was a 'plowback' instructor in T-37s (1000 hrs) at Columbus AFB, MS, and then went directly to the aircraft commander seat in a B-52G (2000 Hrs) at Loring AFB, ME. Flew Buffs for four years as instructor pilot and standardization pilot and then volunteered for the U-2 program. I have 80 hours in the U-2C model and first soloed tail number 680 which hangs in the Smithsonian Air and Space museum today. The rest of my 1100 hours in type is in the U-2R and the TR-1 out of Beale AFB, CA, and RAF Alconbury, UK. Was dual qualified in the T-38 (600 hours) at Beale so I was invited to fly F-5Es (35 hours) with the Brazilian AF while stationed in Rio attending school. Was the Embassy instructor pilot in the C-12A and have about 450 hours in type and have flown the BAF Mirage IIIEBR (4.5 Hrs) out of Annapolis, BR, while stationed in nearby Brasilia. I also have around 500 hours in light aircraft (Cessna 172/150).



When you were in SAC, can you tell us what it was like then?

SAC has been from its concept a very serious business. It's main mission was nuking the then Soviet Union back to the stone age. When I joined up with SAC, the bomber force (third strike) was relegated to clean up crew to the submarine (first strike) and land-based missile force (second strike). It was not something to dwell upon and most people just put their heads in the sand and prayed fervently every night that it would not happen. If you thought about it too much you could go off of the deep end and some did. I sat alert in a cold lonely miserable location way to close to a nasty mission. It was the best tour of my career, because I really learned what it means to be a professional. SAC did not communicate very well with the rest of the commands and did not participate very well with the other commands. It's primary position in the US defense structure made many enemies, but SAC was always ready and fully capable to do its mission. Loss of focus was not tolerated and I have been through three commanders in as many days. There are no rewards for second place. Looking back on it, we did a good job and I am proud of my time and my contributions to SAC. The Russians never found the opening they were looking for and when our forces and theirs stood down from daily alert, it almost passed without notice. I can tell you that it was a day of celebration for all members and former members of SAC. I imagine the Russians crews felt the same way.


High altitude reconnaissance is one of the most difficult and lonely missions on the planet. Armed with sensors and imagery equipment, flying in a hostile environment, usually with a host of people and equipment who earnestly want you dead and gone arrayed against you, far, far away from anything or anybody that can help you if you get in trouble, for long periods of time, with little communication with your loved ones for extended periods of time, and no rewards for a job well done is not exactly what every pilot's dream job consists of. If anything went wrong, it was and is an international incident. Most people do not realize that the U-2 is still flying. U-2 pilots receive very little recognition, medals, or the normal stuff that goes along with the military flying business. No news is good news and any news at all is a bad thing. That is the one and only rule of engagement we have. Be quiet and bring home the bacon.


We used to call it the Beale flying club. There are only about 35 U-2 pilots at any one time that are operationally flying the bird since 1955. Missions are tasked by the NSA and inspectors usually do not have a high enough clearance to inspect recce operations. We never saw the dreaded surprise visit of the KC-135 filled with SAC inspectors that visited other SAC bases saw every six months. Virtually all of the birds are deployed at various locations around the globe, so training command gave us some T-38s and some instructors for us to play with and keep currency requirements when we were at home. I think one of our contributors in this forum was a T-38 IP at Beale.


What was one of your most humorous moments? What was one of your hairiest moments?

Most of the missions I flew are classified even unto today, so I cannot go into detail about my hairiest nor most humorous mission without breaching that trust. I may return to this subject since hairy missions and humorous events are not limited to aircraft type.


What was your favorite and why?

My favorite is the Dragon Lady. She is just like your favorite party girlfriend. Lovely and graceful dancing in her high thin environment, painfully eager to get there, and a real bitch when it comes time to go home. When I take my last flight, it will be to the sound of that Pratt and Whitney J-75 thundering in the background. I gave my heart to my wife and family, but I gave my soul to the dark lady known only as the 'article'.

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Jug: SALUTE!!!

I made a weather divert to Grand Forks AFB in an EA-6a back in the 70's.

I got there before my amended clearance did. It was very disconcerting to be met by 3 Air Force vehicles when I taxied to the Ramp. They stopped me way out on the taxiway. I was not about to argue with 10 very well armed AP's.

After my clearance got there,everything was cool. The biggest thing I noticed about Ops was as you say being professional. They did not screw around with anything they did.

The Soviets didn't dare try anything because guys like you were ready 24/7.

Anyway,THANKS for your service in a very difficult time and a very difficult occupation.

Back then "Peace was your Profession" and you did it to the highest standards.

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