I wanted to do something special for this Veteran's Day in honor of my Father, a Captain in the US Air Force. In doing so, I tried to find out what happened during the late 1950s that caused my father and others to go on "military maneuvers" to Goose Bay Labrador (Canada). So, I started surfing to see what I could find out.
Although I didn't find what I was looking for, I did learn some interesting facts about the "goings on" at the Chennault Air Force Base in Lake Charles, Louisiana where we were stationed .
Chennault Air Force Base was part of the Strategic Air Command. For many years SAC’s motto proclaimed, “Peace is Our Profession” and is considered by many the silent force that won the Cold War without a shot being fired.
The men of SAC had to endure the day-to-day experience of actually fighting the Cold War, the only war ever won without a shot being fired, but one that changed the world. Their achievement is without parallel in human history, but it has not been properly recognized.
I learned that there were two Wings of the Chennault Base: the 44th Bombardment Wing and the 68th Bombardment Wing. The 44th Bombardment Wing was activated at Chennault in 1951 to train B-29 crews for combat duty in Korea using TB-29 Superfortresses. From October 1951 to May 1952, the 44th trained all elements of the 68th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. By August 1952, the wing became a first-line strategic bombardment wing and by April 1953 air refueling missions were added. The Wing was discontinued and in 1961 it re-emerged as the 44th Strategic Missile Wing located at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota.
The 68th Bombardment Wing, activated in October 1951 at received its initial cadre of 16 personnel from the 44th Bombardment Wing and began training as a Reconnaissance Wing. It conducted strategic bombardment training from May 1954 to June 1963 and air refueling operations from May 1954 to September 1957. It was deployed at RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom from June 14 to August 7, 1954 and at RAF Brize Norton, England from Sept 27, 1957 to January 8,1958. A fourth B-47 squadron, the 657th, was added on 1 December 1958. The 68th moved without personnel or equipment to North Carolina on April 15, 1963, where it replaced the 4241st Strategic Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB and was equipped with B-52 Stratofortresses.
Now, I don't know what part my Daddy played in all of this, but I sure know that I had no idea - no idea at all - about the significance of this Air Force Base and its impact on the Korean and Cold Wars. I also know that he never, ever talked about those "maneuvers" in Goose Bay that occurred when I was about 3 or 4. He never talked about the 2 men who came by the house dressed in full uniform when I was about 9. And when he died, his death certificate said that he was a veteran of the Korean War and that he had been promoted to Captain upon his death. I thought it was a mistake of the military or some other misfortune that often results when divorce or estrangement occurs.
You know, I pretty full right now cause I just had no idea - until writing this post - just how important my Daddy's service to the Country may have been. I just thought he went into the "Service" because he was in Air Force ROTC in college and that's what Black men did back then.
Daddy! You never told me that you were a member of "the silent force that won the Cold War without a shot being fired". Now, how proud am I today? Very!
To All of our Veterens - past, present, and future - please accept this Sojourner's Salute and a Very Much Obliged for all you have or will give in the Service of Our Country. Much Obliged! Very Much Obliged!
...God Bless Our Troops and Bring Them Home!
Photo: Chennault Air Force Base
Obliged to you for hearing me,
and now old SjP ain't got nothin' more to say...
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