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By Betty Vanderwielen
Pathfinder 

Traveling the World for Uncle Sam

 

Photo provided

Captain Arthur "Buzz" Busby with racks of bombs at Tuy Hòa Air Force Base, Vietnam. He was stationed there from 1967-1968.

CONDON – The Air Force career of current Condon resident Arthur E. Busby III (aka Buzz) got off to a hesitant start. After spending five years trying to figure out where he fit, he was offered a career in nuclear weapons which resulted in several promotions and eventually took him to seven states and six foreign countries

Busby's career began in 1956 at Texas A&M, which was a military school when Busby got his bachelor's degree there in Chemical Engineering. Along with the degree came a three-year service commitment in the U. S. Air Force. After a year working as process engineer at Texas Gas Corporation, Busby finally got his chance to begin pilot training. But his goal of becoming a pilot ran into trouble.

Busby said, "I got airsick too much, so I was eliminated."

He was sent to England as a supply officer. Not finding that job challenging, Busby discharged out in 1960 and returned to his civilian job with Texas Gas Corporation. A year later he decided to return to the Air Force, this time entering a career path involving nuclear weapons, something more in tune with his interests.

From training in Denver, Colo. he went to the Air Defense Unit in Oregon, and from there to Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands as part of a NATO strike unit. By 1967, Busby was a Captain at Tuy Hòa, Vietnam, supervising the munitions storage area.

Following that, it was back to the states to oversee the safety aspects connected to the development of Minuteman III missiles at Norton Air Force Base (AFB) in Calif. Twenty-three months later he was moved from the System Safety Office to the Inspector Generals Office as a member of a team conducting munitions inspections throughout the Air Force.

In June 1972 he was reassigned to Yakota Air Base (AB), Japan, as Fifth Air Force Director of Munitions. It was in Japan that Busby became a member of the Officers Christian Fellowship (OCF).

Busby said, "That was a wonderful organization that was beneficial to me in my military service. Primarily because of the people I met who were great Christians and a great fellowship. Every base you went to you'd find out who the head of the OCF was and they would meet you and take you around to meet a whole bunch of people and have you over for dinner. It was just wonderful. You had automatic friends at every base you went to. Just loved it."

After Japan, Busby was assigned to Kunsan AB, Korea, as Commander of the Eighth Munitions Maintenance Squadron. He said no dependents were allowed there, so it was "just eat, sleep and work – no distractions of any kind."

Then it was back to the states in 1976 working for the Defense Nuclear Agency in the Washington D.C. area. He managed a unit whose job was to keep track of all the nuclear weapons in the US arsenal, across all service branches. While the work itself was somewhat tedious, it gave him the opportunity to get his Masters Degree in Management and Leadership and to complete Senior Service School, which he said, "was really a big deal."

By 1979 Busby was Commander of the Fifth Munitions Maintenance Squadron at Minot AFB, N. D.

Busby said, "It was one of the best assignments I ever had. Loved it. The people were good and our mission was great. It was just everything about it."

While there, he was promoted to Colonel and became the Deputy Commander for Maintenance, which meant overseeing maintenance on 18 B-52s and 23 KC-135s. Four squadrons – about 1200 people – were under his command. To fully understand the functioning of the aircraft so he could better understand the maintenance requirements, Busby went on five B-52 missions.

He said, "That is thrilling! It was at night, and we were flying about 400 feet off the ground at about 500 miles an hour. You have to fly the contour of the earth. And that means when a mountain comes in front of you, then you gotta go up and go over and then go down again. And you were flying by what's called a FLIR – Forward Looking Infrared Radar – on the panel. You could see where the mountains are ahead of you on this thing. It showed you how important all the instrumentation is in the aircraft."

Fueled with new respect for the instruments, Busby made a point of visiting the avionics unit to tell them how impressed he was and how important their job was.

"That made them feel good," he said. "You always want to do that. Try to make them feel good about what they're doing."

Perhaps even topping the thrill of those B-52 flights, Busby related the time he flew as co-pilot with the Commander of the KC-135 Squadron. The Commander let him land the plane. Though airsickness had derailed his pilot dreams, he had put in 25 hours of flying time and knew the basics of landing a plane – and the Commander was in the pilot seat making sure everything was going okay.

About landing the stratotanker Busby said, "That was a big monster, and I learned in a small plane. But that was fun. It isn't easy – all the stuff you gotta do to get it down. Flaps and gears and engines – and oh man!"

Busby's next assignment was at Offutt AFB, Neb. as a member of the Strategic Air Command Inspector General (SAC IG) team. The job required traveling to different bases and conducting no-notice inspections. The base was given approximately an hour's notification to assume emergency wartime footing status. All aircraft, munitions and personnel had to be operation-ready. Each inspection entailed about 10 days work for the team, since they had to write a full report and brief it before they left.

Busby's final assignment before retiring was Director of Munitions for the Air Force in Europe. Aided by a staff of approximately 100 people, he had responsibility for all USAF weapons in Europe. That essentially meant oversight of about 6,000 people. Busby labeled it, "A challenging job."

He worked in cooperation with NATO in Brussels. Busby said, "I'd go to Brussels one day and come back, get on an airplane and fly to Turkey the next day. Just all over Europe. It was fun. I enjoyed that assignment. It was challenging though."

Photo provided

Colonel Arthur E. Busby III.

Asked what he enjoyed most among the varied duties throughout his career, Busby answered, "Being commander of squadrons. That's probably the most challenging job you can have. Particularly the type of unit we had, we had to assure that all the people were qualified for their job. Not only could they do their job correctly but they had to have the right mental capacity. If there was any doubt about a person's mental [fitness] to be in the unit, they would have to be transferred out. I did that probably eight or nine times."

When Busby and his wife Patricia moved to Condon in 2005 they became active in the Condon Community Church where he is now an elder. Busby said, "That's a big part of our lives. It's a great congregation, it really is."

 

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