This is my last set of pictures from F-4D “RTU” at Homestead AFB, FL. When I first arrived at Homestead AFB I completed Air Force Water Survival Training, which was a separate course and was also located at Homestead AFB. Essentially, we did the same parachute training as we did in Nav School, but this time a speedboat “pulled” us off of a floating barge and towed us under a parachute canopy out over the ocean. At a designated point we released the tow line and floated down into the ocean and deployed our life raft and survival kit as if we had ejected out over the ocean. After an hour of getting used to our raft and practicing with signal mirrors and survival equipment, a helicopter came by and lifted us out of the water individually in a “horse collar” harness water pick-up exercise. All in all it was very valuable training – and a lot of fun!
After F-4D “RTU” my next stop was Air Force Survival School at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, WA. On the way to Survival School I stopped in to see Lorie in Oklahoma City, where she was an accountant in the oil business. We spent the weekend together and enjoyed catching up since my graduation from Michigan State University in 1981. It was now spring of 1983, and although we still hadn’t defined our relationship in any “official” capacity, I still thought of her as my best friend. My next training wasn’t advertised as any fun, and honestly I was a little apprehensive as to what awaited me at Fairchild AFB’s Survival School. We had a nice weekend and then I flew on to Spokane.
Reading directly from the Air Force Survival School Factsheet that I Googled, it reads: “The 336th Training Group, U.S. Air Force Survival School at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., provides Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training primarily to aircrew members. Instruction concentrates on the principles, techniques, and skills necessary to survive in any environment and return with honor.” That’s all I’ll say concerning this course. I completed the training and my next assignment was Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. I put some of my household goods in storage in Florida, and shipped the rest to Spangdahlem AB. Everyone said that Germany didn’t have many gas stations with “unleaded” gasoline, so I sold my Honda Prelude to my sister. It turned out that Germany had lots of “unleaded” gas stations, and I could have easily shipped it to Spangdahlem AB after all – which was a real missed opportunity.
I reported to a military port of departure in Philadelphia, PA, and got on an old Boeing 707 type aircraft for Frankfurt, Germany. The plane was full of GI’s in uniform and we had to stop in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, for fuel in order to make the Atlantic crossing to Frankfurt. Little did I know at the time, that on this very long day (we arrived in Frankfurt at 6:00 a.m. Germany time after having lost a full night’s sleep on the flight) that I would meet my future wife this very day. My “sponsor” from Spangdahlem in the 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS), Pat, picked me up at the airport, took me on a very winding and beautiful sightseeing trip along the Mosel River and through the Eifel countryside in Germany to Spangdahlem AB. At Spangdahlem he dropped me off at the first of what would be two separate hotels I would live in for a couple of months, and took me over to see his family and have dinner in their village apartment. After dinner he took me next door to meet a “nice German family” which was my future wife’s family. In January of 1986 my wife and I were married and a year later in February of 1987 my son David was born – and the rest is now history!
So enjoy these pictures of the Bahamas – it was a nice trip and the last side trip before what would become my 16 year European Air Force adventure!