F-4E Phantom; Vietnam era fighter bomber
I enlisted into the USAF in May of 1966 and trained as a Nuclear Weapons Tech (AFSC 463X0) at Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado. After tech school I recieved orders sending me to Bitburg Air Base, W. Germany. I arrived in Bitburg in January of 1967 and I was there until January of 1970. Bitburg Air Base was a large USAFE base composed of the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing flying the F4E Phantom in three fighter squadrons, 22nd 23rd and 53rd. The base was also home to the 525th FIS flying the F-102 Delta Dagger. You can see the unit patchw in the preceding photo. The F-4E Phantom was the main fighter-bomber of the USAF during last half of the 60's used extensively in Vietnam. It was deployed against the Soviet Union in Germany keeping the commies from a military incursion into Western Europe. The F4E Phantom on alert 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the TM-76 Mace
Missile in silos were nuclear forces deployed by the United States Air Forces in Europe and the 36th TFW at Bitburg.
After graduating from Nuclear Weapons School at Lowry AFB in Denver, I was assigned to the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing, 336th Munitions Maintenance Squadron at Bitburg. After a brief four months with the 71st TMS as a Tech 5 on a lauch crew, I transferred to the Nuclear Weapons Depot known as the "500 Area" just north of the flight-line. This maintenance and storage facility was packed with all kinds of ordinance; nuclear, conventional, etc. The 500 Area was a highly secure facility surrounded by two 10' razor topped fences and patroled by USAF Security Police, 24-7. The 336th maintained all the nuclear weapons at Bitburg; changing time sensitive components, preping the bombs to and from the flight line and insuring that they would work if necessary. We would inspect the bombs before and after they were taken to the flight line. The nuclear weapons went to the Victor Alert(VA) area where F-4's were kept on alert 24-7. We also had to ensure that there was a working PAL box plugged into the Nuc so that the weapon could be unlocked before flight. We maintained several different types kinds of nuclear bombs at Bitburg; the B28, B43, B57 and B61 plus the W54 warhead. You can see these weapons at these web sites:
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1036 for the B28
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B43_nuclear_bomb for the B43
www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/systems/b61.htm for the B61
For a chart of all US Nuclear Weapons see:
If you served in the USAF as a nuclear weapons specialist, 463X0, take a look at this site. You might find some old friends at
Bitburg Air Base is now closed and turned over to the German government as a civilian airport. The Soviet Union is no longer in existence. The 36th TFW was dissolved and most of those nuclear weapons have been decommissioned. I think we won. President Reagan was right,"Peace through Strength" works.
For all you spineless liberals out there one fact remains, deterrence works. He who has the biggest guns wins. Appeasement never wins. Peace through strength is a fact jack. Those F4's and Mace Missiles with nuclear weapons was something the Soviets did not want to face in Western Europe.
The F-4 Phantom is now retired, and so am I. Rest easy Phantom, you did a great job!