Stephen A. (Andy) Kecskes
17th SOS, Pilot

After graduating from college, I got a draft notice that the local Air Force team managed to get me in as an enlisted recruit in 1966. My delay entering OTS resulted in taking 12 weeks of accounting school then working at the base supply warehouse. I was finally transferred to Vance AFB, OK for pilot training in early 1967.

Upon leaving pilot training traveled to Tinker AFB, OK for C-141 transition school then on to Norton AFB, CA as a jumping off point for Vietnam after a year of routine cargo runs in the Pacific. Assigned to AC-119G gunships, went to train with the reserves for the C-119 then gunnery school in Columbus, OH. Assigned to Phan Rang for my combat tour with a stop at Clark AFB for survival training.

While in theater upgraded to flight examiner, earned 11 air medals and 2 DFCs for combat operations. Luckily my aircraft only took one 50-cal hit during the entire tour; however, on my last mission a mini-gun malfunction ended up putting several rounds of our own ammo into the outboard part of the left wing. Fortunately, none hit anything vital, like gas tanks, and we made it back to base.

Since I was a MAC asset I was assigned to C-141s at Charleston AFB, SC, on return to CONUS. Became involved in combat airlift missions (CAM) and worked my way up to flight examiner. This was fun since you were flying close formation at 500′ with a 3-ship cell and doing heavy equipment or troop drops versus droning over the ocean for hours at a time. Did have a chance to fly south of the Equator (South Africa) while at CAFB then north of the Artic Circle while stationed in Germany (see below) so covered a lot of the globe during my career.

Left Charleston for Yokota AB, Japan, on a 4-year tour as a 22nd AF mission controller that eventually turned into a 610 MASS base command post controller after the 22nd AF section was closed down. Flew C/VC-118s as an attached pilot since I had all that C-119 reciprocal experience.

The next assignment was my rated supplement with the AF Audit Agency at Travis AFB, CA, for 3-years. I had been out of C-141s so long I could not fly as an attached pilot plus the agency wouldn’t support the necessary time off for flying.

I managed to wrangle a C-140 assignment at Ramstein AB, Germany coming out of the agency in mid-1979. Flew throughout Europe and northern Africa carrying VIPs until tapped for duty at the 322nd ALW as a mission control room supervisor. Eventually went back to the squadron flying CT-39s to pass along my theater knowledge to the new, young pilots coming in from CONUS as their first real world assignment. Transitioned to the C-12 as replacements for the CT-39s for the last year of six in Europe.

My last assignment was as a C-12 flight examiner at Norton AFB. I retired in the summer of 1986 and went to work as an internal auditor for a bank in San Diego, CA. Eventually moved into the credit union world until I retired again in 2015 from being an independent contractor providing internal audit services for several local credit unions.

From 2010-2014 did a complete restoration of a Schweizer 1-26A single place sailplane that I still have and fly at a local glider club north of Austin, TX, where we moved in late 2016. You can see this project at: