T’was the Night Before

Neil Cosentino

It was the night before Christmas Eve in 1970 at Torrejon Air Base near Madrid, Spain. I was a captain in the United States Air Force and the junior aircraft commander of one of the three Strategic Air Command (SAC) KC-135 tankers.  We were from three different air bases. My home base was Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. We were there to provide backup air refueling for the SIOP war plan, emergency air refueling and training sorties. It would be another Christmas on SAC alert duty away from our families.

It was the first day of my two days off from alert duty. I had made plans to go into Madrid and do my favorite thing: enjoying the city as if it were a living museum. I was always surprised during my walks in Madrid, London, Paris, Tokyo, Copenhagen or Rome that when I roamed these cities at random,  (More…)