Cold War Samurai – The 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 1987 – 1991

This site's the panther's roar! Photo of 549 courtesy of Mr. Akira Watanabe of


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Once in a while on patrol out in the internet you run across a familiar name or face. In the case of 14TFS Samurai, it happens too.

For example, in a recent patrol, this web log writer came across the image of John “Skipper” Hyle. He was one of the replacement pilots that came into the squadron circa early 1989 as the original members who got it started in 1987 began to PCS out. Skipper wasn’t his first call sign in the squadron, but it is the one that stuck after one memorable morning launch, maybe it was for going to a Cope Thunder exercise in the Philippines.


John “Skipper” Hyle and his Viper, late Cold War (Courtesy

If memory serves correctly, he provided this writer a cassette tape of Vietnam War fighter jock Dick Jonas songs that certainly are a creative reflection of our military aviation heritage.  Some of these songs might be thought of as politically incorrect today by the overly sensitive members of our society.  But considering how warfare often converts human beings into hair, teeth and eyeballs, it is obvious that some people lack perspective on the big picture in life, as well as the context, or environment, in which these songs are sung at aviator gatherings.  Dick Jonas might be considered by some to be rather tame compared to some of the bawdy tunes from Dos Gringos, or even Oscar Brand, who sang well before either of them.  But song is one way to recount experience, and Dick Jonas and other similar “bards” have a lot of great aviation songs without obscenity to fret over.  Some of the songs are incredibly poetic and reflective, as many readers may know from having heard them.

This web log won’t address the issue of any lewd, vulgar or obscene lyrics from any fighter pilot songbook such of the type to garner adverse attention in recent years, or of efforts to ban such things; don’t really recall any controversy in those days at Misawa or places around the Pacific.

For an example of a fighter pilot song that was on that tape from Skipper Hyle, try the Dick Jonas version of “Dear Mom,” please be warned of an obscenity or two which may offend but which pale in comparison to what war does to human beings, at:

In the image above is another non-PC thing, a MAU-mounted (Miscellaneous Armament Unit, MAU-12 typical) cluster bomb unit (CBU) loaded onto Station 3 of the Viper that Skipper Hyle is standing with. It appears to be a CBU-52, though it could be a CBU-58 or CBU-71 as they all share the SUU-30B/B dispenser (or canister, can for short) – the number differences would reflect the various cluster munitions (aka bomblets) and/or fuzing options. Could have been something older even as a lot of older munitions would be expended in training. Hundreds of bomblets spewing forth from a dispenser are one effective way of covering an area target.  They won’t bust any bunkers but will demolish anything light caught on the surface when they detonate.

Cluster Bomb Unit (CBU), opened up and showing release and dispersion of some of the many bomblets carried within. (Courtesy

Cluster Bomb Unit (CBU), opened up and showing release and dispersion of some of the many bomblets carried within. (Courtesy

Back in the Cold War days it was considered as a conventional ordnance option for dealing with things such as vehicle or troop concentrations, air defense sites (AAA, SAM), naval ships and small craft, etc.

One half of a North Vietnamese SA-2 Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) site being blanketed by cluster bombs from F-105 Thunderchief Wild Weasels. (Courtesy USAF)

One half of a North Vietnamese SA-2 Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) site being blanketed by cluster bombs from F-105 Thunderchief Wild Weasels. (Courtesy USAF)

It was a weapon available in the Cold War and there were many suitable prospective adversary targets in the Far East for such a munition in those days. These days there are moves internationally to ban the use of cluster munitions but the US has so far wisely retained the option to employ them, even if it hasn’t, reportedly, since 2003. Given the chaotic nature of the international environment today, these weapons may come in handy again.

So there it is, a little flashback to the late Cold War era from a random spotting of a 14TFS pilot, John “Skipper” Hyle. Hand salute to him and all those Cold War Samurai Warriors who helped keep us free from the godless Commies!

The Pilot (Skipper Hyle), at:

Federal Lawsuit Threatened over Fighter Pilot Songs, Traditions, at:

CBU-52B/B; CBU-58/B, A/B; and CBU-71/B, A/B, Vipers in the Storm website, at:
CBU-52, FAS website, at:

Cluster Munition, Wikipedia entry, at:

Computer generated image of cluster bomb opened, at:

CBU attack on SAM site, at:


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