Does everyone have one persona for public display and another for personal use? 1965 was a long time ago, and I wasn’t terribly perceptive, but I do remember Jim moving from the AFRES to NDANG. Jim exuded confidence. He was ready for the transition, looking forward to weekend drills in Fargo with a larger unit. I didn’t doubt his enthusiasm for a moment.
Today I read through this letter and got a glimpse of the trepidation he felt, sitting across from a superior officer, waiting for a decision. The Captain had probably decided long before the two of them met in that spare office at Hector Field. Jim didn’t know. All he knew was that his future was on the line. Jim’s plans for the eighties and nineties were in the hands of one man.
Jim taught me many lessons in the forty years I knew him, and one of them was a positive outlook and memory. Whatever decision the captain made that day, Jim would survive and succeed. He could look back on the experience and know that he had done his best, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. In this case, everything worked.
I had the benefit of a couple of tours of the NDANG facilities, some weekends in Fargo, and being proud to say that I knew one of the men who kept the Air Guard fighter planes in the air, roaring off the runway past my college dormitory every day.
Capt. James N. Buzick, Personnel Officer, 119th FIG, NDANG, Hector Field, Fargo, ND … My records were open and before him on his desk. Before the old unit was totally disbanded the command had checked into possible openings other units, especially the Air Guard and at that time there were about 15 or so positions available in various career fields and ranks. Of 75 men and officers about 20 or so were recommended for enlistment in the 119th FIG.
I was surprised and pleased to be included in this group. Being recommended didn’t guarantee a position with their unit. Many factors would be considered. Was there an opening in my career field? Would my past record meet with approval? Would I retain my rank? And did I have the necessary skill level to qualify for a position?
Sitting before the Capt. I was understandably nervous. He was all business while looking over my records and asking questions, no small talk. Finally he looked up and congratulated me on being a new member of the NDANG, 119th FIG. And with my present rank of Staff Sergeant!
I was assigned to Group Headquarters as an Administrative Specialist (my old job in the other unit!). Following all the necessary paperwork and the swearing in (along with several others from the old unit) we were given an orientation and tour of the base. At the time there were over 900 personnel in 40 different ships from flight line refueling to parachute shop, supply, medical; every component to keep a squadron of fighter planes in the air.
They were flying the F94C, Starfighter, but in 1966 would be converting to the F102, Delta Dart jet fighter. I would report monthly for a full weekend of duty at the base and serve 15 days annually. You might be deployed to another military facility for the 15 days. This base had an around the clock alert status with pilots and aircraft ready to be airborne in minutes should the need arise.
At the time of my enlistment there were about 15 who came into the ANG from the old unit. That number dwindled over the years as some retired, dropped out or moved away. When I retired in 1984 there were four of us left from that March of 1965. As I write this there are none, we have all joined the ranks of the retired.
During my many years at Hector Field we had seen many changes, new aircraft, new faces, new, expanded facilities and new Commanders. My assignment to Group Headquarters ended in 1968 and I was transferred to CAMRON (Consolidated Aircraft Maintainance Squadron) the largest on the base. I was assigned to squadron training. From that time on I started putting in two weekends a month. We were assigned alternate weekends because of the work load and to spread out the personnel.
The last thirteen years I spent working for the Squadron Commander in the First Sergeants office carrying out those duties. The twenty two years spent in the Air Guard were the best of my military duty, I believe.
To this day I still maintain contact with several of the old troopers. The 119th FIG was and is regarded as one of the top Air Guard Units in the nation, winning many prestigious awards; it is the first unit to ever win the William Tell Award twice, the Hughes Achievement Award, the Daedalian Maintenance Award, the Winston P. Wilson Trophy plus many other awards throughout its long career.
I was most fortunate and very proud to have been a member of this group of top caliber people.