Best Buddy

Lake Towada Trip Sept 1962
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Lake Towada Trip
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New post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

One of the greatest things about life is that you will have a buddy at one time or the other, during your life walk. It won’t make much difference what you do for a job or where you live or where you travel to. You are going to have a buddy, sometimes there may be several buddies that you will become very close to. Some relationships will be much closer almost as brothers. I felt that one time, my best buddy was a curly haired dog. He was the most friendly Water Spaniel that ever lived. I was just a kid, that old English Water Spaniel was with me no matter where I went or what I did. He was my buddy.

For those of us who spent time in the military service. We had a very good chance of having several buddies. The branch of service that you are in, for instance, the Army, Navy or the Marine Corps you get a whole lot closer to your buddy than some other branches of the military. In the Army and the Marine Corp, every man in the platoon has to have the other man’s back and be prepared to protect one another against all odds.

I was in the U.S. Air Force and a good buddy of mine and I were sent to Japan to serve at Misawa Air Force Base at the same time in the year 1960. When we got to Japan we both ended up assigned to the same maintenance squadron doing aircraft maintenance. We were working on the RF-101c reconnaissance photo jet aircraft. It had to two J- 57 engines, they could get the pilot away from danger at a fairly quick speed, but the plane had absolutely no armament on it. It was strictly for taking reconnaissance pictures. Surface to air missiles was deadly on them in Vietnam.

At Misawa Air Force Base my buddy Dan and I were assigned to periodic aircraft maintenance with about half a dozen other guys. We made up the night shift on periodic maintenance. We completely took the plane apart from one end to the other. The engines were removed, every access panel was removed for a complete inspection of everything that was on that aircraft, then it was all put back together.

We ran them on the ground up to 100%, then some lucky test pilot got to take it up for its first flight. They usually started off down the runway with full afterburners burning and when they got airborne, they took the plane straight up into the sky as fast as they could go, just in case something might go wrong.

It wasn’t that they didn’t trust our maintenance, any kind of a mechanical failure is possible with any aircraft at any time. We only had about eight people working the night shift, but somehow we got more work done than the two dozen people working the day shift.

Dan and I did this periodic maintenance for about a year, so we got to know each other quite well. We also spent a lot of off duty time together, which included some fairly heavy drinking at times, but our jobs always came first.

When we were getting close to being shipped out to go back to the U.S. We decided to take a leave and make a train trip up to the northern end of the island of Honshu to Lake Towada National Park and Hot Springs and Spas. We took two friends along and made it a real dream vacation. About two weeks later, we all took the same train to Tokyo, to Ueno Station. We were supposed to ship out after two days and go back to Travis Air Force Base in California.

Lake Towada


The time spent in Tokyo was very emotional, happy and sad, enough mixed feelings to last a lifetime. Time was quickly gone, everyone was preparing for the sad, final Sayonara or goodbye to one another. Those last moments found two gals going north by train and two guys waiting for a plane going east.

When we got back to the U.S. I told Dan, “Try to keep in touch now, when you get home.” ‘He said he would do that.’ I told him, “I bet twenty years will go by, and neither one of us will keep in touch.” And your living in Montana and I’m in South Dakota. We could drive back and forth and visit on a vacation. He said that sounds like a great idea. We did exchange a few letters after we became civilians again and then we lost touch with each other.

It was approaching 20 years from the time we got discharged from the Air Force and I thought to myself,  call Dan and see if he remembers what I said to him when we got back to the States. I got a hold of his hometown and his phone number. His Dad answered the phone. I asked if I could speak to Dan.” He told me, “Dan was killed in a car accident about a month ago, he talked about you a lot.” We both cried.

He was my best buddy. I wonder why we did not keep in touch?



6 thoughts on “Best Buddy

  1. i waz da night buy for many years on ski areas fixing sno cats an diesel engines etc etc, so i can relate, the night guys kick arse yesiree 🙂 an wowza u gots to werk on da kewlest of kewl jet fuel burnin machines on da planet at the time, way kewl…did they evr have a mechanics day ..when ya got to go up an take a ride? boy i’d love to pilot one myself …what a kewl ride they were also…lucky u got to play with em, but was wunderin if they took ya up fer a joyride…u guys sure deserved it in my book!!!!!!!!!


  2. The RF-101C only had a single seat. The F-101A and B models had a back seat for the Radar Observer. I became the crew chief on RF 101C, 56– 080 about the last six months I was in Japan. I’m sure if we had a two seat plane in the squadron one of the pilots would have been glad you take me for a ride, but all we had was one seat.

    I was having a kind of a tough time after I had been there about a year, I had an idea. Maybe I should just take off and fly to Alaska and then walk home! Good thing I didn’t try that little project. We used to taxi them out to the run-up area to check out engines. Tempting while you’re taxing, out past the runway to make a little U-turn and make an attempt to go fly a while. I’m sure that would’ve been frowned on.

    When we got those planes put back together. We tied them to thick concrete with two inch cables hooked to the rear landing gear so we could run wide open. Sometimes we had to run that way for a little while, the ground was shaking pretty bad, also a little bit hard on the ears, even with plugs and ear muffs. We could pop in the afterburner and then right back out to make sure the afterburner was working. I often wondered what would happen if one of those cables would’ve broken. Those were some great days. Lots of old memories.

    When I was a crew chief I had a very close relationship with all of the pilots in the squadron. It was very sad to learn many of them were shot down over Vietnam in the years that followed. McDonnell Aircraft designed a chaff box that would sprinkle some tin foil if they had a surface-to-air missile locked down on them, but that was not a fail-safe device. Many RF-101’s were shot down by Chinese and Russian made SAMS. The B- 52 could carry about 750 seven-ounce boxes of chaff.


  3. I have many pictures of my Dad & his planes. He did what you did but, in the 40’s. He found a dog & they became buddy’s. Love those black & white photo’s, times where so selfies then.


    • I also like the old black-and-white pictures, camera technology has come a long ways, but it will never take the place of nostalgia an the old Kodak cameras and black and white film. Your dad worked on airplanes in the 1940s? He no doubt worked on the P- 51 Mustang one of the greatest planes to ever been in the air. There are still a couple pilots alive in our area who flew the P- 51. They are really getting up in years now. Thanks for the visit to my blog. Best wishes to you and yours


      • Maybe I should make a post of all those great pictures for Memorial Day. The hunt is on for that box! He was in the Army. That is why my name is Myra, his Mother was Mary, all the same letters. He was born in 1921. He loved aircraft. I’ve also worked in aircraft here in CA. My son took classes to fly. I guess we will keep it in the family.


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