OC Capt. Reddish
Subject: Military History
Military History-Hal Reddish
Committed to enlist in the Air Force before graduation, and entered the Air Force on June 15, 1951 upon graduation from high school in Columbus, GA. Went to Lackland for basic and the base was so crowded that after 10 days in tents, with no showers and very little water, moved to Sheppard AFB where we opened up World War II barracks. After 18 more days of basic, assigned to Lowry AFB, Denver as a B-29 Remote Control Turret Systems mechanic student. Finished in 3 months and promoted to corporal (thats right, corporal). Volunteered for B-29 gunnery school, also at Lowry. On first day, a B-29 crashed into a Denver suburb killing 5 crew members (what a start of my flying career). Finished training in January, 1952 and went to Randolf AFB to join a B-29 crew and more training. Fortunate to have a crew where all the officers (except co-pilot) had flown combat in World War II.
Promoted to Buck Sargent in March 1952. Finished crew training as central fire control gunner and crew shipped to Forbes AFB for combat crew training prior to going to Korea. Arrived at Kadena AB, Okinawa in June 1952 and began flying combat missions over North Korea with the 307th Bomb Wing. Actually got some shots at Russian YAK and MIG fighters. Flew 31 combat missions, and returned to the states in January, 1953, with crew being assigned to the 308th Bomb Wing at Hunter AFB, GA. Promoted to SSgt same month. The unit was converting to B-47s so applied for B-36 gunnery school. During interim applied for pilot training and qualified for navigator training. Said no thanks (all B-29 Nav/Bombardier crew members riffed in 1953), and went to B-36 gunnery school I October 1953, again at Denver.
Finished B-36 gunnery school and assigned to an RB-36 crew in the 28th Strategic Recon Wing at Rapid City, SD in Feb, 1954. Lots of flying hours in Recon since the average mission length was 32 hours. Flew some interesting Recon missions. Served on the same crew with Dick Wicksell (6th Sqdn) who after graduation, as a navigator, was killed in a B-52 crash. Interestingly, Dick spent Christmas with my wife and I in Denver (I was an instructor in the B-52 gunnery school-see below), having sent his wife and children home to New York from South Dakota. Dick and I drove to San Antonio and reported into OCS together. In 1955, promoted to TSgt, spot promoted to MSgt, and selected as one of the first B-52 gunners in the Air Force. Went through training at Castle AFB, CA and then transferred to Lowry to set up B-52 gunnery school. At Lowry, decided to try for OCS in 1957, along with 3 others from the school. Two of us selected for Class 58B.
I, like Don Halsted, came down with pneumonia after three weeks (just prior to our first tests) and spent a week in the hospital. When I returned, the school insisted I take the tests and I failed two, failing one on a retest. For the rest of OCS I too worked my tail off to not wash out. I had the gold bar pinned to my undershirt to keep me in focus. I do remember asking questions about why Phil Agee (a Notre Dame graduate) was in OCS and always felt something was going on there. I will never forget OCS and the camaraderie built there. I can say without any pride, I never spent an hour on the "ramp". An interesting story. As a Sqdn commander (5th) I had to take the lower class to get haircuts. Prior to falling out, one of the flight leaders went into a lower classmans room and smelled smoke. He asked the classman if he had been smoking in the room and he responded No. While at the barber shop I noticed fire trucks going to the OCS area. I received a phone call that my barracks was on fire and to report to Lt Col Worth. He chewed me out but after an Honor Council inquiry, the lower classman was eliminated. He had put a burning cigarette into his raincoat in his locker which burst into flames. Damage was essentially limited to his locker.
The class reunion in May, 1999 was a time of joy and tears. The service at the memorial was very moving, especially when the list of our deceased were solemnly read by Jack Walsh.
On graduation I was assigned directed duty to Pease AFB as an Avionics officer in a B-47/KC-97 SAC unit (100th Bomb Wing). Accepted regular status in 1959. In January 1961, I was selected to go to Titan I ICBM Guidance Control school at Sheppard AFB. On completion, attended crew training at Vandenberg AFB, and then assigned as a SAC, Titan I, ICBM Combat crew at Larsen AFB, Wash (568th Strategic Missile Sqdn). My crew was on duty the day the Russian ship carrying missiles was headed to Cuba and Mr. Kennedy had the courage to head them off. With fear and trepidation, we counted our missiles to minimum hold, awaiting the launch order. For 45 minutes we did not know if World War III was about to erupt. What a tense time in our nations history!
When the Titan I phased out in 1964, I went to Staff Communications Officers school at Keesler AFB. On completion was assigned to the First Combat Communications Group at Clark AB. Spent all of 1965-66 deployed to bare base operations in Vietnam (Phu Cat, Danang, Pleiku, Bien Thuy, Nha Trang, Dong Ha, and three wonderful days at Khe Sahn, installing and operating mobile communications and navigational aids.
Returned to the states and assigned as a staff communications officer in HQ Military Airlift Command, Scott AFB. To my surprise, Billy Crawford (1st Sqdn) and Big John Chamberland (4th Sqdn) were also on the staff. In 1971, attended ACSC at Maxwell AFB and then assigned as an advisor to the VNAF HQ at Tan San Nhut. Roomed in the barracks with Don Aldridge (Lt Gen) while at Maxwell. One night while using the MARS to call home, received a phone call from Bien Hoa from Russ Roth (1st Sqdn) who heard me over the radio. Was in Vietnam when the cease fire was signed and on the next to last airplane to leave in 1973.
Returned to the states and assigned to the communications staff, HQ Air Force Systems Command at Andrews AFB (longest time in one place 1973-1979) and promoted to Lt Col in 1974. Ollie and I communicated there on finding out Phil Agee had written his book "Inside the Company". In August 1979, assigned to HQ Air Force Communications Command as Director of Plans, retiring in January 1984.
Since 1984, have been working with various Defense contractors on a Computer Flight Planning System for the Air Force and three years designing and installing high speed data networks in D0D Military Treatment Facilities. Currently working for SRA doing Independent Verification and Validation of software development