John (Jay) F. Earnshaw, Jr. (aka Big John)


Been there; done that; got the T-Shirt!

After OCS I was sent to Chanute TTC as a student Maint Officer and was retained there as an instructor in the Shops and Systems Branch for the AMO Course. Next, after becoming a newly-minted Maint Officer, the U.S. Air Force sent me to Francis E. Warren AFB here in Cheyenne, WY! I was turned into a Missile Launch Control Officer for a 4-year tour. Here I met my dear wife Bobbi and we were married and began a happy marriage that has lasted 39 years come November.

At the end of that tour, we went across the ridge West of Cheyenne to the University of Wyoming in Laramie under the AFIT program where I earned a BS in Business Administration. Then it was on to Myrtle Beach AFB with the A7D’s tactical squadrons there. Then I went to Kwang-Ju, Korea as a Maint Officer with the EC121T Super Constellations and back and forth to the FOL at Korat RTAFB with them.

When that tour was over we went back to A7’s at Myrtle Beach and the Aircraft Maint Staff Officer Course at Chanute. From there we were sent back to Myrtle Beach and TDY to Korat RTAFB (AGAIN!), this time as FMS Commander supporting A7’s. (Are you confused? Well, you can imagine how confusing it was to the ones who lived that mess!)

It’s a shame that some of the most exciting moments that made the yo-yo existence worthwhile were when we were getting shot at by the enemy while I was flying as observer on the 121’s as they orbited Cambodia and the Gulf Of Tonkin. As it wasn’t personal and they missed us, I didn’t feel individually threatened! However, have you ever done a wing-over evasive maneuver in a 121T? Now, that’s a whole ‘nother experience!

They didn’t have any 2-seater A7’s in the operational squadrons so I couldn’t go with them as an observer! We felt lucky…they were tough birds and we only lost one while the unit was there and that was due to an engine malfunction caused by excessive g-loads on the center main bearing, causing subsequent loss of oil pressure leading to engine failure.

I collected some medals and a second passover to O-4 while serving out of the ZI. Mustering out at Myrtle Beach, Bobbi and I decided to return to Cheyenne. Our 5 kids were born in this area, we had met here (she, an AF Nurse, and me, the Launch Control Operator), and it seemed the right place to settle down. To protect the retirement, I re-enlisted as a SSgt. and over the next 6 ½ years was promoted twice.

I then retired in 1980 as a MSgt/Captain under Title 10 of the USC. Surprised them at SAC HQ when they said I couldn’t retire as I’d not put in the required time to do so as a MSgt. I said “Bet me!” and they said “Oh…OK.” They offered me E-8 if I’d stay on as a Training Supervisor but I was smart for a change and turned it down!

Upon my Air Force retirement I worked in the following areas: as a Deputy Sheriff; Flight Instructor; Insurance Professional; returned to the University of Wyoming and earned a B.A. degree in Elementary Education; was a charter and mountain flying pilot; and I’ve just finished 10 years working for the USPS as a Rural Mail Carrier. Boy! If you ever wanted to see an outfit poorly run, the USPS was the sine qua non of all poorly run outfits. The AF was aces compared to the USPS.

I got fed up with them in July of 2002 and quit. No retired pay from them but if I’d stayed much longer it would have killed me and you can’t spend retired pay from the grave! I am now an official geezer and Social Security recipient…you guys who are still contributing to SS, keep up the good work!

Bobbi has now retired from AF CS and is coming along to SA in May. On the way there we’re going to the NE and SE, visiting friends and relatives, and Galveston where we embark on a 5-day cruise to the Western Caribbean. We promise to be in SA on time, though.