George AFB 1979

My first assignment in the US Air Force was at George AFB, California.  I was a crew chief assigned to White Section, B Flight.  Were you there too?

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Back in 1977, the F-15 Eagle was brand new and we went to Nellis AFB to fly against them.  We waxed their butt so bad that when they left they tagged our jets with ducks.

540 “shot down” 3 F-15’s and a F-106.
incentive ride
1979- Me in the F-4.

We traded our F-4C’s for G models.  They asked for volunteers to go help the F-105 folks transition into the Phantom so I raised my hand.  We were doing acceptance inspection on low time F-4E’s and then sent them to Seattle for what we called “The Sex Change”.  The 20mm gun was cut off and replaced with all the WILD WEASEL equipment.  The transition was slow so I wound up crewing F-105’s for a couple of months.

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Pilots wondered why she was called “Super Chicken”.  It was from the kid’s cartoon.

When you find yourself in danger,
When you’re threatened by a stranger,
When it looks like you will take a lickin’, (puk, puk, puk)
There is someone waiting,
Who will hurry up and rescue you,
Just Call for Super Chicken! (puk, ack!)
Then they liked the name.  That was the Wild Weasel mission.  To kill SAM’s and protect the bombers.
super chicken

35th TFW White Section B Flight 1979

I Watched as the Phantom Crashed

What’s a Crew Chief?

Ever Fly in a Jet Fighter?


Me on the day I got my trumpet, 1967. Still have it.

I’ve played trumpet since fourth grade. I wanted to play the drums but they said I had to wait until sixth grade. I picked the trumpet because it only had three keys and Dad said that “Gerry Owen” would sound better on the trumpet than the clarinet.

I played all the way through high school. In my junior year at good old Seaside High, Dr. Bayes decided that we needed a Jazz Band. He took us to a Maynard Ferguson concert and the rest is as they say “History”. On the first day of our senior year the first trumpets were asked for a tuning C. Without any discussion all four of us belted out High C not the Middle C. “Oh, know I know why none of you talked to me last summer”. We all went home after the MF concert and started doing secret range exercises.

In our senior year, Don Schamber brought the MPC Jazz Band to play for us. It was a recruiting drive. Richard Elms and I wound up in the band. We played for two years, 1976 and 1977. It was great. Don, you see was the talent coordinator for the Monterey Jazz Festival. For our concerts he’d bring in “Famous Folk” as guest artists. We also got to be the muscle at the Festival so that got us to meet alot of people. Dizzy Gilespie, Chick Corea, Herby Hancock to name a few.

We actually got a visit from Doc Severinsen.   He was vacationing in Monterey and he needed a place to practice. His hotel said they didn’t have enough insurance. So Don scheduled him a practice room right through our practice session. We could hear him when we showed up.  We waited impatiently for the Man to show up. Most sessions end on the dot. Slam, Bam and off to class. That day was different. Suddenly everyone wanted to stay. “What say we take that from letter B again?” That sort of thing.  Then he walked in. T shirt and jeans. Sat in the front row of our little theater. It was on. Some folks in the band wanted a job. In fact, I think he hired our drummer. Anyway. After a couple of tunes, Don turns to him and says, “Well I guess I have to break the ice. How do they sound?” Doc said,”Pretty good. But none of you trumpet players are breathing right.”  He has us come off the stage and sit in the front row. He went up and stood on our risers in the back. When he blew a note you could almost feel the breath hit you in the face. WOW! Then he gave us an impromptu brass clinic. The Monterey Herald showed up and we were on the front page of the local section. In the picture, that’s my elbow on the right. I can’t win for losing. I wish I still had the clipping.

That's me in my "Concert Shirt" and my Mom. This might have been on the night of the Asilomar concert. But it is the shirt I wore that night. Pretty cool huh?

By February 1977 I had to make a choice. Music or aviation. I picked aviation and joined the Air Force. I was on Delayed Enlistment until May so I could finish the semester.  Don was writing Asilomar at the time and he wrote me a fourth trumpet solo. Kinda a going away present. Yes, that’s the sound of the ocean in the song. Don went down to Asilomar beach and recorded it himself.

Sadly Don died in March, 2011. But here he is conducting “Asilomar” in 1977.

My Mom sat in the audience with a radio/cassette recorder on her lap.

[Note to the Family: You can hear my Mom say “Wow” at 7:48]