I started out as a navigator and then moved over to the radar navigator (bombardier) seat. Life was pretty simple. Mission plan one day and fly the next. Once every four weeks we would have to be on alert at the base. There were six crews with six members on each crew. each crew had a B-52 bristling with nukes parked next to where we slept. We would live in the alert facility for a week at a time, and then would get three and a half days off before we started flying training missions again. Actually, it was a lot of fun. Lots of pranks. Lots of movies and talk. I entered the Air Force as a Reagan Republican and left on the opposite end of the spectrum, thanks to conversations with my lefter-leaning friends on alert. I wonder how many can say that their military service did that? The Air Force was, in fact, the most socialist organization I have ever been a part of, and functioned very well. This somewhat creepy painting hung in the stairwell at the partially subterranean alert facility:
B-52s left Spokane about a year after I left B-52s. Before their departure we had the crash and that really made their subsequent absence in Spokane skies all the sadder. I used to look up when I heard that familiar noise of eight engines. I would think about who was on the plane as it passed overhead. I guess I do the same thing now when I hear a siren and see a fire truck go by. It's been cool being surrounded by friends in the air or on the ground, just about all the time.
So, to say I'm excited about seeing old pals (and we are really old now) is an understatement.