We recently had the pleasure of talking to John Wilson of Greenwood, Arkansas, a veteran of both the Army and Marines. Mr. Wilson sent us a Milbar wire twister that had been issued to his father Peter when he served in the Air Force as an engine mechanic during the Korean War. I’ll let John tell the story…
“The pliers originally started out as a pair issued to my father (Peter Wilson) while he was in the Air Force. He was an A&P (engine mechanic) who served during the Korean War working on the B-29s. He later made MSGT crew chief on the B-52s. Unfortunately he and his crew were shot down in early July 1967 while doing bombing runs over North Vietnam. They had engine trouble and came out of high altitude and were struck by a SAM missile (surface to air). The crew’s bodies were recovered and they are buried in Riverside California in the public cemetery, due to overcrowding in the National Cemetery. Out of respect the USAF donated my dad’s tool box and all the tools inside to my mom.
I joined the military (US Army) in 1979 and became a nuclear warhead specialist. Guess what was issued in our tool boxes?? You got it- Milbar safety wire pliers. We used them to secure the bolts and timer knobs on the warheads. I served 2 years in West Germany before being transferred to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. After 4 years in the Army I was motivated to join the United States Marine Corps. So I transferred, went to boot camp and ended up in Camp Pendleton, California. My Commander did not like me being a combat engineer and changed my orders. I got a new assignment as a Harrier Electrician. Yep- I was now in the air wing. I served 6 glorious years in the Corps as a weapons and fuel wiring expert. Yes of course there were Milbar safety wire pliers in all our flight tool bags.
Bet you are wondering about the pair in my toolbox at home. Well they lay idle for a few years until about 2006, when I got my A&P and back to work they went. I was a volunteer missionary mechanic for Alfa Aviation for a few years, using them to secure equipment and control knobs on various aircraft. Although I am now retired I occasionally am asked to help repair an aircraft when needed.
The old Milbar safety wire pliers finally gave out. It no longer locks in so you can spin it. I took a chance on getting it repaired. I sent it in to Stride Tool to see if it could be fixed. No luck, but Jennifer and the crew here were very nice and sent me a new one. I will treasure it; put it to good use and care.
I’m donating the old one to the Milbar museum where it will have a nice resting place.”
John Wilson (Semper Fi to all)