Operation Nickel Grass

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I am constantly saddened to discover that the Strategic Air Command’s contribution to Operation Nickle Grass seems to be continually ignored since SAC was deactivated. I was the SAC Tanker Task Force command post for most of the operation. Notice I didn’t say I worked there – I was the ONLY command post controller who got to Lajes at the initial deployment, so I was the command post. I slept under my desk during lulls in operations for almost two weeks. Then-Colonel Robert E. Chapman was the tanker task force commander. He was the 380th BMW decputy commander for operations. I traveled from Plattsburg AFB, NY to Lajes with him.

I was at Lajes with the 135s from Pease. My OMS/CC, Lt Col Leroy Gibbons was in charge of maintenance operations. We got there a couple of days before MAC trash-haulers started to arrive. I agree, SAC Operations take a distant back seat, I guess technically we weren’t even part of “Nickel Grass” since that was an airlift operation and AR was a SAC mission at that time.

I was months pregnant and living in Bat Yam during The Yom Kippur war – A week or more after the start of the war, I remember standing in Tel Aviv at the corner of Rehov Ben Yehuda/Frishman and heard a loud cargo plane overhead. I looked up and there was (what I now know) the C-5 the letters U S A F were on the wingspan (from underneath) – either headed to or coming from Lod. I broke down and wept, as an American/Israeli I felt much gratitude for the country of my birth. I will always remember that moment for the rest of my life. Our son was born at Assouta Hospital in Tel – Aviv, December 1973. Thank you for saving our lives. The memories have not diminished for 47 years SHALOM!

According to internet searches I found 2 units awarded the USAF Outstanding Unit Awards. The 313th Military Air Lift Squadron in June 1974 and the 1605th Air Base Wing in January 1974 for Operation Nickel Grass.

I was a security police desk Sgt during Operation Nickel Grass when the first planes landed. It was 12-hour shifts for the entire operation. My wife and I spent three years at Lajes. I often wondered why the thousands of men and women who took part in this operation never got real credit for what they did. I thought a ribbon or medal should have been issued.

I agree it should have been a medal or accommodation of some sort. You folks did a great job. I was working in the Command Post at 21st Air Force during this time. We were amazed the number of aircraft you folks were able to handle. We joked that if we tried to put more aircraft in there the island would certainly sink.

SAC tankers got there first. As the MAC acft started to arrive, we were pushed further and further up the ramp so the airlifters could park over the refuel pits Billeting was space, they put maybe six of us to a room too small for two.

You think you were ignored during operation nickel grass. I was part of a 4 man USMC communication team providing support during the operation.

Our team pulled 24 hours support for about 2 weeks at Lajes AFB.

I heard that there was a medal issued to US forces later on (armed forces expeditionary medal).

I recently checked with the USMC awards dept and they don’t have info on our involvement.

Oh well

I was a C-5A Navigator newly assigned to the 9th MAS at Dover AFB when Operation Nickel Grass kicked off. Having just completed my training and initial check-out, my first operational mission was going to LOD in Tel Aviv. The navigation computer locked up just past the Straights of Gibraltar but the radar was still working. Used the radar to complete the zig-zag route through the Mediterranean to Tel Aviv. It was night time on the return leg to Lajes so we could use the stars to navigate to a successful return to the field and some much-needed crew rest after a 28 hour day.

I was a crew chief at Dover during operation Nickel Grass. I flew to the Azores and on to Tel Aviv twice without a break. No crew rest for the us flying crew chiefs until we got back to Dover. We had to stay on the aircraft at Lojes and Tel Aviv to perform the necessary inspections and maintenance. We also did not receive any of those great meals or momento’s that the rest of the crews got from the folks at Tel Aviv. Also never received any award, citation, or even a letter of appreciation for our efforts.

I was a C5A loadmaster that participated in Operation Nickel Grass. 60th MAW, 75th MAS, Travis AFB. I made 3 trips from the East Coast to Azores and Lod Airport in Tel Aviv. The Four, F4 IAF fighter escort and the meals were great, but I and our crew never received any award, citation, or even a letter of appreciation for our efforts. Not from the Israeli Government. Not from the USAF. Not even from the US government. On our last trip we delivered 3 tanks picked up in Georgia. While there we picked up a mobile Russian SAM launcher. We then flew a clandestine mission into the UK spent the night and then flew it to Wright-Patterson so they could examine infrared sight they were using to shoot down our B52s in Nam. Why is there no award for this? You’re welcome….

In 1973 I served in IDF during the war. The betrayal of Greece Spain and especially Germany is so hard to swallow. I would like to tell you personally that most of the Israelis even were not informed about all this, and about your heroic efforts. Thank you. And god bless. Without you israel would’ve not survived.

I was stationed with the 436th AMSq. at Dover AFB during Operation Nickel Grass Oct. 1973. The base was on tight security and some C-5s were roped off for extra security with a guard ready to shoot. We entered the aircraft for maintenance and noticed trucks painted U.N. white in the cargo bay. We saw lots of cargo painted white. So many were part of the airlift. We had support airmen at the Azores and had it went longer i would of rotated there for TDY. After it was all over each unit on base got a briefing and a job well done from our base commander.

I was a crew chief on the SAC response to Nickel Grass. Our KC-135As were at Lajes a day or two before MAC started showing up. We had about 10 tankers there and we were yo-yoing the F4s and A4s coming across the pond providing them fuel so they could get in closer to Ben Guiron.