James Hope
My Memories


This is Jim taking a break from writing his memories.
Photo taken February 28, 1999.


Note: All Highlighting and Emphases applied by Webmaster.


Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 13:51:08 -0800

1. First I want to apologize for not answering the letter about the proposed reunion. I have emphysema and have been tied to an oxygen tank for about 3 years. I'm on the list for a lung transplant and have to remain available to immediately go to the hospital if a lung becomes available. I have a beeper and arrangements have been made to pick me up at the nearest airport and fly me to Richmond VA, the VA hospital. I have an hour to get to the airport. So I couldn't have gone to the reunion anyway. Second, like a lot of others on your Web site, I hated OCS. I used to have nightmares that for some reason I had to go back through it. I really had no desire to relive that experience even if it was just to talk about it. Since reviewing EVERYTHING on your Web site I find that I'm doing a lot of thinking.

2. Ollie, you have done a tremendous job. I am glad there was OCS and that I, a tenth grade high school drop out who enlisted at age 17 had an opportunity to get a commission. But I still hate the program. No one wants to join with 58A and I agree. They didn't train us, they were the enemy who tried to keep us from succeeding. If the program was important, shining shoes, spray starching fatigues, cleaning the barracks and the academics- they should of been helping us find ways to do it - not hinder us. Hey, we lost weight, we got in better physical condition, we proved that we could operate under stress. With the exception of Comm-skills, I don't think I learned anything that made me a better officer. I disagree with someone who said we learned or were taught to operate under stress. I think we were already the type of people who wanted something bad enough that we continued despite adversity. 

3. I went on to pilot training and retired as a Lt. Col. got to be a squadron commander for a KC-135 outfit before I retired in Jan 77. This is tiring me out. In my next letter I'll tell you of a rated career. 

Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2000 17:41:37 -0800
After pilot training I was assigned to Air Weather Service flying the WB50. [a B29 with bigger engines and a bigger tail] Basically our job was to carry a weatherman to places where there were none, over water, over the arctic ice pack. We flew from McClellan AFB to Hawaii, Maybe a flight out of Hickam and back and then to Alaska. We then flew a daily Ptarmigan flight over the north pole and back into Eielson, then back to Sacramento. Seven to nine day trips, 10 - 12 hour flights. Arctic survival was fun. They told us never to eat polar bear liver; it's poison to us, to much vitamin A or C. Also said anything on the ice was food to a polar bear. We had single shot 22 Hornets with 20 rounds of ammo; a polar bear stands 8 - 10 feet tall so I never worried too much about polar bear liver poisoning.

From McClellan I went to Japan and then to Guam in 61 - 62. Probably had 50 typhoon penetrations. Fly around the storm and then into the eye. Flew Typhoon Karen that demolished Guam. 240 MPH winds. There wasn't a leaf left on a tree or a single bird left on the island.

We also did air sampling to pick up debris from A bomb blasts. The experts could tell what was in the bomb, size, how it was detonated etc. In Japan we flew a daily synoptic weather mission south past Okinawa and one north almost to Vladivostok. That's important because one night after a Russian test, we picked up some hot stuff and had been in orbit for about an hour, just changing filter papers and getting all this stuff we could get when we got intercepted by two MIG's. We rolled out of the orbit and turned south calling on HF and guard channels to let everyone know what was happening. The MIG's made passes across the front of us to try to turn us. Anyway I guess they were used to seeing this weather bird up there and didn't fire. Logged some pucker time though.
Went to Photo - mapping next. Six months TDY every year. Eniwetok, Pago Pago, British Guiana, Port Moresby. Seems like when the missile guys started shooting their things, they were missing 4 - 5 miles. Ha Ha you say, they didn't point it right or didn't fire it the right amount of time. Nope, the problem is things aren't where you think they are. If you go to Wake Island and take a celestial fix, you get a certain latitude and longitude. If you shoot at those points you'll miss by 9 miles. We put out radar sites and flew between them. Each one measured the distance and they reduced it down to sea level and knew exactly what the distance was between two islands. They had everything tied into Mead's Ranch in Kansas, point 0. Worked good . When I was at Eniwetok they would fire a nose cone into the circular reef and recover it with divers.

Before JAWS I learned about great whites. The divers had 22 foot boats and said the sharks were as big as the boat. Behind base ops at Kwajalean is a cross dedicated to a C54 that crashed right after take off during the Korean war. Had about 50 Army nurses on it, They all got out of the airplane and into life rafts. Before the crash boat could get to them, the sharks got them all.

Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 10:14:10 -0800

It was out of Eniwetok and we had one line left in the network. It was from the southern most island and 700 or 900 miles long. While completing the network we had flown against it seven or eight times and had gotten signals at 39,000 feet which was close to the ceiling for the B50. You climbed till you ran out of speed and leveled off till you burned enough fuel to reduce your weight so you could climb again. You had to quit when you had only enough fuel for the two hour trip home.

Of the three aircraft, tail number 121 was the best performer. The problem with it was it had an engine with a hairline crack that leaked/burned oil at 39,600 feet, at the rate of about 10 gallons a minute. With a 90 gallon oil tank you didn't have enough time above 39,600 to get the reading. I shut the engine down at 10 gallons of oil left, came home and restarted it for landing.

Maintenance checked it out, could not find a crack, wrote it off as could not duplicate and refused to change the engine. And they were probably right; as long as you stayed below 39,600 the engine would last for hundreds of hours. The Captain of the ship that placed the crews on the islands was on Eniwetok. He was required to stay within two days sailing time from any crew we had on an uninhabited island in case of emergencies. This meant he could not reposition our other six teams and set up a new network until he could pull these guys off.

Our Wing checked with the customer who said he'd really like to have this line. So there we were. Condemned to fly against a line we couldn't get until someone was willing to give up. I got the ship's captain from our bar and we went to the NCO club hooch to talk to the Super Sergeant Maintenance Officer. I apologized for telling him that next time I'd run the SOB out of oil and freeze it; then he'd change it and let the ship's captain tell him where we were.

Went out to fly the next morning [I had the best navigator and the best HIRAN operator] to try again. One B50 was sitting there without an engine, 121 was set up for me and right in front of the airplane was an engine on a changing stand. The Super Sergeant gave me a stack of loose paper work to put in the 781 [aircraft record] and said I'm changing it back when you return.

We got the line at 41,700. Somewhere there are two engines. One with 13 hours too much time and one with 13 hours too little. 

Did it make a lot of difference? Probably not. The line came in 30 feet less than predicted so it didn't change a thing in the shape of the world. It got us off Eniwetok and it got a Super Sergeant very drunk.  I made sure every one on the survey team bought him a drink.

This is one of the things I'm proud about and for some reason it seems to me it was good OCS problem solving.

Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2000 11:20:35 -0800

Arrived in Viet Nam on 30 Oct 66 as part of the initial cadre of AF pilots to take the C7, Caribou from the Army. For the next two months flew with an Army Warrant Officer IP/CP in the right seat. Flying with them was an experience. First, they were crooks. We'd arrive at Dian ready to haul all day for the Big Red 1. The supply Sgts would tell us how much he needed to get this stuff moved to Dong Tham and my warrant officer would look him right in the eye and tell him we'd probably only be able to make a couple of runs because I [the AF] had to go to Saigon for boots and fatigues and since he was rotating soon he needed a VC Flag and some captured weapons. When we got back from our first run there were two pairs of jungle boots and fatigues for me and a stack of weapons for him. That Sgt got 14 trips.

After we took over in January an Army Capt. would come to our hotel with a case of steaks and tell us he had a load to go to the officers club at Can Tho.. We told him no problem , gave him the tail number of the bird scheduled for Can Tho so he could get it loaded. As we ate his steaks our Ops officer told him we had a bird that went out empty to Can Tho every day and he was welcome to put his stuff on it. He told him we certainly appreciated the steaks but they were not required, that was our job-to haul for him. Needless to say that was the last box of steaks we got from that guy.

Second, the Army flew like the airplane was a tank. If you took off with full flaps, you'd get off at 54 knots, about 500 feet. The problem was if you lost an engine before you got to 90 knots, you were going to crash. 90 knots was minimum control speed, [ You could have one dead engine and full power on the other and still maintain straight flight.]

One of the first things we did was figure out how to not take off below 90. If you had 3000 feet of runway you could take off fully loaded with no flaps at 90 knots. We didn't use max reverse for every landing either. We increased engine life over 700 hours in the first two months we had the airplane.

On my first flight out of Vung Tau, about 70 miles south east of Saigon, we flew over a free fire zone. Any thing that moved in that area was considered VC and you could shoot them. I did some serious thinking, how can the same ethnic group bring supplies 300 miles down the Ho Chi Minh trail on bicycles, control an area south of the capital, and fight like hell when the ones on our side throw their weapons down and run. 

Being willing to fight for your beliefs against the odds is an American idea. I had a feeling we were helping the wrong side; that got stronger when I found out we were paying the ARVN area commander, a BG a million dollars to use 5 French owned hotels to house our USAF troops. We provided the electricity, the potable water, lumber and paint, and the labor to fix them up.

After that fleeting moment - there's something wrong here. Like most of us, I got into the war and did the best job I could. Flew every other day. Took off before light and stayed in the field till dark, come back into Saigon or Bien Hoa with the last load, then go home. Had a total of 820 hours which wasn't bad when you consider that most of it was in 20 minute hops. Carried everything. Emergency re-supplies of ammunition by air drop, daily runs of fresh vegetables, mail, bus service, live ducks and pigs into Special Forces camps, troops into combat, POWS, dead bodies and draftees out to Con Son Island.

It's not for me to question why; it's just for me to do or die. Don't know who said that but it always kind of worried me. Follow that too closely and you find Eichman making improvements at Dachau. People briefing pilots to drop their bombs from 3000 ft so as to avoid ground fire below 2500. When told that you can't hit anything from 3000'; he replied, You are not being allowed to go after a single target that justifies the loss of your airplane. We are applying pressure-that's what the politicians want us to do.

I, for one am glad we learned something and went after the air defense in Iraq and Bosnia 

Subject: Pueblo
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 13:45:42 -0800

From Vietnam I went to the 347TFW at Yokota, Japan still very much a hawk despite what I may have led you to believe in my last input. I was an emergency actions officer in the command post. We controlled the codes that would launch nuclear strikes , two man control, pistols ,all that stuff that someone else wrote about. Anyway I was in the command post when the Pueblo was seized.  Some background. Yokota and Misawa both had TAC Fighter Wings, 3 Sq each. We had just completed change over from F105s to F4Cs. All the 105s and many pilots had been shipped to Vietnam. We had one F105 on station. We pulled SIOP alert in Korea, us at Osan 4 planes, Misawa at Kunsan, 4 planes. When the Pueblo was taken the only planes we had were loaded with nuclear weapons dedicated to the SIOP. 

I'm hazy on the details but when we received the code word requesting air support we found the OPLAN in a drawer waiting for destruction. It was more than 3 years old and it tasked 5th AF to provide strip alert with F105s. [US]. This poor soul was sailing inside the 12 mile limit North Korea claimed but outside the 3 mile limit we recognized thinking all he had to do was yell to get fighter support. No one had told us to put anything on alert. We immediately requested permission to take the airplanes off SIOP alert and reconfigure them with conventional ordinance. 

We launched 4 F4s and the F105 to Korea. They were out of range from Japan. The airplanes left unarmed to be uploaded and refueled in Korea if we got launch orders. When the airplanes got to Korea, it was discovered that the wire bundles necessary to configure conventional were not there, they were still in Japan. The North Koreans had anywhere from 6 to 20 aircraft airborne between our birds and the Pueblo. The F105 pilot wanted to go but we
couldn't get permission to launch him.  It took 6 hours before we got permission to degrade the SIOP sorties. By then the Pueblo was enroute or in Wonsan harbor.

In succeeding days there was some talk of dropping/exploding a small tactical nuke in Wonsan harbor to show the North Koreans we were unhappy but nothing came of that.

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 11:39:13 -0800

After a year in the command post I went to Op Plans writing war plans for F4s. Since I was writing plans I thought I ought to be checked out in the airplane but could never sell that. Instead they assigned me an expert for any questions. It was Maj. Pete Kemp who some of you may remember as the 12AF commander, Lt Gen, who was caught by a WAF TSgt wearing a wire for sexual harassment and retired within days as a Major Gen. He knew his stuff though. 

We wrote and employed the Wing BARCAP plan for protecting reconnaissance resources after the 135 shoot down by North Korea. He told me how he wanted to fly it and I coordinated . Had to set up refueling tracks and off loads and convince SAC that since they either had fighters with them or between them and North Korea they could bring their tracks in closer than they originally wanted. Plan worked good.

Interesting story. The recon airplanes monitored all radio traffic in North Korea and they knew it. They pulled a hoax on us that was beautiful. The recon bird monitored a flight of two Korean fighters preparing and taking off on tower freq. They were switched over to a GCI
controller and directed towards the recon bird. They monitored in flight checks and finally heard the fighters had them on radar. They passed all this info to their escorting F4s, headings distance to bogies etc. The F4s couldn't see a thing and told them there was
nothing out there. When the recon people heard the Koreans ask for and receive clearance to fire and heard lead direct guns hot, they decided to believe the Koreans and not their escort and they split Sed for the deck, calling out the code word that they were under attack.
There were no Koreans there. When they examined the tape later they only found two errors. One was that the fighters stayed in afterburner too long and the time was a little off for traveling from take-off to the intercept point. Don't ever think the Koreans aren't

As a plans officer I got to play the Wing in Command Post exercises. AF, PACAF, 5AF, gave us the scenario and we played out our war plan with existing resources. The Log Plans Capt that was assisting me was also the disaster preparedness officer and he knew about
nuclear damage and fallout. As the exercise progressed and the Russians were exploding simulated bombs he plotted them and using current wind as directed in the plan, he plotted the fall out. In Japan we didn't have any fall out shelters. People operated out of wooden
buildings and metal hangars. By the second day we were killing off our people and could only fly a reduced sortie rate 5AF didn't like it but we told them to check the bombs, check the weather and see if we weren't right. My Wing Commander was a jewel and when we told him how the exercise was progressing and showed him we were right; he told us to kill em off as required. Our last crew crawled to the airplane and the maintenance folks that launched them died of radiation 3 days before the exercise concluded.

When I was in SAC I went to Germany to play in a command post exercise there as a refueling expert. The Russians invaded Europe and we fought our war plans. We actually put tankers in orbit and launched the fighters to gunnery ranges The Russians pushed us back
almost to the coast but when we brought in our resources from the states including the National Guard, we won.

During the post briefing I asked where they were going to get all these KC135s, at DEFCON 3 all tankers returned to the states to go on alert with their matched SIOP bomber. This was news to USAFE . They checked with SAC and next year I was requested by name to play
the same exercise.
This time they tried to do it with Air National Guard KC97s and 12 tankers that they requested USAF to direct SAC to leave in Europe. Saw K. D. Butler at this exercise. He was the Ops Officer for a reconnaissance F4 outfit, I think. He took me home with him for the weekend and showed me a good time. He had a lovely wife and the best mannered kids I ever met. 



I recall My Lung Transplant