T-RACK STEPS IN
Rumors immediately began to circulate as to who would become
the next commander of the 421st Black Widows. Duck and I pulled for Lt. Col. Tom Rackley, the 4th TFS operations officer. T-Rack would be perfect for the job, a commander who could light a fire under the troops and provide both discipline and direction.
Another name mentioned was Lt. Col. Jeff Kohler, commander of the 34th TFS Rams. His squadron had been the first to convert to LANTIRN, and the pilots who transferred over from his unit wanted to see him get the job. Being LANTIRN qualified was certainly an advantage for Kohler. Another plus was the fact that many of his pilots were almost finished with LANTIRN school and would be coming over soon to replace a handful of pilots in the
421st. Col. Navarro had a tough decision to make, but either way, he could not lose. Both men were outstanding leaders. And besides, the squadron had only one way to go - up!
Two days passed. On Thursday morning, 18 October, all of the Black Widows were called into the squadron for a special meeting.
"Let me have everyone's attention,"
Lt. Col. Tim Nall began. "Col. Navarro announced this morning that Lt. Col. Tom Rackley will take over as the new squadron commander of the 421st, effective tomorrow."
Our first pilot meeting with T-Rack came in the o'club game room after dinner the following night. Rackley briefed everyone about his background and set goals and expectations for the unit. Talking about living conditions on base,
he promised to purchase a washer and dryer for the squadron in the coming week. Best of all, he told us we would be allowed to go off base. Col. Navarro had worked out a deal that allowed us to use one of the beach resorts along the Persian Gulf.