28 February 1941 – The Republic F-84 Thunderjet was an American turbojet fighter-bomber aircraft. Originating as a 1944 United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) proposal for a “day fighter”, the F-84 first flew in 1946. Although it entered service in 1947, the Thunderjet was plagued by so many structural and engine problems that a 1948
William L. Means
I arrived in Lakenheath while the 494th departed to Aviano. I was shipped down 5 days later and sat in the Squadron Office reading the Dash One for a week and a half. No flying. I was then scheduled for my first flight to go on a 2 ship parts delivery run to Wheelus in an F-100 with my CO LTC Shelby Evans in the back seat. That wakes you up. During the climb out, there was the usual rudder movement and I moved out to see lead immediately remove his mask and light up. OK, this is new to me. I moved in close wing and flew there for a while to get acclimated. The landing and shutdown went perfectly. Even in de-brief, LTC Evans never said a word! HUH.
The next morning I went up on a Dart flight as FNG NUMBER 4. All three ahead of me missed and I absolutely killed the honeycomb dart. Needless to say, I was forever relegated to #4 and told to miss the first round in the future.
That same afternoon I was FNG 4 for the El Utoia range and beginning of the 2nd 30-degree dive bomb run, I experienced AC Generator failure and the option was to land ASAP, so I made the LAST landing at the El Utoia range on Oct 12, 1968. The runway was covered in VERY sharp stones and after recovering to Wheelus, LTC Evans declared no F-100 would ever land there again.
After 6 months in Lakenheath, I was assigned to the AFCENT NATO Weapons meet outside Cologne, Germany. My new Jaguar XK-E was stolen the day before reporting while staying at a hotel in downtown Cologne and I lost my B-4 bag with most of my Blues and jackets. Still, I survived an assigned 18-day Escape & Evasion trek in W. Germany (I must have done something wrong – again). I qualified for FAC duties in Ramstein W. Germany and had FAC duties in Aviano with the Italian Army; with the US Army in “Creek Shot”; with Red Eye training in Baumholder W. Germany; with the British Army in Warminster Plain; and with the 3rd Battalion Duke of Wellington Regiment. I had lots of range duties in The Wash in England.
I still have my 1969 Jaguar XK-E, and had a C-172 for 14 years to commute to work. I’m into boats and had a 57 foot Chris Craft Constellation for 12 years. I retired and downgraded to a 21′ boat. I served on a NASDAQ board of directors and acquired the house my parents built in 1956 thanks to CA’s Proposition 13.
Now fully retired and enjoying it to the fullest!!