SURPRISE ATTACK!

by Gene Mechling

I wrote this for the 401st and 366th TFW troops that were stationed at England AFB, Alexandria, Louisiana, from 1952-1955, and later flying the F-86. I thought some of you clowns might get a laugh out of it.

It was the Summer of 1954, the scene was Friday evening after work at the 0 Club. Suddenly we hear the roar of 4-8 engines at very low altitude. We all rushed outside to see Alex being bombed by a couple of B-17s! Not real bombs, but beaucoup rolls of Charmin's finest. There were toilet paper rolls streaming down all over the place. What the hell is going on and WHY? What did we do to deserve this unceremonious dumping on intrepid and 'always innocent' fighter pilots and their illustrious base.

Unbeknownst to all of us, another similar scene had been played out earlier in the day. It appears that there was an early warning radar air defense test going on at Eglin AFB, earlier that morning. Lt.Col. Carroll McElroy's 391st Squadron was on airfield defense at Eglin Field #9, ready to scramble and intercept Lt.Col. John England's 389th Squadron, which was the `attack force' from Alexandria.

The 389ths mission was to get in under the radar and attack the defending 391st Squadron and their base at Eglin #9. The 391st was to intercept them if forewarned by the early warning radar.

The problem was that the 389th got in under the radar okay, but their navigation was a bit off track and they bombed the wrong Eglin auxiliary field with Charmin's finest. The rolls had been stuffed into the speed brake wells of their F-86s and they hit the target right on the nose. But surprise, surprise - and horrors, it was the wrong target! The unsuspecting target was a B-17 drone squadron at Elgin Auxiliary #7. OUCH! The 389th got the `Mickey' on the wrong bunch this time and it backfired big time.

Consequently, it was now payback time! And that's what hit Alex and the 0 Club that afternoon in retaliation. B-17s have a large bomb bay and there were miles of Charmin streaming down when the big B-17 drones came over. Touché big time! The B-17s then calmly turned around and droned back to Eglin without incident. And I'm sure there was more than a few guffaws around the bar at Eglin #7.

The humiliation of it all! To be bombed by unknown and unsuspected BOMBERS, and DRONES no less - that was to much. And John England, our squadron CO and a big ace in World War 2, didn't take lightly to the laughter and the ribbing, particularly from the 391st squadron and another ace, Carroll McElroy. Thus one Squadron Ops officer, the fingered navigator, found gainful employment in another squadron occupation.


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