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Vipers in the Storm
Chapter Review


My daughters' second birthday was 13 September 1990.  I looked at their picture.  What in the world was I thinking of three weeks ago, when I told Colette I wanted to come to the Middle East?  I wrote her about my transfer to the 421st, and I told her how bad I felt about missing the girls' birthday.

Just as I finished the letter, Orlando "Big O" Cisneros came in and asked if I wanted to go running with him and Rounder.  As we passed the 421st, I began to feel sick.  By the time I got back to my room, I could barely stand up.  When Doc Hirsh came by and I described my symptoms, he looked at me and said, "I hate to tell you this, Rosey, but it sounds like you've got amoebic dysentery."  The news was not good.  I would be grounded for a minimum of seven days.

Over the next few days, I spent most of my time on the couch in our living room.  When I was not there, I was in the bathroom.  The dysentery left me extremely weak, but I tried to make it over to the club for at least one meal per day.  Each day crawled by.  If I was not sleeping, I was listening to music, reading, or writing a letter to Colette.  I also spent a lot of time thinking about the events that led me here, about how I was a child when I first decided to be a pilot.


Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) began on 23 April 1983 and lasted an entire year.  I spent the first month of UPT in the classroom, preparing for T-37 training.  I flew my first T-37 sortie on 27 May 1983 with my instructor, Lt. Jerry Corbett.  The T-37 is a fully aerobatic twin-engine jet, accommodating instructor and student side by side.

After completing T-37 training, our class moved up the street to begin training in the T-38.  The Northrup Talon, better known as the White Rocket, is a twin-engine supersonic jet with a top speed of 800 miles per hour and a ceiling of 60,000 feet.  Unlike the T-37, students and instructors in the T-38 sit in tandem, each occupying his own separate cockpit.

Assignment night came a week before graduation and I was selected to remain at Reese AFB as a T-38 instructor pilot.  On 6 April 1984, after a year of intense training, 52 pilots representing Class 84-04 received their air force wings.  My family was in attendance, and it was a special moment for all of us when Colette pinned the wings on my uniform.

In September 1987, after three years as a T-38 instructor pilot, I learned that my follow-on assignment would be in the F-16 Fighting Falcon.  After two months of Lead-In Fighter Training in the AT-38 at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, Colette - now pregnant with our twin daughters, Candice and Kristen - and I arrived at Luke AFB in Phoenix, Arizona.  I was in a class of twelve pilots assigned to the 310th TFTS Top Hats.

Our class hit the flight line the first week of July 1988.  I could not wait to get my hands on the controls of the F-16.  Climbing into the cockpit for the first time was like slipping on a glove.  The fit was perfect.

Candice and Kristen were born on 13 September 1988.  Our class graduated on 1 December, and two months later I was on my way to Kunsan AB, Republic of Korea, for a one-year remote tour.  The first few weeks in country were tough.  I was extremely homesick for Colette and the girls.  But flying the F-16 as a member of the 80th TFS "Headhunters" was the most challenging assignment I had ever had. 

I returned to the United States on 11 February 1990.  After eight weeks of Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and six weeks of F-16 LANTIRN training at Luke AFB, Arizona, Colette, the girls, and I drove through the main gate of Hill AFB, our new home.


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Copyright © 2003 by Keith A. Rosenkranz.  All rights reserved.
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