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Hog Log—The Fighter Pilot’s Unexpurgated Journal

 

My Blog gives me an opportunity to rekindle memories of days gone by and highlight, at least for the moment, certain vestiges of the trade that have long since disappeared. My last foray into better times was a virtual visit to that hallowed institution, the Stag Bar.

Today, for those of you who are old enough, I’d ask you to cast your mind back to times before political correctness, woke, and command-level ass covering began to eat away at the warrior mentality. For those who are simply interested in the psyche of the fighter pilot or those who WERE fighter pilots but never had the chance to express themselves in prose or poetry without fear of retribution, I give you, the Hog Log (aka the Doofer Book in some squadrons).

I can’t give you a firm historical reference for emergence of the first Hog Log, but those who were in a position to know advise me that the tradition was gathering pace in the mid-70s and was certainly well known in the 80s. That’s the data reference I’ll use in this article. As the Operations Officer at Det 4 of the 81st Tac Fighter Wing I inaugurated the Detachment’s Hog Log (See the photo) shortly after we began operating at Fliegerhorst Nörvenich, a German fighter base near Cologne. The initial entry was 6th August 1980.

Rules of Engagement for Hog Logs worldwide were similar and relatively simple. Ours read like this:

  • No one is immune to harassment in this volume
  • Entries must be reasonably legible
  • Lies will be tolerated
  • This volume is for the exclusive use of Det 4, 81st Tac Fighter Wing personnel and deployed Hog Drivers
  • Contents of this log are unofficial and will not be released to wives/significant others, full Colonels and above and anyone else without a need to know
  • Finally (and this was the standard for every Hog Log I ever saw) DATE & SIGN YOUR F****NG ENTRY.

It should be apparent from the ROE above that the express purpose of the Hog Log was entertainment. Politics, religion and other potentially explosive issues were scrupulously avoided. As stated in rule number one EVERYONE was fair game and this made for some truly inspiring entries—procedural fumbles, gaffes, and personal buffoonery were all attacked with gusto (and it must be said, normally in good humor). Embarrassing photos and amateur cartoons appeared and were often converted to ‘caption contests’ to maximize humiliation of the subject.

Indiscretions by deployed pilots were commonly highlighted in the Log and but, in keeping with ancient tradition “what happens on TDY (Temporary Duty) stays TDY.” Although this principle has likely altered with the deterioration of the fighter pilot culture, I never knew it to be violated.

I can’t do the Hog Log justice without an example or two, so here are a few that jumped out at me when I went through the Log:

  • We had one pilot (we’ll call him Major ‘S’) who regularly flew with us at Nörvenich. During his spare time, he managed to strike up a ‘relationship’ with a local lady, who, unfortunately, hadn’t aged very well. She was painfully thin with a sallow complexion, stringy hair and a constant expression of despair on her face. Because they were sensitive and caring friends, his fellow fighter pilots named her ‘The Dead Lady’ and Major ‘S’ absorbed vast amounts of flak from them. Undaunted, he continued to pursue her with enthusiasm. In September 1982, one of his squadron mates ‘rewarded’ his persistence with the following Hog Log entry:

Citation to accompany the Award of ‘The Meritorious Servicing Medal’(MSM)

The MSM is awarded to Major ‘S’, whose tireless pursuit of the Rigor Mortis Madonna has subjected him to endless taunts and catcalls from those with better taste. Major’S’s dedication to this thankless task establishes him as ‘The man who discovered a questionable alternative to masturbation,’ and a serious contender for inclusion in the Necrophiliac Hall of Fame.

His efforts reflect little credit upon himself and military aviation in general

Copperhead, 18 Sep 82

  • Flying Buffoonery was lampooned mercilessly in the Hog Log. Mistakes that would otherwise be debriefed confidentially were showcased with abandon—again, no one was court martialed or drummed out of the corps for anecdotes highlighting screwing things up in the air, but the ‘culprits’ were always fair game at the bar. The following 19 March 1982 entry covers a brief lapse (or ‘brain fart’) by one of the deployed flight leads. The potential for international incidents was there, but fortunately did not materialize. In the entry ‘ADIZ’ is the Air Defence Identification Zone—the absolute barrier between West and East Germany. Flying into the ADIZ was strictly prohibited. Here’s ‘Honker’s’ entry”

All goes well during the Close Air Support and flight lead ‘Gambler’ (in a most confident voice) says “Egress; time to go home.” ‘Honker (the wingman) looks at his compass and confirms we are heading 090—East. “Hmmm, I wonder why we’re egressing into the ADIZ?” Honker lets Gambler go until the hair is standing straight up on his head and calls Gambler on FM radio: “Hey Gambler, why are we egressing east?”

-Pregnant Pause-

Gambler comes back “Oh, yeah, I guess we need to head west!”

Remember—in Germany, good guys are west and bad guys are east

  • My final Hog Log sample is relatively mild, but I’m using it for a couple reasons—first, it was one of my better entries and second, the offender in this scenario was a talented, but undistinguished Captain in the 78th Tac Fighter Squadron when it took place. Fast forward 30 years and Mark Welsh had four stars on his epaulets and was Chief of Staff of the US Air Force. (‘Bodine’ – Sir – if you’re reading this, please get in touch)This may be because of his ability to see into the future. Read on.

The 78th has given birth to a new. breed of over-achiever. Picture this: USAFE Stan Eval (a higher headquarters inspection team) is in attendance (trying to think of something to criticize after their first 3 hours here). One of the aforementioned inspectors innocently asks “How many Ops Guidance Letters (OGLs are operational notes to pilots which must be read and initialed when they are produced) have there been this year?”

“We’re up to 82-10”, I answer— “why do you ask?”

With a satanic gleam in his eye, the Stan Eval-er snaps open the OGL book to the sign-off page where Welsh has cleverly initialed up through item 82-16. Red pencil bobbing furiously, he disappears into the sunset.

Give me a break, Mark—tell me what’s going to be written next week, next month, next year—or maybe you could read my palm……or check out your crystal ball.

                           Ladd, 26 March 82

I could never do justice to the vast store of wit and wisdom that filled the Hog Log with just a few examples. If you’re lucky enough to know someone who was flying fighters in the ‘70s. ‘80s and maybe the early ‘90s, buy them a beer, ask them about the Hog Log. You’ll surely have a fascinating couple of hours.

9 Responses to Hog Log—The Fighter Pilot’s Unexpurgated Journal

  1. The Hog Log was the first document devoured at the beginning of each set rotation. I’m sure the Det 4 contains several inscriptions from yours truly right up to “Mission Complete,” and was no doubt the victim of several write ups as well.

    My favorite Det 4 event worthy of a Doofer entry: The Buzzards were undergoing a USAFE Tac/Eval in Oct 1987. The host German Air Force used part of the hardened shelter as their wing command post.

    When the German Wing Staff assembles, they set up for the long term. Their entourage includes dedicated conscripted cooks to provide meals. Smelled pretty damned good too.

    So the Bentwaters pilots and staff had a lull in activity and took time to grab a meal. U like our German brethren, we had no fancy furniture. We copped a squat against a wall, mostly outside the command post, and broke open our MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). Roaches and the contents of the MREs would outlive mankind.

    I still remember a particularly skinny captain pilot unsealing the recycled drywall and insulation crackers, then ripping open the foil packet of peanut butter to spread upon said dehydrated biscuit. As he squeezed the foil, a yellowish-orange oily substance began to ooze out of the package with much reluctance. One of the young German cooks passed by the group of us and observed our meal prep. The look on his face was priceless. Half horror, half disgust. He then pleaded in broken English, “please sirs, we have plenty of food. Don’t eat that!”

    • Squeaks
      JaboG31 was a terrific host at Nörvenich. The relationship we had with the Germans was second to none.

  2. Love the web page, and the stories. I was stationed at Torrejon AB from 1979 – 1982. Greatest tour of my AF career. Your web page brought back many great memories of our “Doofer Book”. Like the entries you chronicled, we had a few very creative writers who could reduce FNGs or incompetence to tears if they were thin skinned. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Jack. Delighted you enjoyed the web page–I hope you’ll give the book a try: More of the same, but better!

  3. Aahhh… I have many fond memories of the Hog Log. Thanks for the reminder!
    I was in the 35 TFS in Kunsan Korea in ’77. F4’s that had survived the recent unpleasantness. We had a fantastic Hog Log! For much of my tour were truly blessed with one of the finest Bards of the Log – Roger ‘Dawdlin’ Dabbs. While one of his favorite sayings was ‘There’s a lot to be said for a man with nothing to say’ – he did not always take his own advice. We always looked to him for some daily inspiration – a brief note on the top of the schedule board behind the Duty Desk (white grease pencil on plexiglas). Longer stories, anecdotes went in the log. As it was a remote tour (50 Pilots/WSO’s, 40 Phantoms, 2,500 maintainers, 12,000 feet or runway, and not much else) – there was not a lot of self censorship.
    They still have fighters there (F-16’s) I doubt the ’77 Log is part of the official Base History Archive. I’d like to think that during one of the planned purges – someone disappeared it to their hooch, and it is in a desk somewhere here in the US – hopefully to return in some forum (like here!)

    • Thanks, Rob

      As long as no one meddled,the Hog Logs thrived. A toxic mix of PC and feeble leadership was more than the tradition could bear.

  4. Steve, I saw your interviews on Mover’s YouTube channel and figured I’d order your book. I can’t wait to dive into that thing and relive similar memories. It seems like some of your F-4 assignments starting with the 307th at Homestead and then at the 92nd at Bentwaters had you arriving just around the time I was departing. It was a great time to be a Cold War fighter pilot. Being a post Viet Nam draft dodger (volunteered for an AF pilot slot to get out of reporting for the draft induction), I admire your perseverance to stay in 28 years. But for the short few years I was flying, it was an incredible experience and I managed to stay out of trouble on most occasions. But I had my share of stupid moves that convinced me I shouldn’t stay in and make it a career.

    I have two F-4 photos on my office wall, one being a three ship (I took the pic as #4) on the way to Avon Park surrounded by typical Florida thunder bumpers, and the other being a four ship diamond flyby of the US flag at Bentwaters taken by the base photog for the wing commander’s Christmas card in late 1975. I was on the left wing in that shot. It was posted in the 92 TFS lounge for quite a while so you may have seen it.

    “Mouse” Newman commenting above was at the Kun when I was there in 76-77, and I also knew Roger Dabbs. I remember that one of our pilots rotating back to the states named Greg Durio was selected for a special assignment that had everyone guessing what it could be. It turned out to be one of the first A-10 assignments. He was so disappointed about that because it wasn’t a real fighter. We teased him endlessly about it. I’m sure he changed his mind when he became operational. I’ve seen many interviews with guys who loved it. My only encounter with an A-10 was with a couple that came over for an exercise in Korea. I couldn’t believe how clear and free of background noise their UHF radio transmissions were. I’m sure I would have liked the gun too.

    Anyway, I will get to your book over the next week or two and leave any comments that come to mind. Take care.

    • Hi again, David
      Thanks for ordering the book! I think you’ll enjoy it–looking forward to a debrief.

      Yeah, it sounds like I pitched up at Bentwaters shortly after you departed. I didn’t know Roger Dabbs, “Mouse” Newman, or Greg Durio–I remember flying with guys like Jack Shafer, Fu Flannery, Dorin Balls, Dan Dick, and Galen McPherson–do any of them ring a bell with you? I remember the diamond fly-by shot with the flag. Back when guys could fly formation!
      You’ll see in the book that most of us had an image problem with moving to the Hog, but keep reading–she seduced us all!

      Hope you like the read–if so, I’d be grateful for an Amazon review when you finish.

      Thanks again!

  5. Steve,
    I knew Dorin Balls who was at Reese as an instructor when I went through UPT and at the 92nd at Bentwaters. I believe he and Debby were destined for some staff job after that. Back then we had to call in our crew names and flight particulars to Ops after we taxied out just before takeoff. Dorin was usually flying with a GIB named Rick Aiken. He would call in his crew names as Aiken-Balls. Always got a good laugh.

    I knew Fu Flannery at Homestead in the 307th RTU class I was in. Great guy. He showed up later at Holloman Fighter Lead-In as a newly checked out pilot while I was there as a tactical instructor. He was still the partier I remember at Homestead. Unfortunately he was killed in a car accident coming down the mountain road from Cloudcroft one night after a squadron party. Not a happy time after that.

    I remember Galen McPherson but don’t remember much about any details or much else about him at this point. Its funny how some memories survive and some fade. I remember he was an easy going guy and that’s about it.

    Bentwaters was my first operational assignment. Lots of memories and lots of what I look back on as craziness now. There was something about us post Viet Nam war guys that was very irreverent with a devil may care attitude about a lot of things. I think I only scared my GIB one time when I let down just skimming the water off the coast on the way back home as a single ship. The GIB was having a fit. I looked at the radar altimeter and it showed 35 ft. And if I remember correctly is was only accurate to + or – 50 ft. If we had of hit a bird, it would have been all over. We sat Victor Alert a lot. I actually sat VA at Woodbridge one time but I can’t remember why. My roomate was with the 78th. But it was so much fun for a young fighter pilot during those cold war days. We were treated like royalty wherever we went throughout Europe. Lots of weekend cross countries and hitting the bars. Several trips to Aviano for bombing practice. Great food at amazingly cheap prices back then. We would head up the mountains to ski during winters there, and hit the beaches south of there in the summer. I wish I could wind the clock back and do it all over again.
    Cheers.

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