Ex-USAF pilot remembers his time during duty

In 3 years of Doug Brower’s service at the Galena Airforce Base, Alaska, the most exciting experience was to be scrambled to intercept a Soviet Tu-16 nicknamed Badger. He along with Darrel Hunt, his Weapons Systems Office flew F-4Es who protected United States borders during the 70s remember the days of cold war. Doug Brower now a civilian Cargo Pilot, agreed to share with Defence Aviation his experiences as a fighter pilot during his service in Alaska.

Brower says “We would sit 5 minute (be airborne 5 minutes after the klaxon sounded) interceptor alert in Galena and King Salmon, Alaska, We would sit on alert for 8 days every 5 weeks or so. And would intercept Soviet bombers that would test our borders north of the Arctic Circle”.

The Soviets would test the United States Airforce response time and capabilities by deliberately crossing the United States airspace. During the days of F-4 the Soviets would send the Tu-16 Badgers and when the F-15s replaced the F-4s the Soviets would send Tu-95 Bears. Sometimes they just scrambled on airlines whose flight plan was delayed.

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II was a tandem two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their respective air wings.

The Tupolev Tu-95 Bear was a large, four-engine turboprop-powered strategic bomber and missile platform. First flown in 1952, the Tu-95 entered service with the former Soviet Union in 1956 and is expected to serve the Russian Air Force until at least 2040. The Tupolev Tu-16 Badger was a twin-engine jet bomber used by the Soviet Union. It has flown for more than 50 years, and the Chinese license-built Xian H-6 remains in service with the Chinese air force.

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  • G Underwood

    Hello Doug, I was a crew chief for one year at Galena AK. It was May of 1979 to May of 1980. Although it was later than your tour we still had F-4 Phantoms there. It was the most exciting assignment of my 20 year career. Great Memories! Retired MSgt. USAF

  • John H Roca

    To my fellow F 4 maintainers / fixers i also was an F 4 crewchief, and i was stationed out of osan air base south korea 1981 -1982 what a privelage it was to work on this jet and serve with all these great men and woman in as much as it was to maintain the fabulous F 4 phantom and support the mission was truely an exciting assignment . The memories were great ! Former Sgt JHR

  • Paul McNamara

    Stationed at Galena Jan 67 to Jan 68 as a cop. Best year for an 18 year old. We had F-102’s and F-106’s stationed there at the time. Fondly remember the Wholecheese family from the village.
    Msgt retired

  • Rex Bagley

    Stationed at Galena from June 72 to June 73. I controlled the food supply for the Chow Hall.

  • Doug Brower

    Hi, it looks like we crossed paths as I pulled alert in Galena from May 78 thru Sep 81. Being in Alaska was the best of my USAF career! Getting to fly the F-4 & serve w/the best people in the AF, like you, was impossible to top. I see you wrote this 2 years ago, sorry I didn’t see it then..hope you still check this site. Take care. Cheers…Mush

    • Bob Richards

      I was a Weapons mechanic with the 389TFS in Nov.1965, when we pulled 90-day TDY at ELM and GAL. We had F-4C’s from Holloman AFB,NM….we were a test mission to see if the F-4’s could replace the F-106, in an ADC role in AK. The rest is history, as they say……..

    • Paul Shearer

      Doug, I was at Galena 78-79. Had a great time other than missing family. Don’t remember a lot of the pilots, Cassio and DeBellvue names come to mind. Remember one pilot super glued the zipper on another ones g suit. Remember Cassio and a front seater flew an F-4 up thru the trees. Remember a British exchange pilot. Don’t know how it happened, but we all seem to have gotten old.

  • Paul Shearer

    Gary, Just Stumbled across your post. If you were there with Tsgt Paul Shearer, Sgt Bob Cyr, SSgt Larry Cato , The dates would have been 78-79.
    I remember Bob Cyr showing you a picture of his son sitting in a lazy boy and asking you to guess what he paid for the lazy boy. Your reply was classic, You bought your children! Bob got fighting mad. We had great fun being the The Animals. Contact me at [email protected]. Cmsgt Ret Paul Shearer