We watched in amazement as the fireball rose behind the Headquarters building. A fully fueled F-105 with an extra 275 gallon fuel tank under each wing makes a hell of an explosion when it crashes on take-off. The only black flying officer I saw flying the Thunderchiefs at Bitburg was Capt Emeal Tipton, and it was his crash we watched that August in 1963. I couldn't see the crash from Bitburg Air Base itself, too many buildings in the way. I had just come out of Base Personnel office, but I could see the fireball over toward the Trier Highway. He didn't make it.
According to the Veterans of Foreign wars, Capt Tipton wouldn't qualify for membership even though he died in Germany: he was a cold warrior.
The many hours Captain Tipton spent on alert duty don't count for much officially, nor do the millions of countless hours of combat alert duty the rest of the service men and women, regardless of branch, who served around the world in the Cold War. Officially, according to the Congress of the United States, you weren't officially shot at, so you don't count as a real combat veteran. It doesn't matter if you served on alert duty aboard a U.S. Navy carrier in the freezing sleet of the North Atlantic, or in the sweltering heat of a closed tactical missile launch bay underground in Okinawa. It matters even less if you served your tour of duty in the ZI, Zone of the Interior, or in civilian language, the United States, regardless of what you did. You aren't counted as a war hero. It doesn't matter we kept the most ominous, powerful threat ever posed to our country from attacking us, possibly destroying the entire planet in the process.
We won. And nobody cares.