James McArdle

McArdleI was born in the Bronx , New York 21 Feb 1939 and attended St Benedicts grade school and St Helena High School, graduating in 1956. I attended New York City College until I quit and enlisted in November 1956. I attended Basic Training at Lackland AFB and tech school at Ft Belvoir, Virginia, while here I met Janet and as they say the rest is history. My first assignment was to Barksdale AFB, LA as a water purification specialist, however, after four months I was reassigned to Reese AFB, Lubbock, Texas. While at Reese I flew back to Maryland and married Janet, by far the smartest move I ever made. Our only child James was born at Reese on 29 Jun 1959. I left for Thule AB, Greenland in May of 61 where I was selected as Airman of the year for the 64th Air Division, ADC. Returning to the states I went to Winston Salem AFS and one month later left for OCS.

After graduation from OCS I was assigned to the Transportation Officers Course at Sheppard AFB, Texas and upon graduation became the Traffic Management Officer and Chief of Transportation in a Materiel Squadron at Orlando AFB, FL. This was pre-Disney and we fell in love with this beautiful little city. I left there in August of ’64 for a hardship assignment as Air Freight Officer at Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico. This was the first overseas tour for Janet and James and we looked forward to three years in one place and the wonderful Caribbean to boot. We had an exciting but short-lived little skirmish in the Dominican Republic which kept us busy in the Air Freight business. Mid way through my tour I was surprised to receive an urgent re-assignment, so in Dec of 65 we made a PCS move to Hickam AFB, HI where I was assigned to the 61st APS and worked as a project officer for Project “Blue Light” moving the entire 25th Infantry Division from Ft Shafter to Viet Nam.

We settled in nicely and of course we loved Hawaii and looked forward to spending the next four years there. The Air Force had other Ideas however, and once more we moved mid-tour (Aug 67) this time to a less exotic locale, Scott AFB IL and Headquarters MAC. Here because of my dual AFSC in Construction Engineering I was placed in charge of the Facilities Branch for all operational facilities in MAC. I developed all construction projects under the Military Construction Program needed by MAC to support the bed-down of the soon to be acquired C-5 aircraft. It was a challenging and rewarding job and I spent nearly as much time on the road as I did at home. I had the opportunity to brief my programs to many people including the JCS, Sec of Defense, House Armed Services Committee, and the Air Force Commander Conference. Needless to say, this was some heady company for a junior Captain but a great experience. December of 69 found us on the move again, once more to the Pacific Islands but this time to Kwajalein Atoll as MAC Liaison Officer to the Army Missile Command at Kwajalein Missile Range. The island is only three miles long and a half mile wide and is only seven feet above sea level. We loved it there and enjoyed working with the Army and Civilian scientists who where developing the Anti Ballistic Missile Defense system that we bargained away during the Salt II talks. Another fascinating job and surrounded by some of the best fishing and diving in the entire world. Paradise at last, but in keeping with the Air Force plan of never allowing me to complete a tour I was told to close my Detachment and report to my new assignment as Station Traffic Officer for the 6th Aerial Port Squadron at Utipao AB Thailand.

We decided to self sponsor Janet and James and they joined me two weeks after I arrived and lived the year in Pattaya Beach a resort community on the Gulf of Siam. They enjoyed their year in Thailand very much and toured a lot of the country including the wild elephant roundup, the sapphire mines, and too many temples (WATs) to count. The 6th Aerial Port included all of the ports in Thailand and at CCK in Taiwan. As station Traffic Officer I was responsible for all these ports. We were also in the process of phasing down in Viet Nam and building up in Cambodia so we worked 14 hours a day 7 days a week for the last 7 months of my tour. I received a line number for Major while in Thailand and decided to start my retirement plans. I dodged a by name requests for assignment to the Special Studies Branch at the Pentagon and another for return to HQ MAC and took an assignment as the Transportation Training Branch Chief at the school house at Sheppard AFB, a four year controlled assignment. I became the principal instructor for Air Transportation in both the Basic Officer and Staff Officer Courses as well as Branch Chief of all the Commercial Transportation Courses. I enjoyed the teaching part of the job to no end but ATC was a bit hard to take, so I requested and received a transfer after only a year at Sheppard and went to Eglin AFB, FL as the Vehicle Operations Officer hoping to coast for my last two years. Needless to say that wasn’t going to happen because we were suddenly thrown into setting up accommodations for and transporting large numbers of Viet Nam refugees as Eglin became a major repatriation center. Shortly after we finished with the Viet Nam refugees we were back in the refugee business this time for Cuban refugees. Finally I retired on 1 Dec 76 to enjoy a life of leisure and fish.

That was short lived as I soon became bored with fishing and performing in local little theater productions and decided I needed to go back to work. In Aug of 77, I went to work at Eglin in Civil Service as a Woodworker in Packaging and Preservation building boxes and crates for government cargo. After 2 years, I went to Hurlburt Fld. where I spent ten years as the Vehicle Operations Officer before returning to Eglin to run the Log Air Operation in 1990. When Log Air shut down in 92, I moved to the Traffic Management Office to take over the Outbound Freight Section. I am currently working as the Chief of Cargo Movement in the newly formed Logistics Readiness Squadron where I will probably stay until I make that final PCS move (Big Dirt Nap). Janet and I will celebrate our 45th Wedding Anniversary this August and we enjoy being grandparents to our only grand-daughter Paige, who just turned 12 years old.

Things I remember most about OCS were… Wall locker drill, standing on the wall, watching “Air Power”, salt tablet drill, Betty Dips, Hot Chocolate, squaring corners, dime size bites, four H club, flushes, missing man Graduation, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the hard work and sacrifices of the wives!


James McArdle was born on 21 February 1939 and died Monday, 28 September 2009, at age 70. He was a resident of Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

James is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.