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Rivet Ball

Fifty-two years ago, in the early hours of January 13th, 1969 I was forced to accept something that I had known for a while, but had pushed to the back of my mind: I was mortal and was going to die.

This was the first of several incidents when my chance of survival was a good deal less than 1 in 2. This wasn’t the scariest, but it was the first, and following on the heels of the terrible events of 1968, it had the biggest impact.

In the end the only “death” was an airplane, Rivet Ball, the Air Force’s only RC-135S. The military version of the Boeing 707, the fuselage broke in half, like an eggshell, on impact. A very talented pilot, John Achor, the aircraft commander, was responsible for that miracle.

I provide more detail on my other site.

9 comments

1 Jeffrey Lincourt { 01.20.21 at 5:15 pm }

Good story. Reminds me of one my Dad had.

2 Kryten42 { 01.21.21 at 12:50 am }

Every time you post this Bryan… I think some variation of “Geez! And I though I was lucky to survive!”

Maybe there is some kind of ancestral spirit watching over us. 🤔🙄

Well… Have you breathed a good sigh of relief? Today would be a good day for that. Good luck to all decent American’s & my friends in the USA. You all deserve a break! 👍😊

3 Bryan { 01.21.21 at 7:06 pm }

I don’t know, Jeff, but I would suspect that dealing with chemical weapons could occasionally get “interesting” 😉

You get used to it after a while, Kryten, so you can do you job, but it can haunt you after you leave “the business”. I couldn’t have put up with your working environment – the insects, reptiles, large carnivores in addition to the enemy in the heat and humidity. I was so happy not to be in Army or Marines as they had to live in that world, like you did. Most of the time I could fly over it and chill beer against the outer skin of the aircraft. 😈

4 Kryten42 { 01.24.21 at 11:33 pm }

I know what you mean Bryan, of course. The hardest part for myself & my team was the “Hurry up! And wait!” We hated the mission delays, sometimes for days. Once on a mission and knowing exactly what that mission was, being in the field wasn’t that bad. We were focused and knew what we were doing. We knew what we were getting into when we signed up. The other extremely annoying part was when the Intel was wrong or things had changed unexpectedly & the primary mission couldn’t be completed or became more difficult. UN Missions were the worst for that. Thankfully, that was rare.

In the Military… “We take what we can get!” 😉 😀

5 Bryan { 01.25.21 at 10:40 pm }

Hurry up and wait! How about “Dead sleep to wheels up and airborne in 15 minutes and an hour later, they scrub the mission.” Everyone else could go back to bed, I have to drive over to a secure facility and file reports because we launched. We never entered the target area, but I had to generate reports saying the mission was cancelled and nothing happened in six copies. To make matters more annoying, I had already sent a message to that effect as soon as it happened, but the ground station wouldn’t/couldn’t relay it to my HQ. I always wanted to just write the mission number and write “Never mind”.

Bureaucracy – may they all die under a wave of paperwork 👿

6 Kryten42 { 01.25.21 at 11:27 pm }

Just to prove that the recruiters all lie! They sure as heck NEVER mention the paperwork! Or many other parts of “Military Reality”! 😂

As team leader (Lt.) I was also the paperwork jockey. When it got to “Mission evaluation” & it was scrubbed, or typically delayed too long so that it had to be scrubbed, I wanted to write “Failed due to command incompetence”! Sometimes it wasn’t their fault of course. The theater is dynamic, things change. But usually we can compensate if it wasn’t a major change (like the primary target suddenly leaving the zone etc.) “Thinking on your feet” is a reality.

“Bureaucracy – may they all die under a wave of paperwork ”

I doubt you’d find anyone who served that wouldn’t agree! I sure won’t.👍

7 Bryan { 01.26.21 at 10:19 pm }

Recruiters miss the good old days, when they could take young lads to pubs and sign them up after too many pints. The lads would wake up on a train on their way to basic training. They have to lie. No one ever would ever sign up if they knew what it was really like. The food and living conditions even in garrison were definitely not 5 star, not even seedy motel by the railroad tracks and greasy diner class.

If you got to supervisory or command rank, your ‘weapon’ was a typewriter with a fading ribbon and keys prone to jamming if you tried to type too fast (i.e. if you used more than two fingers). You needed a “Creative Writing Course” so you could say what you really thought without being court-martialed for insubordination.

8 Kryten42 { 01.27.21 at 12:50 am }

Grandpa (maternal) used to regale me with stories about recruiters like you describe in WW1 & 2. The primary criteria for selection for that role has always been: charisma, and being sneaky, cunning rats. 😒

My new Keyboard (Cooler Master MasterKeys MK750 RGB Keyboard) and SSD (Samsung 870 QVO 4TB SATA SSD) arrived! Only took a day under two weeks to be shipped from Melbourne ~170km away! Next time I need something in stock, I’ll get the train. I get two free State-wide public transport passes a year (rail, bus, tram, daily or return). I may as well get some use out of them!

I like this KB! Almost glad the old one died. But a lot can change in 6 years. Seems to have changed for the better in this case. I’ll install the SSD tomorrow. One of the reasons I chose this was a proper soft (leatherette) wrist-wrest. It’s magnetic and attaches strongly (that was a bit of a concern when I ordered it). It has a plethora of useless LED effects, I set it to my preferred blue backlight. Works well in daylight or night and I can adjust the brightness easily via the KB itself. I got the Cherry MX Brown switches because they have 60 gm resistance. The Red switches my old one had are only 45 gm. I have large heavy hands, makes a BIG difference! So that was a good idea on my part, for a change!😏😎

I hope all is well with you and friends Bryan. It appears Biden is going full steam ahead and “so far, so good”. I guess at least you have some hope now. I wish you all the best of luck! We are still stock with our moronic ignorant sociopaths… We envy the USA a little, right now!👍😎

9 Bryan { 01.27.21 at 10:41 pm }

That free travel pass sounds like a very good deal, better than paying for a car.

It took me a second to understand why it was magnetic – it’s a gaming keyboard, duh. It sounds like a good deal, especially if it will last 6 years.

I had the first vaccination on Australia Day and will get the booster shot in three weeks. I had some reactions/side effects that are annoying, not serious. The process was very well done and efficient.