FROM THE PAST
Guest Book Entries for 2001
please feel free to make an entry in:
Additionally, if you feel you qualify to join the Blackbird Association see the link at the bottom of this page or Click Here and go directly to that link.
There are Nineteen
total web pages that comprise the
"SR-71 Alma Mater and Recollections of the Past"
The original web page (the one you are on now) had grown to over 3 Megs in size. To expedite your Browser loading, I have divided the "Guest book" Entries into Chronological year groups by dates the e-mail was received..
Mon, 31 Dec 2001 01:02 Jeff Moore Writes:
My dad worked on an SR71 ground crew. His name is Gerald "Jerry"
He left the Air Force as a SSgt & spent time at Beale and in Okinawa.
I was just wondering if you or anyone remembers him.
Sun, 30 Dec 2001 22:58:
Don Pugh, TSgt, Ret Writes: I had never heard of the SR-71 until I was in Tech School, learning
Avionic Sensor Systems. Once I did, I never thought I'd have the chance to actually work on it. I was the last one in class to receive my
assignment and was surprised that I was going to get the chance of a life time. However, my arrival at Beale was less than
pleasant and left me in doubt when I tried to report for duty. The AMS orderly Room told me I needed to report
to OMS, and the OMS orderly room told me that I needed to report to AMS. After a lot of confusion, AMS lost the toss and they had to take me in.
I was assigned to the SLR shop and I began living the dream. I was there when Pete Fisher went "Bats". My brother now owns my old Barracuda the Pete
stenciled "Bat Approved" on the rear window. And many were the night that I partied at Chuck Walton's house. As for "SR" memories, I'll never forget
the thrill of sitting in the rear seat with the canopy closed and the systems all lit up. I left for Korea shortly after that and didn't see the SR again
until I was stationed in England from 86 to 91. While Mildenhall was doing repairs
on their runways, the SR was parked at Lakenheath. I requested and got permission to go out and video tape the SR from taxi to launch. I can still
see the tower using the flashing Green lights that indicated they were cleared for take off. The only regrets I have are that I didn't get enough pictures of
the places I worked and the great bunch of people I worked with.
Don Pugh, TSgt, Ret
Email Updated April 01, 2005
Sat, 22 Dec 2001 23:14
Billy Rohm Writes: I'm sad to announce that Don Hornbrook, one of the first
crew chiefs , Master Crew chiefs, in the organization passed away this morning, 22
December 2001. I grew up on Lark Drive, just up the road from Hornbrook, went to school with his daughter. He was kind of a grumpy old fart, I thought. It's just been in the last few years I came to know him well, to meet the person he really was, to listen to his stories from driving Mrs. McCarthur (the General's wife) around Japan to the "international statue incident" (still in a backyard in Yuba City!!) Don was 72 and his memory was clear and sharp. With great pride he remembered all of the guys from the early days until he retired. Clearly, his involvement with the SR-71 was the highlight of his career. His love and respect for God, the aircraft, the people he worked with and his career in the United States Air Force was with him until the end.
Mon, 24 Dec 2001 00:44
Tony Bevacqua (Forwarded Message) Writes: Jim
(Kogler) is in Rideout Hospital, Marysville, CA, being treated for a brain
tumor. Right now they are trying to reduce it with dex...something. Can't (?) do anything more until after Christmas. He is in room 403B (530)
749-4300. I just talked to him and got the info provided to you from him. Please pray for his recovery. Thanks a lot.
Mon, 24 Dec 2001 20:06
John T. Dinubilo, CMSGT, USAF, Ret. Writes: Those big, beautiful black-birds that launched from Beale AFB had to get
depot-level maintenance from somewhere. That "somewhere" was the Skunk Works at Palmdale, CA. The Air Force PSD folks who inserted,
launched, and recovered SR-71 maintenance flights out of Palmdale were
from Edwards AFB, CA. The PSD folks from Edwards would work along side civilian and/or NASA technicians for these missions.
Edwards AFB had a complete operations section for SR-71 support and also ran the Air Force Full Pressure Suit Depot for Air Force and Navy operations for aircraft other than the SR-71. (The PSD folks from Beale had world-wide TDY requirements to support SR-71 operations. The PSD folks from Edwards had to go to Corpus Cristi, TX, once in a while to support Navy special operations using AF full pressure suits. Tough duty...)
Three to five times a week a crew from the Edwards AFB PSD would travel to Palmdale to suit-up, insert, and launch an early morning SR-71 flight. Some times, on a typical maintenance or training flight, the mission would RTB back to Palmdale. Some times the mission would go directly to Beale AFB to enter operational service. Some times the mission would launch, the Edwards PSD folks would be relieved of duty, and the bird would be recovered elsewhere by other technicians. The Edwards PSD folks did a superb job for many years in support of theSR-71 program. Hats off to them...
John T. Dinubilo
CMSGT, USAF, RET
CEM, Edwards AFB PSD
'78 - '80
Mon, 24 Dec 2001 03:30 Greg Holder Writes:
I miss it terribly. Nothing like doing something that had such an impact on our lives. I don't think I'll ever know the full impact of our efforts. Some of my fondest memories are of crewing SR-71's and U-2.
If you remember me feel free to e-mail me. GREG
Sun, 23 Dec 2001 13:35 Gary D. Cibart (formerly SSgt) Writes:
Started with the U-2's in 1974 and went to Beale AFB in 1976 when the two units merged. Have been to OL-AA, Det 1, Det 2, and many others I can't name. The best outfit anyone could ever be in.
I was with both airplanes for over 14 years.
Gary D. Cibart
Sat, 22 Dec 2001 06:59 Ret. MSgt. Joe Mata Writes:
I got my turn to serve with the blackbird program during the following years. 1984 thru 1987 when I elected to retire. I was assigned to the Repair and Reclamation shop at Beale.
We spent many hours working on both the SR & TR1's.
Ret. MSgt. Joe Mata
Sun, 16 Dec 2001 10:35 SSgt Clayton Jenkins Writes: I was stationed at Beale AFB from 1967 until March 1970. I worked in the 9th FMS Engine Shop, I believe the shop chief was CMSgt Gaudet at that time. I lived in both the old barracks and the newer ones over the by the chow hall. I had a roomie named Mungia who lived in Sacramento. I haven't seen or talked with anyone from the old unit since I left California.
SSgt Clayton Jenkins
Tue, 11 Dec 2001 09:04 Sgt (E4) Henry Kunkle Writes:
I was with the 9rts from Oct. 68 till Jan. 70. I worked as a R404. with Sgt. Kasterson and I want to say "HI" to my old friends.
I hope to see you next year.
Sgt (E4) Henry Kunkle
Sat, 8 Dec 2001 09:22 T.D. Barnes
Writes: I just now found this excellent web site. It certainly brings back old memories, which, as I age,
means so much and makes me wish for a second chance to do more. I became aware of the A-12 activities at
Groom while employed as technical advisor and later as station manager of NASA's Beatty Station of the
NASA High Range Tracking Stations for the X-15, XB-70, and Lifting Body flights. In 1965 we
participated in the speed test of the Blackbird. My awareness of something going on at Groom came from
our Mod-2 radar picking up skin track of some of the flights. We were also receiving interference on our
UHF communications channel with the X-15 pilots. When we complained, NASA investigated and was
strongly notified us that we weren't hearing "S...." and to not mention it again. I must have caught
someone's attention, because shortly thereafter I was recruited into a special projects group at Groom for
"Have Drill" and the early stages of "Have Blue". I was fortunate to get there in time to support the A-12
program as the project wrapped up and these excellent Machbusters retired to Palmdale. At the 50th
Anniversary of NASA, I enjoyed meeting the SR crews now flying the Blackbird for NASA. It is a great
honor to be a member of Roadrunners Internationale, however, instead of having a support role in the
Oxcart Program, I wish I could have been one of the mission pilots.
Fri, 30 Nov 2001 19:07 SSgt Marvin Davis Writes:
Stationed at Beale from 1967-1970. With 9th OMS. Assistant crew chief
SSgt Marvin Davis
Mon, 26 Nov 2001 08:56
A G 'Sam' Parkin, Squadron Leader, RAF (Retired) Writes: As a resident in Farnbrough, Hampshire, UK for the past 9 years, since I
left the Royal Air Force, I have only just found your web site whilst looking for some data on next year's Farnborough Air Show, where the
Blackbird arrived in September 1974. To find so many memories of the Blackbird's first visit to Farnborough is
wonderful, because on 1 September 1974 I was the RAF air traffic controller at 'London Military Radar' (London Mil) who was assigned that
afternoon to monitor and speak to Blackbird as she came into UK airspace off the Atlantic Ocean. She was nearly at the end of her incredible speed record run, the end of which was a point above the English Channel due south of St. Catherine's point, the southerly tip of the Isle of Wight just off the south coast of UK near Southampton. My brief was to establish and maintain R/T contact with the aircraft's captain and track the aircraft, until it crossed south abeam St Catherine's. I was then to hand the aircraft over to another RAF controller based at 'Eastern Radar' at Watton in Norfolk, who was to take the Blackbird in a descending, decelerating left turn for eventual landing. Once the speed-run was complete, and I had handed the aircraft over to 'Eastern Radar', I quit the control seat to go for a break. I was told later that the arc of turn was not quite was as tight as expected and the Blackbird was well inside Dutch airspace before she rolled out on a westerly heading coming back into UK airspace for final
recovery, but that is hear-say!!! I did, nevertheless, go to the Farnborough Air Show that year to look at what had for me been just a radar return. She was magnificent and I just wish I had made contact with the crew at
the time. I sit now in an office, still in the ATC business, but sadly no longer at the sharp-end of controlling, but with some happy memories of controlling the Blackbird and an awful lot of other USAF hardware (F4, F111, KC 135) that was based 'this side of the pond' at the time.
Best wishes to all,
A G 'Sam' Parkin, Squadron Leader, RAF (Retired)
Sun, 25 Nov 2001 15 Terry Wickham TSgt (Ret) Writes:
Hi! I am Terry Wickham, TSgt, Retired and an ex member of the famed Habu outfit. I was assigned to the 9th AMS in 1969. I was later in the Photo shop where I became NCOIC of the TEOC camera system. Thanks to a great Tech Rep...David Nolte, we were able to maintain a 98.6% reliability rate. I also had a great bunch of people working for me, which made my job a whole lot easier. I sure would like to hear from some of them. My best to a great bunch i.e. "The Habus".
Terry Wickham TSgt (Ret)
Sat, 24 Nov 2001 22:01 Gerald L. George Writes: I was assigned to the 9th Recon..Temp from the 456 FMS after serving a on Operation Arc Light 1966...Served 4 years at Beale AFB with the 456 FMS as a Jet Engine Mechanic.. B52 and KC 135...would like to meet others who were also with the 456 FMS as well...Gerald L. George....just retired from GE after 28 years as a Jet Engine Inspector. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
PS go to Marysville and Yuba City Often. My Wife is from there...
Gerald L. George
Sat, 24 Nov 2001 06:46 S/Sgt Melvin L. Bogard Writes:
I was assigned to the 4200 in March of 1965. Worked in the Com/Nav shop. I often recall the times I spent there. It was an honor and a privilege to be associated with such a marvelous machine. I was discharged and left Beale in December 1968. I was part of the first deployment to Kadena in early 1968(?).
S/Sgt Melvin L. Bogard
Thu, 22 Nov 2001 13:21
CMS Fred King Writes: I just stumbled across your website and the only thing that comes to mind
is "fantastic." You have done a great job of putting a lot of memories of a lot of people together. I served in the 9 AMS SLR shop from 1972 to
1978 and returned after a tour at Zweibrucken, GE in 1981 until 1989. During my second tour at Beale, I was honored by also serving as Mission
Systems Branch Chief, acting First Sergeant of 9 AMS, PMEL Branch Chief and in the LG office of 14 AD where my getting promoted to CMS resulted
in my getting assigned to KI Sawyer, MI. I retired in 1990 and returned to Yuba City where I presently live with my wife and work as an
accountant at a local utility district. I wouldn't trade my experiences with the SR-71 and the people of the 9 SRW for anything. The aircraft
was a dream to work on (at least for my shop) and the mission was very interesting. There are a number of retired Habu's living in the area and
I enjoy running into them occasionally and telling a few "war stories." Your site has given me numerous e-mail addresses of folks I intend to
look up in the days to come. Thanks for the memories!
CMS Fred King
Thu, 22 Nov 2001 09 Former SSGT. Bill Duffy Writes: Spent '69-'72 W/the 9 OMS as a recovery team member/chief worked with Billy Jack, Lee Pierce, Billy Hill was recovery boss most of the time. Spent more time off Beale than on---- How to live in a bad marriage, my way!! Took the first Bird to Offutt for static display with a truly great gang including FMS Herb Greathouse, AMS Tom Dickerson ( a true nut case) but what a ball we had! Many side trips to Hill AFB, Barksdale, U-Tapao. No one told me they drove on the wrong side of the street so after taking the 55 passenger bus around the first turn there I was driving into oncoming traffic. Trips to D-M, OL-8,etc. Remember getting my Run-up License and my first Engine run--- What a handful! Remember the year we kept losing Birds while IFR-ing. Many hot summer days in the intakes doing bypass door droop checks with a tech rep who drove a VW Baja Buggy- He kept laughing at me because I was soooo fat and was one of few who could squeeze into the intake. I recall one of my first times at OL-* one very overcast morning a Habu went up and all but laid it over on it's back to get it thru a hole in the clouds, Gorgeous! The early morn take-off from Hill AFB on a COLD overcast day and the crew Lit the cans and OUR Baby was backed up by those beautiful snow covered mountains surrounding the base. After the 9TH went to Spangdahlem AB Germany, ran into T/Sgt Melvin Perry there( he and his wife were the most beautiful dancing team! Later ran into M/Sgt Gene Mallory as he was passing thru. But after the 9th, the Air Force held nothing for me so I got out and worked for years for NATO/SHAPE support Group (US) all over Europe came back to the U.S. as my Dad was dying. Remember when Chief John Kelly painted his little car like a flag and was told it was desecrating!, wouldn't fly in these times. In the words of CMS Paul Spratt That's it "Gents". Still hear from former AIRMAN OF THE YEAR David Horn, Ray Zacher, the Habu illustrator and M/Sgt Ret Bob Sweeney among many other Habu's. Gotta get packed, my life's work takes me other places for better reasons these days. Off to Israel, soon, then maybe Moldova, who knows! All my love to the most professional people the Gov't ever had on it's payrolls. Nose up -Burners in 7th stage!
24 Nov 2001 13:58: OK, all you fellow HABU'S.... Only I know where the original 9 OMS Beale AFB dayroom picture of #950 in flight is and what was the white stripe around the nose all about? Say Have a wonderful Holiday season my friends of old, God speed to all,
Mon, 19 Nov 2001 12:38 SRA Joseph DeLong Writes:
I spent 4 years associated with the SR-71 from 1982 through 1985 I was stationed at Beale AFB with the 9th AMS SLR group.
I also had a TDY to Kadena in '85.
SRA Joseph DeLong
Sun, 18 Nov 2001 18:32
SSgt. Joe Satterwhite Writes: After completing tech school as a
43151C, I arrived at Beale AFB in the summer of 1966. Training in aircraft maintenance
just couldn't prepare anyone for their first sight of the Blackbird, and my first entry into
the hanger was absolutely awe inspiring. I wouldn't trade those (3) years for anything.
Made some good friends there, but hard to place many names, though I have kept contact with
Sgt. Rick Sexton through the years. His (name) recollections being better
than mine, I've mined his memories and can recall MSgt.
Reynolds, CMSgt. Gornik, CMSgt.
Turner, Sgt. Reiser, TSgt.
Person, SSgt. Jarvis, SSgt.
Nickerson, and SSgt. Bets. A1C Cheatheam and
Sgt. Paul Swartz lived in same barracks wing next to the
chow hall, as did A1C Lee (or was it Larry)? Stout. I've often wondered about Stout, as
he and I shared a love of art. A1C John Neal was a roommate of mine, and we did hit
the Kabuki Lounge in Yuba City a few times. John stayed in Marysville, and owns an
aircraft facility. It was good to hear from him again after so many years. I put in for S.E.A. in '67, made SSgt., and was a Crew Chief on the F4-C in
Ubon, Thailand, for my last year in service. I would enjoy hearing from anyone else that
shared those times.
SSgt. Joe Satterwhite
Tue, 23 Oct 2001 12:34 Ray Zacher Writes: I was stationed at Beale from November 1969 to August 1973. I was in the 9th SRW in wing headquarters. My work was in the old SAGE bldg. as an Illustrator. Two TDY's to Okinawa. What a privilege to be assigned to this special outfit (although, being pretty young, not fully appreciating it). Some names remembered: Msgt. John Harmon; TSgt. Jay Brazell; LtCol Hewitt; LtCol Wilt; LtCol Ball; Maj. Ward; Maj. Larry Gindlesperger; LtCol Gilliland; LtCol Steve Harrop; SSgt Vic Roth, and several others.
Tue, 13 Nov 2001 11:57 Ray Zacher Writes:
Hello! I made the original "Habu" picture back in 1971 for Bill
Duffy. He recently sent me a print of it that I have framed. But before framing, a friend of mine scanned it for me and here is one of the files.
This is a jpeg format file which is small enough for most e-mail servers. It can be enlarged and printed out.
More names come to mind when I worked in the "vault" in the old SAGE bldg: Sgt.Glenn
Sweet; SSgt. Art (Lump) Lombardi; SSgt. Jerry
Miller; Sgt. Mark Kramer; SSgt. Bill Miller - all fellow illustrators. Also,
Sgt. Ernie Kraus; MSgt. Charles
Aldous, SSgt. Dominic Creazzo; Sgt. George
Pinson; LtCol. McCall (whom I owe a debt of gratitude for driving me to the
hospital when having a kidney stone attack in 1972 - thank you!); TSgt.
Charlton. Some of the guys in the barracks: A1C Dave
Cheney; A1C Rob Graves; A1C
Greg Lund; Sgt. Braun; Sgt. Joe
Bane; Sgt. Beaven; Sgt. Duane Herrman (sic);
Sgt. Lee Fong; SSgt. Dave Burk (my longtime roommate - where are you?);
Sgt. Ed (Jeep, Aerojet) Arrioja, TSgt. Dave
Heslop; SSgt. Pete Swanson. And last, but not least -
SSgt. Bill Duffy - hello, good friend! Great memories of the many shenanigans pulled at Kadena - Shooting
fireworks at the cabbies from the 2nd floor balcony, pulling off "sapper" attacks
with fireworks in the barracks, Rolling bowling balls and hitting the G.I. cans in the hallways and making a
tremendous amount of racket in the process! By the way, is the concrete lion/tiger still at Beale? It was stolen and
flown to Beale in 1969, I believe. Also, showing up at work with gargantuan hangovers (my job was not critical to the safety of the mission, thank
goodness!), and so many others. And last for now, the hot dog snack bar at the flight line at Kadena and using the Autovon line to call home (and
getting cut off without warning)!
Sgt. Raymond Zacher
Editors Note: The following "Habu" artwork is shown in small format for this web page. Download the large image or the smaller one for your personal use. Thanks goes out to Ray Zacher (Illustrator) and Bill Duffy for sending it to us.
Large Image-1500X1050, 253kb
Small Image-640X480, 67kb (Shown below)
Fri, 9 Nov 2001 17:26
Bouke (Bob) Meyer Writes: I feel very fortunate to have been stationed at Det 4, 9th SW, RAF
Mildenhall, UK. I worked on the generators that supported the photo
processing vans. During a 6 month shut down of the RAF Mildenhall runway I was lucky enough to supply direct electrical ground support to the Bird. In late 89 I got permission for an early release from active duty (Thanks, Thomas J. Henichek) ,to pursue a job with Lockheed, working on the SR. Within weeks of the approval, the program was cancelled.
Bouke (Bob) Meyer
Thu, 8 Nov 2001 13:50 TSgt Colman W. Beulah (Ret.) Writes: Arrived at Beale in Oct. 1974 and was assign to the Photo shop later move to squadron training and worked with Bob Carmody. Was selected for the initial PCS package to Det.1 as sensor shop chief. Chuck Walton , Dave Leach, Sheffy Fields, Mike Herrero, Howie Fallis, with out you guys it would have been tough. Thanks. Wag Sherrow you were a great boss. Things that are fond memories, the softball games; Habu hill; driving taxis; the speed run with Widdiefield and Sullivan - New York to London; the start cart's two 255cu in engines tied in series; the dog and pony show for the VIP'S; the spider dolly; the long tanker rides to and from the Ranch; Habu fish hook story; sensor/photo load changes my favorite. Coming over Habu hill and seeing all those Japanese with cameras waiting for the launch; the Habu bowling team. I guess the one memory of all, was when the a/c came back early the hanger floor had been mopped because of the JP7 leaking from the a/c when parked. When they taxied the a/c into the hanger as usual and applied the brakes the a/c started to slide through the hanger and everyone ran to the a/c trying to stop it. Man! we must have been crazy but we did stop it. Another foot or so the pitot tube would have been in the blast shield behind the T- hanger. Then there was that awesome sound of engine run up. I am thankful to have had the privilege to work with the best the AF had to offer in Enlisted and Officers. I remember my first crew debrief and said "Sir". The pilot said don't say Sir, it's you guys that are important. You take care of my butt. Most of all I'm proud to be a Habu. Looking for some old friends Barney Hunter, Jose Carmona, Terry Wickham, Stuzman, Ed Martin, Dave Nolte or other Photo/SLR troops-1974 to 1982. To Chuck Walton and David Leach I knew what LTB meant. HABU forever.
Thu, 8 Nov 2001 08:17
SSgt. Richard Craft Writes: Hi all Just ran into this sight looking for some pictures. What a great
idea. I was proud to serve at Beale AFB in the Hydraulics shop from 1971 to 1979. During the first few years I worked on B-52 and the KC-135.
The 456th Bombardment SQ was changed to the 17th Bombardment SQ in 1976 an then disbanded. We all became the 9th Recon wing and the B-52 left
and was replaced by the U2. We all joined with the SR-71 Hydraulic shop and started our share of TDY' to England and Japan. I remember
Ms Getty, Gayle, Floyd, from IFR which also combined with Hyd. I can see peoples
faces but I can't seem to remember names. I have stirred a lot of good memories. I am proud to have served with all of you on the most unique
aircraft in history with the most dedicated men and women of the Air Force. After the service I was hired by McClellan AFB as a Hydraulic
Tech. After the base closure and retiring in 1999, I am still working with McClellan Park (county of Sacramento) and Hamilton-Clarke
Industries. God Bless You all.
Wed, 7 Nov 2001 23:37
George Vojvodich Writes: WOW, I have heard that there was some info. on the net but when I
meet an air force Major at a car dealership today and we started revisiting the air force
and talking about C-130's and the good old F4C in Viet-Nam it really got me thinking about the days I spent in the
air force as a young kid; my brother telling me about a super bird that he test
piloted. As you may have guessed I was really fired up when the Maj. told me how to find
this info. on the net. I had a great time on a elk hunt with my brother and another test
pilot name Jack Latten along with the flight surgeon for that group of men. All I
can say is WOW!!!! You all did a great job with the program that you were working on. I never had much info. on the black bird, but I really was impressed to see the picture of my brother (Mel Vojvodich) and your web site, please keep up the good work.
Sat, 27 Oct 2001 21:40:42 -0700 (PDT) LTC Joe Rabe Writes: In 1968 I was a SGT assigned to Beale AFB outside of Marysville CA. I was a USAF Air Traffic Controller, assigned to the Beale Air Port Tower. That summer I was to meet Robert Kennedy and see him killed two weeks later. We also Lost DR. King and suffered the anti-war demonstrations. Three great and exciting things I remember from 1968 were the Apollo mission to circle the Moon, a girl named...I can't recall her name after all these years but I remember HER, and I remember The Blackbird! It was and is to me the most beautiful bad ass aircraft I ever had the honor to work...The hanger doors opened, the Blackbird taxied out made a left turn as the crew chief saluted. Ground called "...is cleared above flight level eight zero thousand, flight planed route, contact tower on three forty six point zero, have a good flight" Local control would say upon contact "Blackbird max performance climb is approved, cleared for take off" The mighty engines roared into after burner, the tower windows shook and we could feel the vibrations as the ship rotated and climbed almost straight up.
LTC Joe Rabe
Tue, 23 Oct 2001 22:04:18 William "Wild Bill" Duffy Writes: Lee, am totally impressed with your web site, of course Who would expect less from the illustrious Sgt. SAC!. Great to hear about you this late in life, Bill Duffy.
Thu, 25 Oct 2001 15:16: Bill Duffy
Writes: I can't believe that this wonderful resource is your work or better said, Who else
could've pulled it off. It has brought me great joy contacting the other Habu's and Bealies. Spoke recently with
Bob Sweeney, Dave Heslop
, and Dave Horn, I have remained in touch with some
others over the years and one of them found your (our) web site. Your work has been a Blessing to many and God bless you for your
you remembered my name! Went to Germany in '71 found it was another man's Air Force Got out, went to work for Nato/Shape Support Group in Belgium, then Holland and Germany. I did Italy, Spain, Libya, and Africa until I lost my Dad in the '80s then came back to Florida. I am now enjoying life
north of Tampa near to my 9 Brothers and Sisters and all of their offspring. Having dinner @ Mom's tonight (scallops) the big ones --We spoil each other! Gotta run might find something to do. Bill the Habu Guru.
William (Bill) Duffy
Wed, 24 Oct 2001 20:47
Sgt. Eddie Hickman Writes: I served in the 9th RTS photo maintenance shop from Feb 1967 until July
1970. I would like to say hello to Sam Lockridge,
Ken Kesterson, Len Dill,
Bill Langston, Hector Neria,
Walter Williams, Mike
Sonnenberg, Delmar Anthony, Joe
Klein, Joe Felder, Joe
Harrison, Gary Posey, Jose
Galvin, Bob Mocklin, Jim
Brown, David Sourwine, Jerry
Ingram, Sgt Dennison and Fred
Maloney. If I missed anyone, it's been a lot of years! Also hello to Ed Barfield and
Bruce Elias in power production.
All were good folks and I wish you well.
Sgt. Eddie Hickman
Tue, 23 Oct 2001 21:45 TSgt Ronald Schlenker Writes:
Project Blue Feather Edwards AFB 1965-1968 and 4200 OE&T Beale AFB 1968-1973.
Mon, 29 Oct 2001 22:20:30 -0800 (PST) TSgt Ronald Schlenker Writes: My name is Ron Schlenker TSGT Ret.- 1976 at Barksdale AFB, LA. I was assigned to the 4200 OT&T at Edwards AFB from 1965-1968 Hyd shop SAC project Blue Feather. At this time we didn't have any SR-71's to work on. We were all assigned to AFSC/SAC/ADC together. We work on the YF-12, three were built 934/935/936, these were all metal no stealth like the SR-71. The people that we had in the SAC Hyd shop MSGT Dickey/MSGT Cain/MSGT Jones/TSGT Hopkins/SSGT Esestes/SSGT Rogers/SSGT Moseley, I was a SSGT at this time also. Do any of you guys know these troop's or worked with them? We didn't have any tech data at this time, we used prints and word of mouth. Some of the names that were used at this time were Buick Start Cart/Hyd Mule/Hot Gig/Tab Cart/N2 Bottles/Hyd service Cart/ADS/L&R-A&B systems. I have so many stories to tell but don't have enough room for them at this time. Will write more later. HABU
Tue, 6 Nov 2001 12:01:57 -0800 (PST) TSgt Ronald Schlenker Writes: I was assigned to Edwards AFB in May 1965. (SAC project Blue Feather) At this time we did not have any SR-71. We were all assigned to the 4200
OE&T Sq. With no SR-71's we worked along side with AFSC,SAC and ADC, YF12's. They had three YF12's #934,#935 and #936. We had little tech data at the time, everything was word of mouth or Check Lists. I remember one time with had a rudder servo change on the YF12 and the little tech data we had at the time said to torque the hydraulic line's in (inch pounds). After about the 6th time of changing these metal seals at a cost of about $600.00, AFSC MSGT Hawkins, hydraulic shop supervisor, called the Lockheed people to find out why these seals did not hold up to the pressure. When ask how much torque was applied to the fittings, we were told it should be in foot pounds. So this was the first in many of our encounters in the test program. I have many more to tell but ran out of space. Ron HABU!
Fri, 9 Nov 2001 08:31 Story #2 While we were waiting for our first SR to work on, we spent a lot of time at building #1810 with the YF12's . Most of the time we just sat around and played cards and chess. Some of you guy's who were there will remember those close chess games. Anyway when there was work to do, we had long hours working out problem's on those YF12's. At this time, whenever a hydraulic line or unit was opened we had to hot gig the bird. The information we had was to bleed the system for about one hour and then hot gig to about 600 degree's, disconnect and bleed another hour. All this took about 4 to 5 hours. Later on in the program, we found out we only had to bleed the system until all the air was free. Can you imagine setting in that cockpit all those hours.. back and forth with that control stick, those hydraulic mule's were singing a hot tune when we got through.
Story #3 In July all SAC people started school on the SR, we had to go down to Palmdale plant #42 everyday. WE rode this bus that would pick us up at the quick-pack store in the housing area. On the way down we would play spade's and some of those game would get a little heated and on the way back we would pick up where we left off. One morning our bus was broke and we had to break up in small group's to ride in these van's. There was about 9 of us in this van and we were running late. We always went out the south gate to school . This one MSgt, whom I will not name, was a little hung over from the night before. Anyway, he fell asleep on the back seat on the way down. Sgt.O'Neal was driving and up head of us was this guy along the side of the road with this German shepherd dog. The dog started coming at us right in the middle of road. Sgt Zorre's yelled at Sgt O'Neal "Don't hit that dog he will turn this van over." So, Sgt O'Neal hits the brake's and the van started to slide sideways, down the bank we go and up the other side across the road down the other side up the bank back up to the road making a "180" and the van is heading in the same direction. At this time we didn't have any seat belt's in the van and everybody was holding on to the seat's. After everybody checked their pant's, this Msgt that was in the back seat, slept threw the whole thing. When he woke up he ask why the van had stopped. We all had a big laugh when everybody settled down. More stories later. Ron HABU!
Mon, 12 Nov 2001 20:54 Story #4 While going to SR school at plant #42 they only had at that time 5 proto-built
SR-71's. 950/951/952 Lockheed worked on for testing and 953/954 AFSC tested for instrumentation and flight control. SAC did not have any A/C assigned yet, #955 was going to be the first production SR built for testing at Edwards and the 4200 OE&T would start the long road in testing, for ground crews and flight crews. This was around the fall of 1965. MSgt Benjamin was going to be crew chief for A/C 955 and everyday while at school we would go down at brake time to the production line at the plant to see how far along they were on #955. Finally the day came for the first flight for #955 and I had the privilege to be on the launch truck for that historic day when #955 would record it's first hr's of flying. I think that #955 was one of the last few SR's that was flying before they cancelled the program all together. I think that first flight for #955 was a little over 1 hr. 1965 was a long time ago and looking back at that moment in time was the start of something that no other A/C in the world could ever come close to. Ron HABU!
TSgt Ronald Schlenker
Mon, 22 Oct 2001 12:09
MSgt (Retired) Robert F. Papaik Writes: Not being of the 9th generation, I would like to know if there is an
organization for the "Roadrunners" of the 1129th Special Activities Squadron? I spent 3 wonderful years at the "Ranch" and worked with
some very outstanding personnel. My immediate bosses were Colonel John R. Kelly, and Colonel Amundson. I also worked with Major Culp and Major Gugin and with my buddy MSgt Daryl Ziegler. Zig and I had the responsibility of insuring that flight reports for the bird were transmitted immediately following each test flight, so if a test was scheduled for Friday, we would draw cards to see which of us would remain on site to transmit the flight report. As anyone associated with the SR-71 knew, a 9AM flight could mean 3 or 4PM, because it had a temperamental soul. It was a great assignment.
MSgt (Retired) Robert F. Papaik
Thu, 11 Oct 2001 15:10
AT3(USN) Rich Paton COM/NAV/ECM/ TECH Writes: Editors
Note: (This email from Rich is quoted here for members of the Blackbird family.
He is not associated with the Blackbirds but I found his recollections amusing.)
I realize that I'm "out of my neighborhood" here, being an ex-Navy puke,
but I did chance to enjoy a short, but intense and memorable Blackbird experience. It was the Summer of 1972, when my A-7E squadron VA-147 and
our sister outfit VA-146 had just moved our 350 or so personnel, our aircraft, and ALL of our property (from tools to spares to pencils) from
Lemoore NAS to Fallon NAAS for several weeks of "war games" on the range there.
We had just wrapped up three or so "all-nighters" unloading semi's, humping all the gear about, and getting it in place in a huge hangar
situated somewhere at the fringe of the OPS area. It was about 10:00 A.M., when the frenzied word
came out of nowhere that we had two hours to get ALL our stuff out, and pulled back at least 1/4 Mi. from the hangar!
An SR-71 was bingoing into Fallon due to a mechanical problem, and would be occupying the hangar.
We were in the middle of checkout & ordnance loading when all this hell broke loose. I was busy
tossing our stuff onto flatbed trucks when an officer came up and said "Have you driven one of those, sailor?",
pointing to a fully loaded "bomb train", a tug with six heavy four-wheeled trailers loaded with pallets of fresh, unassembled 1000 & 2000 pounders. I replied "Yes, Sir". He then said "OK, start it up, and BACK it OUT of here, one half mile minimum, don't try to turn around. One half mile, like right ^*%%&#% NOW, Roger? (!!!) I very nervously struggled with the mother of all trailer backups (it seemed like I was all over the place with that rig) and after an eternity had it clear of the area. Later that evening after we were out of there we watched the Blackbird being towed to the hangar, from behind a barricade of police tape and smudge pots. It was nearly dark, and of course we were all as curious as could be about all the happenings. So here's the funny part...my shop buddy Dave S. sort of very lightly brushed against the barrier as he craned his neck to get a better glimpse of the plane, and immediately the nearest of an ample group of MP's (well-armed) walked straight up to him, looked him right in the eye. "Gentlemen, I have NO CHOICE in this matter. ONE MORE STEP FORWARD, AND YOU WILL HAVE HAD THE WEENIE! We immediately apologized for the gaffe, and "retired smartly" from the secured area. For all the hassle, I know us enlisted types were glad to have some excitement and "controlled chaos" happening around there, to break up what would have soon become just another TDY flight-line routine.
AT3(USN) Rich Paton
Wed, 10 Oct 2001 18:01 Sgt Karl Beck Writes: I was stationed at Beale from 72-75 in the 9th AMS Photo shop, we had the best bunch of guys I ever met, here's to Bill Aspelin, Msgt Plank, Howie Phallis, Bob Almy, Dave Luna, Mike Herrero ( I use to sit his little girl Holly she would be over 30 now, boy how time flies), Tibo Robles and SSgt Howlet. I would like to send a special thanks to Maj. Gen. Halloran who saved me from certain doom and gave me an Article 15 when others wanted more. If you read this General Halloran you may not remember me I was the one who failed to reconnect the nose wheel well doors and ended up having to submit a change to the T.O. Manual. I would love to hear from any and all who were there with me.
Sgt Karl Beck
Mon, 24 Sep 2001 04:41 S/Sgt Bruce S. Negro Writes: I was a Crew Chief on KC-135Q #58-0084 from 1976 - 1980 when I finally left the Air Force. I was one of the original Beale Bandits. There are so many stories of this group of fine individuals that I would have to take up many pages. One that really sticks out in my mind is one trip when we were at Kadena on TDY status. My Aircraft had "Static Alert" Status one day for an SR Mission. It was a hot, muggy, sunny day as most are there. I had fantastic flight crews back then. We were all just friends. The pilot fell asleep leaning against the nose gear of the aircraft with my OMS hat on. I was asleep in the copilots seat with his cap on, the boom operator was in the navs seat when who pulls up but the BASE Commander. Seeing what was going on, he just shook his head and drove on. Probably muttering obscenities to himself about those Beale People. Seems to be the reaction most of us KC crews got from the higher ups when we went TDY. "Oh no, not that Beale Group again..." hahaha. We were a close knit group, and will cherish all those memories for the rest of my life. I miss all the friends I made there, especially Sgt John W. Scott and Sgt Robert Egnor. We were the 3 Musketeers back then, and I have lost contact over the years. Anyone know of them or how to reach them, I would love to hear from you.
S/Sgt Bruce S. Negro
Tue, 11 Sep 2001 00:23 SSgt Alberto D. Reyes Writes: Crewed most of them at Beale and Kadena We had good and bad times We got to enjoy those showers she gave us, nothing like JP7. For those who worked with me thank you, Ichi Bon. We got her ready no mater what. We were ready to bring her back if need be, no matter where she landed.
I would like to think that even now, I would recover, her if called upon.
Hi to all.
SSgt Alberto D. Reyes
Sun, 9 Sep 2001 21:43
SRA Bryan T. Knox Writes: I rolled onto Beale in Mar. 85 assigned to the 9SRW Command Post as an Emergency Actions Controller (SAC Trained Killer). I think of those two and a half years often and of the hefty responsibility placed on a 18 year old kid, such as handling SR, U2, KC135, and T38
in-flight emergencies. Or waking Colonel David Pinsky up at two in the morning to inform him of
someone's stupidity. I also think of some of my former coworkers...Steve
Brunskole, Hank Garrett, Scott
Slack, Lynn Libengood, Lisa
Rung, Tom Woolard, Duane
Patterson, Dave Mimms. We can't leave out some of the Blackbird "groupies" like
Pat Valadez. (this should get a phone call out of her!). We can't forget some that have since passed like
Ray Schindler. I remember well the Clipper missions when I had planned on a good nights sleep on the console and the ADO
Col Jay Murphy would ring and wake us up to gain entry at 2a.m. (imagine that).
Well, this site has brought back a lot of pleasant thoughts that neither time nor line item
veto's can take away from us!
Let's hear it for the SAC Trained Killers!!!
SRA Bryan T. Knox
Fri, 7 Sep 2001 15:08:03 MSgt Frank Woolson Writes: As a young Airman stationed in the Fire Department at Utapao, Thailand, we received word of a SR-71 crash off-base, 61-7969 (SR-71A) on 10 May 1970. We went to Ops to form the convoy to the crash site. On entering the building, I came face to face with the pilots, still in their pressure suits. I looked at them and nodded to them and they nodded back. What a site that was, I will never forget. I would like to get info or contact the pilot, then Major William E. Lawson and his RSO, then Major Gilbert Martinez to tell them that the young Airman was me. Also the Crew Chief Don Person. Thank you. I am still serving with the California Air Guard, 129th ARRS, Moffett Field.
MSgt Frank Woolson
Tue, 4 Sep 2001 19:28
SSgt Tom Shaull Writes: I was an imagery interpreter PCS at Det1 9SRW from 1979 through 1981. I was
also TDY to Det1 in 1978 and TDY to Det4 in 1982, both time from the 544th at Offutt AFB.
I worked with many great people such as Sgt Gary Jackson,
Sgt Kevin Oaks, Sgt Lori
Cameron, Sgt Al Huggins, TSgt
Ed White and many, many others. I would be interested in hearing from other members of the Intel shop and Det1
who were there when I was. I remember the "club" we built in the barracks day room. We had many a good
party there, not to mention the video "film festivals" we held during the typhoons!
Sun, 2 Sep 2001 18:32
Sgt. David Allison Writes: I was just 18 years old and fresh out of Tech School when I arrived at Beale in Jan 1975.
I was Assigned to the 9th A.R. Shop 1975-1979. Found the site and it sure brings back
a lot of very good memories! Spent time at Oki just like everyone else! Went to Mildenhall twice. Made 2 trips to Mountain Home and 1 to Ellsworth to change some tires. 22 years later I still have the part# of a Wheel and Tire
Assembly etched in my brain! I soon earned the nick name Darryl McPockets, I was in awe
every time the SR took off, instead of working I would stand outside the hanger with my hands in pockets watching that awesome sight go into the Heavens and god
knows where. I did not know then but that plane made a true man out of me. Every time
we went to OL-KA, or Mildenhall, or Osan with the U-2, or my side trips to Mountain-Home or Ellsworth, We were
respected, We were the ones who walked on water. Anything we wanted we got. When I left in July 1979 and started my working for a living, I told people I was in the 9th SRW. I was a
HABU. I then tried to tell them of some of our exploits oversees (not everything, some of them stayed right where we left
them). I was sure glad to find this website and go thru and remember some of the names. Some of the Names that did not make it but I remember
were Frank Layne, Bob
Parker, Charlie Pierce, David
Rolloff, Jim Bates and the workers in our bunch,
Kim Christensen, Jerry
Jensen, Bob Myers, Willey
Tagart, Al Simmons, Al
Castagna, "Mac" McDonald, and there were so many more.
I can't remember names just the nickname's.
I grew up on that Plane and will always remember the sound, the sight and the feel of the BEST AIRCRAFT EVER to grace the sky's. As long as it is still in our hearts, IT WILL NEVER DIE!
Sgt. David Allison
Tue, 28 Aug 2001 08:28 Maj Bob Dushlek Writes:
I was Asst. DCM at Detachment 1 from 74-77. Worked for Tom Estes and Abe Kardong. Worked with Bob Frazier, Art Enick and McDonald. Have many memories of the T House, FBIS, 318, and tanker rotations.
I remember the time MSET (Maintenance Standardization and Evaluation Team) showed up at the 376th and tried to inspect the Det.
Maj Bob Dushlek
Mon, 27 Aug 2001 06:31 MSgt Tom Joyce
Writes: Hello to all,
I worked as an instrument/inlet tech and NCOIC of the Inst Shop at Det 1 from 1979-1982, and at Beale from 1984-1987.
I really miss those days. I met a lot of great people both aircrews and mechanics. Hope some of you remember me and get in touch.-Tom
MSgt Tom Joyce
Tue, 14 Aug 2001 14:56 Gerry Lewis
Writes: I served with the 9th RTS as a Computer Programmer Specialist at Beale AFB
from January 1968 until June 1971 with a TDY tour at Kadena AFB in 1969/1970. I have some pictures and memorabilia including the 1968
Unofficial Directory and Guide that was given to incoming airmen. I have attached a picture of 17969 for your collection; the Tom Cat's Kitten isn't
too clear but it's visible.
Regards to all my Blackbird friends!
Thu, 9 Aug 2001 22:05 A1C Rick Gray Writes: I was stationed with the 9th OMS until late1974. I was only 18 years old at the time. I worked in the non-powered AGE shop. I used to service the T.E.B tanks on the aircraft. I remember the day we recovered #964 back from the air show. I did two TDY tours to Okinawa during my time with the 9th. I couldn't get rotated to the flight line due to my young age, so I took an out from the Air Force shortly after the air show. Sure have missed the flight line. I'm 47 now and travel the USA as a Construction Superintendent. I would really like to locate Sam Holbrook of Atlanta GA.
(formally Airman first class USAF)
Wed, 8 Aug 2001 19:15 Sgt Rick Sexton
Writes: Arrived at Beale AFB in summer of 1966. Things were just getting started. The first "B" model had arrived but can not remember who was crew chief. I believe it may have been
MSgt Reynolds at that time later SMSgt
Reynolds. I can remember CMSgt Turner, CMSgt
Gornik, CMSgt Scott, MSgt
Polejewski, MSgt Tuccci, MSgt,
Patrick, MSgt Carey, TSgt
Darby, TSgt Person, TSgt
Spangler, SSgt Bledsoe, SSgt
Jarvis, SSgt Styles, SSgt
Delozier, SSgt Dodgins, SSgt
Mytko, SSgt Trevino, SSgt
Ridenour, SSgt Nickerson, SSgt
Aldridge, SSgt Bets, Sgt
Leccrochick, Sgt Reiser, A1C
Karns, A1C Webster, A1C
Johnson, A1C Pearl, A1C
Cheatheam, A1C Swartz, Sgt
McCraken, Sgt. Joe Satterwhite, SSgt
Perry, SSgt Ray Flat, SSgt Long and many more faces.
My sponsor was Tom ??? from Louisiana; can't believe I don't remember his name. Other memories from the first days. Long rides from front gate to barracks, long rides from barracks to flight line, lots of long rides to any where. Many hours emptying drip pans, tapping on the composite panels checking for separation, cooking screws, turning speed handle, pushing start carts, riding in the blue trucks, and many, many miles walking to and from run pad.
Great site haven't had these memories in many years can't believe I can remember these things. Lots of good times on the Yuba River and down town on "D" street.
Sgt Rick Sexton
Tue, 7 Aug 2001 06:01 Sgt. Michael G. Zervos
I have already posted on the Alma Mater a few years ago.
I would just like to update my E-mail, and ask if anyone who knew me during my years (76-80) as a Crew Chief or when I was a Tech Rep (82-90) on the SR-71 to drop me a line or two.
Sgt. Michael G. Zervos
Tue, 31 Jul 2001 18:55 SSgt James (Jim) Jackson Writes: I was In the 9th AMS from Dec. 1969 to Sept 1971. I remember the great guys I worked with on the second shift in the SLR shop. I have memories of the long days we worked at OL-RK. I remember the Tech Rep "The Greek" who worked with us. And how we all hated it when he said "Pulla Da Panel" after a bird came back. I'd like find out what his name was and if he's still around. I have found memories of helping with the "over" phone (Ham Radio) at OL-RK. I also remember the shock when we lost the bird over Texas and the damaged tail on the tanker. Also when the other outfit closed down and the Photo guys transferred over to my shop.
SSgt James (Jim) Jackson
Sunday, July 29, 2001 Sgt Cary Bergman Writes:
I was stationed with DET4/9SRW at RAF Mildenhall from June 96 - Jan 90.
I was a computer support person for the SR-71.
I would like to hear from anyone who was stationed there at that time.
Sgt Cary Bergman
25 July, 2001 Hugh "Slip" Slater Writes: I
have not seen all the web pages but what I have seen has been very enjoyable
and brings back old memories. I was the Operations Officer at Area 51 for
two years and the Commander for the remaining two years. The tour at Area
51 was the most memorable of any during my 30 years of service. My flying
time in the A-12, YF-12 and SR-71, was very little compared to the guys
who flew operational. My flight time was all desert flying. I was with
an Agency U-2 program prior to been assigned to the Nevada Test Site and
after a short tour with the 20th TAC Fighter Wing in the UK returned to
Edwards AFB and joined the USAF/NASA YF-12/SR-71 flight test program. I
see Roger Andersen, President of Roadrunners
Internationale, provided details on our reunions which are primarily in
support of both Agency U-2s and A-12s. Your extensive work on the preceding
is a must for all the men who were involved.
Hugh "Slip" Slater
Colonel, USAF (retired)
Editors Note: Colonel Hugh "Slip" Slater Commanded the Oxcart A12 detachment at Kadena, Okinawa under an operation called "Black Shield". The detachment arrived in Okinawa with 260 personnel and flew the first A12 CIA missions over Vietnam on 31 May 1967. A total of 29 Operational sorties were flown from Kadena. The A12's returned to Palmdale, California and remained in storage for a decade, with final disposition to museums in the USA. Colonel Slater and his Deputy, Maynard Amundson was awarded the CIA "Legion of Merit".
The CIA's activities on Okinawa are available at this URL:
Thur, 26 July, 2001 1:09 Art Fischbach Writes:
Kadena Okinawa 1967-1968, A12
Friends I would like to contact:
Wed, 25 July, 2001 16:03 SSGT Bill Chandler Writes: I was in the radio shop the fall of 1972. Such fun times. Thanks for the nice website here.
I'll say Hi to some of the guys I worked with: Billy
Rohm, Tom Ducharme, Pete
Schlegel, Rick Anderson, Bill
SSGT Bill Chandler
Sat, 21 Jul 2001 11:10 MSgt (Ret.) Michael L. Freiberg Writes: The 9th FMS squadron was my first posting after finishing basic jet engine school at Rantoul IL. Spent the next 5 years working tear down, test cell and finally flight line at Beale AFB. Moved to Iceland for a year then back to Beale. Finally cross trained into a electronics field and left Beale for 5 years. Then my new career sent me back to Beale but this time to the PAVE PAWS radar sight on the hill. Sure felt odd to watch the program being retired in the early '90,s. Anyone know were my partner, Stanly Bebin is?. Lost track after he moved to New Mexico.
MSgt (Ret.) Michael L. Freiberg
Wed, 18 Jul 2001 12:54 TSgt Richard G. Reinhardt Writes:
I was assigned to the 9th OMS in 1966 until I retired in 1969. I will always have fond memories of my time associated with the Blackbird. I still have coffee mugs, hats and Patches from the 9th OMS. I would like to hear from other members that were at Beale during this time.
TSgt Richard G. Reinhardt
Tue, 10 Jul 2001 16:33 A1C Joseph N. Waters Writes: I was stationed at Beale AFB from Jan 1965 to Nov 1966.When I arrived at Beale we were called the 4200 Recon Wing with no aircraft. Later that year they renamed us the 9TH SRW, this was from my last SAC base in Mountain Home, Idaho. I can still remember standing in formation, when we received our first SR-71, what a beautiful sight. I was in the 9FMS squadron, as an Airframe Repairman and enjoyed my year and a half working on these beautiful aircraft. If I need a SR71 injection, I jump into my truck and drive 40 miles to the Virginia Air and Space museum in Richmond Va. and reminisce.
A1C Joseph N. Waters
Thu, 5 Jul 2001 06:40 Dorothy Madigan Writes: Reading over the messages on this wonderful web site in the last few weeks has brought back many more memories of Kadena. Jerry O’Malley’s birthday party at the FBIS club, when the party coordinators took a Habu tie tack to the baker at KOOM for the SR-71 to be reproduced for the cake. The baker said “No need,” and produced a perfect replica of the plane on the cake. I’ve seen surprise parties before, but that one, from the look on Jerry’s face, was a real shocker. Such a nice man, and such an awful thing to hear that he and his wife were killed in such a terrible accident, after their plane had landed and then went off the runway.
There was the chaplains’ dinner when the chaplains sang and entertained, and the six-week stretch when the U-2 crew were at Kadena when their plane was being repaired - Jerry Chipman was such a good singer we wouldn’t let them leave in the evenings until we’d heard from him. Good people and a great time.
Dottie (Cabe) Madigan
Wed, 27 Jun 2001 05:42 Charles "Chuck" Dodgins, MSgt USAF, (Ret) Writes:
Arrived Beale AFB in August of 1965 and departed for SEA late 1970. I started with the HABU in '65 before Doug Nelson's delivery of the B-model. Always a 431 chock kicker, I teethed (3rd wiper) with Gene Patrick and Smitty on #956. Assisted (2nd wiper) on #957 and #959, crewed #980 (2nd OL 8) and before departing for SEA I was the CC of #958. I have a few unique OL-8 photos of the tail and nose door art that I have never seen in any periodical about the Black Bird. I also have some pictures of Buddy Brown, Col Minter in NCO uniforms at the OL trying their hand at "Crew Chief for a day". One picture of Hudson and Budzinski at the OL suited up with CC "Lon Countryman" in the background. One photo of yours truly coming out of the launch truck and the cleaning ladies scurrying about at the hanger. More to come.
Editors Note: Chuck's photos are posted on the USAF Kadena AB Operations Page at this URL: ./kadena2.html
Tue, 26 Jun 2001 17:09 Carl Bledsoe Writes: I arrived at Beale in May of 1972 and worked in the ANS shop. Was there a little over three months then it was off to Kadena for five years of rotation between there and Beale. Loved living in barracks 108 with the constant card games and drinking at all times of the day and night. Went to Griffiss AFB New York in 1973 for flights to the Middle East. A great time also to Mildenhall for the first flights out of there.
Left Beale in 1977 and returned to the program in 1986 at Kadena
till the end of the program.
The best times of my 26 Air Force career was with the Blackbird.
Tue, 26 Jun 2001 09:39 Sgt Duane Sharp Writes:
A GREAT site! A lot of names and places I haven't remembered for a long time... I am honored to have served with many fine men and women at Beale (and elsewhere) from 1975-78. My proudest moment was resurrecting 17960 from being canned and seeing her fly once again. I wish to thank everyone who's efforts made it happen. Even though it seems like it happened long ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Sgt Duane Sharp
Sun, 24 Jun 2001 22:31 Christi Lyon Air Force "Brat" and Dependant Writes: I consider myself to be "support personnel", as I supported my father for the four years he was Crew Chief on the SR-71 B model. My father's name is Donald Lyon, and he held the rank of TSgt. while at Beale A.F.B. 1970-1974. Over the years, we lived many places, but none hold a candle to Beale. That part of California is steeped in history, it's beautiful, and, it had the SR-71. The only airplane I have ever seen everyone stop what they were doing to watch fly overhead. You could hear her on the runway from Base Housing, getting ready to take off, and I knew the flight path they usually took. I'd run outside, waiting for that sleek black silhouette to go screaming over, trailing gold diamonds in her jet wash, my body vibrating from the sonic boom and the windows in the house behind me rattling.
My Dad was gone a lot in those four years. He missed birthdays, anniversaries, and even a Christmas or two in order to do his duty. Even back then, I looked at it this way: MY SR-71 had to be overseas for three months, my Dad was the best possible babysitter I could think of. I was 12 years old when we arrived at Beale, I am now 39, and the magic of what the SR-71 represents, and its technological beauty, still hold my loyalty, and fire my imagination.
And so, to the Habus.....
957 Lost 1968
Your long flight is over,
Your service is done,
But we know if we need you,
You'll return, just as true.
Christi Lyon, Daughter of Donald Lyon
Sat, 23 Jun 2001 20:44 Richard L. Stafford, TSgt (Ret.) Writes:
I worked at PSD and took care of the pressure suits and all the survival
gear and related training. This also included the altitude chamber. I was
stationed at Beale AFB, Ca. from Jan 77 to Nov 81.
Richard L. Stafford, TSgt (Ret.)
Sat, 23 Jun 2001 09:37 SSgt Gordon J. Wallace Writes: I was assigned to Fairchild AFB from 78' to 82' and had a number of events that involved the SR-71. I was assigned to the Base Fire Department when both events occurred as a Firefighter/Crew Chief. One was due to an in-flight emergency when one of the engines on the "bird" quit, the descent into Fairchild was a quick one and upon landing no one could approach the plane because of the extremely high radiant heat coming from the plane. It was over 90 degrees that day and we could literally see the heat waves coming from the plane. The second one was during the May 1980 air show, the SR-71 was only supposed to be there for roughly thirty six hours and then depart. Mt. St. Helens erupted that Sunday morning and forced the plane to stay for over three weeks. I can remember SAC (in those days) being beyond extremely upset!!! From the time the mountain erupted to when the ash fall began, the base had almost five hours of time to evacuate this critical resource. Like others that have posted on this web page, watching the SR-71 launch was an experience beyond words. I stood on the flight line and watched the plane lift off and then climb until it was out of sight. I used a pair of binoculars to watch it after no one else could see it. I don't have a clue as to the altitude when I finally lost sight of it but all I could see at that point was a pair of bright blue afterburners against the sky. If the air crew's that were involved in either instance wish to contact me, I'd be thrilled to hear from them.
SSgt Gordon J. Wallace
21 Jun 2001 12:38
SSgt Michael DiMarzio Writes:
Searching through these pages I didn't see the name of
Brummet, the AMS Mission Systems Branch Chief and (Chief of Dick's
Deli) during my tour in the 9th AMS. This man single handedly (ok with
collaboration with his wife...) bought more kegs of beer for AMS parties...What
crazy days! Maybe some OMS guys would relate some stories about the Mildenhall
This was the best job any 20 year old could of had, bashing heads with a ramp rat trying to convince him that the SLR waveguides really were pressurized through the canopy seals during a 3AM HHQ Pre-flight...Absolutely, the 9th Wing had the best people I ever worked with, they are a credit to themselves and the USAF for having selected them. To name a few-Bill Brooks, Skip Ellinger, Jeff U. (el rey de pedos...jeje!), Rich Beaudry (as blind as he was, NOBODY could align an SLR Receiver better), Ed Martin, Col. Terry (sp?), who will always command my highest respect, Travis, the Lockheed Tech Rep and all of the guys I worked with and the Deitz, the king of 7AM games of "fog ball" on the BAFB 9 hole championship course. Ok guys, nice to see these names and memories, Stutz, we won't mention what was really in your Deployment Box...
SSgt Michael DiMarzio
Mon, 18 Jun 2001 18:46 Tom Charters, Lt Col, USAF (Ret.) Writes:
I was with the SRC from 1974 to 1978 and was part
of the reactivation team at Beale for the SR-71 as the Intel Chief at the GOC.
Keep your airspeed up!
Tom Charters, Lt Col, USAF (Ret.)
15 Jun 2001 22:13
Lt. Col. (Ret) Frank J. Murray
Writes: I am quite retired here near Gardnerville, near my two daughters
and busy as can be developing our new Digs. I Moved from Flagstaff about
two years ago. Don't fly anything but models anymore. My lovely wife of
48 years, Stella, tries to keep me going by setting out things to do. Anyway,
you have done a great job with the "Blackbird" Website. I don't have much
of a home computer and only use JUNO for some BS with my buddies. I can
always go over to Jan's and have a look if something interesting comes
up.. I do keep some regular skeds via Ham Radio with a bunch of old friends.
I am proud of one other thing I did with airplanes, and that is
my tour in Vietnam flying the A-1 Skyraider.. I had a two year duty and
travel restriction following my tour with the OXCART program.. When that
time was up I had already volunteered for the "Sandy" mission flying the
A-1 out of NKP, Thailand. Great airplane and great mission too. From the
fastest in the theatre to the slowest. If you love airplanes, I guess it
doesn't really matter much if you believe in the mission, RIGHT?? Ken
Collins should be on the short list of guys that were awarded the
CIA's Intelligence Star award following the close of OXCART. He was one
of the first guys to enter that program. He also went on to fly the SR-71
at Beale after OXCART. I declined the invitation to do that and opted to
return to flying fighters in ADC. Anyway, thanks for your good work on
the Blackbirds.............You know, we never called the A-12 a Blackbird,
just the CYGNUS or CYG for short and "The Article" in the early days. Things
most Blackbird Historians don't know.
Frank J. Murray, CIA A12 Pilot
Editors Note: This message has been reprinted by permission. Frank J. Murray flew some of the First A12 Oxcart combat missions for the CIA over Vietnam and North Korea in 1967/68. He was awarded the CIA's highest award the "CIA Intelligence Star for Valor" in 1968. Thank your Sir, for your recollections and permission to post to the "Alma Mater" page. The CIA Oxcart operation at Kadena AB, Okinawa is available at this URL: ./kadena.html
Tue, 19 Jun 2001 14:40 SSgt Roger Sharp Writes: I transferred to Beale from Davis-Monthan during the big move. I enjoyed working with both airplanes in the PSD section. I visited Beale three years ago and it was nice to be there again. The static display of the Blackbird by the tower brought back a lot of good memories.
I wonder if anyone knows where Tom Urie went off to?
Thanks all of you with whom I served for making some life-long memories. We really did make a difference.
SSgt Roger Sharp
Sat, 16 Jun 2001 19:01 Major Terry F. Frazier Writes: I was assigned to the 376 SW from the fall of 1971 to 1974. During this time, SR-71 assigned to 9SRW operated out of Kadena AB and were supported by communications and intelligence personnel from the 376 SW. During that time, the Detachment Commanders from Beale included a Lt Col Braden and we were honored periodically by visits from Col Jerome F. O'Malley, the 9SRW/CC. I remember a few of the recce folks (Capt Lew Dickens, e.g.) of the time.
I would like to see a brief history of the OL-RK and OL-RK operations out of Kadena at the time.
Major Terry F. Frazier
Editors Note: History of the Blackbird Operations out of Kadena AB, Okinawa is available at this URL:
Thu, 14 Jun 2001 22:39 Ray Rose Writes: I just got finished reviewing the SR-71 site, and found it interesting and brought back some of the most professional memories in my NSA career. While at Menwith Hill in the 1980's, I was part of an OPSEC/COMSEC assessment of the SR-71 operations out of Det 4. I went through the typical "we lost your orders wait for 3 hours on the wooden chair" on my first visit, but went on in subsequent visits to get personal visits to the hangar, signed pictures by the crews, rides in the car going down the runway picking up stones, to briefings by me to the SR-71 staff. They kept me in the car at the end of the runway once, and on my last visit, put me in the middle of the runway and had the SR-71 take off for me that morning. What a professional "thank you" I could have never received on a piece of paper. Many of the vulnerabilities were verbal, and not written in a report for all to read. But determining the missions was a piece of cake. Probably still is. The staff at Det 4 volunteered to keep my sons at their homes if I decided to stay at Menwith Hill and continue to work the program. The SR-71 crews and staff were probably the most professional, easy going military "targets" I ever had; listening to me provide the vulnerabilities of all the RC programs, the U-2 plus the SR-71, then how to identify the differences real time (within a few seconds). Again, most of these were passed verbally. And they listened, and improved their overall posture.
I am now retired from NSA. But I fondly remember the SR-71 crews and staff at Mildenhall for their professionalism, their friendliness, and devotion to the mission, and some of the best people I met and briefed during my career. If you ever meet these people, please pass on that the NSA pest is still mentioning their names, and their professionalism 16 years later. What a great bunch of people.
Wed, 13 Jun 2001 12:29 Lt. Col. USAF Ret. Roger W. Andersen Writes: My experience was with the A-12 Program from 1965 through 1968. I am the President of Roadrunners International, a group of former Air Force, Lockheed Aircraft Company and other vender personnel that worked on the Program.
We meet every two years in Las Vegas. Roadrunner Reunion # 17 will run from Monday, October 1 through Thursday, October 4, 2001 at the Gold Coast Hotel in Las Vegas.
You have done an excellent job in putting this website together. In the next letter to our membership (July 1st), I will make sure they receive this email address, so they too can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Tue, 12 Jun 2001 12:58 Ron De Lozier MSGT, Ret Writes: It was great being at the reunion last weekend. While my printer is putting out the pictures and between phone calls, I figured after seeing the models of the "in-flight refueling" at the reunion I'd relate a couple of refueling stories. You can edit as appropriate.
#1. I was up at 4:30 in the a.m. to launch 974 on a Friday morning launch. You know the drill, check the forms and aircraft, make sure it was ready, brief the aircrew, setup the ground launch crew, etc. Launch was normal, taxi and takeoff by the book, no problems. About 1500, the Flight Chief told me to grab my stuff and put all the 780 gear by my rollaway, the bird had gone in to another base with a hydraulic pump failure, go home and pack your bags and we'll call you. About 1830, I got the call, report to the Composite Bldg at 1900 and bring your bags. I reported in, they loaded us and all the stuff on a "Q" model and away we went to Carswell AFB, Texas. We landed at 0000, backed the aircraft out of the hanger and proceeded to put fuel in it from the "Q" model that brought us. We towed the aircraft nose first into the vicinity of #4 engine of the "Q", they had #1 engine at 98% to pump and transfer fuel via a runaround hose into the SR. Refueling complete, tow the bird back into the hanger, R&R the hydraulic pump and ops check the pump/postflight/preflight all in sequence, together. Take a break and wait for the aircrew. They showed up around 0900, strapped in, started, checks done, taxied to the end of the runway, did the runups and taxied back to the hanger. Severe vibrations!! Well, the "Q" model took off an hour previous and was boring holes in the sky waiting to refuel 974 so they could go home. Word was passed that they had to land back at Carswell the bird was broke again. In order for the "Q" to land he had to get rid of some weight, so he flew over the Gulf of Mexico and dumped excess fuel so they could land. We spent the rest of the day trying to find that @%^!#$& vibration. It was hiding real good. We ended up signing off the 781A as op chk'd IAW 1SR71A-2-7, CND (could not duplicate). The rumor that went around was that the "Q" Aircraft Commander had discussed the problem of having to dump fuel with the SR pilot, and from what I understand, the conversation was extremely animated and at a very high decibel rate with superlatives akin to that of junkyard mechanics and sailors. So, after a tirade of wailing, flailing of arms, and gnashing of teeth, it was decided by the powers that be, due to the requirement to immediately refuel the SR after takeoff, because of the extended engine maintenance run to find the elusive vibration, the SR would take off first and the KC-135 would follow immediately, and establish an orbit over the runway . The SR would make a low, slow return over the runway and plug into the KC and they both would climb out together. For us on the ground, that was an impressive sight and, because the word got out of what was proposed, the flight line was loaded with spectators. About 30 minutes later, the SR came back over the runway, lit both burners and pointed skywards soon to be out of sight, but as usual the lingering sound of 2 J-58s in full afterburner.
#2. I was working the night shift in A Flight, and was told to refuel one of our birds just coming out of Fuel Systems Repair for a leak check. It was a typical winter night at Beale, cold and a light rain falling. We backed the aircraft out of the FSR side of the hanger, hooked up the first of three fuel trucks and began refueling. I was in the cockpit with the refueling control box checking the tanks to make sure the CG stayed where it was supposed to. This particular task required a complete refuel and leak check. Hopefully, it would not require a defuel. After we had about 3000 gallons on board and were servicing the LN2, the rain came heavier. I stood up in the cockpit and saw the whole aircraft was wet with rain and as the fuel tank pressure increased soap bubbles started forming along the backbone and upper wings of the aircraft. We had just disconnected the first fuel tank and I was checking out the shutoff valves when I got nailed with an electrical shock from the control box. It appeared that the rain had gotten inside the box and was shorting the contacts inside the box to ground through me and then the airframe. I stopped the refueling operation and discussed the problem with Maintenance Control. I suggested that we tow the aircraft back into the hanger and finish the operation, but the fire department didn't believe it to be safe. After much discussion, I finally persuaded the fire department, with the help of the Maintenance Control Officer to allow us to finish the refueling. What I had planned was to empty the second fuel truck, and plug the third truck into the second and have it relay the fuel to the aircraft. It was quite a scene, one fuel truck plugged into another which was connected to the aircraft. We finally got a pressure shutoff indicating all tanks were full, with the fuel quantity gauge confirming a full load. we took a break and after we got back about 10 minutes later, we came back to see a two-toned SR inside the hanger. The soap solution used for leak checks mixed with the rain water on the top of the aircraft and the escaping LN pressure from the leaks had turned the entire top of the wings and fuselage white. We had to wipe down the entire top of the aircraft and wait to see where the leaks actually were. I don't remember if the aircraft was defueled and put back in FSR or not, that decision was made on the mid shift. But there was a lot of slipping and sliding going on that night.
Ron De Lozier MSGT, Ret
Wed, 6 Jun 2001 20:58 Craig E. Solle Writes: Over twenty years later, my awe at the sight of the SR-71, and the pride in being associated with her remains. I was stationed at Beale AFB from 1974, until my discharge in 1977, and worked in 9th SRW Flight Scheduling and Training. Pictures of the Blackbird are displayed both at home and at work, and I have always been willing to take the time to relive that time in my life with others.
I am looking forward to the reunion this year, and hope to renew
some old friendships. Emails from those who remember me are welcome.
Craig E. Solle
Mon, 4 Jun 2001 18:43 SMSgt Monty C. Wiseman (Retired) Writes: Stationed at Beale AFB from Feb 1983 to Apr 1985. TDY to Det 1 in Fall of 1983 and Det 2 in winter of 1984. Worked in the Environmental Control Systems Shop, 9th FMS.
Looking for anyone I worked with. Please drop me an E-mail. Best
assignment in my career--hands down!
SMSgt Monty C. Wiseman (Retired)
1 Jun 2001 04:05:13 SSgt Pete Fischer Writes:
I was reading some of the comments made by your viewers and came across
an article written by
TSgt (ret) Karasinski.
I am the Pete Fischer he mentioned in relation to the "Bat Caver's". He
got everything right except for one small item. The "Bat Eagles" were made
Colonel Jon Krause when he was promoted
to full Colonel. However, I would have been proud to have made a set for
Spacy as well. They were both exceptional officers. Till next time
- Good Health, Good Luck and See You Later.
SSgt (former) Pete Fischer
Thu, 31 May 2001 12:44 MSgt William Muenster (Ret) Writes: Enjoyed this great site! I was connected to both the SR-71/U-2 programs while assigned to the 548th Recon Tech Group in Hawaii from 75-79. We traveled back and forth to Okinawa to Support the Mobile processing Center (MPC). I was a film processor whose responsibility was to process the original negative film loads from the various on board camera systems. It was an assignment I will never forget.
MSgt William Muenster (Ret)
Sat, 26 May 2001 04:48 Dorothy Madigan Writes:
My experiences with the SR-71 and 903rd Refueling personnel were
as piano player at the FBIS Club at Kadena between 1966 and 1970. Many
were the good times we had around that piano, singing and telling stories.
Special friends remain from those days. I remember
Haupt, Neal Sorensen,
Batson, Al Surridge, and many others.
Dottie (Cabe) Madigan
Fri, 25 May 2001 06:43 SSgt. Mike Manna Writes:
I was assigned to the 9th FMS Instrument Shop (1968 - 1970). Worked the midnight shift. It was awesome even now thirty years later to of had the opportunity to work on the SR-71. Currently retired from SBC/Ameritech and living in Franklin, WI.
SSgt. Mike Manna
Mon, 14 May 2001 15:58: A1C Bill George Writes: I was a SLR Recce-Tech working on the greatest plane ever built at Beale AFB, 9th AMS from Nov.70 until Nov. 71. I still point with pride to both pictures of the Blackbird and my having been associated with it. I was then transferred to Ubon Royal Thai AFB to work on the C-130 Spectre gunship until my discharge as a Sgt. (E-4) in Nov. 73. The images of this beautiful aircraft rolling out of the hanger, taking off and landing are still with me to this day. I enjoyed every minute that I was there and just wish I had a longer experience with the SR. Hoping to find anyone who was in my shop during that time.
A1C Bill George
Mon, 14 May 2001 15:46 P&W Tech. Rep. A. C. Angel Writes: I worked on the A12,YF12A at the site no one knows about. In the early days, this machine was quite an education, and something all of us will never forget. If there are any other American Can types still kicking out there, we're still out here, and would like hearing from those that still remember the day of yore.
A. C. Angel, P&W Tech. Rep.
Mon, 14 May 2001 07:54 SMSgt Richard C King Writes: I am already in the book. Would like to update my e-mail address. email@example.com. Spent 11 yrs in the SR program with the flight simulator.
Best outfit I was ever assigned.
SMSgt Richard C King
Sat, 12 May 2001 02:15 Sam Hashimoto Writes:
I worked on the SR-71 at Beale from 1967 to 1970 when I was discharged.
I was in the A&E squadron in the ANS shop. I liked your web page.
Tue, 8 May 2001 22:05 MSgt, USAF, Ret. Bob Rittenhouse Writes: I have previously written but have experienced a power failure on this computer and have ended up with a new e-mail address. I really enjoy this web site and often think about all the good times back at Beale and being connected to an outstanding program like the SR-71.
There's hardly a day goes by that I don't think about it. Thanks again.
MSgt, USAF, Ret. Bob Rittenhouse
Tue, 8 May 2001 14:47 SSgt Fred Stein Writes: Thank you for your web page, RE: The Blackbird!! I worked on recon systems on the RF-4C Phantom for 3 years, including a year at Tan Son Nhut and Phu Cat AFB's in Vietnam in 1968 to 69. My first exposure to an SR-71 was in the summer of 1968, when a blackbird visited Mountain Home AFB Idaho. I was very impressed. Then I was assigned to Beale AFB Cal in 1970 & was trained on the SLR ("silly looker radar") system. I did a 4 month TDY August to Nov 1970 and then was discharged. I was and still am very proud of my service days and especially regarding my time working on the blackbird. I have a twin brother, and we enlisted together in Dec '66 and completed boot camp together at Lackland. He went on to Shepherd AFB, TX and to Scott AFB, Ill. He was in Guam (Anderson AFB) for 18 months, when I was in SEA. I stopped en-route to the USA from 'Nam to visit him for 3 days in Nov '69. It was a wonderful reunion with him!! In fact a neighbor boy from the farm in Wisconsin near where I was raised was also in Guam, as a sailor, who I also visited. I have many wonderful memories of my service time. I stay in touch with a friend from Dallas, TX; we served together for 3 1/2 years, including SEA. I am now a social worker supervisor for the County and, as I write this message, I am looking at my print of Blackbird # 964, which is hanging on my office wall. My son, age 21 is on year # 3 as a security policeman / peace keeper with the USAF. He is currently on TDY at Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia. His permanent station is Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota. My family and I are very proud of him, and he loves what he does. I am very proud to have been with the Habu's in Okinawa. One night we were celebrating an airman's birthday down town at the bar. Someone had made a paper mache' snake head with a forked tongue. We were silly enough at midnight so that someone wore the habu head and two dozen dizzy airmen (inebriated) did a "crack the whip" walk back to base, where the security police shook their heads and waved us on and told us to behave ourselves and go to bed. Lots of good memories. As I ramble on, my son did a TDY a year ago in the desert at Aljabar AB, Kuwait. He is a good troop! Now, back to Mountain Home Idaho. The Blackbird that landed there needed repairs and 3 days later it taxied out to the end of the runway and took off. We expected a "show". Thirty seconds later, it flew about 500 feet off the deck and the pilot set the SR-71 on its tail and within about 5 seconds it was out of sight!! I will never forget that experience. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that I would be assigned to work on the aircraft, 18 months later. Thank you for reminiscing and allowing me to ramble on with my memories. I am currently the SR Vice Commander of our local DAV chapter. I am also very active with the local American Legion unit. I honor all veterans of all the military branches who have served, and done their duty honorably. Thank you again, and please contact me with any questions or comments.
SSgt Fred Stein
Sun, 6 May 2001 12:38 SMSgt Robert F. Lane USAF, Ret. Writes: I was in avionics, supporting "Q" model tankers, 1973 and 1974. I have lost all contact with everyone that was there. I sold my home on Folsom Lake and bought a smaller place here in Rocklin, Ca.
I enjoy my retirement.
Let me hear from you.
SMSgt Robert F. Lane USAF, Ret.
Wed, 2 May 2001 20:46 MSgt Richard J. Wood (Woody) Writes: I was assigned to Beale AFB Jun 1964 to the 4200 OMS, which later became the 9th SRW. At the time that I was assigned to the wing we had not received are first aircraft. All that we had to do was sit around the yard. We were to start building all the ground support equipment that we were to use on the aircraft when it arrived. One of the first pieces of equipment that we had to put together was B-4 stands that look like they had been airdropped into the yard without a parachute. We had about 60 B-4 stands. Out of all these, we managed to make 25 serviceable and this in itself was a feat. It was at this time that we had this Squadron Commander, Col Rayden. He would come down to the yard and inspect the stands. He would find something wrong with them and he would have us re-do them all over again. Well, after the forth time that we did these stands over again, we figured a way to get around the commander Col Rayden. What we would do is take the stands after he had inspected them and rejected them, and after he had left we would take the stands and hide them for about a week. Then we would bring them out of hiding and call him down to look at the stands. He said they looked a hundred percent better and he would accept them. So this is the way we would get around re-doing all the stands again. This was the first job that I had. When we received the first aircraft in Jan 1966, I assigned to the Support Branch. I started working on the Teb crew. In Aug 1967, I was assigned as Assistant C/C on aircraft #978. I worked with Sgt Hornbrook. I think that just about everyone that was assigned to the squadron, at that time, knew Hornbrook. I was with him until I received my first aircraft, #969, which was crewed by Sgt Parson. I also crewed #962 and #964. After those aircraft, I went back to #978. I worked for Pappy Holmes in "C" flight. I was also the first C/C to be sent on our first deployment. We were sent on a quick turn-around. We went down to Edwards AFB and the aircraft was sent from Beale. Our job was to recover the aircraft and send it out on a mission returning it back to Beale This required that we had to down load the aircraft and Post Flight; then Pre-Flight, upload and launch on its mission. This was done right on time and with no problems. As you all know at that time, a quick turnaround was something that didn't happen too often in the beginning of the program. I can remember my first launch that I did as a C/C of my very first aircraft that belonged to me and the Air Force. The launch went great and all the checks were text book perfect. I got the Crew into the aircraft and went through all the pre-launch checks and off we went to the end of the runway. I did all my checks down there and then after that, the aircraft went to the runway for takeoff. It was light the burners; release the brakes and off it went. I was so proud to have done this because everything went great. I stood there and watched as the aircraft flew around the base and started to burn off fuel. It was at this time, that I learned that the aircraft had a problem. It could not get the gear up no matter what the pilot tried to do. Burning off his fuel the Blackbird landed. I was bringing him in and noticed that there were some flags hanging from the gears which I had not seen on takeoff. To my dismay and horror, I found the gear pins were still neatly in there place. As you know, it is impossible to get the gear up with the pins still in place. Come to find out, what had happen was that the flags had been tied up to the landing gear and we all had missed them. We topped off the fuel and re-launched the bird in 3 hours. This was my first big launch and you can figure for sure that I was looking for a large rock to get under. So this is some of my first learning experiences on the SR-71. In Oct 1969, I was sent to Thailand were I was assigned to the 357 TFS for a year. In Oct 1970, I went back to Beale doing the same job that I was doing before I left. In fact, they already had me on orders and assigned to an aircraft before I got back to Beale. So this some of my experiences with the 9th SRW. All the best to everyone out there.
MSgt Richard J Wood (Woody)
Wed, 2 May 2001 04:28 Donald J. Smith MSgt, Ret. Writes: Any members from Repair & Recovery are welcome to contact me and shoot the breeze, about the old days at Beale and Oki and U-2 guys from Osan. I was at Beale from 1977-1979, then Oki 1979-1981. My best memories in the Air Force are from the days there.
Does anybody remember Harry Wisna (spelling may be wrong)? He was a Staff Sgt in Egress, if so please contact me.
Donald J. Smith MSgt, Ret
Mon, 30 Apr 2001 20:31 Sergeant Gregory J. France Writes:
I have a previous entry but my home & email address have changed. I will always have fond memories of my work on the incredible Blackbird. Even though it has been many years, it still seems like yesterday when I was walking into the hanger to work on one for the first time. Like your drill instructor, you will never forget it. I still dream of the take-offs at night, I have never seen the shuttle take off, but I bet I have seen something that comes very close.
Sergeant Gregory J. France
Sat, 28 Apr 2001 08:05 SSgt Cipriano Cardona Writes:
I was in the Air Force 10 years from March 1973 to March 1983. I was at an ATC base for my first 4 years, then I was stationed at Beale AFB for 2 years. I was a Jet Mechanic on the SR-71, U-2, T-38 and KC-135 while at Beale. After my tour at Beale, I went to Okinawa from 1980 to 1983 when I separated from the service.
SSgt Cipriano Cardona
Fri, 27 Apr 2001 09:04 TSgt Von Hensley Writes:
I'm writing this on behalf of my dad. He served at Beale AFB as part of the SR-71 program. As I remember, he had something to do with the test cell. He served at Beale from 1969-1974. My fondest memory as a kid was living on Turn Crt. and looking up at night and seeing those big flames flying through the sky.
Thu, 26 Apr 2001 18 SSgt Pete Fischer Writes: I was also assigned to the Blackbird, and the day I received my orders was one exciting day! Like you, it has been a lifetime love affair. Nothing else I could ever do will compare to the thrills of working on that aircraft. I was assigned to the SLR shop in April of 1974 and served until August of 1979. I was on the flight line when #972 launched to England on her record breaking flight. Without a doubt, the most spectacular event I witnessed was a night launch from Det 1. That night, we had taken a young Army Photo Interpreter out to watch the launch. There were some light cumulus clouds in the area, and a full moon was shining. As the SR lifted off, she flew through one of those little clouds and lit it up like a light bulb. She then rolled wings level and started to climb. We suddenly realized she was going to pass very near to the disk of the full moon. In fact, she passed directly in front of the moon. Her height was perfect and for a brief instance the SR was completely silhouetted within the moon's disk, her afterburner flame protruding from the edge into the night sky. There were a lot of "old timers" on the hammerhead that night, and for about ten seconds there was complete silence and then a roar went up from the personnel who had witnessed this event. There wasn't a dry eye in the group. About then, the Army P.I. (whom I had forgotten about), turned to me and asked, "Is it always like this?" What could I say, I told him "Yes". Sincerely,
SSgt, 9 AMS, 9 SRW
Tue, 24 Apr 2001 20:12 Sgt. Linda Almanza (Howell) Writes: I was stationed at Beale AFB from 1974-1977. I was the first female assigned to PSD (Physiological Support Division). Initially, military life was quite difficult for me as I was not wanted in PSD. So you can imagine I have many stories to tell, but all in all it was the most rewarding and exciting time of my life. I participated in the launch and recovery of the 1976 speed run. I have fond memories of the SR-71 crew members and fellow support personnel and a special appreciation to (at the time) Col. Storrie, who fought diligently to keep me in PSD. I would love to hear from anyone who remembers me.
Sgt. Linda Almanza (Howell)
Fri, 20 Apr 2001 16:01 Buck Sgt. Thomas L. Abernathey Writes: Being associated with the SR-71 (May 1971 to August 1972) was certainly the highlight of my USAF enlistment (Aircraft Electrician-Field Maintenance). Whenever I visit a museum displaying a Blackbird I stand proudly near her. The pictures seldom show the tear in my eye. During my assignment to the 9th I made three ninety-day TDYs to Kadena. On the first TDY (August 1971), the KC-135 lost an engine two hours or so out of Hickam headed for Kadena. I'd say about halfway back to Hickam we lost cabin pressure. Most of the stuff in my shaving kit exploded, shampoo on your toothbrush isn't too sweet. Upon returning to Hickam, SSGT Robie Davis and a Lockheed tech rep. (sorry I can't recall his name) took me under their wing. While the Hickam maintenance boys fixed the tanker, we toured the island, swam at the beach and drank a couple cold 'adult' beverages. Life was good. A couple days later we were at Kadena in the midst of a drought and water rationing. When performing alternator / ADS maintenance it was quite common for the JP7 fuel to leak down your neck. With the showers turned off, every other day, you sometimes got to sleep with your JP7.
Sgt. Thomas L. Abernathey
Tue, 17 Apr 2001 16:38 E-4 Rich Brown Writes:
I worked on the SR flightline from 86-89. Hello to Gus Ferguson, Kelly Coder, Dave Devine, Kevin Crilly, Tom Stevenson, Chris Bennett, Jerry Selig, Gary Theroux, Doug Gannon, Brooke, John Mullin. We need to have a reunion at "Ye Ole English Pub" in Nevada City. How does that sound? If I left anyone off my list please forgive me. I've talked to Gus, Kelly, Dave, Jerry, and Gary in the last five years. I'm currently a pilot for American Airlines. Take Care all and get in touch with me.
Sun, 15 Apr 2001 20:33 Henry T. D`Ambrosio Writes: I was stationed at Beale AFB in 1977- 1978. I was assigned to the 9th OMS in September 1977 to 1958. I was transferred to FMS in October of the same year. In Field Maintenance, I was in the Repair and Recovery Shop. My NCOIC was MSGT Booker. My Squadron Commander was Major Arrington. I still recall brilliant and intriguing memories for my 12 children. I still value the experience of serving as a maintenance specialist of this out-standing aircraft. I am a now a Mechanical Engineer with the rare experience of intimate knowledge of possibly the greatest Aeronautic engineering feat to date. It would be a great honor to be a member of your society.
Henry T. D`Ambrosio
Fri, 13 Apr 2001 08:06
Mr Donald Person Writes: Leland, another great SR-71 site.
Dwain Allen gave you some great pictures. I had forgot about the landing at Midway and
Dwain's pictures refreshed my memory. I also knew Gen Doug Nelson
and have several stories. In 1964 I was stationed at Walker AFB Roswell NM in Base Flight on T-33's. Col Nelson was a good friend of our Wing Commander, Col Hoban and having to launch our T-33; supporting the Wing & Division Hqs I became friendly with the staffs. One night I had a call to go to Col Hobans house immediately. It turned out that Col Nelson was visiting Walker AFB and looking for the right individuals for a future classified assignment. I had just been accepted for the Thunderbirds, but the
challenge of the unknown grabbed me and I accepted his offer. It was several months before I saw a small picture in the
Air Force Times of a new recon aircraft and I put two and two together. I still have the picture. The next is all history arriving in Beale May 1965. Was selected as the 12th crew chief
#969 and went to Burbank to follow her in through final assembly. Followed it to Palmdale where nose radome, outer wings and etc were installed. Fuel system was serviced, systems checked and calibrated and first flight . Returned to Beale for arrival of
#969. #969 had numerous major fuel tank leaks in the #1 cell. It spent the next three months being towed in and out of the fuel repair hangar. It was such a hangar queen that one morning I came in and someone had attached a small plastic lemon to the pitot boom. We all got a big laugh. In fact
#969 was selected to be photographed for the from cover of the Beale AFB welcome booklet. The picture I sent to David Allison in www.habu.org is the same picture. Picture was taken on one of the occasions we had her outside. It was towed up between the B-52's and KC-135's in the 456th parking ramp area. After three months it was ready for its first local flight. Col Nelson was selected to fly her. Everything went normal during launch, but when I disconnected from ground intercom and turned around I noticed a group of our crew chiefs and maintenance
troops were lined up on the flight line outside the shelter. #969 taxied out and made the left turn. They all came to attention and saluted. By the way the series of pictures taken for her first launch are in the 4200th/9th history books.
#969 returned from flight with no write-ups.
Another great story. Early on not sure what date or year but suspect 1966 or 1967 we had a great picnic with Kelly Johnson in attendance. All of the original crew chief wives were called onto a makeshift stage including my wife Fran. Kelly Johnson presented each of them with a small ruby eyed "Skunk" pin. Fran still has hers and extremely proud of it. I have so many great memories and your latest site refreshed it. Have a great week.
Mr Donald Person
Mon, 9 Apr 2001 14:42 Ronald J. De Lozier, MSgt, USAF (Ret) Writes: Here are a couple of "By the book" stories. The first; we were on the trim pad with one of the "A" flight birds, I don't remember which one. The green run with the wing open was completed on day shift, AR closed the wing and we on swings went down to button up the wing and assist Engines with the final full-burner run. We tied the bird down on the pad, and began the required motoring of the engine, first for 30 seconds, inspect the intake, 60 seconds, inspect the intake, 90 seconds inspect the intake, 2 minute motor inspect the intake. Whoops, there's something down there!!! Even with the heat lamps we couldn't make out what it was. We thought the aluminum foil had fallen out of the wing fold. There was a conference with Engines, if it was foil, it will just go through the engine, no problem, if it's not we'll have a problem. We'll have to pull the spike and check it out. So much for the night burner run. "Wait a minute! Hey Sarge, you're kind of puny, can you fit down the intake?" "I've been down there before, but not with the spike on. If you guys can hold me up and I get my head started, I should be able to make it." Needless to say, I was hoisted up and shoved down the intake in the hopes the spike didn't have to come off. Well I made it down O.K. Got the Foreign Objects and retreated back out. I was eased out of the intake on my back, feet first, and gently? set back on the ground. In my hand was a 1/4 inch ratchet, 3" 1/4 extension and a 3/8 x 1/4 socket. If we hadn't done the required sequence of motoring and ran the engine after the 90 second motor, the engine would've been trashed! If I didn't make the decision to check out what it was down there, the engine would've been trashed! The following morning I gave the tools to CMSGT Gornik with a request that if he didn't find out who they belonged to, I would like to have them. I never saw them again, and never heard anymore about it.
Story #2 I was training a newbie Sgt on #974, I don't remember his name. We had de-paneled the bird after flight, and I told the newbie to take all the screw bags over to the hanger and cook the screws. I'll never forget what he said. "I just came from SEA on a REAL high performance aircraft, the F-4s and we didn't have to do no such thing to our birds." I gave the chore to another crew member, with the exception of one screw bag. I gave the screw bag to the F-4 troop and told him you have a choice here, you can do as you're told or you can do what you want, but, after this bird flies, this panel will be yours and you will stay with it until it's ready to go back on the aircraft! He agreed. The bird flew the following week, I asked the Flight Chief for that person specifically, and got him. The aircraft landed, I gave him my speed handle, "torque set" apex, a screw bag, and told him to remove the panel. He came back shortly asking if I had another apex, he said the other one broke. I asked how many screws he got out, he replied "None". I gave him a couple, he came back again, said something about weak apex's and he couldn't get the screws out. I called Maintenance Control and asked for a machinist to remove the screws from a panel. The machinist arrived, looked at the panel and asked if the screws had been cooked. I told him they hadn't, but the panel belonged to that guy over there. The machinist showed the individual how to drill off the screw heads, gave him the pneumatic drill and a bag of drills, then sat down at my desk and had a cup of coffee. About an hour later, the F-4 CC came back, the drills were all trashed, but the screw heads were off and so was the panel. He stated it was close to quitting time, he was going to clean up. I asked him if the pane was ready to go back on, he said, no, the screws had to come out of the nut plates. I gave him a pair of "Vise-Grips" and told him to go for it. In short order he was back saying he could budge a screw in any nut plate. I called Maintenance Control and had Sheet Metal come out to replace nut plates. The "Tin Bender" looked at the panel and asked what happened. I gave him the story. He took the young man by the hand and showed him how to drill out rivets from the nut plates. He came back later, and stated the nut plates were out and he was going home. Again, I asked him if the panel was ready to go on, he stated it wasn't, no nut plates. The "Tin Bender" had him assist in putting in new nut plates by bucking the rivets on the inside of the panel opening. I'm sure he had the rivet gun at a higher pressure than was needed for the job and held the gun on the rivet longer than was necessary. Anyway, it was long past my normal quitting time, and the youngster again said the nut plates were in and now he was going home. I repeated, is the panel ready to go one the aircraft? Well, it needs screws he replied. Then it's not ready is it? Go get the screws. He came back from the "Q" hut with new screws. I had him put them in a screw bag, tie the bag to the panel, write the tail #, panel # and "NC" on the bag tag. He said now it's ready to go back on the aircraft and he's going home. I asked if he wanted to go through the same drill with that panel again? He replied he didn't. So, and, this is a recording, "take the screws over to the hanger and cook them"!!! (Every time I remember this story, I can't help but laugh inside, it was so funny.) Of course I was late for dinner but I think it was worth it to get this guy oriented and heading in the right direction.
Ronald J. De Lozier, MSgt, USAF (Ret)
Thu, 5 Apr 2001 18:34 MSgt Robert K. Wootters Jr. Writes:
I was assigned to the 9th FMS hydraulic Shop from 1969-1973. Earned my Master Technician Award while assigned. My rank at that time was SSGT. Two major problems we had during my time was failure of the "R" system return line in the engine bay and the main gear struts leaking. There were no bad memories of this assignment. When I left the unit I was assigned across the street on Okinawa at the Tanker outfit.
MSgt Robert K. Wootters
5 Apr 2001 15:38 Jacqueline Gaudet Writes:
My father is Joe Gaudet (CMSgt, ret.) We lived in Capehart Housing.
I loved watching the SR land with that orange chute. And I loved seeing her silhouette in the western sky when the sun was setting.
Wed, 4 Apr 2001 16:06 Patrick Lint Writes:
What a great web site, although there is nothing like the real thing. Serving with the 9th FMS at Beale remains one of my greatest experiences. Hats off to the Skunk Works not only for the SR but also for the memories.
Looking for friends that served between '84 and '86 in the engine shop or test cell.
Tue, 3 Apr 2001 20:49 Sgt. James D. Linville Writes: Hi, its Sgt. James D. Linville of the 9th Field Maintenance Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, assigned to the Aero-repair Shop from May 1966-May 1969. Our shop Chief was Chief Master Sergeant Veleze. I left the Air Force in May 1969. I got a job working on the C-5 at Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia. I didn't like city life so I moved back to WV. I went back to work as a cross country pipe line welder on gas lines for a few years and then I moved on to the coal mining industry. I currently work for one of the largest coal mines in the United States: Arch Coal's #21 mine near Danville WV. (also near Charleston WV). I am a welder on the 1570 BE Dragline-BE 495 Shovel and related equipment. I would love to hear from the rest of the maintenance crew,: of the 9th field maintenance repair shop: 1966-1969 era.
Sgt. James Linville
Tue, 3 Apr 2001 19:33 SSgt Mike Manna Writes: Stumbled across this site by accident. I have recognized some names from the past after reading some of the guest book comments. I was assigned to the 9th FMS Instrument shop in 1968 (with a few others from Glasgow AFB) and stayed until 1970. Worked the midnight shift - seemed like we were always putting a new schedule on some bird's inlets. Enjoyed my time with the awesome "Black Bird".
SSgt Mike Manna
Tue, 3 Apr 2001 10:04 Richard N. Allen Sr. Writes: I have worked on the EC-131 Program with Lockheed in Ontario, California and was asked to work on a special black program; six months out of the year in South East Asia and six months at the ranch. I have also worked with U-8s, 9s & 21s in Viet Nam in 1968, and was the Chief Engineer of the Nav-Aids Contract (Largest contract in country) and was responsible for the ground and airborne depot operations @ Ben Hoa and nav/comm ops through the country. Additional experiences include F-86, F-101, F-4, F-14, F-16, F-22, E-3A, JSTARS and other military and commercial aircraft.
Richard N. Allen Sr.
Sun, 1 Apr 2001 15:33 A1C-SSgt Howard R. Fallis, now Ret MSgt, USAF Writes: I was assigned to the 9th AMS Photo Shop from July '72-July '80. Beale was my first assignment after tech school. The trips to Okinawa were memorable. This was a top notch operation. I didn't realize how fortunate I was until I went out into the real Air Force. I remember Cris Hamilton. We were in England and each of us had maybe a "little" to drink, he let me drive and I drove, where ever we were going, just like we were in the States (right hand side of the road) Fortunately there were no mishaps.
Then there was the time at a HABU ballgame when Col. Alee called me by my name. Now I always had fun in "Okie", but I just didn't want the bosses to know me that well. The same game, I drove the HABU bus home, after Okinawa just adopted left hand side of the road driving, and sure enough, I was back on the right. I was the main driver of the HABU bus to those midnight chow runs. I guess its OK to 'fess up to some of these antics.
This Web page sure brought up many fond memories. If there are any Photo/SLR troops out there, email me and I can hook you up with plenty more. One person of interest I'm looking for is Mike J. Herrero a.k.a. "Chumley".
Howard R. Fallis, MSgt, USAF (Ret.)
31 Mar 2001 15:27
Sgt Neal Pinkowski Writes:
Hello to everyone out there. It has been awhile since I've been here. Was
lucky enough to serve out of Kadena from May of 71 till November of 72.
Crewed KC-135Q 59-1520 during that time. Those long days and nights have
been an experience that have stayed with me till this day, but something
I would not trade for anything. All the memories and times still make me
drift back to then and make me want to return. If there is anyone out there
who was there at that time or anyone at all feel free to contact me. I
always look forward to hearing from those who were lucky enough to share
the same experiences as I. Would really like to find a
Marvin Bohrer or Major John Nasholtz
Sorry, as I probably spelled the later name wrong. Take care everyone and
the best to you all.
Sgt Neal Pinkowski
Fri, 30 Mar 2001 22:27 Rosemarie Holmes/ Wife of Michael C. Holmes Writes: I wish to inform you and the rest of the Habu's, that my dear husband is very sick. Michael served with the 9th SRW during the 70's. I know how much my husband loved that plane. He would go on for hours and show me all kinds of pictures he took, while he was at Beale and at Kadena. His plane was #974. But right now he is in the Hospital, and he might not make it? He has had a Stroke, and he has lost most of the feeling in his left side. His one and only wish was to see his plane fly one more time. Is there anyway I can get information on where to find a SR-71 Flying in the near future??
Thank you all great people for being in my Husbands life, and what you have done for this country.
Mrs. Rosemarie Holmes
29 Mar 2001 10:48 Engineer, David Bloomberg
Writes: From 1962 to 1965 I worked for Skunk Works (ADP) at Kelly's Ranch
during the Flight Test Program for the A12. I worked on the instrumentation
(thermal couples, strain gauges, etc) and electrical/avionics systems.
I worked some on a/c 121 (the first A12) and mostly on ship # 122 (the
2nd A12) Ship #122 nick name was "Queeny", because we were in the hanger
more than ship 121, thus "Hangar Queen", Queeny stuck as the name. For
the three years I worked at Flight Test it was the most enjoyable time
I've ever spent, especial with all the hand picked people the
Johnson's organization selected. I'll never forget those late night
engine runs in full after-burner while we were only two feet under the
engines. Many great memories of exciting aircraft accomplishments and great
people I enjoyed working with. Many of my friends from those far days has
since left this earth. When I started working there I was 22 yrs old, now
I'm 62 year old and still very often think back at the good ole days when
the Skunk Works was a thing of perfection because of
Johnson and Ben Rich. God bless both
of them for what they have done for their country and families.
Regards to all,
Dave Bloomberg, F-117 Engineer, Palmdale, CA
Email: david.bloomberg (Incomplete)
28 Mar 2001 03:02
SMSgt (Ret) Richard P. Campbell
Writes: Having worked with both SR-71 and U-2 Programs staff members in
the capacity of SAC Command and Control Controller with the Strategic
Reconnaissance Center (SRC) HQ SAC, Offutt AFB, NE circa 1965-1968 was
indeed one of the more satisfying jobs I had experienced in my Air Force
career. Working with this unique group of professionals was not only rewarding
but more importantly, we were "family"!
Mon, 26 Mar 2001 18:33 David P. Devine, Sgt. Writes: Wow, I just found this site while I was goofing around at work. I couldn't wait to get home to really check it out. This really has brought back some memories. I have kept in contact with Kevin Crilly and John Mullin fairly regularly. I saw Luis Berrelez about 6 or 7 years ago. I used to stay in contact with Ray Nakashima and Jerry Selig but I haven't talked to either of them in over a year now. I was a crew chief from 85-89. We had a lot of fun back then. I would love to see what every body is doing now. I hope I here from some of you.
David P. Devine, Sgt.
Mon, 26 Mar 2001 18:28: Cris Hamilton, MSgt (Ret.) Writes:
Editors Note: Cris Hamilton recalls his tour of Duty in the USAF with the SR-71 at Beale AFB and Kadena AB, Okinawa in the early days. Go to this URL for his lengthy recollections of his experiences. It is worth the trip.
Cris Hamilton, MSgt (Ret.)
Sat, 24 Mar 2001 00 Thom Lancy (MSgt, USAF/Ret) Writes: I was Chief of Unit Administration with the 9th OMS from 81-84. Lots of great memories. Recall well the heads rolling when a sled rested on its wing when a landing gear was inadvertently raised during phase maintenance. Yikes! Seeking chat with former OMS types, specifically Don Campbell, X and Mary Velarde, Frank Tucci, Roger Massey, Rich Kossol, et al. Beale was a great assignment. I'm now Chief of C4I Plans and Implementation (DAFC) for the Communication Squadron at Buckley AFB in Denver. Don't be a stranger!
Thom Lancy (MSgt, USAF/Ret)
23 Mar 2001 17:23 SSgt David Rodriguez Writes: I was assigned to the 9th
SPS from 01/86-10/87. Usually posted as an area supervisor during the day
shift. I will never forget the engines cranking up in the hanger before
a flight. I also would never miss a launch from the little building adjacent
to the active runway. I'll never forget the feeling of my entire body vibrating
as the aircraft was approaching and then passing us. We SP's would take
pride in keeping that area secure and "jacking up" anyone who didn't follow
proper entry procedure. Confiscated some film while I was there from 10/97-10/91.
I was assigned to the 513 SPS which was responsible for the security at
Det 3. I was fortunate enough to be assigned as the NCOIC of Security for
the SR-71 when it went to the Paris Air Show. What an experience. We were
parked next to the Concord and down the ramp from all the Ruskies. I was
actually trying to talk to a Ruskie (who claimed not to speak English,
yea right!), when their Mig crashed ( I think it was an SU-27). I was in
the AF for 11 years. The SR-71 was part of that for 5+ years. I didn't
fly or work on the SR, but I took pride in protecting those who did.
SSgt David Rodriguez
Sun, 18 Mar 2001 21:01 Col (Ret) Phil Loignon Writes:
A lot of years have gone by, but tuning to the many "HABU" web sites brings it all back like it was yesterday. I was one of the lucky ones that got to fly many years and then come back and wear a maintenance hat thanks to the patience and acceptance of so many guys on the line.
Hope to see many of you at Reno this summer. Phil "RSO"
Col (Ret) Phil Loignon
Sun, 18 Mar 2001 17:15 Eric Curtis, CMS, INANG Writes: Yes!! I finally found it. What a website. It gives me goose-bumps and sweaty palms. My brain is going into memory overload. I was stationed at Beale from March 1969 to September 1976 assigned to PSD. I have countless memories of topnotch aircrews, OL's, take-offs, landings, HABU holidays, and many historical events. It would give me great pleasure to hear from fellow HABU's that shared those times with me. Once a HABU, always a HABU.
Eric Curtis, CMS
Fri, 16 Mar 2001 19:04 Chris Delap Writes: My father worked with Kelly Johnson at "The Ranch" (now referred to as Area 51) on the U-2 project. This was before I was born, early to mid 50s. My dad taught Aerial Navigation (his specialty) to the U-2 pilots. Every few years the "ranch hands" would have a reunion. This would be held at different locations and one of the participants would arrange the festivities. Children were not invited and I believe that some amount of alcohol may have been consumed and old stories retold. I remember my parents telling me that Kelly Johnson would attend one every now and again. The old ranch hands are getting fewer and fewer, my father died in 1996. I like your page. Following airplanes is in my blood.
Tue, 13 Mar 2001 09:19 Tom Stevenson Writes: Hi everyone, Tom Stevenson here. I've been wondering how to get a hold of the people I worked with on the SR-71's between 85 thru 89. I'd just like to say it was the ultimate dream job being a second/third shift crew chief working with Steve Koren, Eric Caubarreaux, Chris Bennett, Kevin Crilly and Bill Logan. I'm currently a machine repairman with Caterpillar in East Peoria. Hi 'Dion' Kamboures. Thank you.
Thu, 1 Mar 2001 19:35 Ron De Lozier, MSgt (Ret) Writes: I just got off the phone with Ron Girouard, he sent me a photo of 974 and asked me to autograph it for him, (my pleasure), he also asked if I had any OL-8 or OL-RK patches, I told him I didn't but that I would put this out to the folks and see if anyone would part with one, he would compensate for the patches. Anyway, after talking to him for over an hour discussing the Blackbird, more memories came flooding in, so here goes another tale of the fun and games at OL-8. Let me preface this with what CMSgt Gornick stated in his tie-cutting tradition story. We worked long and hard to maintain the aircraft and by the same token, we played with abandon.
There are two stories that come to mind, both having to do with the Security Police at Kadena. The first, I was with A1C Steve Reiser at a local watering hole, and we overheard this conversation between two SP's. "Hey, man, you know those blackbirds." "Yeah." "Well they go into outer space and orbit" "Man, that's BS" "No!!! Man, I've been standing guard over in that area, one taxied out and took off, three days ago and it just got back today. I've been checking out the tail numbers, and it's been gone all three days!!" "Really." "Yeah, and the same pilots were in the aircraft that were in it when it landed." Steve and I were trying really hard not to fall off the chairs from laughing so hard. Neither of us had the heart to tell these guys that the aircraft had a problem and went to another base for repairs. We Just let them believe some of the mystic that went with the territory.
Story #2. This actually happened at the T-Hanger on night shift. During a lull in the operations, there wasn't much to do after servicing the primary and secondary birds, some of us were turned loose, others had to stay until mid-shift came in. We were checking out some fun things, like putting drip pans on the three wheel carts, a chair in the drip pan and having pushing races, one guy would sit in the chair, tow bar for the front wheel steering in hand, and and another person would push, we had drag races? from hanger one to hanger four. Someone suggested putting a brake cooler on the drip pan and use it like a pusher prop swamp buggy. So we put some shot bags over the legs of the brake cooler to hold it down in the drip pan, and a chair in front of it. A length of .051 safety wire served as a throttle cable. So tiller (tow bar) in one hand, throttle in the other, and we lit off the brake cooler. It took a while to get up to speed, we ran out of room going to hanger 1 to hanger 4, so we tried going around the T hanger. No good, we couldn't turn the cart without it turning over and spilling driver, chair, brake cooler, shot bags and drip pan on the ramp. It made a lot of noise. We wondered what would happen (how fast could it go), if we didn't have to turn. As I was the senior member on the shift, I approached the SP's on duty with a maintenance problem: We just finished an overhaul of the engine on the brake cooler and we needed to check it out under load. You may have seen us trying to get it up to speed in the hanger, but there's just not enough room. Do you think we could get your roving SP and his truck to help us out? We need a flat run with an exact amount of weight on the cart for the brake cooler to push and reach 35 MPH. If it doesn't reach that speed, the engine will have to be replaced. The guard got on the radio and had the rover come and talk to us. I again explained the drill, we would be coming out of the center of the hanger on the cart with the engine at full throttle, go through the entry control point, down the taxi way, as fast as the propeller would allow. Could he accompany us, with his light flashing to clear the way. I would be in the pickup truck, monitoring the speedometer to insure we got up to speed. The rover was more than helpful, he told us he would have all light flashing and siren if needed. I told him the lights would be enough. We took the cart all the way down the leg of the T to supply, fired up the engine and taxied up the hallway at full throttle, past the maintenance shops, the stairs, through the engine/sheet metal shop and out the center doors. With lights flashing, the SP truck led us down the taxiway. We went the whole length of the taxiway to the end, almost. In our exuberance, we forgot about stopping the fool thing. The driver who shall be nameless, burnt off the soles of his boots dragging them to try and stop, he eventually got it slowed enough to turn the cart at the edge of the taxiway and was unceremoniously dumped off in the grass. We loaded the cart, chair, drip pan, shot bags and cooler in the back of the pickup and triumphantly convoyed back to the hanger with the SP rover and all its' lights flashing. Later in the tour, I heard of one of the maintenance controllers had gone down the stairs to the break room and heard this tremendous racket coming down the hallway, he peeked down the hallway, saw what was coming, turned around and went back up the stairs. Needless to say, we only did this one time, to my knowledge. And we attained 40MPH!!! The things that can happen while not on day shift!!
Ron De Lozier, MSgt (Ret)
Mon, 26 Feb 2001 08:53 Civilian Jay E. Turner Writes: As a "SUPPLY" person I have supported the SR-71 on and off since 1968. I have many memories from the wonderful people I worked with in the "Bowling Alley" in building 1025. If any of you are out there, I'd love to hear from you.
There are still a couple of us "Old-timers" still here.
Civilian Jay E. Turner
Sun, 25 Feb 2001 18:41 MSgt Michael Allison Writes: Great page! I was assigned to the 9th AMS from Nov 80 to Dec 84 and worked in the SLR shop. From there went to the 17th AMS at RAF Alconbury and worked ASARS 2 on the Deuce. There is something to be said about working those airframes and being the "Prime Mission System", seeing the results of your sweat and blood impacting national and defense policy (sometimes immediately). Unfortunately the Sensors career field has never been the same since the titanium wonder was given the pink slip!!! Does anyone happen to recall the tail# of the jet that IFE'd into Andoya AB, Norway when one of the motors shelled? We were deployed to Det 4 at Mildenhall at the time.
MSgt Michael Allison
Fri, 23 Feb 2001 17:03 Sgt. Stephen Baumgart Writes: I was originally assigned to 4200 OMS in 1966, then into the 9th OMS after the Wing was changed to the 9th SRW. I had the privilege of being one of the first Assistant Crew Chief's on SR-71B model #956 when it came up from Edwards A.F.B. to Beale A.F.B. The SR-71B model's kept the ground crews busy, but it was always a proud moment when you saw it take off. I was discharged 1969.
Sgt. Stephen Baumgart
Thu, 18 Jan 2001 00:56 Glenn Chapman, Author, "Me and U2" Writes: (Email forwarded by David Allison <firstname.lastname@example.org>) Brigadier General John DesPortes (Ret), former 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Commander and the first wing commander of the 4200 Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, passed away. The 4080th flew the U-2 and the 4200 was the forerunner of the existing 9th RW which flew the SR-71 before it became the 9th. he was extremely important to us in the 4080th and, of course, was quite instrumental in getting the 4200th SR unit off the ground and running. He wasn't commander of the 4200th for very long, only a few months, but he was the first. He was, however, the boy who ran the 4080th when we almost went to war in Cuba. Without DesPortes, it would have been very difficult to have done what we did. That's the kind of guy he was.
Wed, 21 Feb 2001 21:22 Ronald J. De Lozier, MSgt, USAF, (Ret) Writes: I noticed a lot of folks were in the program after I left in '72, so I figured I would give some recollections of what things were like in the early days at OL-8. One thing is we didn't have the "T" hanger when we first went there, it belonged to the spooky folks with "Brand X" (A-11) or (R-12), depending on what you were told. We were given three hangers, not too far from the F-102 trim pad, which I had the pleasure of watching get torched and melted by a burner run on one of our birds. The second Blackbird to use that pad totally destroyed the blast fence on its' burner run. The large pink "Q" hut looking hanger was the one we recovered the aircraft in after a mission, the two behind it were used for the primary and secondary aircraft. We could only taxi aircraft into the one hanger because the other two didn't have doors wide enough for the aircraft to taxi through if need be. The launch operation went normal for the most part, but we had to hook up a tow bar adapter to one of the main landing gear struts, attach a tow bar to the adapter and hook the tow bar to a G-75 towing vehicle, the driver wore a complete self-contained breathing apparatus under fire protection gear. We also disconnected the nose gear steering scissors and hooked up a nose gear steering bar. After engine start and pre-taxi checks were done, the aircraft was backed out of the hanger by the tug and steering was done by the Crew Chief. When the aircraft was in some semblance of pointing out to the taxi way, the tow bar and adapter were disconnected, NLG scissors were hooked back up, and the aircraft was ready for taxi. There was a knack to hooking up the steering, the crew chief relayed to the pilot were to turn the steering upper arm, while the guy on the steering bar tried to position the lower steering arm by turning the NLG tires, if the three didn't get it together, the guy on the steering bar would have the bar wrenched from his grasp and would do some fancy footwork to keep from getting whacked by the bar. We practiced these maneuvers many times at home base, including the backwards towing, but weren't told why until we had to do it at OL-8. The pink "Q" hut hanger was made out of concrete, and when the aircraft were recovered there, the aircrew had to taxi up a fairly steep ramp to get into the hanger, a little skill on the brakes and throttle were the key in getting up the ramp and into the hanger. During pre engine shutdown checks in the hanger, the concrete roof would pelt anyone who happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. One last note about the first group of folks that went to OL-8, it appeared that everyone had a penchant for building miniature Plexiglas pianos during the long mission flights, when not much was going on. It seemed whenever I went in to the shops or the staff offices, someone had a piano under construction. Well that's enough recollections for now, as I remember more I'll give you my inputs and if your feel they're relevant, feel free to use them. Regards,
Ron De Lozier, CC 974
Mon, 19 Feb 2001 09:12: Dick Williams, MSgt USAF Ret. Writes: Thanks for a terrific site. I found the Oxcart story a couple years ago and was searching for it again when I found your site. I was in the 1129th Special Activities Squadron, Las Vegas from 66 to our deactivation in 68. As you know we deployed to Kadena with the A-12 and flew numerous missions before SAC relieved us. It was a sad day when we stood in formation on the ramp of area 51 to received the Air Force Outstanding Unit award and watch our last flyover. But now the story has unfolded and friends and family now understand the secrecy that once existed. Hope there are other members of the 1129th writing in.
Dick Williams, MSgt USAF Ret.
Sun, 18 Feb 2001 20:58 Sgt. Charles Boyer Writes: This is my lucky night, I've discovered your website! My only wish is that I had found it sooner. I was assigned to the SLR shop (9th AEMS) at Beale AFB early in 1968, after a tour of duty with PACAF in the Philippines and Korat, Thailand. From my first day on the job, I knew that I was part of a special breed of Airman. The experience was extremely rewarding. I was one of a number of Airmen responsible for maintenance, preparation, upload and download of the "big box in the back seat"...and...was part of the mid-shift crew. Nothing was more exciting to a young Airman than to be sitting in the Navigator's seat in the early morning hours performing final checks before a mission. I had the great pleasure of remaining at Beale until my discharge. During those days, (I assume that its remained the same to the present) we had the option of an "early-out" if we wanted to return to college. That was my choice. For me, it was one of the toughest decisions I ever had to make, because I really wanted to stay with the program. After three exit interviews, and no guarantee that I could remain with the program for another four years, I left. I'll never forget the last day on the job...my Chief Master Sergeant said: "Sergeant, don't let the Hippies get you". Chief, they never did! The hardest thing for me to do was peel the Beale AFB sticker off the left-front bumper of my 1966 VW Bug, drive out the Main Gate for the last time, and head up the road to Yuba College...as a civilian. "Many thanks" to the SRs, Sled Drivers, crews and RCD's for great memories!
Sgt. Charles Boyer
Mon, 12 Feb 2001 19:45 SSgt Bob Rooks Writes:
Worked in supply from April 1965 to Sep. 1970. Was at a beer bust sponsored by Kelly Johnson upon arrival of 956 (trainer) Was also at OL8 in 1968.
SSgt Bob Rooks
Sun, 11 Feb 2001 12:37 Sgt. Kevin B. Westling Writes: I worked on the SR-71 from Oct. of 1980 to July of 1984. I was stationed at Beale AFB from Oct. 1980 to Jan. 1983 and in Okinawa from Jan. 1983 to Jul. 1984. It was a great experience and I made a lot of friends. Even had my name on one of the planes for a little while. Might even still be able to see it under the paint.
Sgt. Kevin B. Westling
Wed, 7 Feb 2001 16:30 John Bartlett Writes:
My Father, Bill Bartlett was a P&W Technical Representative. He was involved with the A11, YF12 and the SR-71 at Edwards, Beale, and an unnamed place near Las Vegas. He retired in Texas and passed away five years ago.
Sun, 4 Feb 2001 23:51 Brian Barnes Writes: I'm trying to locate a pilot I once worked for eight years ago. Capt. Bob L Campbell I think he is about 73 now. Last I heard he moved to Southern California. This was about five years ago. Bob had multiple sclerosis and his health was not in the best shape. If you have any information I would appreciate it. I don't feel all that comfortable giving out my phone number over the internet but I will check my e-mail. Thank you.
Sat, 3 Feb 2001 08:51 Bobby Guier, MSgt, USAF (Ret) Writes: I found your web site by chance and am glad I did. I spent hours going through your pages and enjoyed every minute. It seems 90% of what I now know about the SR-71 has been learned years after I left the program. There was a strict need-to- know policy in effect in those days. I was among the initial group of personnel assigned to the 4200 SRW in 1965. I served in the SAS/Autopilot section of the 9th AMS and like to think I had a hand in helping create an extraordinary maintenance organization. I found the work to be very challenging as it differed so greatly from anything I had previously experienced, but the satisfaction and sense of belonging to such an elite group made it all worthwhile. I worked with and made friends with a great bunch of guys and look back on those five years as the best assignment I had during my career. Hi to everyone who remembers me. I left it 1970 for my obligatory tour in SEA but I took with me the memories that remain to this day. I also took a few mementos. I still have my Mach +3 cup and my SR-71 lapel pen which I still wear...it never fails to draw favorable comments. The SR-71 model I made in 1967 from a Revell kit hangs this day in a prominent place in my living room-still good as new. I retired from the AF in 1972. I remained in the electronics field, working for AT&T where I retired a second time in 1992. I am now a member of the Blackbird Association, #1466. I started working on an SR-71 web page of my own quite sometime back, thinking I was doing something very unique-little did I know! Though the page is still under construction, you can visit at: http://community.webtv.net/shortstep/SR71 . I would like to hear from some of my old buddies.
Bobby Guier, MSgt, USAF (Ret)
Fri, 2 Feb 2001 23:44 CMSGT Virgil L. Ditch (Ret) Writes: I was recently made aware of the site by Lee Hendrix, Marysville, Ca. What an inspiring site! It brings back multitudes of memories. I was associated with the SR-71 from its beginning at Beale AFB until its deactivation and short reactivation except for 5 years. To name all the talented and dedicated civilian reps, officers and enlisted people I met through those years would be next to impossible. When the Titan I missiles closed down at Beale in 1965 I transferred into the 9th Recon Squadron (then a detachment of the 544th at Offutt) as an imagery interpreter. I spent a year in Vietnam with a joint service unit where we used a lot of SR-71 imagery in our operations and then I returned to 9th SRW. In 1977 I cross trained into computers and moved a few doors down the hall as superintendent of 9th Wing computer operations. In 1979 I replaced Bob Fraizer as 9th Senior Enlisted Advisor and retired in 1980. During those years the TDYs were rough as everyone who served in the 9th remembers. At one period of time I was TDY at Christmas 4 out of 5 years. Looking back now it was worth it to be able to enjoy retirement in this great country of freedom. Just a few of the highlights of my years in 9th Intel were: (1) TDY tours to the Strategic Air Relocateable Processing Facility in Vietnam and being selected to deactivate, disassemble and ship the facility back to Beale on the victory ship Ocala. (2) Being on both teams that deployed the first Mobile Processing Center to Okinawa and the second one to Mildenhall, England. (3) Participating in the mission when we were deployed to North Carolina. (4) Having the opportunity to serve as the Senior Enlisted Advisor of the 9th Wing. (5) Returning to the program to support Intelligence Operations as a civilian with Houston Fearless 76.
It would be great to hear from old friends and acquaintances.
CMSgt Virgil L. Ditch (Ret)
Fri, 2 Feb 2001 11:00 TSgt Kim L. Hill Writes:
I was present working on AGE for the 9th when speed record was broken. It was very thrilling to be a part of the breaking of the speed record.
TSgt Kim L. Hill
1 Feb 2001 09:53
MSgt. Jim Orr Writes:
Great web site; so many friends, so many memories.
MSgt. Jim Orr
Fri, 26 Jan 2001 17:57 Major (Ret) Phil Rockwell Writes: Great site. I was a new young airmen assigned to 9th Intel in Feb 1972. I was lucky to work for Col. Floyd D. Mahl, Intel Chief. I was an admin troop. Worked very closely with the mission planners, photo guys from downstairs (LTC. "Fast Ed Payne"), elint guys, etc...What a fantastic experience for a young guy. Went TDY to Kadena in Jul 73, LTC. Arno R. Mason was the Commander. I'll never forget how he would let me ride along with him (I was his admin shop), watch the crew suit up and then we'd watch from the grass, about half way down the runway.. that beautiful rotation, with all the gas coming out of the plane! I remember Col Mason wanted to retire there at Kadena. Wonder if he did. He and others were great people. That TDY turned into another one at Seymour Johnson in NC for the '73 Israeli war. It was on some of these flights across the Atlantic that one crew carried some Lockheed pins of the SR that I have to this day. It was great working there. I remember one special day when the crew returned with some especially sensitive photos of the Egyptian desert. I think the Israeli's were kicking too much Arab tail and Kissinger wanted to see the facts. I saw some of the footage and it was amazing the quality of the pictures of equipment and people going west! Looking back over all my experiences in the Air Force, those two years (72-74) at Beale were the best in my career. I subsequently went on to get out and returned to the Air Force and became a missile officer and then command post type and then "put out" in '92. Retired from the reserves. Would love to hear from anyone from back then. I especially remember CMSgt Pino, Lt. Dilly, Col Payne (who I ran into again at Ellsworth) in '86, Charley Carson, Ron Walraven and many more. The TDY tours were great for a single guy and great learning experiences. I'll always remember the sound of those engines, the flame at night, etc. The photo capabilities were so great back then I wonder what can cameras do today? And just who is that occasional vapor trail I see, have seen in different parts of the world, that moves very strangely? Keep up the great site.
Major (Ret) Phil Rockwell
26 Jan 2001 10:31
Civilian Robert D. Hall, Jr.
Writes: It is great to see this website and recollect SR-71 experiences
after these past 10 years since our site at RAF Mildenhall, UK, was closed
down. I worked for Lockheed Aircraft Service Company, Ontario, CA. My task
on the SR-71 involved the DMRS (Digital Mission recorder System), the black
box that was really orange. For the past 10 years, as I have been teaching
Electronics and Computers in Technical schools, Institutes, and Colleges,
I have related many of my experiences working on this equipment aboard
the Blackbird to the approximately 1000 students that I have been privileged
to teach. Everyone I come into contact with, upon seeing my array of SR-71
tie-tacs that I wear, never hesitate to ask about this amazing aircraft.
And, of course, I have many photos to share with them, most from the almost
8 years that I spent at Mildenhall (and 6 weeks at Kadena AB, Japan). I
would welcome any and all correspondence with anyone (and especially those
that were at Mildenhall), so that we may keep in contact. Once again, Thank
You for this Site!
Civilian Robert D. Hall, Jr.
25 Jan 2001 20:20 Civilian Larry D. Marx Writes: Sir; I am the son of a
retired Lockheed engineer that worked in the A.D.P. division "Skunk Works"
his name is Wallace C. Marx. I do not know
much about the people he worked with. He did not discuss what he did for
years until just before his retirement in the late 1980s. He did tell me
he was the person who designed the navigational window in the back of the
Blackbird. He designed the flight data recorder for this aircraft. After
the SR71 project was finished he transferred to the facilities engineering
area of Lockheed until his retirement. I would like any information
regarding the people that he worked with and who, if anybody, might
You see my father passed away about one and half years ago. Thanks.
Civilian Larry D. Marx
Wed, 24 Jan 2001 04:58 MSgt John K. Lasky Writes: Stationed at Beale AFB from 1969 until 1977. Work in the Hydraulic Shop, volunteer to become a FTD Instructor ( 1974 to 1977 )on the " Blackbird ". Was reassigned to the TR-1 Squadron ( 17 RW ) at Alconbury, England from 1984 until 1988. I was awarded my " Skunk Works 10 Years Maintenance Certificate ". Retired from the USAF in Oct. 1988. Currently working for Pam Am International Flight Academy. Have you heard from Bob Skinner or Ron Dickinsen?
Msgt John K. Lasky
Sat, 20 Jan 2001 20:14 Lt Col Gary Hamilton Writes: I have about ten years experience in the 9th Wing and did a tour as Chief of Maintenance at Det 1, 1983-85. I am wondering if flight crews remember tail number 964 during that time. This jet had 32 on time take-offs in the summer of '83. I don't care which jet beat what speed record, this was the best running SR ever. It had the old analog inlet system which allowed you to tune the inlets to the engine and tweak things really close to the edge. Oh yeah, I was at the Offutt museum about 10 years ago and saw 964 on display. The inlet and exhaust covers were riveted shut, the engines still installed, and the ADS's leaking. I damn near cried. Always a Habu.
Lt Col Gary Hamilton
19 Jan 2001 18:52
Phil Lembo (Former Capt
USAF) Writes: Hello and thanks to the Great SR-71 Site and all its Creators
I began a long and continuing career in Imagery Intelligence with the 9RTS/9SRW back in 1967 as a PI Officer reading the Black Birds great imagery products. For four of the following five plus years, I learned and lived the Photo Interpretation (PI) trade with some great people there at Beale. Over this time as Yellow and Silver Bar Lt. and finally Capt, I worked directly for Major Jack MacIntire, Capt Jerry Lopez, and Major Rod Mitchell in Exploitation during these years (and ended up running it for 3 months for Rod while he was on TDY before leaving in 1972). I also worked with and admired greatly LTC John Paulman- a great RTS Ops Officer- along with Maj Charles Williams, Maj Whit Lathem, and the ever present and memorable Super Sergeant Dick Calahan who did much to run the RTS in this period. My Fellow PI Officers were Jim Liminoff, Don Libby, Jim Grocock, Howard Swede Benson, Mara Oslin, Junior Songer, Gary Buchanan, Gordy Von Qualen, Dave Scott, Jim Burnham, Jim Martin (now Col. Jim Martin), Bob Smith and Dick Cole. Top Sergeants were Emmanual Tuttle, Don Jackson,Virgil Ditch, Andy Andrenacci. Top PIs were Darwin Evelsizer, Dave Price, Don Shipman, Ken Truax, and Noah Stinnett. I left Beale twice- once to see SEA through SAC eyes at Utapao in Thailand where I read B-52 Bombing Radarscope and Bomb Door Camera photos (no comparison with SAR and the cameras!) for a year (1970-71) before returning back home to the 9RTS. The second time as a new civilian to head for Phoenix to work with John Hight, Jim Checiras, and later Don Sopiak as a SAR Image Analyst and Tech Rep where I was continually associated with the 9th for the next 13 years. I even went to Mildenhall and worked with the IN Rod Mitchell again in the mid 80's. In 1985, I left Phoenix for Washington to do National level IA work, visiting Beale only a few times but without forgetting the roots of my career were there. The fog that enveloped my last trip to Beale AFB in the mid Nineties and that huge concrete and steel SAGE building that stood out from the mist, seemed to transport me back to those heady days of SR Program and of my Youth. Once inside, through thinner security, certain gray corridors remained unchanged and brought back exciting memories. Now reading the Alma Mater site has brought so many fine ones back with images and names that ring across the years.
Phil Lembo, Research Scientist in Image
Analysis, Veridian Corporation,
Wed, 17 Jan 2001 16:55 Randy Morris Writes:
I worked at Air Force plant 42 Back in 1982 thru 1984 Lockheed Skunk works overhaul and repair. It had to be the most rewarding job I have ever held.
I would return on a moments notice. Greatest aircraft ever flown period! Great web site.
Mon, 15 Jan 2001 12:10 Kevin Svetcos, E-4/Sgt. Writes: The only word that comes to mind is "incredible". So much lay dormant for so long, and now it is as if it were yesterday. I was assigned to the Physiological Support Division (PSD) at Beale from 1984-'88, and I am still in awe of the professionalism and dedication that I saw from all the shops. Of course there was competition and trash-talk between the areas: AMS, OMS, Fuels, Life Support, AGE, PSD, and everyone else that got both the Sled and the Deuce off the ground and gathering information. Everyone believed they had the best and most important job, and when you look at it, we had to; only the best were able to do what we did, and to do it at the level that we did it at day after day. My dad and best friend saw the most absolutely beautiful twilight launch of the Sled that even I myself had ever seen. With the Butte Mountains silhouetted against an orange-red horizon, we all gazed skyward, following the concentric rings of the afterburners rise and fade into the night sky of the golf course and base housing. As we stood staring at the place in the now-empty sky where the plane used to be, dad summed it up best when all he said was, "My God, Kevin". Out of the literally hundreds of flights that I had the honor of either launching and/or recovering, I never, ever tired of them. I remember feeling the vibrations deep within my chest during engine run-up prior to take off as it made our entire van shake from over 100 yards away. I remember the humor of the back-seater who would not fly without his pink bunny in the lower front left pocket of his pressure suit, the private ceremony of the front-seater who always kissed the right engine during his walk-around, and the heartbreak of another front-seater who was DNIF'ed by a heart murmur barely one year into the assignment of a lifetime. There are no words to describe the gratitude and pride I still feel to this day in being able to have served my country in the manner in which I did through my work with the SR-71 and TR-1 programs. One of the saddest days of my life was when I was working as a technical rep for NASA following my separation. I was at Kelly AFB on a TDY the day the Sled arrived to be put on static display at Lackland in March 1990 after being retired the first time, and tears filled my eyes literally as quickly as air filled the drogue chute after it touched down for the last time that day. Later, as she sat in the hanger in quiet dignity awaiting her eminent euthinization and without her usual entourage of tight security, I placed a sign by her front landing gear that said, "For Sale By Owner". In the space below that was intended for a phone number, I wrote, "take over payments". Instead of the usual "What-did-you-do-this-time-Airman?" speech that I normally got when something happened and I was in the same vicinity purely by coincidence, I was surprised to see the members of the ground crews posing in front of the plane, having their pictures taken. What do I remember about the Sled? I remember her rich history. I remember people falling dead silent as they slowly approached the plane at every air show I was privileged to attend. I remember the security details that guarded her, the aircrews that flew her, the ground crews that got her off the ground, and the crews of the Silver Sows who were vital in keeping her airborne until it was time for her to come home. I have so much more, but I have already used up too much of your time. Thanks for your patience. God bless, and congratulations to all on a job well done.
Kevin Svetcos, E-4/Sgt
Tue, 16 Jan 2001 00:33 SSgt Karl L. Lynch Writes: I just found the site and it is excellent. I was in the Engine Shop at Beale AFB. 1973-1979, Kadena AB 1979-1982, Plant 42 Site 2 1983-90. Then doing off and on J-58 work thru '94. It was the best of times. I really enjoyed the SR-71 program, it was a great highlight in my life. I keep a scrap book at work and can't wait for someone to ask to see some pictures. But the Best of the Best is the Great team and bond we will all always have. This is a wonderful way for me to read and catch up on the many people who have changed my life forever. I miss you all. Please feel free to drop an E-mail anytime. It was great working with you. I am looking forward to doing a lot of catching up at the next reunion and on E-mail. Anything to keep-em flying. HABU !
SSgt Karl L. Lynch
Sat, 13 Jan 2001 21:49 SSgt Ron McGill Writes: Security Policeman at Beale from 1982 to 1985. I worked the flight line and PAVE PAWS. Lots of funny memories. One time a Captain came up in civvies without any ID, so I jacked him up. When his boss came to ID the Capt, the Capt's wife and little boy was with the boss. The little boy pleaded with me "not to shoot his daddy." I felt so bad. Another time, a civilian aircraft was running low on fuel and landed at night. There was no one in the control tower, so the plane just landed and parked in the U-2 area. The gate guard didn't know what was going on, so we all responded and pulled guns on the pilot and crew. Eventually the guy just refueled and left. Mostly I just sat in a gate shack or in a jeep and looked at aerospace vehicles. Funny now there is a SR on a pylon down in the aerospace museum in San Diego. Homeless guys sleep under the airplane that I once would have shot them for touching.
SSgt Ron McGill
Thu, 11 Jan 2001 01:13 Walt Larsen Writes: I worked for the Skunk Works black world on the TR-1 for a year and the SR-71 for 4 years, one year of which was launching and recovering the bird. Three years were spent in the fab shop, overhauling them one by one. I met many of the pilots and the one and only J.T. Vida. He called me in for a chat one day after the completion of a mission; it seems a couple of quick fasteners came loose on the celestial observation hatch. There was no FOD problem, but of course there was always concern about these things. I have an award from J.T. Vida for our excellent work in 1985 at site 2 in Palmdale. I heard of his demise when I was employed on the B-2 Bomber at Northrop about 6 years ago, so sad. Hooray for the one and only SR-71, the original "stealth".
Wed, 10 Jan 2001 19:58 Sgt Tom J. Slonecker Writes:
I was assigned to the 9th OMS 74-76. I first worked to the Base Flight T-29D's that parked on the ramp by base operations and leaked oil everywhere and later (when the 29's left) worked on the T-38's.
Does anyone know what happened to CMSgt Sellers or TSgt Simms?
Sgt Tom J. Slonecker
Sun, 7 Jan 2001 11:33 MSgt Julio R. Nieves Writes: I was one of the originals assigned to the 4200 SRW in the spring of 1965. I got my family located, went TDY to Edwards for school and Flight testing of the greatest aircraft on earth. The most fulfilling times of my life were spent while assigned as an Aircraft Electrician to the 9th FMS. I was on the program except for a year that I spent in Viet Nam until I retired on Dec. 31, 1973. I can't express the pride that I have in my heart of being part of a group of outstanding professionals like our HABU team supporting the greatest aircraft flown by man. Thank you MSgt. Leland Haynes for the wonderful web page and the memories. What a great way to bring great people together.
MSgt Julio R. Nieves
If you have worked directly with the SR-71 or U-2, you may qualify to join the Blackbird Association. Pilots, Maintenance Support Personnel, Contractors and PSD support are examples.
Do you meet the following criteria established to join the Blackbird Association?
1.You must have been Directly Associated with the SR-71, U-2 Programs. Being stationed where the Blackbirds were operational does not qualify. We have received numerous requests to join the Association by personnel that do not qualify, for example CBPO, Supply, Etc. Certainly these personnel contributed indirectly to the programs but remember the qualifications states: "Directly Associated".
2.The Blackbird Association is Not a Locator Service! Questions directed in this area will be ignored. If you wish to try and locate a former member you may search this page you are on to see if the individual has left a message.
3.When you contact Jack Madison the first time:
You MUST include "Blackbird Association Membership" in the subject line
Your Name and Affiliation with the Blackbirds (SR-71 or U-2).
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Email you Blackbird Association application to:
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SR-71 Alma-Mater and Recollections Navigator
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Copyright © 1996 Leland R. Haynes Email: email@example.com
SR-71 Front Page Links Page Index Page Recollections 2001 Reunion "SR-71 Blackbirds" Web Site Navigator First Created: April 15, 1996 - Last Revised: March 29, 2004 Copyright © 1996 Leland R. Haynes Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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