Saturday, July 11, 2015

Fraying of Nerves: Fight in the simulator...well, almost.

Posts from "Tales from the Crew Force."  I chuckle about this now, some 30 years past, but serious shit back when I was at Vandenberg AFB and the 4315th Combat Crew Training Squadron.  My training partner, Ray W. had an issue with our instructor Bill.  

This incident occurred in the Missile Procedures Trainer (MPT) which was a computer driven simulator with complete mock-up of a Launch Control Center.  All of the equipment drawers and consoles were functional and wired into a computer system which an instructor loaded in a "scenario" driven program.  A simulator "ride" could last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours depending on the scenario.  

Back then we referred to the MPT as the "Box."


Ray Williams....The Quiet Man

How it came about, I can't remember. I was crewed with Ray Williams for the MPT sessions. Ray was from Detroit, recent grad from Howard University. Ray was the quiet type. Never said much unless he had to. Conversation seem to be a chore for him, but that was fine with me. I didn't have a hell of a lot to say myself. Ray was to be assigned to the 10th SMS at Malmstrom.

Capt Bill G. was our MPT instructor. Like Ray, Bill was an African-American, from where? I can't recall. You would think that both being black that a "Brother" helping out another "Brother" would be in the offing. This was not to be the case. From the start Bill had "something" against Ray. Bill simply decided to make Ray his personal project. Unfortunately, I would be forced to endure this ethnic duel of minds. Suffice to say our MPT sessions would be grueling and confrontational as compared to our other classmates.

After a few initial MPT sessions, it was decided that for the rest of the training course, I would ride the commander's position, while Ray sat at the deputy's seat. It would not be until my first alert at Malmstrom that I would actually occupy the back seat.

Ray and I would spend our "off" time either dining at the Officer's Club or do local site seeing around the area. I remember we drove and walked Pismo Beach. Ray would sometimes borrow my car to run errands since he had no transportation of his own. The contrast was striking, Ray being a somewhat more refined Northerner, as compared to my Southern, barely above "white trash" pedigree. What ever the ethnic and culture differences, we would need each other to get through crew training. Overall, Ray and I got along quite well. I wish I could say the same between Ray and ......Bill.


High Noon, Gunfight at the MPT Corral

Ray was having difficulty in our MPT sessions. Bill was riding Ray's ass unmercifully and since guilt by association was a time honored SAC tradition, I was fed into the fray. We were given extra sessions, especially on the weekends. I could tell that Ray was at wits end and who could blame him.

The laws of thermal dynamics and pressure simply state that pressure in a closed system can only increase to a certain point. At that arbitrary point, something has to give; Ray had reached that point.

I can't recall the exact circumstances, but Ray and I were head long into a weapons system scenario in the MPT. Bill was acting as both MPT operator and instructor. Bill was situated up in the box's control room providing instruction and criticism via audio speaker. Bill said something sarcastic to Ray. What ever was said, it was enough!. Ray slammed both fists down on to the deputy's console desk, almost shattering the plexi glass. "God damn it, I've had enough from you!" Ray shouted into the one way MPT observational mirror. "I'm going to whip your ass!" Ray started walking towards the back entrance of the MPT. I remember trying to get between Ray and the exit. Bill came rushing in with a worried look on his face. Bill's facial expression said it all. He had pushed Ray too far and he knew it. I remember Bill profusely apologizing to Ray. It took Ray some time to calm down, but eventually he did. And we quietly finished the ride.

The incident in the MPT was a turning point. After that Bill lessened his leaning on Ray. Oh, to be sure, we still had extra sessions scheduled, but the tone was dramatically different.
Ray and I would eventually take and pass our qualification check ride given by the 3901st Strategic Missile Evaluation Squadron and both of us would soon make the trek to Montana to join our new squadrons (Ray was assigned to the 10th SMS.)
Such was life as a brand spanking new 2nd Lt...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Relevant comment from a former missile crew member.

I like to post comments that clarify issues raised in past posts.  This comment was posted by a crew member that pulled alerts in the 1990s and was a reply to my post,

I was at Tango-0 in the early 90s when one of my sorties had similar indications (except no missile away/MV400). It ended up being a bad DCU/MGS. After a series of Radio out and Cable out indications, and target change indications (erroneous because TVR/TOTR did not validate) it finally dropped LFDN, then came back and then went ASG. It was a dying Digital Control Unit in the MGS. By the way, it's called a Ground System Test (GST), not SCN test in Deuce.

The above comment shows that malfunctions did occur out in the field.  Sometimes these malfunctions elicited strange indications. I appreciate that the commentator provided a clarification for GST vs SCN.  This being one of the many differences between MM II and MM III.

Notice that one does not need the presence of a "UFO" to cause these strange indications...a dying/malfunctioning missile guidance system will do the job quite nicely.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day and for that someone special!

For those of us that are citizens of the United States, I want to take this opportunity to wish all of us a Happy 4th of July...celebrating the birth of our nation.  I have to drift off into my memory banks concerning my time as a SAC crew dog.  I recall that I was out on alert for one 4th of July, the year is totally uncertain, and Ronald Reagan addressed us [the entire SAC alert crew force] on the Primary Alerting System (PAS).  Normally we would have been receiving the normal traffic flow from Looking Glass, SAC and 15th Air Force's command posts, but Ronnie broke into the traffic stream breaking up the monotony of the calls to "Sky Bird" and the requests to "acknowledge now."

As I recall, I was out on alert for most of the much for government personnel taking the holidays off!

This is also my wife's birthday.  Happy Birthday Jean.  We seem to be bucking the trend as we have been married for almost 33 years..anniversary is next month.

It has been said that it is rude to mention a woman's much for equality and enlightenment...but I can say that Jean now equals my age...for now.

Last week, Jean had been reading this blog and asked if I really believed in UFOs.  Geez girl, read my posts!   

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The continuing analytical approach to UFOs: Is there a point?

The aftermath of the Roswell slides fiasco is running it's due course and has left many wondering what is the future in the studying of UFOs.  Ufology, if that's still an appropriate term, has been dealt a serious blow and many have been hit with the shrapnel of the recent Mexico City farce.  Dew, Maussan, Carey, and Schmitt might have well parked a car bomb in the middle of Roswell, NM and detonated it.

Most who read this blog know that I'm skeptical of the UFO phenomena.  I've come to see very little intrinsic value in the subject matter.  True, the phenomena still offers a gold mine for those, such as I, who are drawn to the psychological mini-dramas that ensue.  This is still what draws my attention otherwise I would have chucked the subject matter and this blog along time ago.

To answer the question posed in the post's title, yes there is a point to analytical approaches, but in my case, only for the studying of the psychological issues that surface with certain cases.