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B-52 -€“ Memories of an Old Girlfriend

by Chuck Holte

I was somehow attracted when we first met in Northern Michigan in the fall of 1963. I was a 17 year-old airman and she was the last of the Boeing B-52 bomber fleet deliveries to the Strategic Air Command.

She wasn't sexy, not a bit. We all called her the BUFF.

She was a Big, Ugly, Fat o'l girl...but she could Fly. She smelled bad, her body odor a pungent mix of kerosene, sweat, cigarette smoke and unemptied urinals. She had a lot of wrinkles, even when she was young. With eight thirsty jet engines, she had a definite drinking problem. I refueled her every night so she and her crew could fly armed nuclear alert and training missions the next day. A strong deterrent, she helped keep our country safe and warm in the early, scary days of the Cold War.

I left her in 1965 for another enlisted Air Force assignment and college, and returned a few years later as a commissioned Electronic Warfare Officer. A little older and a little wiser, I was back at the same base and flying the same jets.

I think she remembered me. I definitely remembered her.

We had a grand time slipping the surlys at high altitude and challenging the laws of gravity and physics on low-level bomb runs. She never let us down. She was still ugly and overweight, and smelled even worse than before, but she took care of our crew. We always smiled when we talked about her and drank toasts to her good health at the bar after our missions

I left her again in 1979.

Now, when I see her on the news, 30 some years later, and fighting yet another war, I can't help but think of our younger days. She's still the best; penetrating deeper, staying longer and delivering bigger loads - and bringing her crew home safely at the end of the mission.

What a Babe! Long live the BUFF!

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