The older I get the more dots my memory connects. The legacies of the Cold War have
come into sharp relief on this little planet filled with strife, political egos and good people just trying to make it through. Like any good film noir, the bequests of that time present themselves in black and white with deep, menacing shadow. Like a movie scene each legacy a large, slowly rotating ventilation fan blade, one behind the other each timed slightly differently, the viewer sees only the shadow and feels the challenge as the simple swoosh, swoosh as the blades relentlessly and ominously turn. The good guys or bad guys make their jumps through the fans’ portal to the other side; some make it, some don’t. It’s the same footage used for different stories where a dramatic transition is required.
Delivered to the U.S. military for use in 1953, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber in all its incarnations has been a workhorse of Cold War infrastructure that survived the fan blades of transition from one well-defined enemy to the shadow world of many enemies defined in vague terms like terrorism. Sitting in my office in the Quonset hut on Hickam, I was quietly tackling the piles of paper in the early 1990s. I was quite unprepared for the normally calm Kimo’s bursting through my office door yelling that a BUFF was on the runway. I had no idea what a BUFF was, other than a neutral shade of brown. The sheer size of the airplane that met my eyes that day was impressive. It was a B-52 and I quickly learned that BUFF stood for Big Ugly Fat Fellow (or F….r). I definitely wanted to know more about that old dog. I drank in books extolling tales of daring-do by phenomenal pilots as they flew B-52s on long-range missions over Russia or retrofitted B-52’s taking care of business in Viet Na or patrolling our borders like long-range snipers, and, now, the war on terrorism with precision guided missiles and mind numbing payloads of bombs. Continue reading