Gunner (1956) by Charles (Chuck) Pauler
I joined the squadron in March 1956 while deployed at Iwakuni, Japan. I was an eighteen-year-old kid, fresh out of ATA school. After only three weeks of joining the squadron, Chief Astle asked me if I was ready to fly as a crewman. This was an easy question to answer. As a boy growing up during World War II, I watched footage of aircraft flying bombing missions, and I was particularly interested in being an aerial gunner. Not only was I ready, but I was also willing, eager, and excited about the opportunity to fly.
Soon thereafter I joined Crew 5 and on my second TAC hop, the second ordnanceman, Joe Ferrara, became sick and could not make the flight. I was told by A03, Raymond Wheeler, that I would replace Joe in the upper deck turret. I could hardly believe my luck. My childhood dream of flying as an aerial gunner was quickly becoming a reality. My eagerness and excitement were compounded.
Approximately ten minutes before we got on station, Ray gave me a quick checkout on the operation of the fifty-caliber machine gun turret. It was about an hour on station when we were buzzed by a Russian MIG 15 or 17, passing on our starboard wing.
As a new and inexperienced crewman, I started to position the guns to the starboard side.
Movement of the guns could be felt throughout the aircraft. As a result, the PPC came over the intercom, shouting, "Pauler, are you moving the guns?!" "Yes, sir," I replied. He shouted back at me, "Don't move! Freeze! You are going to get us all killed!"
Later, I learned that the guns had become obsolete due to air-to-air missiles the soviets had acquired. The guns were removed after the 1956 deployment.