A long time ago back in Atwater, CA on Castle AFB, (now closed and largely flattened) I used to spend my summers from my 8th grade and 9th grade summers at the Officer’s Club Pool. One of the lifeguards for both years was Michael J. Noret. I think his dad had been in the Air Force, too. I remember at the time Michael married an Air Force Tech Sgt.
The first you’ve already read in the headline above: War Is The Nature Of All Men, Peace Time Is Only The Resting Period.
Castle AFB, by it’s nature, was a training base for B-52 pilots like my Dad and KC-135 Tanker pilots. We were in SAC–The Strategic Air Command–really, the heart of the USAF. The pilots trained at Castle went to various bases around the world where they would later be on Alert Crews–ready at the sound of a Klaxon horn and these cool little red radios, to be in their planes within 13 minutes and off the ground headed for their strategic targets around the world. To this day, Dad still can’t tell me where his primaries were. It’s still Classified.
But the reason I explained so my about SAC was this, their motto–Peace Is Our Profession. It was always plastered across the base front gate signs at every SAC base I ever went on.
And why is Michael J. Noret so important to this story? Simple. In addition to the first phrase: War is the nature of all men, peace time is only the resting period, Mike took the SAC slogan to a new level by adding a corollary. His was this: SAC–Peace is our profession, AND WAR IS HOW WE KEEP IT.
The irony of all this is that with the ending of The Cold War, SAC is no more. B-52s don’t sit out on the Christmas Trees at places like KI Sawyer AFB, and people don’t get lucky enough to spend three-to-six months of their lives TDY in Atwater. The BRAC commissions of the 1990s have devastated the local economies around the two SAC bases where I lived at least three times in my life.
But B-52s out of Barksdale AFB in “Sleaze-port,” LA still fly, and from Google Earth or the photo above, you can look at the base and see their Christmas Tree runway–it’s at the top of the pic above. (Alert aircraft were positioned on it so all they had to do was taxi and be on their way.) While you’re at it, zoom up to KI Sawyer in Gwinn, MI. The planes are gone, but the memories of this ghost town, well, area that’s trying to find new life, live on.
Thanks for all the things you taught me about life guarding Mike.
- California’s Castle Air Force Base Learns a Hard Lesson in Reinvention (dailyfinance.com)
- Cleaning Up the Toxic Legacy of Closed Military Bases (dailyfinance.com)
- Bombs Away: Afghan Air War Peaks With 1,000 Strikes in October (wired.com)