Thanks, F-100 guy

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing
They say when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

I prefer to think of the F-100 guy.

As with any job, duty or responsibility - no matter how otherwise great the organization is - there are times when frustrations seep into my day-to-day experiences as an Airman with the Michigan Air National Guard. It is at those moments, when the going gets tough, that I am most thankful for the F-100 guy.

The F-100 Super Sabre was a supersonic air superiority aircraft flown by the 107th Fighter Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base for much of the 1970s. Known to those who worked on the aircraft as the "Hun" (for one "hundred"), the F-100 was the first in a line of a half-dozen aircraft known as the Century Series. The F-100, was followed by the F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105 and F-106, all of which filled the skies over Air Force bases for much of the 1960s, '70s and early '80s. There is an F-100 on display in the Selfridge Military Air Museum air park on the base.

In the course of my duties as a public affairs specialist at Selfridge, I post photos of Selfridge-based aircraft, past and present, to the 127th Wing's Facebook page. And that is when I hear from the F-100 guy.

A photo of the A-10 Thunderbolt II firing its GAU-8 Avenger 30mm gun? Cool. But not as cool as the "Hun."

One of our KC-135 Stratotankers picking up some Michigan National Guard soldiers in Liberia? Interesting. But not as interesting as working on the good ol' F-100.

F-16s and C-130s. F-106s and P-51s. Even wobbly old JN-4 Jennies from the World War I days. We've flown them all here at Selfridge over the years. All bring something to the table and each one has its own set of cheerleaders on social media. Each one of them has also brought a comment from the F-100 guy, always explaining why the Hun was actually the superior aircraft.

"F-16 looks good, but never sounded as sweet as an F-100 on start-up."

"Tankers are an important mission, but the F-100 ruled the skies."

You get the message.

You see, once upon a time, the F-100 guy was a crew chief right here at Selfridge, working on, well... you guessed it. His name was painted on the side of the jet and, for all intents and purposes, for about a half dozen years, he owned that jet. It was his baby.

And when I get down, when I get frustrated - I think about the F-100 guy. He has a name, of course. But to me, he'll always be the F-100 guy.

He's the guy who, now 40 years later, is unshakeably certain that his aircraft, his squadron, his mission mattered. If I could go back in time and talk to that crew chief out on the flight line on a cold winter day in the mid-1970s, I am sure that he would have had some things to grouse about. I am sure he had his frustrations. But now, what he remembers, is the feeling that he had when his aircraft fired up, rolled out to the end of the runway and took off for another mission. That is what is important now to the F-100 guy.

And so that is, or at least is what should be, important to me. Staying focused on the true mission, on what's really important.

F-100 guy has had four decades to ponder what really mattered and what did not. In the end, for him, it was the mission and, I would hazard a guess, the other Airmen in the squadron who were helping him to get it done.

Frustrations and challenges will always exist. We get to choose how we respond to them. F-100 guy made his choice many years ago. I do my best to follow his lead.

I can't really comment on the characteristics of the F-100 Super Sabre, on if it was a good aircraft or a piece of junk. But I can tell you they had some darn fine crew chiefs.