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Check Six – 1962: 154th Fighter Group Competes for the Ricks Trophy

April 5, 2021
Hawaii Air National Guard photograph- click to enlarge

From the HANG 25 – History of the Hawaii Air National Guard booklet:

The 154th Fighter Group competed with six other Air Guard F-102 units in the September 1962 Ricks Trophy Event at Tyndall AFB, Florida. The HANG 27 man team, captained by Lt Col George R. Duncan, traveled to and from “America” in an Oklahoma ANG C-97. They first went to Webb AFB, Texas and borrowed some Deuces from the USAF 331st Fighter Interceptor Squadron. The team “peaked” the birds and held a pre-competition to determine the two pilots to represent the HANG. Capt. Harold Nagai and 1st Lt Richie K. Kunichika were selected. Scoring during the Rick meet was based on firing live missiles at a drone and an evaluation of the entire team. The HANG team placed third with Lt Kunichika found the “third hottest ANG F-102 interceptor pilot in the Nation.”

In this photograph are:

Back row: Steve Vada, Lloyd Seki, George “GK” Meyer, Randall Lum, Nelson “Nellie” Lee, Nicholas “Nick” Teves, Mamoru “Mamo” MinamiAndy BerardHiroshi Go, Sancho “Sandy” Espina, Ignacio “Gabe” Gabriel

Middle Row: Abraham Hiapo, Jose “Rivah” Rivera, Joseph “Joe” Domingo, Everett Rawlins, David Rodrigues, Allen Mizumoto, George Padilla, Larry Higa, Wallace “Wally” Whang

Front row: Jack Blanchard (Senior AF Advisor), Harold MattosFrank Fukui, Richie “Kuni” Kunichika, Jarret “Deke” Carr, George R. Duncan

Harold “Big Daddy” Nagai is not in this photograph

Additional comments:

David Rodririgues: I remember that trip well. When we left Webb to fly to Tyndall, Maj. Duncan did not close his canopy completely. When he got airborne, he realized what was happening, He grabbed on to the canopy, kept the stick between his legs, made a landing, secured the canopy and took off again. The rest of the flight was uneventful.

What really sticks in my mind is right after we returned home, the Cuban embargo went into effect and we were all placed on a high readiness status.

Edward Richardson: Frank Fukui was one of our most steady of our interceptor pilots and a great guy. He  got hired in the mid 1960’s ’s by Pan American and transferred to the Fresno Guard. Unfortunately he passed away of cancer a few years later. His older brother was Richard Fukui, our lead recruiter for many years. 

Andy Berard was a shining star for the radar maintenance. Hughes built and maintained the MG-10 Radar System and they hired him away from us as they did with Lloyd Seki and others. We had some very talented people working for us.

The Air National Guard’s annual award for best unit airmanship is called the Earl T. Ricks Award. The award, named for the first Air National Guard officer to head the National Guard Bureau, recognizes outstanding airmanship by Air National Guard aircrew and personnel.

Harold Mattos began his career in the enlisted ranks, became a warrant officer, and later received e direct commission to captain. He became the commander of the 154th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. He retired early because of medical challenges.

Richie “Kuni” Kunichika rose the ranks with his last assignment being the Deputy Commander for Operations in the 154th Composite Group’s tri-deputy organization.

Allan Mizumoto was commissioned and rose through the ranks. He became the Deputy Commander for Maintenance. His last assignment was as the Commander, Hawaii Air National Guard.

David Rodrigues was commissioned and served in several comm-electronics positions in the 201st Combat Communications Group and Hq, Hawaii Air National Guard. His last assignment was as the Commander, Hawaii Air National Guard.

The non-commissioned officers in the photograph were those who were the leaders in our F-102 Delta Daggar and F-4 Phantom eras.

Special thanks to Randall LumEdward Richardson, David Rodrigues, and Alan Mizumoto for identification help. 

From → History

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