Biographical Notes re

Charles A. (Chuck) Stone

Page 2 of 6 Pages, of Chapter 6,


Welcome back to Chapter 6 — The Real Thing: I sincerely hope you enjoyed your trip to, through and back from Japan. For our crew, it was truly an unforgettable experience. But, life moves on —We arrived at the Davis Monthan Aircraft Bone Yard, Tucson, Arizona, where we deposited our B-29 and dispersed to the winds, all too fast for proper goodbyes. Possibly the good news is that our crew never really said goodbye. We have remained in touch these many years and I trust you noted that we had a heartwarming reunion, here in Little Falls, Minnesota in the month of June, 2000. As we gathered, it took about five minutes for each of us to be transported back to 1953 and 1954 in our mind’s eye, sharing stories of those times and events recorded since in the lives of each of us. The wives attending, fitted in to the picture with perfection.

It was a quiet, but warm and happy homecoming arriving back in Little Falls and then on up to Park Rapids to check things out at the Rainbow Inn. For side entertainment, with some assistance here and there from mechanics and hardware resources, I began building a two wheel trailer to carry some of our stuff from local storage on down to Lincoln. Other things we had shipped, on call, to arrive when we had a place to put it. Our visits with family went well and Nell and I renewed friendships with many of our old tourist and business customer friends at the hotel during our visit. The Rainbow Inn was still a home away from home, but my parents and uncles were getting on in years. Nell had visited Park Rapids, on occasion, while I was in Japan, so the Stone family had become familiar with both our daughter, Sandy, and son, David, as they began to mature. My Park Rapids family wondered how soon it would be before I would be coming back. I told them we would just have to wait and see how things developed. Vacations, such as that, go by very quickly. We had put a hitch on our car and hooked up our new trailer, loaded up and headed for Lincoln, Nebraska and yet another chapter of life.

Lincoln AFB was part of SAC’s explosive growth program of that era. The base had been prepared to host the 818th Air Division with a Combat Support Group, the 307th Bomb Wing and the 98th Bomb Wing. The 307th was returning from service in Okinawa and the 98th from Yokota Air Base, Japan. With that many new people, most of them looking for housing in town (there was not such thing as base housing at this time) at one time, you can bet it was some kind of a scramble. Nell, the kids and I, finally found a small house we could afford to buy, knowing it had remodeling and expansion potential with an unfinished 1/2 story upstairs. I checked into the base and found I had been moved from the 344th Bomb Squadron to the 343rd, along with the Squadron Commander and Operations Officer. By the way, the Ops Officer was the Flight Commander, Bob Buckley, that I had served under at Reese AFB.

We settled in rapidly, because we knew we would soon began TDY training for B-47 upgrading down at Wichita, Kansas. I was on the list to be trained as an Aircraft Commander, as a 1st Lt., despite the fact that there were lots of Captains and Majors around that came in from other locations. Colonel Baker, who's brief, but fascinating biography is included in our web site’s biographical story index, was our operations officer for the 98th Bomb Wing. If you read my introduction to his biographical notes, you will note that I was his copilot for a trip to the West Coast, while waiting to start school at Wichita. While I was away on this trip, my Squadron Commander went off on a trip of his own and a Lt. Colonel, who was new to the 98th BW population, sat in for him. He had a Captain friend who had Korean War C-54 experience and more flying time than I did. He used his temporary authority to replace me on the Wichita training schedule with this other fellow. When I returned from the trip with Colonel Baker, I was informed that things had changed. They said I would be put on the waiting list for later inclusion in the B-47 A/C training program. Striving to have a good attitude, I volunteered to go down with him and train as his copilot, knowing there were no more A/C slots on the foreseeable horizon. Until we finally came face to face in class at Wichita, I had never met my new A/C.

There were about five pilots in the wing that were developing a family friendship as well as a professional rapport on duty. We teamed up to carpool down to Wichita, leaving most of the cars at home for our wives, and driving home for weekends. This system worked very well. The B-47 Ground School Program got underway rather quickly. Although I did get to meet my A/C, I saw very little of him in class. On occasion, when he was in class, he looked very red-faced, hung over and exhausted. At the same time, I could see his nervous system was completely shattered. He was often called out of class for reasons unknown. When we started simulator training he was often missing at the start of the session. He did turn up for our initial orientation flights in the B-47.

Well into the training program, I visited the Lincoln Air Base and learned that my A/C was being investigated for bad checks and a variety of other things that can get you kicked out of the USAF in short order. By the time I had observed his behavior for an additional week, I chose to visit my Squadron Commander, now returned from his special orientation training program. He confirmed what I had learned. I advised the Squadron Commander that I would refuse to continue training with this man, not because he was the A/C that had taken my place, but because he was unsafe and unreliable to a remarkable degree. I volunteered to continue copilot training with any other 343rd squadron A/C of his choice. I soon learned that SAC was trying to get Training Command to give this man the axe. Training Command had locked their brakes and said that was a SAC problem. Our B-47 instructor thought I was a bad boy for treating my A/C that way and if I were sufficiently cooperative, things would probably eventually work out OK. My life experience in dealing with drunks and lechers just didn't read that way. My instructor begged me to fly with this A/C on his solo flight so he could be “stamped trained” by ATC (Air Training Command) and thrown in the Lions Den when he rejoined his SAC unit of assignment. I told the instructor that if he was foolish enough to solo this guy, I was foolish enough to be his copilot on this one flight. They picked a nice day for it, patted us on the popo and sent us off into the wild blue yonder. We had a reasonably safe and satisfactory flight. We returned to Lincoln and I have never seen or heard a word from him or about him since. I have never talked to anyone else involved who would even comment.

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