Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. -George Santayana
History is an ongoing process. We have begun to record as best as we can remember some of the things that have happend in the Ammo Community. But it does not stop with what we have here. Please submit your stories and pictures for inclusion here. If you do not have the capability to scan a picture, send it to me and I will return it to you within 14 days of receipt. If you have an email address I will also send you a copy of your picture in JPG format.
Did you know the first ammo troops over in China, about 800 B.C. were looking for an elixer to extend life when they came across the formula to make black powder? A couple of ammo troops masquerading as monks, Roger Bacon and a German guy named Berthold Schwartz were the next ones to advance ammo on this planet. As you may recall Bacon is credited with making gunpowder. It was Schwartz though who put it to practical use to propel things through the air. Then as now the guys in the dump were held with great suspicion and it took hundreds more years till one of our more famous ammo bretheren developed dynamite. Alfred Noble, you may remember him. Now us ammo troops have a much coveted prize named after this famous ammo troop. It took hundreds of years though to develop the level of destruction that made ammo an indespensable force in any modern military. So stay tuned for more ammo in general and more specifics about how ammo developed in the Air Force.
Click here for a short trip to Bomb U.
Here are some recollections from Joe Wata. The consensus of opinion is that Joe is the Dean of Air Force Ammo Chiefs. His story goes back to the very start of the Air Force munitions career field. Today we are 2WOs; before that 461s, 465s, 316s; and before that...well here is what Joe has to tell us:
Military Occupational Skill (MOS)
MOS 505V was given to graduates of Primary Armament School. Of the 545 hrs of the course, 112 were allocated to Bombs, Rockets and Associated Equipment.48 hours covered Ammunition Supply Point, Bomb Handling Equip and Destruction of Ammunition. 59 hrs for Shop fundamentals and Principles of Explosives. The remainder was allocated to Hand & shoulder Weapons, Automatic Weapons, Gunsight, Guncameras, Etc. When you graduated, you could be assigned to a number of MOSs dealing with munitions or weapons.or even aircraft armament, which I believe was covered under the MOS 911.
In my case, upon graduation in Jan 49, I was sent as a 505V to the 3rd Air Ammunition Supply Sq, East Kelly AFB, TX.
MOS 901 Ammunition Handler obtained this MOS after attending school at the 86th AD, East Kelly AFB, TX and the 505V was removed.
MOS 949 Toxic Gas Handler - obtained this as a secondary MOS after attending school at the 86th AD, East Kelly AFB, TX
In April 1950, Alaskan Air Cmd started converting everyone from the old MOS to the AFSC, i.e., MOS 901 to AFSC 46130. The orders stated that the MOS would be retained as the primary specialty until full implementation of the Career Program Over the years, took APTs and progressed from 3 level to 7 level in the 461 career field.
In October 1958 , I was given a duty AFSC of 46180 and held it until re-assigned in 1959.
In July 1960, SAC started converting 461,s to 462,s. the primary AFSC remained 461 and the control AFSC became 462. The authority for this was SAC Programming Plan 15-60 and Hq, SAC Msg DPDP 53660, 15 Jun 60.
During Jan 1961, the change from 46170 to 46270 began. All 461s that were assigned to SAC Aviation Depot Squadrons (the bomb dump also came under this unit) except for one or two that were assigned to the supply section were converted to the 462 career field. Note.when this occurred, the APT for people in the 461 field converting to 462 was waived by Hq, USAF and SAC.
NOTE: When I was initially assigned to the 3rd Ammo, our officers were US Army Ordnance Corp. They were replaced in July 49 by AF Officers.
BOMB STORAGE AT FREEDOM HILL, DANANG, APRIL 27,1969. EXPLOSIONS LASTED IN EXCESS OF 17 HOURS, INCLUDING MORE THAN 282 REVETMENTS WITH EXCESS OF 500,000 LBS. EXPLOSIVE WEIGHT EACH WITH MANY MUNITIONS STANDING OUTSIDE THE REVETMENTS. I WAS THERE AND TOOK A FEW PHOTOS OF WHICH THIS IS ONE. 22 MARINE AMMO MEN DIED THAT DAY. ALL THE AIR FORCE AMMO TROOPS WERE ABLE TO GET OUT. MOST BUILDINGS ON BASE WERE EITHER DAMAGED OR DESTROYED. WHAT A DAY. IYAAYAS. DON MAYO
The link below further supports much of what Joe has said. This is a backround paper done by Richard Bussel while attending the Senior NCO Academy. Just click on the link below. Also note you need to have Adobe Acrobat to read this. Adobe Acrobat is a free download. Go to Download.com to get a free download.
Rick Bussel's Senior NCO Academy Background Paper On Developments in the Munitions Career Field.
We learned a little more of our history thanks in part to Red Hess:
Subject: RE: Ammo Roots
Hell, Billy delivered AMMO to Orville and Wilbur!
Ski (Jim Shelingowski)
I enlisted in the Air Force in Jan 1961 and was given the AFSC of 46130 when I graduated from Tech School at Lowery in July, '61....I'm still in AMMO at Wright Pat....Love it IYAAYAS....
I agree with you, the oldest living Chief should be President Pro Tem of the
Association. We need to find that individual. The onliest one I know who
might qualify with a DOR of pre-61, is Chief Wata.
I agree, and think you are on to something here. His BIO does match my research. Although I do not think he was the first AMMO chief (of witch I think they are two) he may well be the first ALL AMMO Chief.
Hope this produces some answers
Tolly (Tolly Lawherne)
Seems to me there was a Chief Smith at the AMMO Area at Cannon AFB when I
got there in January 1964. Chief Smith had part of one of his fingers
missing. The OIC was a CWO4 Varner.
Don't know if Chief Smith qualifies as the first AMMO Chief.
John (John Matthews)
Supergrades (E-8 and E-9) did not come into existence until about 1958. Consequently, the first Ammo Chief could not have existed as a chief much earlier than that. I found a web site last night with some ammo troops from the Chize Ammo Depot we had in Chize, France. These guys date back to about 1957. I have contacted the four that were listed. Hope they can shed some more light on Ammo History. I will add another page to our web site to celebrate our history. Another link you may find interesting: http://www.militaryconnections.com/mc_index.asp?lg=1
Rich (Rich McVey)
Just have one question I'd like to interject into this discussion. I came
into the AF in 1963 and went through AMMO school at Lowry AFB for, what I
thought, was a 16 week course (arrived in mid-Sep and graduated in Jan 64).
I went to Cannon AFB as a 461x0 in 1964. How is it that the AFSC was split
out in 1968, when I was in the P.I. doing AMMO work for 13th Air Force?
I'll recheck my personnel records but I believe that I was a 461x0 when I
graduated from tech school.
Just thought I'd add my 2 cents worth. Nice hearing from you guys again.
John (John Matthews)
Rich - your right. John - your right. I was a 461derfull in 1960 and I worked for a CWO Cook. There never was a "split" in the AFSC in 1968. There were at times oppurtunities for 461's to go into nukes (463), missiles, FK, and even loading, but the 461 core AFSC never split. Often, 461's were used (abused) by putting them on load crews or the other "related" fields when those related fields cried alot and said they needed help. You had a primary AFSC 461 and a duty AFSC 462 or what ever. If you liked it, you could apply to offically crosstrain. 461's were also given special experience identifiers - How many of you remember "Technical Escort"? These were 461's who escorted chemical weapons whilst enroute by surface or air shipment. Think back and some may remember that at one time, Ogden was the center of the ammo universe and had a depot system called the Airmunitions Wing with satelite major depots in PACAF (Kadena) USAFE (Morbach) UK (Welford) North Africa and minor depots all over the world. We also had "Tactical Dept Squadrons" with only one left to my knowledge. At one time we had so many bomb dumps in the UK that we called it Americas' largest aircraft carrier!
MK-1 (Mark Madamba)
Click here for a more in-depth history of the Shell and Flame
Although I'm not near as old as most of you, I did hold the escort SEI until 1987 as MK-1 mentioned. As a History major I put this together to jar your memories. I tried to put exact dates to changes as much as possible but some of the phase outs occurred over months not exact dates such as the 316 phase out. As for the term 461 it was created officially on 29 Aug 1950. Have a look and see if it matches what you remember.
As far as who was the first AMMO Chief I have not been able to ferret this out yet but believe it was actually two at the same time not one and believe both were actually loaders or EOD before AMMO.
1940S AMMUNITION SPECIALIST. ARMY MOS 55B
PEOPLE WHO DID NOT PASS THE ARMY AMMUNITION COURSE
WERE GIVEN A DESIGNATION OF 55A, AMMUNITION APPRENTICE
1947 SEPTEMBER 17TH. THE NEW AIR FORCE DROPPED THE B
SUFFIX, AND MADE THE ARMY AMMUNITION MOS INTO A FIVE
DIGIT A.F. CODE LIKE WE HAVE TODAY. THE NEW A.F.
DESIGNATION WAS 50501, ARMAMENT TECHNICIAN
THE NEW 50501 AIRMAN WAS QUALIFIED IN THE FOLLOWING
AMMUNITION SUPPLY TECHNICIAN
TOXIC GAS HANDLER
DECONTAMINATION EQUIPMENT OPERATOR
1950 AUGUST 29TH. AFSC 50501 WAS CHANGED TO 461X0 AND
462X0. THE 461X0 AIRMAN WAS QUALIFIED IN THE
CHEMICAL AGENTS AND PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
ROCKETS AND FUSES
MUNITIONS HANDLING, STORAGE, INSPECTION AND DISPOSAL
1980 AFSC 316XL MISSILE TECHNICIAN CONVERTED TO AFSC 461XO.
1986 AFSC 6450A SUPPLY SYSTEMS CONVETED TO AFSC 465X0.
1993 OCTOBER 31ST. AFSC 461X0 AND 465X0 CONVERTED TO 2W0X1
OK, we need a little update here: I joined the AF in Feb 1963 as a 461Xo. I
was stationed in France with 5 other 461's and about 60 462x0's. What I was
told back then by the older troops was that in the 50's, 461's and 462's
flip-flopped career fields. So as you see 461's predate 1968. I'm sure
some of the "OLD timers" can bring you up to date even more on pre-1963.
Thanks for the info/effort.
Subject: RE: Ammo Roots
Rick Bussell and Mike Roylance gave me some historical documents a
number of years ago and here's what I've gleaned from them:
1943: According to a Westover Army Air Base, Mass Ordnance Technical School
report, dated 7 Apr 1943 (source: historical archives at Maxwell or Langley
AFB), ammunition handlers and aircraft armourers are the same MOS.
1949: From the Armament Systems Career Field document dated June 1949
(source: historical archives at Maxwell or Langley AFB): There are 20
Military Occupational Specialties listed including both officer and
enlisted. The chart shows consolidation of the 15 enlisted specialties into
11 Air Force Specialties. MOS-AFS listing shows Airplane Armourer as MOS
911 with a proposed AFSC of 32060; Armament Systems Helper (32000 was
proposed supt AFSC).
1958: From History Munitions, Nuclear Weapons, Munitions Operations
(source: unknown but believed to be from the 3460th TCHTG) AFSC is 46280
1960: AFSC changes to 462X0 but name stays the same
1968: AFSC splits and 461X0 is created as Munitions Maintenance Systems
1980: Merger of 316X1L into 461X0
1986: Creation of AFSC 465X0 incorporating the Supply AFSC 645X0A
1992: AFSC 465X0 and 461X0 merge (memory)
1992: AFSC changed to 2W0X1 (memory)
As for who took care of Ammo? Then as now, Ammo did (source: my own %$#*!
I'm trying to find out when the 461X0 career field was
established and who(m) took care of AMMO before 461s.
Gary (Gary Parker)
A Mk1 Bomb
Recent Input from Mk-1
Ammo Motto - So others may die.
Ammo Bird - Vulture
Ammo Favorite Saying - IYAAYAS
Ammo Flower - Petunia
Ammo Beer - Hamms
Ammo Patron Saint - Elmo (aka Erasmus)
As you can see from the attached e:Mail and several others that I will forward to you, there appears to be a bit of debate and confusion with regard to the origins of Ammo and who the first AMMO Chief was? As you are perhaps the oldest Ammo Chief of whom I am personally aware, perhaps you could shed some
light on the environs of the 1950's and educate some of us youngsters.
From my own understanding, SAC converted all 461's to 462's circa 1959/60 this was at the same time as Armament Electronics (3206?) was merged into the 462x0 world as weapons release, etc. In those days Nuke maintenance were 461x0 Es' or M's for Electrical or Mechanical (they were converted to 331x0 A
(Weapons) or B R/vs) about 1960. Ammo and EOD were the same AFSC i.e. 461X0 (EOD was a lateral (with a shred-out) in that you had to be a 46150 to attend EOD school and there was no 9 level for EOD. Note: the STS for EOD and Ammo was the same document until Feb 1965 when EOD became 464X0). It was also in late 64 or early 65 that 331X0 Weapons Maintenance became 463X0. These changes paved the way for 462's and 463's to crosstrain to EOD.
I think Tolly Lawhorn is probably most correct, that the first Ammo Chief would have in reality been a 462 (recently converted) or an EOD 461X0. From my memory the 1st Ammo Chief I knew in 1962 was Wilbur Barrentine at Little Rock. At the time he was a 462X0 but had been converted in the SAC mass conversion (he came in service about 1940 and died on active duty about 1970. He made Chief on the 1st possibly 2nd Chiefs cycle 1959/60. A SAC loading trophy is named in his memory). It is also likely that some of the old-time EOD guys would have been on the 1st Chiefs List.
Any light you can shed on this subject will be greatly appreciated. Also, if you updated us on your bio, you may have the honors.
For Ted Harkins. Ted as the oldest EOD Chief in my address book, maybe you can help resolve this confusion in preperation for an Ammo Chiefs Reunion.
That's how I remember it! Of course before airplanes & baloons there was cannons & cannon balls, but I don't remember that! But you're right about the first being a loader or EOD because back then you didn't automatically go for a 7 level. There had to be a slot before you could test for 7 level. 9 levels were invented with the super grades. Since the loaders were closer to the airplane and thus closer to the commander they had his ear. (stripes and key positions were passed out by the sqd CO with concurrance by the wing king) EOD was allowed more 7 levels also. As a result, they had more 7 levels and they would put their overages out in the bomb dump and sucked up all the slots. To rub salt in the wound in the late 50's and very early 60's you could have a loader in charge of the bomb dump getting pro pay and the working troops (461) not. So when the super grades were made, the loaders, and on occasion EOD, had the slot in the bomb dump and thus were the first promoted untill regular ammo cought up.
AMMO Mecca at Hill AFB was: "Ogden Ordnance Air Materiel Area" or "HQ OOAMA". Anyone remember that term?
It was under DSY Division.
Danny (Dan Bridges)
I too worked for DSYA in 1970, mid-shift as a SSgt. I was on shift when we moved into the new building with the floating docks. In fact one of those docks bit me one very stormy, wintery night because someone forgot to lock the dock in place. Ha! Glad the tractor had a roll cage!
Frank (Frank Waterman)
Oh yes, I do. We all prayed to the gods on high at OOAMA.
Tom (Tom Cox)
I guess I'm showing my age.:-) I remember HQ OOAMA clearly. It was drilled nto my head my then TSgt Tom Zima (he was one of my instructors)in late 1972 at Lowry AFB, CO. I believe that might have been one of my block test questions.:-)
Mo. (Howdy Morris)
> I'm not that old...but in 1978, my first duty assignment was with the > 2849th > ABG/DSY...back when we got to were hats that said "AMMO" across the front. > I don't remember the "HQ OOAMA" though, probably way before my time.
> Tim (Timothy Maurer)
You need to talk to Larry DiAmco. He remembers one piece fatigues, brown shoes, Ike jackets, bush jackets with pith helmets (jungle jim hat) and burmuda shorts as regular issue uniforms! I went through ammo school in 1960. Upon arrival at Lowery, (by train from San Antone)we were seated in a large room. A sergeant walked in and said you all can be a 461,462 or a nuke puke. Then he told us how long each tech school would be. We all quickly did the math and figured a 461 gets to go home for Christmas because they graduate before the others. Everyone wanted to be a 461. So the Sergeant made a decision, he said "everone on my left of center are 461's, everyone center are 462's and the rest, right of center are going to be nuke pukes. After a mixture of hurahs and awshits, we began our tech school inprocessing. Been a 461 ever since!
I know Billie Campbell was the 1st AMMO Chief I worked for in 1974 at England AFB.
Wes (Wesley White)
Play your memory tape back, I know that's going to be hard for you
to do in your delicate old age condition. Just kidding!
Anyway, who was the very first AMMO Chief in the career field? Rich McVey had asked me the question and I'm running in to dead ends trying to find an answer for him. Can you help?
Phil (Phil Kennedy)
Prior to the Cuban Crisis in 1962, all 461's that reenlisted automatically
became 462's cause they could draw "Pro" pay..$30.00 extra dollars a
month.....If you remember that was in SAC's heyday and we didn't need AMMO
guys cause we were going to nuke charlie...I was at MacDill during the Cuban
Crisis, EOD ran the bomb dumps there and at Homestead cause they had the
strips...the world wide population of 461's numbered about 200 and all but a
few were in Florida....after all there was only 3 in my graduation class
from tech school...I can't be the only one that started out as a 461 and
remember that...tell's me there are alot of retread's out there....
Ok ya'll can pick this apart anyway you want but this is what I have.
461 and 462 started out as AFSC 46280 Weapons Maint Systems in 1958. In
1960 it was changed to 462X0, same name. It was broken out in 1968 to 461X0
and 462X0. The CEM code was added in 1978 for both. In 1980 the 316X1l
career field was merged into the 461X0. In 1986 the AFSC 465X0 was created
from the Base Supply Systems AFSC 645X0A, Munitions Supply. The new AFSC
2W0 came about as part of McPeaks new AF in 1990-91 time frame. Hope this
|All MAJCOM Munitions Conference
|When Billie still had a little hair
FIGHTIN AIRMEN FROM THE DUMP
Fightin Airmen from the Dump
Fearless men who hump and hump
Ten thousand bombs we'll frag today
To save the ass of the Green Beret
The frag comes down from Ops at noon
We need some bombs we need some soon
The birds are waiting for their load
Let's move them bombs on down the road.
The ten tons roar down Ammo Road
Ten thousand bombs, a heavy load
We gotta get these bombs out quick
Some Green Berets are in deep shit
The bombs are hung and on their way
The Ammo Troups have saved the day
Ten thousand bombs we fragged today
And saved the ass of the Green Beret
Back at home a young wife waits
Her Ammo Troup has met his fate
He dropped a CBU today
While busting ass to save a Green Beret
Put a Flaming Pisspot on my sons chest
Make him one of Ammo's Best
Ten thousand bombs he'll frag someday
To save the ass of the Green Beret.
Abandoned Igloos at what was Hahn AB.
Joe Wata's comments for the M-108 Liftruck.
This was the only vehicle that had a seating facility for crew members...the 2 1'/2 ton job only had one seat next to the driver....the crew either stood or sat on the bed of the truck....the M108 was a swine....when it was cold you could use the built in tool boxes aft of the cab.
|Mike Curran back in Viet Nam