In 1989 we were posted to the ETTF (European Tanker Task Force) at Mildenhall, England - SAC was going strong, the Cold War was still very much alive, and we were a SAC tenant unit (8th AF) at the 6990 ACCW (Air Command and Control Wing). While we were "command and control" of all the tankers in Europe, we had NO PCS aircraft or aircrew, just a wing staff - everyone was TDY, and we introduced them into ICAO procedures.
Then, into that mix came Saddam Hussein, and Desert
Shield/Desert Storm. And whilst that was going on, Glasnost and Perestroika, the Soviet Union collapsed, etc. LOTS of changes!
Then reality hit. The Russian government came to the US government through official State Department channels and said: "Help! The Communists have stolen the hearts, minds, and souls of an entire generation and we have nothing to base our [brand new, just emerging] society on." So Maj Gen Clay Buckingham led a several dozen person entourage (Col Kris Mineau, the only person to have survived - AND gotten back on flying status afterwards! - a supersonic ejection (in an F-4 no less!) - was a major player on the team) to Moscow and St Petersburg (they'd changed the name back from Leningrad), for the express purpose of attempting to address the situation. (I got to be a "bag dragger" on the team).
We visited with many top-notch and elite military units, including the "Red Brigade", that defended Moscow against the Germans in both World Wars; toured Kronstad, the big (20K+ population naval station in St Petersburg harbor); took part in "Operation Christmas Child", passing out Scriptures and goodies to the youth in Moscow hospitals; served in several Salvation Army soup kitchens; and - the main purpose of the trip - helped establish an OCF (Officers Christian Fellowship) IN THE RUSSIAN MILITARY on (Russian Orthodox) Christmas day (6 Jan 1992) in both Moscow and St Petersburg! We also got about 3/4's of the way to re-instating chaplains in the Russian military!
Bill Van Horn
9491 South Johnson Court
Littleton, CO 80127
USAFA Class of '74 - published a book of our experiences for our 40th reunion!