The staff guys from our wing tactics’ shop had been sent a couple of weeks ahead to coordinate and assist with the planning. A few days prior to our deployment, we received the mission package and we began mission planning. I was really excited. “I’m going to fly Red Flag!” At the time, B-52 crews included a gunner to operate the 20 mm Gatling cannon [H-models; quad .50 caliber machine guns on G-models]. My gunner and I meticulously reviewed all threat radars, enemy aircraft characteristics, and analyzed possible contingencies like, “if I’m wounded, push this button to keep the jammers active, etc.” and “There’s no way we’re going to allow our aircraft to be shot down.”
We proceeded with the bomb run [think of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries; or Eye of the Tiger by Survivor depending on your musical preferences]
Suddenly my brain woke from what seemed to be a mental fog … I had a clear vision of what was going on… I had complied with every procedure called for in such a tactical operation and I did not even realize that I had done it – the value of training over and over. I could not believe I was getting paid to have this much fun!!! Even Bill Gates cannot buy such a moment… My gunner high-fived me as we completed our bomb run and began our exit from low-level altitude.
Next morning at debriefing, the staff pukes from our tactics division informed us that our aircraft had been shot down by OPFOR fighters as we climbed out of low level.
“BULL__” I said. “There was nothing there.”