Twin Bases - RAF Bentwaters, RAF Woodbridge

Photographs of RAF Woodbridge

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Personalities from RAF Woodbridge

Some pictures copyright © "USAF Photo." 


capjosephaneely.jpg (16500 bytes)
Captain (Later Colonel) Joseph A Neely, in the pilot briefing room of the 79th TFS, Woodbridge.
Note the Tiger in the background.

[Tom, this is a great picture, full of atmosphere. Linn B.]

You are right about the atmosphere in the briefing room. It was real... morning Weather-over-target briefings at 0700, Alert ("Cut Bait") briefs complete with launch codes... the chair-desks were each labeled with the pilots name, with the front seats reserved for the Squadron commander and his staff.
The Tiger in the background may be the same one seen in the base entrance picture in one of your other photos.
But most of the atmosphere is Joe Neely. About two years after this picture, he had to duke it out head-to-head with a bunch of VC in when they broke into his base in Vietnam ..... They lost. The score was Joe Neely 7, VC-0. Sort of a guys,..... guy right out of John Wayne. But never the lofty officer. Always a leader. I still have a copy of the article from the Air Force Times.
By the way, did you know that the 79th TFS spawned at least eight AF generals and one AF Chief of staff from the era from when it was in England?


Bob Hoover, who made a visit to Woodbridge’s 79th TFS in 1965.

A very famous Bob Hoover, who made a visit to Woodbridge’s 79th TFS in 1965, signs "The wall" inside the pilots lounge of the 79th TFS Operations building. Squadron pilots, visiting dignitaries and special guests were asked to leave their mark as they came and went from Woodbridge. Hoover only visited for a day, but left a lasting impression on the squadron’s "young turks" when he casually loosened his tie, slung on a parachute, and flew the pants off of three of them at once.
(USAF Photo)


Captain (Later Major) Charlie Duberger of the 79th TFS at RAF Woodbridge.

Captain (Later Major) Charlie Duberger of the 79th TFS at RAF Woodbridge. Well known for his flying skill, his determination and ability to put his bombs on target. He was a force to be reckoned with in the periodic bombing competitions held within the 20th TFW, then stationed at RAF Wethersfield. While his prowess with an F-100D was well known, his relationship with the maintenance crews was not as strong as it could have been.
(USAF Photo)


Charlie Collects.

This Photo,"Charlie Collects" attests to the respect that his squadron flight members had for his skills.
(USAF Photo)


Lt. Col. John Bartholf, Commander of the 79th TFS at RAF Woodbridge 1964-1966.
Lt. Col. John Bartholf
Commander of the 79th TFS
at RAF Woodbridge 1964-1966.

An Army West Point Graduate of the Old School who had chosen to continue his career in the Air Force, his personal charisma and extraordinarily ability to remember each of the squadron members names and personal data won him the loyalty of both officers and enlisted.

He was demanding, and drew the best from those he commanded. He had a strong capacity to hold those officers and enlisted persons who worked for him to almost West Point like standards of truth, military bearing and demeanor.

Officers were held to a strong, but not impossible, standard of morality that enlisted men were not. When a Hospital commander from a remote base in northern Africa called to complain that one of the squadron pilots had not gotten just one of his nurses pregnant, but three, the individual involved was summarily sent down to RAF Wethersfield. (The 20th TFW home base) Bartholf would have nothing more to do with that officer, who resigned a few months later. What might have been an amusing escapade to others was definitely not funny to him.

While he would not hesitate to discipline enlisted men, he considered his First Sergeant the last line before it got to him. If it got by the First sergeant, you were indeed, in "Deep Stuff", and could expect the punishment you deserved. To my recollection, few cases ever escalated to that point. While strong on discipline, he was also compassionate, writing personal notes to parents of junior enlisted men arriving at his squadron reassuring them that their sons had arrived safely on station. You could be sure the first direction you would get from him was to "write your parents".

This author was only to have one other commander in the remaining twenty years of his Air Force career that could effect an operational squadron in such a manner.

Testimony to his memory lays in a story related by one of the authors friends several years later. Years after departing Bartholfs unit, a friend of the author was walking down one of the long corridors inside the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Now a civilian, heavier, and wearing a short beard, he briefly glimpsed the General walking in the opposite direction. He said that the General, who was striding toward him heading in the opposite direction, greeted him curtly ( In the manner that most soldiers are used too.) using his first and last name.

Stunned that Bartholf should even recall him, a junior enlisted man at the time he was in the unit, he said that the General disappeared down the hallway before he could even recover enough to reply.

General Bartholf now lives in Maryland.

Tom Miller


Collecting and sharing contributions about the Twin Bases of RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk, England since 1995. Copyright © 1995-2009 Linn Barringer, All Rights Reserved.