The 2 T Program - My Perspective
by Gary Anderson (62-63)

From the 05/15/06 BIA Newsletter

In September, 1963, things were looking up for me;  I had the equivalent of a BA degree but no diploma, I was pretty good at my job as an analyst, Joe Kinel had stretched the truth considerably and MSgt Cormier had backed him up so I got my third stripe the first time around.  I had finished half of my tour and was considering an application for OCS or the possibility of Intermediate Russian at Syracuse University.  Life was good!

In October, it all came undone!  It seems someone at USAFSS headquarters read the statistics and realized that Uncle Sam had spent nearly $60,000 in 1960s dollars to train and get a Top Secret Codeword clearance for all of the young airmen in the various intelligence fields. What’s more, many of them weren’t re-enlisting!  Promotions were also in short supply and many of the remote tours in Turkey, Pakistan, Japan and Alaska were short of qualified NCOs. Nobody was volunteering for those sites! Whatta surprise!

The distress filtered down to 2nd Lt. Sam Skazal  who had a law degree in loopholes from the local Home School University and whose father was the head of the draft board in Corncob, Kansas.  2nd Lt. Sam Skazal had been passed over twice for promotion and his dreams of retirement as a Captain or even a Major were going up in smoke!  In desperation, he contacted A1C Buford Bumble, a career man who started his military career as a B17 ball turret repairman and eventually ended up in USAFSS HQS in charge of USAFSS Manual 39-2.

A review of the manual revealed two important facts:

  1. An enlisted man could not spend two consecutive overseas tours unless he volunteered for them.  You had to have a stateside tour in-between overseas tours!

  2. There were no criteria for what constituted a length of time for a stateside tour!

According to the deductions of 2nd Lt. Sam Skazal, the solution to all of the USAFSS manning problems was simple!  A first term airman 2nd with a good record, no Article 15’s, or attempts to put in papers on Dirty Marge would receive a “spot “promotion to A1C, have his three year tour curtailed, be given a 6 week stateside tour of duty which included a 30 day delay in route and a two week Mission Improvement Conference at Goodfellow AFB, in San Angelo!  For all of their good work and effort, they would be assigned to a one year tour on a site somewhere in the far reaches of the planet. They would also receive a second “spot” promotion to E5 at the princely sum of $250 a month plus remote duty pay prior to reaching their new duty station!

With the exception of a minor episode involving every air policeman on the base covered under “Damn the Mission, GI the Floors!” and a slight case of overindulgence at the trick picnic, I met the criteria for the 2 Tour Program and on 30 Oct 63 was relieved from duty at the 6912th and reassigned to the 6980th Scty Sq. USAFSS, APO 714 Seattle, Wash. (2T Program).

On 26 Nov 1963, I received orders directing me to report to the USAF Air Traffic Coordinating Officer at Rhein Main AFB on 12 Dec 63 for departure to the CONUS and to report to the Comdr, 6944th Sch SQ Goodfellow AFB 17 Jan 64 for 14 days TDY for the purpose of attending Mission Improvement Conference.  I was then to report to MATS Passenger Service Counter, McChord AFB, Wash. 4 Feb 64 for transportation to new unit. 

Michael Doran, Paul Dorsey and Douglas, “Lightning“ Fleming were included on the same sets of orders as were Lawrence Howard, Jerome Setlik, Donald Cretien, Paul Harmon, Carleton Marvel, Phil Blaisdell and Richard Uravitch, all from the 6912th.  Jim Blunt and others from our outfit also got their 2T orders.

On 11 Dec 63 I had a last bottle of Becks Bier at The Silver Wings NCO club along with good friends, Phil Adams, Bill LaChance and Ray Yarbrough, pocketed my last 5 Mark bill, collected my Club Silver Wings Zippo lighter, said goodbye for a century and caught the evening train into the zone.

I spent a desultory 2 weeks at home on leave and headed for Nazareth, Texas and spent some time with my Syracuse roommate, who had been assigned to Shemya, Alaska as part of the same program.  Both of us reported to the orderly room at the 6944th Sch Sq and were assigned to a barracks for the start of our 2 weeks TDY.  Since my promotion to A1C was effective before the program started, I was a bona fide A1C vs. a “spot” promoted one and therefore got the dubious honor of being appointed Barracks Chief.  Being the first guy to check in may have also had some bearing on it.

There are only two things that I distinctly remember about the Mission Improvement Conference School.  The first was a Class A inspection by the 6944th Commander who informed the majority of us that our tailored “Blues”  were not regulation and that we were to purchase a new set prior to our departure for our next duty station.   Since I had been the tailor who had done the alterations on them while at Syracuse, I had studied the regulation and knew that the 16 inch cuffs on the trousers met the regulation requirements.  His orders were ignored.

The last situation occurred when I was marching the group from class to the chow hall for lunch sometime during the second week of our program.  We were bobbing along past the orderly room in some semblance of order when the squadron commander burst out of the building, shouted, “Take My Command!” called us to a halt, ordered a left face and proceeded to inform us that the USAFSS had gone to a lot of time and effort to make the 2T Program a success.  Since we were the first group to go through the program, he then asked us in very polite terms to “behave”.  He then gave the command back to me and we went to chow.  So much for the Mission Improvement Conference.

On 5 Feb 64 several of us took off in a civilian aircraft for Anchorage, Alaska and our next duty station.  During our final approach to Anchorage International Airport, our aircraft hit severe wind shears, dropped 3 different times for a total of over 1500 feet and finally pulled out 50 feet above the runway, aborted the flight and flew to Eielson AFB in Fairbanks.  I got knocked silly by a camera bag, two guys got broken backs, a few banks of seats came loose and quite a few other people had to have some sort of medical attention or a change of underwear.  We spent the night at Eielson and caught the same aircraft back to Anchorage the next day.  The next two weeks were spent clearing in to the Alaska Air Command, getting cold weather gear and taking courses in Arctic and Nuclear survival.

On 17 Feb 64 we took off from Anchorage for the flight to St. Lawrence Island, Alaska and the 6980th Security Squadron. The Eskimos on St. Lawrence Island called NE Cape AFS, “A lonely, desolate place.”  For me, that was the USAFSS equivalent of being sent to Coventry.

In the 10 months and 11 days I was there, the Inspector General visited twice. Staff Sergeants with less than 1 year time in grade pulled latrine duty and KP. The “Baker Trick Bird” re-emerged as did a TPS and IGAF campaign which resulted in a near mutiny.  An officer struck a Tech Sgt. Air Policeman, one poor E5 nearly died from TB and pneumonia because of the powers he thought were malingering.  In addition, we had white outs, 120 MPH winds, no mail for weeks on end, 23 hours of darkness during winter and a couple of flyovers by Russian bombers.  Someone also tried to burn the place down by setting a fire in the hobby shop and 3 people that I knew had nervous breakdowns and were shipped off in long sleeved white jackets. Today, it would be called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

For those individuals selected for the program who were assigned to a more favorable site, the 2T program was very likely a great opportunity. The Viet Nam war was heating up and I understand the program was still working for some people during that period.  I am only aware of one individual during my tour who re-enlisted and stayed in the USAF.  Jim Blunt, another good buddy from Syracuse and Berlin completed his education and went back into the OSI as an officer and had a very successful career.  I am sure others had similar success stories.

When my reenlistment conference came up I was offered a re-up bonus of $800.00 and given a chance to go to Monterey Language School for Vietnamese.  I told them I didn’t like to wear a hat, took my discharge and went back to college.

As for 2nd Lt. Sam Skazal, he never made 1st Lt. and ended up having a moderately unsuccessful business in Corncob, Kansas as a combination ambulance service and mobile law office.  Rumor has it that he talked to himself a lot.

For his efforts in maintaining USAFSS Manual 39-2, A1C Buford Bumble was made Airman of the Week, given a new set of teeth and re-assigned to the 7350th at Tempelhof AFB as a cashier at the chow hall.

© 2006, The Berlin Island Association

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