It’s not everyday you run across a picture of your esteemed Commander, preserved for posterity in the National Archives, but when you do, it’s worth a posting!
The full caption gives a little more info on the date and time of the event, indicating it was taken 15 December 1988, which would have been a short time after that notorious Operational Readiness Inspection by PACAF that year. A briefing to both 14TFS and VMFA-323 (The “Death Rattlers”) would probably have been held in the main briefing room in between the 14th and 13th sides of old Building 918.
Various interpretations of this photo have come in from squadron members, attempting to explain what is seen. The possibilities so far are as follows, as of 111215Z June 2015:
“…right here, H.A. is saying.. “And I don’t know what the hell Duck Perry was doing off over here”!! opined Duck.
“The answer to HA’s question, “…dragging Sledge to the merge,”” thought Sledge.
“I think HA had that look on his face because he couldn’t get the taste of the dog jerky treats that Sledge and I left on the duty desk in a beef jerky bag off his mind,” said Sluggo.
“Actually he was trying to describe one of Frymo’s elaborate “cloverleaf” maneuvers for the strike package,” remarked Spanky.
As for the apparent incongruence of the calendar date (1988) and year designation of the exercise (89), that’s a little fiscal year (FY) military madness inflicted on everyone in DoD. The new “money year” began on 1 October (still does from what I know), and events like this COPE NORTH exercise, COPE THUNDER, COBRA GOLD, etc., received the fiscal year designation in their title, which could cause confusion to those not familiar with the custom. Fiscal Year 1989 began 1 October 1988, hence COPE NORTH 89-1 happened to be scheduled in December, 1988. Makes sense, right? Maybe, maybe not!
Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files, 1982 – 2007