"...yeah, the Wingies sent word it's a max effort." Harvey Jensen was explaining.
I asked, "Max effort?" Then, "I had tower duty, Harv...missed the skipper's pre-briefing."
"It's Navy carrier planes, the Air Force, the Brits, South Afs, Aussies...and us. Everybody."
I said, "Holy cats. Where we goin'?"
"All I know is our whole shebang, both squadrons here, we're all flying over to Suwon. Combined effort with all those guys. So bring your toothbrush... gonna be gone three days at least."
And we were. At flank speed we were packed, airborne headed west in four, twelve-plane divisions, across South Korea to K-13. We landed, chowed down, sacked out a few hours, then up, strategy briefed, strapped into our jets climbing north, high up and far beyond the 'Main Line of Resistance', the nasty, attention-getting, 'm-l-r'.
Our over-heavy ordnance loads slowed us to the point of staggering around the sky. Or so it seemed. We orbited like forty eight tiny crosses, keeping a wary eye, both as to our positions within the formation as well as the never-ending, taut, vision-sweeps across our cockpit instrument panels and controls. We must have circled in that frigid North Korean air nine hundred times...felt like twice as many. Hey, if we didn't get on-target soon we'd run out of gas. If we ran out of gas, we'd have to land in enemy territory. And those gooks down there would be very hesitant about refilling our planes with jet fuel and letting us take off again. Or if we crash-landed, sprinted on the ground all the way back to South Korea, I'll just bet President Truman could hardly wait to give a brand new Grumman jet to every one of us skivvy-honchos and then send us all back up here.
This reverie of mind-wandering silliness while circling was shockingly interrupted when suddenly all hell broke loose. Our flight commander, Col. Robertshaw, was radioing us into tight formations. The Air Force F-86 Saber jets had cleared the area of enemy Migs and were patrolling the heavens far above us. The slow orbiting and waiting...waiting, was gone. It was now our turn...tense time...and we were aggressively poised to hurtle down into the flagitious insanity of fire, smoke, and hell that we could see below. And my flight mates, as well as myself, were already getting the sweats. Big time.