464th Wing Celebrates Fine Tradition by Boyd L. McLean, SMSgt, USAF retired

The 464th Wing was activated by Tactical Air Command in February 1953 and sent as airlift support to Air Force and Army units in operations from the Carolinas to Southeast Asia. In 1957 the base and wing were reassigned to Tactical Air Command’s Ninth Air Force. The primary mission aircraft C-123 and C-130E proved their capabilities during the Vietnam era.

The first 464th Wing Reunion as in 1996 but small groups were meeting periodically throughout the US. Charles B. West, Colonel, USAF retired, was instrumental in the ‘first’ C-123 reunion held in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Clarence B. Slaughter, Jr., former 464th Wing Commander, Billy C. Mullinax, SMSgt USAF retired and I met annually in Biloxi, Mississippi, for informal ‘staff meetings.’ Charles West and Joe Stilwell met weekly in Fayetteville and we joined hands and went to work. For most reunion members attending from out-of-state it had been twenty- to twenty-five years since their departure. Membership voted to hold reunions in Fayetteville every two years so that old reunion members could come back home and reminisce. A large number of our 464th Wing personnel retired or were discharged in the Fayetteville area.

The 330 formal members total military service exceeds 6,900 years with five years average time served with the 464th at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina. The average age of our reunion members is seventy years young.

A favorite of reunion members is the “Reunion Brochure,” containing addresses of all known members, old photos from their career at Pope and other memorabilia. A special treat for our 1999 Reunion Brochure will be profiles of members in their second or third careers. One of the most interesting and unusual is the career of Jerald O’Brien, a former C-123 pilot with the 464th Wing between 1961-64. His second career was with Delta (Western) Airlines and his third as owner and winemaker of Silver Mountain Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains, California.

This year’s reunion will be the “really big one.” There will be a tour of Pope AFB, with a visit to the flight line where reunion members can enter the cockpit of their favorite aircraft. A golf tournament at Pope AFB Willow Lakes follows, with local dignitaries participating. Door prizes are awarded to those traveling farthest, and the youngest and oldest members present. A wide range of “table topics” about the good old days will be exchanged. We look forward to renewing old acquaintances, enjoying the 464th camaraderie we are blessed with and swapping tales of what we did and what we have been doing. On Sunday our “Farewell Breakfast” will bid goodbye until the 464th Wing Reunion in April 2001. There is something special about a military reunion. There is nothing like this comradeship.

About the Author
Boyd L McLean, SMSgt, USAF Retired, served as Administrative Assistant to three 464th Wing Commanders. After his retirement from the USAF he was selected Magistrate, 12th Judicial District, Cumberland County, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and later served in Gaffney, South Carolina, as Cherokee County Veterans Affairs Officer. He retired in 1992 and serves as Secretary, Treasurer and reunion coordinator for the 464th Wing Reunion.