Bianco, Angelo – MT
Started my career in 1978 assigned to maintenance on C-5 at Dover AFB Delaware. I caught the first parallel with Rescue, as I volunteered to work the morgue at Dover AFB, helping to process the 921 remains from the Jonestown Guyana tragedy. I worked the flightline, and then the ISO docks, and then transient alert.
By 1981, it was time for my first cross training, and of course I was advised wrong. I wanted to become a Helicopter FE, and was told I had to go to maintenance first. Only finding out, that was not true, after signing all the paperwork. My C/O at the time was Lt. Col Reichart, and he told me not to be too upset, I was headed to the 55th ARRS, and they were going to be the initial cadre squadron for the new HH-60’s. So I took it with a grain of salt, and headed back to Sheppard, and then off to Eglin AFB.
While initial time there was a challenge, coming from fixed wings, I soon found my niche, and found myself with a line number for SSgt, all within the first few weeks of getting there. The people and the squadron were the best I had experienced to that date. After getting my 7 level, and having some experience on the line, we received the first HH-60’s. It was a great day, and I became the first dock chief. After a short time there, I was given an opportunity to become a crew chief on tail # 680, for the record the first crew chief on that tail number was Tom Predovic, he was ten times better at than me.
After getting an all around orientation of the helicopter world, I was assigned to Maintenance Control, the thought was that having fixed and rotor head experience, I could benefit the squadron. I soon found out, it was I was given the un-daunting task of keeping the HC 130 line chief, in check. Having never gone overseas, it was time for my remote assignment. Lt Col Riechart was now Col Riechart and the Deputy Wing Commander, and was going to the 39th ARRW as the new Wing Commander, how ironic, I was kinda following him, as I was headed to Osan, and the 38th ARRS.
When I arrived at Osan, I did not get much time on the flightline, I was assigned to maintenance control, and soon became the NCOIC of Maintenance Control. While I was not happy in Korea, I loved my time in the 38th, it was the closest group of people I have ever to date worked with. I was scheduled to go to helicopter FE school, and just before I left Osan for school, my Dad took ill. I accepted an assignment to McGuire AFB, and became an FE, on C141B’s. While nothing like an Rescue outfit, it was a living, and I finally was able to fly.
I did retire due to injuries during Provide Comfort, and was proud to receive my toilet seat, and my MSgt stripes. My career was cut short at 16 years, and I miss flying very much. I especially loved my time in Rescue, and my helicopter time. I learned some time later that when we tried to get the airframe name for the HH-60’s “NiteHawk” we were told by the AF the name was being used. We were all scratching our heads, as we did not see it anywhere. A few years later, the F-117 was taken out of hiding. Thus the NiteHawk. I still have some of the patches we were going to use for the HH-60 NiteHawk. What a great time!