I would like to provide you with a little background on this set of photos prior to posting them. When I first arrived at RAF Upper Heyford, U.K., I checked into my new squadron, the 79th Tactical Fighter Squadron “NATO Tigers;” and completed my in processing with the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing. During this time my wife and son were beginning their three to four month “vacation” living in the village of Bruch, Germany, with my wife’s parents. Since I had never flown the F-111E before, I was soon leaving for Cannon AFB, NM, to complete F-111G upgrade training – which was the upgraded FB-111 – flown by the 428th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron (TFTS), “Buccaneers.”
One of the guys in the 79th TFS was PCS’ing (Permanent Change of Station – i.e. moving) and I was told he had a nice house and that I should go and look at it. In Oxfordshire there were few off base housing choices available to pick from at the time, and many didn’t have the space and modern amenities that we are all used to in the States – but this one did. It was in the beautiful village of Bloxham, Oxfordshire, England – on the edge of the Cotswolds – and the village had numerous thatched roof cottages and beautiful buildings within the village. The rental house was a two-story, brick, three bedroom, two bath home; that sat on a cul-de-sac in a beautiful new residential development near the center of the village. I knew it was perfect for us and decided to take it…and this is where the difficult part starts.
Looking for a phone to use, I found a pay phone booth in the center of town in the shadow of the beautiful 14th century spire of the Church of England parish church of, “Our Lady.” I called my wife and told her about the house while standing in this beautiful village center. It was difficult to explain to her over the phone just how perfect the set up would be for us, and perhaps the church bells ringing in the background helped her to agree to cancelling their summer long vacation in Bruch – and flying over to London with David to join me. She knew that she would spend the summer alone in England with David and would have to not only accept our furniture and put it away on her own – but she would also have to get David settled into pre-school as well. It was a tough situation that wasn’t made any easier by the fact that after I departed for Cannon AFB – the squadron provided no assistance to her. In the end we survived the experience, but it was the most difficult time in our now 24 years of marriage together – more so even than the Persian Gulf War had been just a few months earlier. However, my future 79th TFS squadron commander would also be in upgrade training with me at Cannon AFB – and under his leadership I had one of the best squadron commanders that I’ve ever had in my Air Force career – so that made up for the rough start to begin this assignment.
Yesterday, I contacted the famous aviation artist, Ronald Wong BSc(Hons) GAvA ASAA GMA: http://www.ronaldtkwong.com/ He painted the “Tiger, Tiger…” litho for the 75th Anniversary of the 79th Fighter Squadron in 1993 – which I have three signed copies of, numbered: 17, 19 and 207. I asked him for permission to use his image of this litho from his web site as part of this article – and a portion of his response this morning, in an email back to me, is included below:
“Yes, please proceed to use that image for your blog site. May I draw your attention to an article I recently wrote for the newsletter of the Guild of Aviation Artists here in the UK: http://www.ronaldtkwong.com/news/noseart.html It describes my experience of painting that Tiger Head on your squadron commander’s F-111E, which was the plane in the print. That Tiger is now in the American Air Museum here in the UK…on the nose of a blue-tail 55th TFS F-111E!”
What a nice thing for Ronald to give me permission to use his litho image in this blog posting – thanks Ronald! Please go to the link that shows Ronald painting the 79th Tiger on the nose of our squadron commander’s jet – which also had my name on it during much of the time I was in the squadron as the crewed IWSO with my squadron commander. So without further adieu: