Michael V. Little
Crab Orchard, Neb. Staff sergeant, U.S. Air Force
Served from January 1969 to December 1972, with 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Minot, N.D., AFB.
Memory: “After basic training I went to tech school to be an aircraft early warning radar operator and got orders to go to the 381st Strategic Missile Wing Command Post at McConnell AFB in Kansas. They had 18 Titan II ICBMs on alert around Wichita, Kan. I was there to train as an emergency actions controller and was in one of the first classes of radar operators to be sent to a command post for training.
“I was very impressed on my first day in the command post. We coordinated and passed information to and from the missile sites to the proper people and authorities. We received messages from higher headquarters, such as the SAC command post and the Looking Glass airborne command post, and decoded, authenticated and took action on them. Some of the more tense and nerve-racking times came with operational readiness inspections, which came with no notice. SAC always demanded perfection.
“After two years at McConnell AFB, I was assigned to the combat alert center in Galena, Alaska, which was miles from anywhere. No roads in or out except for a nine-mile gravel road to the Campion Radar Station. When the Yukon River wasn't frozen, some supplies were brought in by barges. We had F-4E fighters on alert at Galena to intercept unknown aircraft flying into U.S. airspace. Our first scramble was to intercept a Russian cargo plane that had gotten into our identification zone. We scrambled our F-4E fighters three or four more times while I was stationed at Galena.
“My next and last stop in the Air Force was at Minot AFB, N.D. I was assigned to the 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, which was known as the 'Spittin Kittens.' We had F-106 fighter interceptors at Minot. My job there was similar to my job in Alaska, except Minot was a combined command post where we worked alongside bomber wing and missile wing controllers.
“Minot's weather was an improvement to some degree over Galena. The mosquitoes were smaller, and there was a little less snow. In November, it was 25 degrees below zero instead of 40 degrees below zero like in Galena. As the saying goes, 'Why not Minot? Freezin' is the reason.' I enjoyed my four years in the Air Force and looking back, it was a great experience. I belong to the Air Force Association, and to this day I still am very interested in what's happening in the Air Force.”
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