I’ve never puked in the Buff except once.
The SAC Bomb Comp ’89. This was the first (and I believe only) time they had the Best Gunner in SAC (Maynard H “Snuffy” Smith) trophy at the competition. My crew was selected that year and I was the gunner. I was nervous as hell because it was the first time our crew competed and we were going to have an evaluator gunner on board for our conventional sortie to grade my performance. I decided to not to eat before the flight because I knew the A/C and Co were going get aggressive. Instead, I dragged along a thermos full of coffee…caffeine can be a blessing and a curse. After crawling across half the US to get to the UTTR, I swallow a cup of coffee, get ready for the FIE, and take a look over my shoulder to see if the evaluator is ready. My evaluator is a seasoned gunner who just kind gives me the nod to proceed. I’m thinkin’ it’s just my luck to draw the hard-ass for this flight. Well, there’s nothing I can do about now. So I cinch down my harness, slip the mask into place, and reached over to smack my EW on the helmet.
We’re not even into the UTTR when the flying tennis courts start spiking us. The pilot starts making the descent into the area when F-15s call fights on. My EWs jamming trons and dumpin’ chaff like it’s a buy one get 100 free sale. The pilot got the nose down looking for the hard deck while the EW calls maneuvers. We’re fairly nose to nose with the Eagle’s and the pilots not getting as aggressive as I thought he would. Then the F-15s swing aft and we’re nearing bottom.
It’s my turn in the barrel…no pun intended. I’ve got one bandit moving off and the other closing. I lock up the one closing and starting calling for breaks followed shortly by bend its. Now the pilot’s throwing the aircraft all over the sky, loading it up then dumping it. My heart pounding and stomach is starting to protest that cup of coffee from earlier. The eagle finally closes to my max range…Fox 4: 1200 yards, Fox 4: 1000 yards, Fox 4: 800 yards…Break Left and Bend It. We go through this about 3 times before the F-15 suddenly calls knock it off on the last engagement. By this point, I’m 6 shades of green and ready to blow. I reach into my pocket and pull out the trusty barf sack envelope. I launched a perfect replica of a cup of coffee with a little foam into the sack. Well there goes the competition; I’m “incapacitated” so I blew my score.
So you might be asking what’s so funny about this episode. When I rolled my head around to admit my defeat to the evaluator and what do I see? The evaluator’s got his head in a sack and still heaving with 2 extra sacks tied up next to feet. He’s been puking from our initial descent and hadn’t “evaluated” anything. We got a perfect score. My sack disappeared into my helmet bag…never to be seen again.
Props to Billy, Rusty, and Brian – we’re only ones to win the Snuffy.