The End? Not On Your Life!

Upon the arrival of the first KC-135, Kansas Adjutant General Edward R. Fry remarked, "This is what we've been looking for. I think it's time the unit goes to a new mission." With the aircraft came a USAF team headed by LtCol Larry Jones, Senior Enlisted Advisor, to aid the 190th in conversion. A local newspaper reported, "Topekans can be proud that the Air Guard unit here was chosen as one of several to be trained in this vital work."

Tempo 01 accomplished the unit's first refueling mission on 25 May delivering 10,000 pounds of fuel to Tinker AFB's Edgy 13, an E-3A weather reconnaissance craft. The crew for this historic flight included Col Mahler, Capt. Sweeny, 2ndLt Murray , TSgt Madden, TSgt Merklotz and LtCols Jones and Brink of the Air Force Advisors Staff.

The Canberra Log described the action:

After two and a half hours in flight, the Navy leg completed and flying
around several thunderstorms, the crew prepared for the rendez-vous/ refueling portion of the mission.... Edgy 13 flew to the air refueling initial point (ARIP) with Tempo 01 flew to the air refueling control point (ARCP) and made several turns in orbit. When the two aircrafts were a approximately 70 miles apart the tanker turned and headed toward the receiver, slightly to the right of course. When the separation between the planes dropped to 20 miles the tanker began a left turn in order to roll out in front of the receiver by a couple of miles. Moments after we rolled out the boomers had a positive visual contact. And, within minutes Edgy 13 was about 50 feet behind us and requested permission to close in, hook up and refuel. Coupled together, Tempo 01 and Edgy 13, while deviating around thunderstorms, flew east across Kansas . The refueling training lasted for about 30 minutes, terminating when the planes pass (sic) just north of Topeka ... Six hours after take-off, Tempo 01 landed and parked with its mission completed successfully.

In the midst of all the excitement, Army and Air Guard recruiters plunged into a massive effort to pull in 377 new Guardsmen, the number needed to bring unit strength up to 100 percent. Their game plan, Operation 377, offered prizes ranging from pen-and-pencil sets to a Hawaiian vacation, to members who could persuade newcomers to enlist or old hands to reenlist. Operation 377 concluded on 30 June, having brought in 51 new recruits to the 190th.

For both new and old Guardsmen, training was called for. Ten aircrew members were sent to Castle AFB for this purpose: five (Maj Butler, Maj Reynolds, Capt McCoy, MSgt Cox and TSgt Pierson) were selected as outstanding or distinguished graduates. The rest of the aircrew received instruction at home during 3-17 June. A KC-135 simulator from McConnel AFB arrived 21 June for a two-month training period. Pilots and co-pilots were required to complete seven "Missions," including practice for emergency situations, with the simulator before proceeding to actual aircraft.

And new facilities sprang up, giving Forbes Field a face-lift to accompany its new mission. The dining hall, under the leadership of MSgt. Buford "Matt" Dillon, opened its doors during the May UTA, and customers declared it a success. The consensus pronounced the first meal, which featured baked ham, mashed potatoes, creamed corn and cherry cobbler, "really good."

The unit's new name became official on 8 July, with Special Order G-6 (AIR). Now the 190th belonged to the Strategic Air Command (SAC).

Security Police Flight underwent a number of changes as a result. No longer was the Flight's primary concern law enforcement; with the KC-135's on base, the watchword was now security. In conjunction with this, the flight line was roped off and only persons with Restricted Area badges were permitted to enter; gates were locked after 10:00 p.m.; nearly 20 full-time policemen were added; personnel cross-trained into security from law enforcement and attended a two-week Base Defense School Superintendent of Security Police, SMSgt Nusser commented, "The workload has increased a lot. We run three shifts a day, seven days a week, weekends and holidays. Four people have to be on duty at any given time."

By the end of September the 190th had received a total of eight KC-135s and its compliment was filled. Unit pilots had flown more than a hundred sorties with the new birds. A thirteen-man Field Training Detachment from Wurtsmith AFB taught 171 maintenance personnel how to handle the KC-135s that were more advanced than the B-57s they had been servicing.

Now came the work of shaping up. During October a disaster preparedness exercise was held with results that were at once unsatisfactory, but beneficial in pointing out weaknesses in communications. A month later a practice generation met with success. As to be expected maintenance experienced some difficulties through the period, in such areas as lack of parts, weather and prompt completion of paperwork.

Meanwhile, recruiters were reaping a well-deserved harvest, ripened by the economic situation. Admitted to the ranks in the final quarter were 48 newcomers, for a grand total of 178 for 1978.

The new year brought a major test of the Group's capabilities in the form of REFORGER XI. The unit was called upon to support the transportation of Army troops from Ft. Riley , Kan. to Europe . To meet this challenge, an extra 130 people were needed to keep the airfield in constant operation from 13-19 January. Aiding in the transportation of 7,000 soldiers, some in the unit worked 14-hour days in rain and snow with the chill factor reaching 41 degrees below zero on the ramp. Ten days after REFORGER, the Group was honored with the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for 15 Apr 1977-14 Apr 1978, "the final fruit of the 190th service with ADCOM, and of our long years with the B-57." The award was presented in an official ceremony in May.

A Management Effectiveness Inspection by the SAC Inspection General's Silver Team in May was less glowing than hoped for, but the word from SAC was that the group was "fully capable of performing its assigned mission."

Conversion to the 190th AREFG meant assuming strategic alert as part of SAC's deterrent. Such alerts have meant readiness in SAC since 1957. Each of the 13 Air Refueling Group ANG bases are linked directly with SAC headquarters at Offutt AFB, Neb. On alert duty, Guard aircraft and crews and ground support specialists were thoroughly briefed on their SAC plan. Practice exercises became somewhat frequent and were known only by the Group Commander and SAC in Omaha .

The 190th crew usually pulled 48-hour tours, but did not exceed four full days. They conditioned themselves to expect the unexpected and hoped they were not in the "wrong place at the wrong time." That could mean being in the shower or the chow hall when the klaxon sounded. Standing alert demanded some unusual personal adjustments for the crews and their families. There was a TV room, reading room and a game room provided and the families of the men sometimes joined them for picnic suppers outside in the summer months.

Two important exercises marked the third quarter of 1979. The first, a 1 July strategic Alert, brought about the official end of the conversion. The second, GLOBAL SHIELD '79, proved that the 190th AREFG was a full-fledged component of SAC.

The Alpha Alert, supporting the Single Integrated Operational Plan, stood as a "milestone to the 190th's long and illustrious history." A tanker and a crew headed by Captain Charles M. Palmer assumed alert status. It was a proud day for Col Mahler and the unit.

Beginning 14 July with GLOBAL SHIELD 79, the unit's ability to respond to an attack was tested and the 190th was not found lacking as it answered three Emergency War Orders and successfully refueled B-52's in the midst of simulated attacks. Commented Air Force Col G.E. Wheeler, in his liaison visit report, "SOME unit - we need more like them!"

September brought another first - the first Operational Readiness Inspection for the 190th AREFG, a strenuous appraisal of unit capabilities. As the October Kansas Coyote Log remarked, "the 35 officer and enlisted from SAC looked over the shoulders of almost every individual in the unit. The inspectors thoroughly checked for compliance with directives, safety and performance, as well as personal appearance, bearing and military courtesy. Stacked up against the other Guard bases the 190th placed third - "an indication of superb efforts," wrote Col. Mahler.

By 1980, the 190th had been in Topeka for 13 years. Several of the men who had joined the unit in Hutchinson as young men, now had sons who were members of the group. Many of the men who had moved to Topeka in 1967 are retiring or planning for it. The ranks of the original group (or the "Hutch Bunch" as they referred to themselves) were dwindling. In January the name of LtCol David Render, Air Operations Officer for the 190th was added to the list of Original Hutch Bunch that had retired.

Col Render had joined the 190th as a weekender in April 1957 when the unit was in Hutchinson . Initially flying the F-80s assigned to the unit, he then transitioned to the B-57 aircraft that the unit flew for the next 20 years.

He became a full time Air Technician in 1964 and flew with the standardization-evaluation team, flight training and became the Operations Officer in 1976.

Col. Render, at the time of his retirement, had amassed a total of at least 7,260 flying hours, all in military aircraft and had seen the 190th go from F-80 to the KC-135. He was one of the "Hutch Bunch," an integral part of the 190th, and the 190th a part of him, and there was many a tear brushed aside when he raised his glass at his retirement party an gave his toast - "To the Guard!

"Global Shield 81, SAC's annual, no notice, readiness exercise started the New Year off. It involved more than 100,000 people at locations throughout the U.S. and GUAM and the 190th was a part of the 100,000. During the exercise SAC forces responded to a simulated nuclear attack of the U.S. by dispersing more than 120 bombers and tankers to more than 30 secured locations.

While some dispersed, other unarmed SAC bombers flew airborne alert missions over predetermined orbit areas, a forward position from where they could strike enemy targets if directed by the National Command Authorities.

Just prior to the simulated attack on the U.S. approximately 40 bomber and tanker aircraft conducted a positive control launch from about 70 locations across the country. A positive control launch is a minimum interval take-off, wherein all aircraft at each location using the same runway depart within a 12 to 30 interval.

In an all-important part of the exercise two Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles were taken to Vandenberg from operation missile sites in North Dakota . The first missile was launched by an airborne missile crew.

Global Shield provided commanders at all levels with an opportunity to participate in a realistic wartime scenario, which allowed aircrews and missile crews to maintain proficiency. All other supporting activities - maintenance, security, communications and intelligence were tested as well.

It was with a great deal of pride that the 190th AREFG received the news from the National Guard Bureau in March that they were to represent the Air National Guard in the 1980 Daedalian Maintenance Award competition. Being selected as the Guard representative in the competition meant the unit was picked as being the best of the 92 ANG flying units. The 190th had submitted a sheaf of paperwork supporting its maintenance excellence. The number of aircraft rated as fully mission capable reflected that the assigned KC-135 aircraft had a higher mission ready rate than any other Guard tanker unit for nine of the 12 months.

"That's a super accomplishment," Col Wortham, Deputy Commander for Maintenance, said. "We were scheduled as the last unit to convert to the KC-135 mission. We were the new kid on the block and less than two years we were at the top!"

Col. Mahler in his congratulations said, "The fact that we achieved the best aircraft maintenance record in the Air National Guard in 1980 is testimony to the overall professionalism and teamwork between Operations, Maintenance and Supply. We will now compete with 12 other nominees representing their respective Major Air Command. I'm confident we will represent the Air National Guard with distinction."

On the 19th of May, Major Charles M. (Mick) Baier Jr. was designated commander of the 117th Air Refueling Squadron by Col Mahler. Prior to assuming his duties as commander of the 117th, Baier served as Commander, "A" Flight, of the 117th. Major Baier had joined the 190th on Nov. 16, 1963 , and went on flying with the unit in the spring of 1966.

On June 9 and 10, three members of the 190th traveled to Washington D. C. to attend the Kansas memorial ceremony at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Arlington National Cemetery .

Making the presentation of a memorial wreath and the State of Kansas Medal of Honor was Kansas Governor John Carlin, assisted by State Adjutant General, Major General Edward R. Fry.

Kansas was the 16th state to present the Medal of Honor to Arlington National Cemetery and Governor Carlin was the first governor to personally present the honorarium.

In August, Col. Mahler announced that the unit had completed the ORI flying requirements and had formally received the rating of Outstanding in Mission Effectiveness with an overall ORI rating of Outstanding.

On Sep. 11 the 190th Air Guard Combat Pistol team won the annual Winston P. Wilson combat match at Camp Robinson near Little Rock , Ark. With a total aggregate score of 2,846 of a possible 3,060 points, beating National Guard shooters from 49 states and Puerto Rico. It was a new match record and the second straight year the unit's shooters won the National event. They also won the Army FORSCOM regional shoot at Ft. Riley for two years running and the All Army Competition in May at Fort Benning , Ga. This is the first time any team had won all three events and they were ranked third overall in the nation after the May meet.

The 190th team had been Bullseye and Combat State Champions every year since 1968 with the exception of one year.

The eight-man team that made history consists of SSgt. Glenn Herrman, SSgt. Claude Crumley, SSgt. Robert Crapser, SRA Steven Arnold, MSgt William Higgs, SSgt. William Beightel, SSgt. Robert Bryant and MSgt. James Glotz.

The 190th Marksmanship program began in 1974 and was organized by CMSgt. Donald L. Teal. At that time they used rim fire rifles. They began getting allotments of .45 ball ammo so they decided they might as well use it. The unit did not have any .45s so in 1975 they borrowed eight pistols from the State Marksmanship Coordinator on a hand receipt. The following year they went to the State Guard shoot in Salina and shot 1142 of a possible 1200 and won. That spring at the FORSCOM at Ft. Riley they were the top among Reserve components. They went to the All Army in May that year and placed fourth overall in the nation.

There were 31 men enrolled in the 190th pistol marksmanship program in 1980. To maintain a place on the team they must have 100 percent attendance for drill weekends and summer training. The team practices two and a half to three hours every Wednesday and two weeks before a major match the practice is stepped up to three times a week. The men all jog regularly to keep fit, especially for the George S. Patton Jr. Competition which consists of a timed, two mile run in combat dress, including steel helmet, web gear with pistol, first aid kit, canteen and poncho. Maximum time allowed for the run is 25 minutes with target firing beginning 29 minutes after the start of the run. This Air National Guard team beats the Army at their own game. The 190th has much to be proud of.

LtCol. Jerold F. Johnson became the third Commander in the history of the 190th Air Refueling Group on October 3, 1981 . LtCol. Johnson assumed command from Col. William S. Mahler, who became the Chief of Staff of the Kansas Air National Guard at State Headquarters.

Speaking at the Change of Command ceremony, Major General Ralph T. Tice, Adjutant General of Kansas, said of Johnson, "As the new commander, I've selected one of the outstanding pilots and leaders who has widespread experience at all levels of the command. I'm sure that all officers and airmen of the unit will support him in the months ahead."

Johnson began his military career in the Kansas Air National Guard, enlisting on Nov. 1, 1960 at Hutchinson . He served in the photo lab of the 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. Commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1962, he entered pilot training at Webb AFB, Texas in January 1963.

He served as 190th Group Air Operations Officer (Life Support) and was Flight Commander of the 117th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron. He became Squadron Operations Officer in 1978. In May 1980, LtCol. Johnson became Assistant Chief of Maintenance and in March 1981 the Executive Staff Support Officer at Kansas Air National Guard Headquarters.

One of the most colorful chapters of the 190th began with the formation of the Patriots of Old Glory. This flag team was started in 1974. The first members of the team were Paul Hurt, Tom Dearing, Gus Parsel, Caroll Summerville, James McGlown, Jim Kornelson, Richard McIver, Joe Ramirez, Joe Bushong and Steve Mercer.

The inspiring and impressive ceremony presented by the Patriots utilized five generations of American flags. A narration of the history of each flag was presented in the ceremony. During the Bicentennial year the Patriots dressed in the colorful uniforms of 1776.

The Patriots have presented the flag ceremony on numerous occasions since 1974. They have performed in many locales and at distinctively different events. They have led the parade at fairs, open rodeos, football games and performed for the Veterans Administration. They have been on both local and national television and in 1982 opened the Karate World Championships and were televised for worldwide TV. Among their many presentations is the opening of the Kansas Legislature, the University of Kansas verses Kansas State University football game, the National Women's Basketball Tournament and the State Convention of National Guard Association of Kansas. In 1974 they opened the State Convention of the National Guard Association of Missouri with a presentation of every flag that had ever flown over the state or Missouri .

If ending Summer Field Training had been discouraging to morale then the mission of the KC-135s had the opposite effect. In 1981 alone the men of the 190th went to Hawaii six times. They averaged three trips a year to England and in addition the KC-135s have flown to Panama , Spain , Bermuda , Puerto Rico and Alaska , as well as one coast of the United States to the other. From 1 April to 5 June 1981 , 19 spouses accompanied members of the 190th on 12 flights. A free ride half way around the world can do wonders for morale.

In January 1982 the 190th made the front cover of a British magazine named Aircraft Illustrated. The January issue praised the unit on the cover and in the feature article entitled, "The Kansas Coyotes meet the Wild Weasels." The article dealt with the refueling of 12 F-4Gs by the Kansas Coyotes.

In a letter of Commendation from Col. Richard Giordano he stated, "Because this is one of the best articles I have seen on the subject of the ETTF (primarily because it is so comprehensive and accurate) I thought you would personally want to congratulate the crew. Not only did they do a good job on this particular sortie, but during their tour as a whole. I might add that kudos also go to the crew chiefs. This was one of the reasons why we selected Col. Spencer and his crew to carry the author. It was a good looking airplane, well maintained and obviously indicated a lot of pride on the part of the crew chiefs concerned."

A history of the 117/190th could not close without an explanation of how and why the 190th became known as the Kansas Coyotes. Finding out why was a harder task than it appeared. Many stories seem to suggest that the name originated in Hutchinson from the times when they used to have to chase the coyotes off the runway so that the planes could land. These were known by the men as "Coyote Runs." From this we must assume that the Coyotes have always been with us, but I believe the most complete information comes from Dave Render.

Dave says that shortly after they moved to Topeka , they began to see coyotes on the runway here also. It became a standard joke with Bill Miller when he was leaving on a mission he would say he was "going out to see the coyotes." When the Air Force required that the 190th have a specific name for their Mobile Control unit to differentiate the 190th Mobil Control from the Air Force Mobile Control at Forbes, Bill Miller suggested it be known as "Coyote Mobile." Coyote Mobile became the call sign in approximately 1968 or '69.

Around 1976 or '77 it was decided that our unit should have a logo. Other units had names that they went by such as the Green Mountain Boys and the Happy Hooligans. IT was believed that this would bring an extra measure of pride to the unit. The idea was presented to Duane Zerger and he once again came up with the needed design. Since Mobile Control used the name Coyote when talking to the tower we were already halfway known as Coyotes, hence, it was decided that we should be known as the Kansas Coyotes. One idea led to another and it was finally decided that the coyote symbol be emblazoned on an outline of the state of Kansas , with a blue star in the Northeast corner of the state depicting Topeka .

Then began an all-out campaign to let it be known to everyone who we were. The coyote was painted on the planes. Decals were purchased and the men of the 190th carried them everywhere they went, sticking them in every conceivable place. A coyote was captured and the men in Operations paid to have him stuffed. The stuffed mascot sat in the break room of Operations and startled many an unsuspecting visitor. He was transported to state conventions and proudly displayed as our mascot. After conversion to KC-135s even the monthly publication of the 190th changed its name from the Canberra Log to the Kansas Coyote Log. Also with the KC-135 mission came the opportunity to not only leave our decals all over the air but in many places around the world as well. The unit has changed its mane and mission many times in the last 25 years, but it seems as if the Kansas Coyotes are here to stay.

In the February issue of the Kansas Coyote Log, Lt. Col. Johnson wrote, "My final comment has to do with our silver anniversary. This is really something to be proud of and in my 20 plus years relationship with this unit, I can reflect on many outstanding men and women who have been members of the 117th or the 190th. We owe a great deal to the vision and attention to detail exhibited by the people who have preceded us. We also have a great responsibility to uphold the standards of excellence that were set for us. It is exciting to be a part of this great historical occasion and look forward to the future with great enthusiasm."

As if to start off the second 25 years with the same sort of excellence exhibited in the last 25, the National Guard Bureau presented members of the 190th CAMS with the Minuteman Award. The personnel of the unit distinguished themselves during the period of Oct 1980 through September 1981 by exceptionally meritorious service. The 190th CAMS had made our 25th year one to be proud of.