Florida, here I come!!!

While at Chanute AFB, I received my orders for my first duty station, George AFB in Apple Valley, California. From what I could see it was in the Mojave Desert. Not exactly a nice place, except it was sort of close to Los Angeles. However, there was someone in my class that had gotten Homestead AFB near Miami, Florida and he was from California. He was willing to swap with me and at that time all graduates from Jet Engine Mechanic school were essentially the same, we were able to swap. I believe I got the better of the deal, but I would never hear from him again, so it may have been a good move for him too.

I would arrive at Homestead AFB, which is approximately 30 minutes SOUTH of Miami. Besides a 3 month trip to stay with my sister and brother-in-law in Long Beach, CA, this would be the first time in a much hotter climate than Wisconsin. It was a fun place to be, especially fresh out of high school and single.

I was assigned to the 31st Component Repair Squadron of the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, at the time still operating the F-4E (which used the J79-17). On March 30, 1981, the wing was handed a dual mission: In addition to its operational function, the unit would be responsible for training aircrews in the F-4. In recognition of their mission, the wing was redesignated the 31st Tactical Training Wing. The F-4E was replaced with the F-4C (which used the J79-15).

Here are some stories that I happened to remember after all these years:

Scuba Diving

Seeing the Florida Keys were less than 1/2 hour away, we all decided to take scuba diving lessons. We started at the base pool and while we were diving under the water, someone dove into the pool and hitting Greg Houston in the back and shoving him into the bottom of the pool.

John and Suzi

My best friend for most of the time at Homestead was John Mascella, He joined the Air Force only one day after I did and we were on the same crew. We did a lot of drinking and partying together.

Fort Lauderdale

Homestead is also a short driving distance from Fort Lauderdale. It was a popular place to party, especially during Spring Break. We would mainly hang out at The Candy Store or The Button.

Jet Engine Shop

Coming Soon!!

Flight Line Maintenance

A Saturday I was unlucky enough to be working and needed to replace a CSD on an engine that was still installed in an F-4. While practically bent in half inside the intake, my shop chief screamed into the opening and scaring me half to death.

President Reagan

While I was still new at Homestead AFB, President Reagan had just been elected and wanted to put on a drug and gun presentation at the large hangar on base. Being new I was elected to help set up the display and was surprised when I was asked to help unload an entire semi truck load of marijuana bales and place them as a backdrop on the stage. We realised later that we needed to clean our uniforms so we would not be caught by drug sniffing dogs.

Hurricane Katrina

As Hurricane Katrina looked like it was going to hit land near Homestead, the shop leaders decided to put masking tape on all the windows so they had a better chance of not breaking. Well, the hurricane went south of Florida and we needed to get back to work, so the tape was left on the windows, in the hot Florida sun. After a couple of weeks, I was part of a team with razor blades painfully scrapping off all the tape. It was one of the worst tasks I have had to do,

Saturday Morning Stereos

Usually every Saturday morning it was customary for everyone to open their door and turn up the stereos as loud as possible. With every music type imagineable, it became very chaotic and you couldn't hear what you were listening to.

Marty and Margie Henderson

Marty and Margie were practically my parents while at Homestead. I was there all the time, drinking and eating.

Two Martini Lunches

One day we were called to a meeting in the engine shop and had to be reminded that "when we do our two martini lunch, make sure it is only two". It seemed so weird that here we are working on jet engines that cost millions of dollars, that go in airplanes that cost millions more and it is acceptable to have two alcholic drinks for lunch. Also, that some were abusing that "privledge".

Selling Magazines

One day I was in my barracks rooms alone when two girls knocked on the door selling magazines. Two cutre girls, in short shorts and each sat on a side of me in the bed. Being young, I bought 6 subscriptions for magazines I didn't even need.

Crandon Beach

Crandon Beach was a popular destination on most weekends. I was about a 45 minutes up Useless 1 (US 1) and usually took less time if we were in a hurry. I remember watching the ABC Sports Superstars program there.


At Homestead I was best man for Olin Enzor and John and Suzi Mascella, and then later at Moody, gave away a bride. Funny how you become friends and participate in these huge events in life and then lose track of them.