A-10 drivers receive Distinguished Flying Cross medals for strafing mission in Syria that saved over 50 U.S. personnel

Former USAF Life Support Technician tells the story of the A-10 Warthog pilot who loved to listen to The Doors during strafing runs

By Dario Leone
Dec 5 2022
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‘Curious, I grabbed his G-suit off the rack. Sure enough, there was a Sony Walkman (tape, this is 1983) in one of the pockets…,’ Pat Markwell, former A-10 Warthog Life Support Technician in the US Air Force.

Fighter pilots are not allowed to carry electronic devices with them. That includes music players. The chances of a gadget interfering with onboard avionics are rather slim, but it could happen.

However, back in the days of the Cold War, there was an A-10 Warthog pilot who loved to break that rule…

Pat Markwell, former Life Support Technician in the US Air Force, recalls on Quora;

‘As a novice Life Support tech I was doing a post flight inspection of one of our more Sierra Hotel A-10 pilots helmet. This usually involved swabbing spit out of the oxygen mask, cleaning the visor and a quick once over.

‘Then I noticed a very non Milspec cord taped to the comm line that ran from the helmet, along the hose, and dangling next to the CRU-60 quick disconnects. Curious, I grabbed his G-suit off the rack. Sure enough, there was a Sony Walkman (tape, this is 1983) in one of the pockets.

Operation Desert Storm A-10 print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. A-10A Thunderbolt II 354th TFW, 353rd TFS Black Panthers, MB/78-0660. Myrtle Beach AFB, SC – 1991, Operation Desert Storm

‘A few minutes later, 1st Lieutenant B strolls through the LS section. Now, this is one of the coolest individuals I have ever met. So, showtime:

‘Me, holding his helmet “Uh, Lt B? What’s with the Walkman? I’m not sure that I can allow this to be considered suitable for flight (comm loss and post ejection flailing, etc).”

‘Lt B “It will be fine. I just like to listen to The Doors when I strafe“.

‘Me “Let me get this straight, Sir. They pay you big bucks, let you strap on a multi-million-dollar aircraft, and you get to listen to The Doors as you blow s**t up?”

‘Lt B, now sporting the biggest shit eating grin I’ve ever seen “That’s right, Airman. It’s kinda like getting paid to f**k”’

Markwell concludes;

‘And that is when I realized that fighter pilots are different than you and I…’

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II model
This model is available from AirModels! CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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  1. ScottNH says:

    I’m not sure who told you “Fighter pilots are not allowed to carry electronic devices with them.” Wasn’t true back in 1983 (when I was flying F-4s) or now. In 1983 (time of this “story”), every F-4 pilot carried a tape recorder for flight reconstruction. Following a flight, you’d see guys hunched over before the debrief started, earphone in, listening to the tape and reconstructing the flight. Comm guys would build the the required patch cords to spec, i.e. whether or not you wanted a “two-way” patch cord to allow listening to music as well as recording the intercom. Life Support guys in my squadron maintained a stock. They were just common-place until video tape became common for flight debriefs, and even then, many guys kept their patch cords for CD players. Everyone had music on deployments, and depending on the system, you could hear music in the background when they keyed the mic to transmit. We had a number of CD player in our flight during our deployment to Desert Shield in 1990. No big deal.

    • Dario Leone Author says:

      Very interesting, thanks for the comment! If you have any interesting story feel free to share with us! We could write some articles about them 😉 Continue to follow us 🙂

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