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|An up close and personal interview with US Air Force Veteran and Togetherweserved.com Member:|
SSgt Rickey L. Baugh US Air Force (1981-1992)
WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?
When I was growing up we used to see the Navy Blue Angels fly over my hometown of Iowa Falls, Iowa. I believe there was a person from here in the Blue Angels Squadron. I used to watch Twelve O'Clock High reruns, I Dream of Jeannie, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, and MASH. I wanted to do something with my life. My father served in the US Army for two years in the 1950's. I wanted to carry on the military tradition. There were not many good paying jobs in Iowa in the 1980's. The Air Force seemed the logical choice and had the best looking uniforms.
BRIEFLY, WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?
I enlisted in The Delayed Entry Program in August of 1981. I entered Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland AFB, TX on December 4. 1981 and finished January 21, 1982. I was sent to Sheppard AFB, TX for Corrosion Control Apprentice Technical Training from January 21, 1982 to March 1982. My first Permanent Change of Station (PCS) was to Ellsworth AFB, SD to the 44th Strategic Missile Wing/ 44 Field Missile Maintenance Squadron in the Corrosion Control Shop from March of 1982 to November of 1983. I then requested a Permanent Change of Assignment (PCA) to the 28th Bombardment Wing/28th Field Maintenance Squadron - Corrosion Control Shop. My last assignment was a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) in April of 1986 to July of 1992 to Tinker AFB, OK to the 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Wing/552nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron - Corrosion Control Shop.
DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?
The 552 Airborne Warning and Control Wing controlled the Air War during Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. We were in a real world situation. We worked 12-hour shifts for about a week and then round-the-clock shifts to keep the planes maintained when they were sent to Saudi Arabia or returned from overseas.
WHICH, OF THE DUTY STATIONS OR LOCATIONS YOU WERE ASSIGNED OR DEPLOYED TO, DO YOU HAVE THE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY?
My favorite base was Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. I arrived there in April of 1986 and remained there until May of 1992. The Aircraft Structural Maintenance Shop was the focal point of all the maintenance in the 552 AWAC Wing. We controlled two buildings, 289 and 976 and shared offices with the Fuel Cell Shop and the Welding Shop I made SSgt and became a Supply and Equipment Manager, Hazardous Waste Manager, Assistant Building Manager for buildings 289 and 976, Washrack Manager and I was the vehicle Crew Chief for both of our shop vehicles.
Everyday was a unique experience and I worked with and for a lot of great people, both military and civilian. Two of my daughters were born at the Tinker AFB Hospital.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?
The highlight of my career was maintaining the Mighty B-52 Stratofortress (Buff). I was in the historic 28 Bombardment Wing at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. We were called the Heavies. We maintained the Looking Glass Aircraft that was stationed at Ellsworth and Offutt AFB, Nebraska. I was in the 28 Field Maintenance Sqadron, Corrosion Control Shop. Our job was maintaining the paint schemes on the 5-52's, KC/EC-135's, T-38's and UN-1N Huey Helicopters. We performed inspections for corrosion, cracks and stress. My additional duties were Assistant Hazardous Waste Manager, Shelf Life Monitor, Technical Order Monitor and 350 Tag Equipment Check-in Monitor. Our shop was responsible for the new Bomb Wing decal developed in the middle 1980's.
WERE ANY OF THE MEDALS OR AWARDS YOU RECEIVED FOR VALOR? IF YES, COULD YOU DESCRIBE HOW THIS WAS EARNED?
I was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal in 1987 for work performed on three static display aircraft at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. The three aircraft were a B-29, B-47 and EC-121. The 552 Equipment Maintenance Squadron Corrosion Control Shop, of which I was a member, spearheaded these projects. These three historic aircraft are still proudly displayed at the Tinker AFB Air Park. The feeling of working on these aircraft was heartfelt.
OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
While a member of the 44 Strategic Missile Wing, 44Field Missile Maintenance, Corrosion Control Shop, at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota I earned the Basic Missileman's Badge (Pocket Rocket) in 1983. We drove long distances from Ellsworth to reach the missile sites. We performed the maintenance in all kinds of extreme weather, including snow, extreme cold, extreme heat and rain. We had to be aware of rattlesnakes and other hazards. This was my first badge on my uniform and made me feel like I was part of history maintaining the Minuteman II Missile weapons system.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
TSgt Victor B. Zickefoose (Ret.) because he instilled a work ethic in my fellow Airmen and myself. He was the first person in the shop to pick me up at the Rapid City Regional Airport in 1982. He was a great Shop Chief and mentor and will always be a great friend. We called him Ziggy because he looked like the cartoon character Ziggy and his last name. The Corrosion Control Shop of the 44th Strategic Missile Wing was a fairly new shop in the early 1980's. It was formed out of the Periodic Maintenance Shop (PMT). When Victor was a young SSgt (5 years of service), he was in charge of a Sgt and about eight one and two strippers. We were a bunch of rag-tag Airmen and he molded our characters.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE THAT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME AND STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
I was in missiles at the time and saw all the aircraft taking off at one time during an exercise. I was at the base library and thought we were going to war. I got up to ask the librarian why no one was panicking and she told me it was just an exercise.
Most of the times my Team Chief was A1C David Campagne and he was born in 1959 and my brother was born in 1959. Everything seemed to be related to the number 59. Our trip number was 59 to the missile field, we both got off at exit 59 in Rapid City to go home, I was born on the 14th of November and 5+9 is 14.
Sgt Mike Tuttle would write letters of counseling to some of the Airmen in the shop by using a dictionary to find big words. I never received a letter of counseling from him, but it sure did make you feel you broke one of the Ten Commandments!
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT JOB?
My business is called Rick's At Your Service. I am currently self-employed in landscaping, hauling, cleaning, mowing, snow shoveling, home security, home maintenance, re-upholstery, computer repair, pet sitting and all miscellaneous jobs. I, also, volunteer in helping the Air Force recruiters in my area to continually enlist new members into the US Air Force. I pass out hats, shirts, pens, pencils, cups, lanyards, backpacks, key chains and anything Air Force. I have had success in recruiting a few new Airmen.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
I was a member of The American Legion and Air Force Sergeant's Association. I felt it was my obligation to join The American Legion because they helped me in receiving my 30% disability from the Veterans Administration. The Iowa Falls post helped spearhead a Veteran's Memorial in Iowa Falls and my name is engraved on the memorial, along with my Father's.
HOW HAS MILITARY SERVICE INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?
I still try to live a self-disciplined life by making the right decisions in my life. I am reminded everyday of the sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces. I do my utmost to help anybody in need. The concept of pay it forword is how I live my life. I strive to make the world a better place for my family and friends and the military provided me with the skills and attitude to accomplish this in my daily life.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT ARE STILL SERVING?
Always give more than you receive and give your best in life. Whatever you do has an affect on someone else whether you realize it or not. These practices will allow you to reap benefits beyond all belief. What goes around comes around, especially the good things you do. Strive to be the positive difference in someone else day. Karma really does work in your life.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU MAINTAIN A BOND WITH YOUR SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?
I can connect everyday with my brothers and sisters of the Air Force. I am learning from everyone I come in contact with on this wonderful site. I am finding new friends everyday I get on AFTWS. The improvements are welcomed by all members.
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