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  1. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    True Believers, the Founding Fathers of TACAMO

    Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by Lew, May 6, 2019.

    Hooray! TB is my first non-fiction, an anthology of autobiographies of twelve people, including me, who ignored the conventional wisdom that returning for a second tour in TACAMO, "Take Charge and Move Out," was professional suicide. Out of that group came eleven future TACAMO commanding officers and three commodores commanding the TACAMO Wing that did not even exist in 1972.

    Due to the nature of the TACAMO mission, and the work I currently do, I had to get DoD approval, a two month process that took a year. Bureaucracy is a wonderful thing! But I have the official imprimatur, and now its time to package it up for submission, first to the US Naval Institute Press where Tom Clancy got his start.
     
  2. jannert

    jannert Super Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yee-ha. And may your submission meet with success! No reason it shouldn't.
     
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  3. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    :superagree:
     
  4. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Senior Member

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    I suppose I did not fully understand what that book is about, but:

    Congratulations!
    Could you tell about it a bit?
     
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  5. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    TACAMO, "Take Charge and Move Out" got its unusual moniker in 1963, when VADM Roeder, head of Naval communications, tasked then LT Jerry O. Tuttle (whom I had the pleasure of interviewing) to find a better way of communicating with the new missile submarines using aircraft. He signed the bottom of this tasker and appended in purple ink "Take Charge and Move Out". This being 1964 and before we had computers to generate tons of studies and paperwork, Jerry Tuttle had a prototype flying in 1964, using a 5 mile long target drone trailing wire modified as the antenna, two vans containing a 20kW VLF transmitter for the long wire, and 2 HF vacuum tube radios. These vans were carried in slightly modified C-130s. When Collins radio asked what to put on the vans, he looked at his original tasker, and said "TACAMO" (rhymes with 'whack a moe") After a year, slight mods were made, three more vans procured and the system went operational as TACAMO II in 1964 in C-130s BUNO 888, 889, 890 and 891, two in Patuxent River and two in Guam, detachments to existing squadrons. In 1968, the Navy procured 8 more Hercs, BUNOs 170-177 with fully built in comm suites, designated as EC-130Qs, and took the existing four Hercs and put the new comm system in and designated them as EC-130Gs. They flew with a fifteen man crew, five officers (pilot/2P/3p, NAV and the Airborne Communications Officer (ACO)) and ten enlisted (2 flight engineers, 2 reel operators, 4radiomen and 2 techs). The navy stood up two squadrons, VQ-4 in Pax River with eight aircraft, and VQ-3 in Guam with four.

    The one thing they forgot was to make this a competitive career path for officers. It was not until 1974 that either squadron promoted a lieutenant to lieutenant commander. The conventional wisdom was that TACAMO was the kiss of death professionally. My welcome aboard from the CO was to do a good job, and he would try to get me out of the squadron a year early so I could go to a VP squadron, and not have my career too far off track. Yet out of my wardroom came eleven future commanding officers and three commodores for a TACAMO Wing that didn't even exist then. This is our story, how we built our community from scratch, against all odds.

    BTW, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jerry Tuttle a few years ago (he has since passed on). He retired as a VADM, having made a major name for himself in the 1980s in Naval communications, despite being an attack pilot flying A4s and A7s. He was the speaker at the commissioning ceremony of the TACAMO Wing, Strategic Communications Wing ONE at Tinker AFB, 29 years after that infamous tasker from VADM Roeder.
     

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