This week 31 years ago, Dec 1989, the members of the 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron held their inactivation ceremony after 47 years of service with the Air Force, for today’s Friday Flashback we recognize this with a look back at a beginning and a end at the 318th FIS in the final years of the squadrons existence.
After visiting 1987 McChord last week, we will jump back in the time machine, spin the dials. After the smoke clears, we are still at McChord.
As you leave the machine, there is a roar overhead, as you look skyward, you spot two sleek delta winged fighters are escorting a twin tailed fighter. After that pass, the roaring returns, this time the roles have been reversed. You see that single twin tailed fighter, a F-15 Eagle, is now escorting two F-106 Delta Darts. Now you know what day it is, June 10, 1983 the day the 318th FIS received their first F-15 replacing the squadrons longtime mount – the F-106 Delta Dart.
In the associated picture, we see the first F-15, a “family model” s/n 76-0141 a few days after her arrival at McChord paving the way for 20 additional Eagles destined for McChord. Next to this aircraft, we see what will be the Squadrons last active F-106, s/n 59-0141 – another “141” paying homage to the hosts of the base the C-141 equipped 62 MAW)? If that though crossed your mind, reading the bold statement “PROTECTORS OF MAC” painted on the side of the squadrons alert barns will quickly kill that thought!
For the next few months more Eagle tails would appear on the ramps of McChord AFB as some of the “Starburst-less” F-106’s left the Base for the final time off for new assignments in the freezing climates of North Dakota, Michigan or New York. Other “Sixes”, designated for retirement, went the way of many seniors, off to the warm weather of Arizona.
On November 4, 1983, there was just one Six on the ramp, s/n 59-0141, this day would be her last at McChord after 17 years with the squadron. Every F-106 would be flown by a Green Dragon pilot, 141’s last flight was no different. This would also be the last day at the base for the man behind the controls, Lt. Col. Peter Bracci, at the end of this flight he would start a new assignment at Davis-Monthan, taking command of the alert detachment of one of the benefactors of the 318th F-15 conversion, the 5th FIS, the North Dakota based F-106 Squadron.
Similar to Lt Col Bracci, about two-thirds of the squadron, including the Commander, Lt Col Gamble, would leave to other assignments in the F-106s or other aircraft. These members would be replaced by trained F-15 personnel the remaining one-third of the would retrain into the F-15.
By the end of the day “141” was back among friends, in a group of 20 F-106’s stored in the boneyard taking a well-deserved rest.