U.S. Air Force, Lt. Colonel
Duties - Navigator EB 66
Medals - Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal 7 Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Longevity Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Air Force Outstanding Unit Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and New York State Conspicuous Medal
Alfred Kawski, U.S. Air Force
Married - Oct. 1, 1960, in full uniform to Judy (Owen) Kawski at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Fredonia.
Children: Scott, Pamela, Jennifer
Grandchildren: Dustin, Brittany, Amber, Autumn
Alfred Kawski was born on May 17, 1937, at the family home on Webster Road in Fredonia. He was the son of Joseph and Pearl (Berneski) Kawski. As a child he played constantly with his cousin Jim Kawski on their grape farm. He had eight brothers and one sister.
When school came around he was off to St. Joseph's Elementary School in Fredonia for his first two years of school. When he entered the third grade he attended the Brocton school district. While at Brocton, he played baseball and loved cross country running. When he wasn't working at the family grape farm, he was employed at the Miller Pickle Factory in Brocton. He held the positions of pickle dipping, dumping, and pickle processing. Kawski attended Alfred College and received his degree in agricultural engineering. He received his diploma in two years.
When he graduated from college and the draft was being put in place, luck wasn't on his side. His birthdate brought him the number 10 position in the draft. Since he held this number and held a degree, he decided to join the United States Air Force. While talking to the Air Force recruiter in Dunkirk, Kawski decided to apply for the aviation cadet program. Kawski signed a paper that gave the United States Air Force the next five years of his life. The first year was basic Air Force training and he was given the rank of second lieutenant. He then went on to fly the T-29 and received his wings.
After the first 100 hours, he decided his future in the Air Force was to be a navigator. He had two important things on his mind after receiving his first 30-day leave. First on his list was to go back home to Brocton to marry his sweetheart and then prepare for his next set of orders. Those orders became his first official duty station.
The new orders read: report to Camp Keesler, commanding officer, electronic warfare school in Biloxi, Miss. The school in Biloxi trained in jamming enemy radar. This station would be the first of many. Next Kawski was off to Stewart, AFB in Newburg, N.Y., a base located near New York City. At this base he received the rank of first lieutenant and trained in the Air Force's EB-57 (electronics bomber). This training was to check out our air defense radar to ensure that the Russian air defense couldn't enter ours. While at this duty station to ensure our defenses were effective meant that Kawski covered air spaces as far away as Bermuda, Goose Bay Labrador, Baffin Island and the entire east coast.
Training also included simulator training in which his duties were to try and shoot down our own planes to confirm our electronics warfare equipment met its highest standards. These tests brought the competition between the jamming and combat incoming force and our pilots from our F102S and 106S.
In 1964 Kawski was ordered to Toule Roseair in France. His duties were to fly in the EB66S. His job was to do surveillance of Soviet Union radar across the border in Germany and Russia. His flights flew him right on the borders as international law permitted. In many cases these flights were to attract Soviets to see if they would shoot. We tried to get as close as we could without starting a war.
Kawski's military duty stations continued. Next came Talkie, Thailand. His new TAOR (territory assigned of responsibility) is now North Vietnam and Laos. He flew support for the new F105 by jamming radars so the pilots could drop their bombs. He completed 80 missions over Vietnam and Laos. His memories of that time were all the free drinks he got in the officers' club from the F105 pilots. This brought him so much satisfaction knowing he did some good helping those young pilots.
He recalled one mission while in the officer's club. While he was playing cards, the ranking officer came up to him and asked him if he would take a midnight mission. Kawski was assigned to take a mission that same day, during the morning. He agreed and was moved up to fly at midnight. His mission returned without incident. Kawski later that day learned that the mission he was supposed to take didn't make it. The mission he was scheduled on went down.
On another mission he also recalled a F105 going down near the Red River. With his plane in the air they were called in to stay over the downed aircraft until the jolly green giant picked him up. In their return, after covering that downed pilot his flight to divert to an airstrip 100 miles from their main airstrip because of the downed pilot was now landing on empty.
After Vietnam came Topshim AFB Maine for 18 months. Kawski was now the electronic adviser and recalled the computer at his base for electronic warfare was three stories high and 300 feet by 300 inches in diameter. He recalled its memory was less than one of today's laptops. The first two floors were all vacuum tubes.
In 1969 came the new duty station of Colorado Springs, along with the rank of major. His duties were to man the air defense system. This was where he wrote the regulations for the EF 111 our new jamming aircraft. His duties also included the AWACS (airborn warning airborn control system). He worked on its initial development. The plane was so sophisticated that he once took a flight from Goose Bay Labrador to Seattle where the pilot never touched a control. The plane arrived less than one mile off course.
In 1973 brought orders to Edwards AFB which meant many daily flights to Las Vegas to work on projects for the Nevada test site. The rank of Lt. Colonel was now ALS and the duties of working on numerous projects of national security came with the new rank. One of the projects were the F 117 and test director on this new stealth aircraft.
Kawski retired in August 1981 when orders for the Pentagon came. He declined and at age 42 he was now a civilian and was happy to come back to Brocton and manage the Owens Country Store. Kawski loves to garden and travel. Costa Rica is his favorite place to travel to followed by New Zealand and Amsterdam.
What a story! Alfred Kawski, what dedication he had for this country. All those duty stations and assignments. The things he had done and seen. The flights over Vietnam to take the heat off the guys with the bombs to support our troops on the ground. Kawski had assignments that most of us had never heard of. It's an honor to know that we here in Chautauqua County have veterans like Alfred Kawski. It was my honor to sit with Alfred and his wife Judy.
Alfred's story is long because of all the accomplishments and the duty stations. He was just doing what he was told to do. To be just given those duties must have required the utmost respect of Kawski from our government. You can see the love he has for this country, his wife and family.
When doing these stories I never get to talk about the wives of these veterans. On Oct. 1, 1960, Judy Owen married Alfred and was the wife of second lieutenant. She shared her husband with the Air Force until August of 1981. She also raised three children with Kawski, not knowing where in the world her husband may be flying that day. They had no regrets. It seemed they served together and for that we need to say thank you to Alfred and Judy for serving. That is why Alfred Kawski is our hero of the week.