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McCHORD AFB - 1970 TO 1990
"In All Things Ready"


With the Narrows Bridge in the background this C-141A from the 62d MAW flies over Tacoma, WA.


A 318th FIS F-106A , 124th FIS F-102A, and a 409 FS CF-101B fly in tight formation.  

McChord marked its third major period of construction in the 1970s. Construction included improved navigational equipment, conversion of the central heating plant from coal to natural gas, and numerous facilities, such as a passenger terminal, commissary, base exchange, NCO club, and dormitories. Other building projects included a bowling alley, youth center, reserve operations building, filling station, flight simulator, and gatehouses.

In October 1970 the 318th participated in its third William Tell Weapons  Competition, finishing third in the F-106 Division, also present  was the CAF's 409 FS in their CF-101's, the 409th would be the second Canadian squadron to participate in the history of Weapons Meet.  

In 1971, the 318th FIS was involved in a  two very interesting incidents . In May of that year one of the Squadrons F-106B flying a test flight after an routine engine change was struck by lightning while at a altitude of 35,000 feet over Sequim WA, The blast destroyed the aircraft's nose cone and caused significant damage to the forward section of the interceptor. The pilot was unharmed and was aircraft was able to land the aircraft without further incidents. The  F-106 was later repaired and flown by the squadron until 1983. F-106B S/N 59-0152 would later become the first F-106 converted for drone use. 

On  Thanksgiving eve 1971 a man calling himself "D.B Cooper" boarded a Northwest Orient flight in Portland, OR and once aloft  threatened to destroy the plane if did not receive $200,000 and four parachutes. The plane landed at Seattle-Tacoma Airport were his demands were met, Cooper ordered the Boeing 727 to take off and head for Mexico. A short time later Two F-106's from the 318th FIS were called in to action to chase the airliner. Their task that night was to the shadow hijacked airliner and track its escape to Mexico.  Cooper would later jump from the rear of the plane somewhere over Washington state, taking the money with him. He were about is still one of the great mysteries of the 20th Century. Squadron Members of the 318th would commemorate this incident with an annual dinner which was held until the units deactivation in 1989.  

On 1 February 1972, 62 MAW C-141A S/N 66-00141 became the first American military aircraft to land in the Peoples' Republic of China. McChord C-141's were flying missions in support of President Nixon's historic trip to communist China. One year later, from 12 February to 1 April 1973, the 62nd flew missions in support of Operation Homecoming, the return of our prisoners of war from Vietnam.  


A 62d Military Airlift Wing and 939th Military Airlift Group decals can be seen on the tail of a  McChord C-141 before aircrafts next mission.  

In 1973, the 318th FIS was the proud recipient of the Aerospace Defense Commands "A" award for the period from August 1971 to December 1972. This award was given by the Command for outstanding accomplishments in Operational Effectiveness. In the spring of 1974, the Squadron deployed to Howard Air Force Base, in the Panama Canal Zone in support of Blackhawk '74 that fall. 

In the Fall of 1973, Syria and Egypt launched an invasion of territory occupied by Israel, igniting the Yom Kippur war. From 13 October to 12 November, the 62nd supplied 23 C-141s and 48 aircrews to fly missions in support of Operation Nickel Grass, airlifting emergency supplies to Israel. Flying was intense, and accommodations away from home were sometimes out of the ordinary, as a hospital, and even a morgue were used to billet crews. The Wing logged well over 3,000 hours flying Nickel Grass.

During late 1974 the 318th "Green Dragons" participated in there impressive fifth straight William Tell Air to Air weapons meet, an impressive record that was hard to match. During the same competition another 25th AD unit, the 124th FIS from Gowen Field Idaho Air National Guard, placed first in the F-102 division.  

The squadrons outstanding performance during 1974 and 1975 earned the most prestigious award for a Air Force Squadron with an air defense mission , the Hughes Trophy. A runner up for many years the 318th became the third Squadron of the 25th Air Division to win the award. 



A newly assigned C-130E of the 36th TAS fly's in formation with a 62d MAW C-141A by Mt Rainer, WA.

Tragedy struck the McChord community on March 20, 1975 with the crash of C-141A S/N 64-0641 into Hurricane Ridge near Washington's Olympic Peninsula killing all 16 onboard. During that year, the USAF's Operation Babylift carried hundreds of Vietnamese orphans to the United States, on April 29 the first planeload of 65 children would land at McChord aboard C-141A S/N 65-00243 where adoptive parents awaited their arrival. Two weeks later, the 62nd flew Marines from Kadena AB, Okinawa, to U Tapao, Thailand, to help recover the pirated ship USS Mayaguez, and its crew.

On July 1, 1975 the 62d took on a new aircraft and a new mission. C-130's of the 36th Tactical Airlift Squadron (TAS) arrived from Langley AFB, Virginia, and Tactical Air Command  to their new home at McChord. The 62d would become the only Air Force Wing with a Tactical (C-130) and Strategic (C-141) Airlift mission

In 1976 the 318 FIS painted F-106A 80776 in its special Bicentennial scheme celebrating the United States 200th birthday.


In 1976, the 318th FIS received a third Outstanding Unit award for the period of July 1974 - June 1976. For the first time since the unit converted into the F-106 the "Green Dragons” would not participate in USAF's William Tell '76 Competition, but the 25 AD would  be represented by the 123rd FIS / 142d FIG from Portland IAP, OR (ANG) The "Redhawks" would go on to win the F-101 category in that years meet. 

During one of the nations most devastating blizzards in February 1978, McChord C-141's rushed support to the residents of the snowbound states during "Operation Snow blow". Several months’ later emergency supplies and Peacekeeping forces were flown into Zaire, Africa, following an invasion of that country by rebel forces.

A short takeoff and landing (STOL) strip parallel to the main runway was competed for the Wings C-130. Constant STOL practice is vital to the of the 36th's C-130 Hercules crews to maintain their proficiency in their Tactical Airlift mission.

On November 18, 1978, some 900 members of the People's Temple Cult, founded by Indiana-born Rev Jim Jones, died in a ritual of mass suicide and murder at Jonestown near Port Kaituma in Guyana's jungle. A visiting United States congressman, three news reporters and cult defectors were shot to death as well. The 62d and other C-141 Military Airlift Wings participated in the airlift of the suicide victims from Guyana to Dover, DE 

After a gradual decline of assigned units, the Aerospace Defense Command was inactivated on October 1, 1979. All flying units from the Command, including the 318th FIS, would be reassigned to the USAF's Tactical Air Command



All aircraft assigned to Aerospace Defense Command displayed that Commands insignia high on the right-side of the aircraft's tail, after all air defense assets moved to the Tactical Air Command , the TAC shield was placed on both sides of the tail.


In May of 1980, a base-wide move of dormitory personnel completed the integration of women into previously all-male dormitories. Meanwhile McChord personnel provided assistance throughout the year at Eglin AFB, Florida during the Mariel Boat Lift crisis, a mass movement of Cuban exiles departing  from Mariel Harbor in Cuba.

Later that month, Mount St. Helens erupted for the first time in 123 years. Following the eruption, a C-130 crew from the 36 TAS provided communications support during the search for survivors. The 602d Tactical Air Control Wing became the only active duty Air Force unit to assist in search and rescue efforts at the emergency command center in the Mount St. Helens area. Great Britain's Prince Philip made an unexpected visit to McChord, when his plane was diverted because of volcanic ash. One week after St Helen's first eruption, a second one occurred. All of the base's flyable aircraft were evacuated following reports that ash was drifting northwest toward McChord. A total of 26 aircraft were launched in four hours and 18 minutes. But, St Helens wasn't done, and August of the same year, another eruption deposited a noticeable coat of ash on McChord. 


A stretched Lockheed C-141B StarLifter with a unmodified C-141A in the background.


Over it's the many years of service, a main complaint from crews of the C-141 was that the aircraft often ran out of space well before it met its weight limit. In 1979 the Military Airlift Command began a major upgrade program for its C-141A fleet by adding fuselage "plugs" in front of and behind the wing, increasing the length of the aircraft by 23 feet 4 inches. The redesignated C-141B's also received a universal air refueling receptacle above the cockpit. On  29 May 1980, the members of the  62d MAW's welcomed back  their first "stretched" C-141B (63-8082) from the Lockheed-Georgia factory. Over the next two years 62d MAW C-141's would leave McChord on their way to Georgia to become C-141B's, on 22 March 1982, the Wing would see it's last C-141A (65-00257) leave for modification.

Tragedy struck the McChord community on June 24, 1980. During a nighttime training mission a 318th FIS F-106 crashed two miles short of the runway in an unpopulated area of Ft. Lewis killing its Pilot Capt. Mark "Rock" Van Stone. Capt. Van Stone was the last "Green Dragon" to die while on duty. 

After wining a intense regional competition, the 318th FIS was set to return to their last William Tell Weapons Meet flying in the F-106. The "Green Dragons" led the whole competition until the last day, finishing second to the 49th FIS, Griffiss AFB, NY. The 318ths sister squadron faired better though, the 409th FIS took home top honors in the (C)F-101 category this was the meet for the Voodoo.  

In June 1983, the 62nd took full advantage of the longer, air-refuelable C-141B to carry out the perilous mid-winter (June is the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere) airdrop over Antarctica. Air refueling made possible the trip from Christchurch, New Zealand, to the South Pole and back.


One of the remaining F-106's from the 318th FIS leads a T-33A and a F-15A past Mt. Rainier in Washington State.

Air defense units at McChord were involved in major changes during 1983. On June 1, the 318th FIS lost its first F-106 S/N 59-0057 to the "Boneyard" in preparation for the arrival of the first F-15 on the 10 of that month. F-106 -057 had been stationed at the Base all of its 23 years on Active duty.  Over the next five months each of the squadrons F-106's would be flown by squadron pilots  from McChord to their next assignments, some aircraft were be redistributed to remaining Delta Dart Squadrons (many ending up with the ADTAC's 49th & 87th FIS's) while others became temporary tenants of the Arizona "Boneyard" (MASDC) awaiting their final fate as full scaled target drones (QF-106).

A changing of the guard occurred on after two established weapons systems were replaced on the day of the 25th NORAD Region’s 25th Anniversary On that cloudy day in June two 318th FIS F-106's escorted the units first McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. a F-15B, S/N 76-0141. The F-15 was the first of 24 Eagles to be stationed at McChord and the squadrons alert detachment at Castle AFB, CA. 

That date was also the day that the Divisions new Air Defense computer reached initial operational capability (IOC) replacing the SAGE system that gave 25 years of fateful service. In a ceremony at 25th AD HQ, Division Commander Gen. Richard Pasco, who was credited with two MiG kills in F-4C's in the Vietnam War, pushed the button that would turn off all defense functions of the AN/FSQ-7 SAGE computer system affectionally known as "Clyde". This marked the first time "Clyde" was not on the job since it "powered up" 25 years earlier.  

In October 1983, the US government identified a threat to its interests, in the form of Cuban and Soviet-backed forces in the tiny island of Grenada, in the Caribbean. America's response included the delivery of the 82nd Airborne Division by C-141s. Eight 62nd MAW C-141Bs participated in Operation Urgent Fury. The first StarLifter on the ground at Grenada was a 62nd aircraft. 


In full afterburner, the 318th FISs last F-106A, S/N 59-0141, takes off from McChord for the final time headed for retirement in the Arizona desert  and eventual conversion to a full scaled target drone.

On November 4, 1983, 318th Pilot Lt. Col Peter Bracci flew McChord's last F-106 (S/N 59-0141) to the Arizona military aircraft "Boneyard". On December 31, F-15's from the 318th resumed their alert commitments after standing down during conversion from the Delta Dart. F-106 units from Montana and California stood alert for the Green Dragons at McChord and Castle.

In 1984 the 318th FIS competed in thee units first William Tell World Wide Weapons Meet in the F-15 Eagle. The squadron began the meet on a good note by winning the arrival competition by passing the Tyndall AFB, FL .76 seconds off of their predetermined time. During the meet 318th Pilots scored direct hits on 2 QF-100D full scaled target drone aircraft, while Green Dragon Maintenance and Weapons load personnel set high marks during the competition. Unfortunately, the scores were not good enough to win, the unit finished in seventh place, although other 25AD units faired much better. Flying the more than 20 year old F-4 Phantom II, Oregon's 123rd FIS / 142nd FIG beat out all but 2 F-15 units finishing third, a second unit the 178th FIS / 119th FIG, North Dakota ANG placed fifth. 




A 318th FIS F-15A fires a AIM-7 Sparrow missile during William Tell 84'


In the 1986 William Tell both F-4 units would again do well, The Oregon ANG F-4 team compiled the meet's only perfect score on the AIM-7 Sparrow radar-guided missile profile. The Oregon team would also land a second place finish in the meets air superiority profile achieving the same score as a team flying the more advanced F-15 Eagle.

Overall, the 25-year-old F-4C aircraft flown by Oregon's  142nd FIG/123rd FIS beat out two F-15 Eagle teams and one CF-18 team from Canada, finishing 7th in the 12-team competition. With all of the excellent airmanship  displayed by the Oregon "Redhawks" at William Tell, they were outpaced by North Dakota ANG's 119th FIG/178th FIS "Happy Hooligans" who  took top honors in the F-4 category .


A 318th FIS F-15 displaying the units new "TC" tail code is pictured with the Museums F-106 during the units last open house in 1989.


In 1987, complying with orders from Tactical Air Command Headquarters to align all of the commands aircraft to one uniform standard, the 318th FIS complied and began to repaint the its "Starburst" tail design with the tail code "TC", (derived from McChord's International Air Transport Association airport code of "TCM") which stood for Tacoma, the major city near the base.   

During 1987, an order to downsize the 36th TAS began in earnest, with staff and aircraft being dispersed throughout the Air Force C-130 system, discussions had taken place to inactivate the unit as a cost cutting measure.  

In June of that year the Northwest Air Defense Sector was activated as a subordinate unit of McChord's 25th Air Division. A short time later the 26th AD based at March AFB, CA would  deactivate and it's sector, the Southwest Air Defense Sector, would report directly to the 25th AD.


With Brig Gen John M. Davey, Commander of the 25th Air Division in the lead position, four of the last T-33's assigned to the 318th FIS fly over McChord AFB during a retirement ceremony for the aircraft.


On February 3, 1988 in a five ship formation, 318th FIS T-33A's flew into history, and retirement. The T-33 was assigned longer than any aircraft at McChord, flying in the sky's of Washington for over 37 years. Months later the 142d FIG would retire the last T-33 from the Air Force inventory.        

On August 28, 1989, the last of its propeller-driven C-130s departed McChord for assignment to other US Bases. With the loss of its C-130 aircraft, the 36th TAS was redesignated as the  36th MAS and began to fly the C-141. 


Lockheed C-130E Hercules s/n 63-7788 from the 36th Tactical Airlift Squadron is pictured with the aircraft's wing mate, a 62d Military Airlift Wing Lockheed C-141B StarLifter. The 62d Military Airlift Wing was the only wing in the Air Force assigned with the C-130 and C-141.


Shortly after the unit's selection for conversion into the F-16ADF fighter, Air Force Officials announced their intentions to inactivate the 318th FIS and transfer the units F-15's to Oregon Air National Guard's 123rd FIS / 142d FIG who would also  take over the 318th air defense responsibilities in the Northwest. On May 24, 1989 the first F-15 to leave McChord, 76-0139, landed at Portland International Airport to begin the units new assignment in the Eagle. 

In November of 1989, two F-15 Eagles from the 318th FIS flew east to engage in the Squadrons last battle, aerial combat with two F-16's from Montana ANG. This battle ended as most did for the 318th, a Green Dragon victory. The F-15's were flown home and after dismounting their fighters Squadron Commander Lt. Col. John Kugler, and the Squadrons Director of Operations Lt. Col Chuck Colgrove,   were given a ceremonial wetting down by their squadron mates. The Colonels each opened a bottle of champagne in a toasted to all present and former "Green Dragons". On December 7, 1989, the 318th colors were sheathed for the last time and the unit was deactivated.


Lt Col Chuck Colgrove, 318th FIS Director of Operations and Lt Col John Kugler, 318th FIS Commander, celebrate the squadrons last sortie on November 17, 1989. The Green Dragons would officially inactivate less than three weeks later.


Later that month, President George Bush ordered an invasion of Panama, in order to depose its dictator, Manuel Noriega, who faced charges of drug trafficking and election fraud. Making use of their experience during the invasion of Grenada, 62nd MAW crews airdropped troops of the 82nd Airborne Division, as well as heavy Army equipment. There were 10 62nd StarLifters in the 51-aircraft formation over Panama, during the night of December 20 - 21, 1989. In spite of icing problems at one of the departure bases, and small-arms fire, the 62nd reached its objective, and Operation Just Cause was a success.

Once again the roar of fighters could be heard in the sky's of McChord, two F-15A Eagles that once called McChord home returned in the colors of their new assignment - the 142d FIG / 123d FIS. In the first week of February 1990 Detachment 1, 142d FIG would stand-up at the former 318th FIS alert facility maintaining 2 F-15's on alert 24 hrs a day 7 days a week. This would only last a few years, the Oregon unit would disband their alert detachment, and the McChord alert facility would be reduced to a "cold" status.

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