FROM THE PAST
Guest Book Entries for 2004
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..
Search the entire 163 web pages of the "SR-71 Blackbirds" Web Site:
Here is the Latest Additions to The SR-71 Blackbirds Web Site:
Updated December 06, 2004
"U OUGHTA", The Biography
of William M. (Bill) Gornik, CMSgt, USAF, (Ret). The result is a book 9 by 11 inches and 1 inch
thick with 257 pages including over 100 photos (B&W and color). The dust cover is very unique and includes 3 very complimentary endorsements (one by a retired USAF Lt/Gen and one by a former Boise State University President). As many of you are aware, Bill's contribution to the Blackbird program over the years is certainly one of dedication and professionalism. He was proud to be inducted into the Blackbird Laurels Society on behalf of all the enlisted men. Here is his life story with a table of contents and ordering information. URL: ./Gornik.htm
3. "Blackbird Books and Memorabilia" A new web page listing all books reviewed on this web site. Contains links to the books as well as Art Prints, Screensaver and SR-71 Memorabilia gift items. All items can be ordered through their respective link page. URL: blackbird_books.htm
4. "SR-71 Movie & Screensaver Order Form" Print out this page if ordering by US mail the SR-71 Screensaver; SR-71 Movie Screensaver or DVD's of the movies "Blackbird Tribute" which includes 6 movies; "Touch and Go" and SR-71 Retirement Ceremony at Beale AFB. All funds go to promote and maintain the "SR-71 Blackbirds" web site you are now visiting. Go Here to Order: Screensaver_Form.htm
5. "PayPal Secure Order for DVD Movies and Screensavers" Now you can order the DVD's and the Screensavers with your PayPal account or any Credit Card using PayPal's secure ordering web pages. Go here to select DVD Movies or Screensavers and add them to your shopping cart. All proceeds go to support and maintain the SR-71 Blackbirds website. It's fast and no hassle. Thank you for your support. URL: PayPal_Order.htm
6. "Blackbird Tribute Video" Updated this video with new footage and a crisper video image. The video has increased to 102 MB but the movie is 8 minutes in length. DSL or Cable Modem download only. URL: ./srvid%7E1.htm
7. "Takeoff, Touch and Go Video" Updated this video with new footage and a crisper video image. The video file has increased to 62.5 MB. DSL or Cable Modem download only. URL: srvid%7E1.htm
8. "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Clause": Check out David Burns' SR-71 personal photo collection of 22 Images at this URL: david_burns.htm
The latest SR-71 Video/Movie DVD collection now contains Seven Blackbird movies on one DVD. If you want to sit down, have some steak and eggs for breakfast, don your pressure suit and fly at Mach 3+, then this DVD is as close as it gets. Add this "Master SR-71 DVD" (Item SR004) to your collection and help support and maintain the web site you are now visiting.
60 Minutes in length.
Go here to check it out or order:
The History Channel has been showing this movie periodically since it came out in November of 2002. It is now available from the A&E TV store in a DVD-R format. Go here to order:
Blackbird Stealth on DVD
If you have been associated with the SR-71 and would like to have your experiences or recollections listed on these Web Pages please fill out the form on the
In November of 2004, Lockheed Test Pilot Bob Gilliland visited SR-71A #61-7962 at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, United Kingdom . He was escorted by a guard of honor from RAF, Mildenhall during his visit. A very fitting tribute to the man who flew the first SR-71. These photos were provided by Cliff Caswell, UK; writer and photographer for British Forces press.
(Click on Image to enlarge)
(Photos and captions courtesy of Cliff Caswell, United Kingdom)
Blackbird Reunion 2005
The next Blackbird Reunion will be held in Reno, Nevada at the Nugget Hotel on June 2-5, 2005. The reunion is for Blackbird Association members only. Contact Rich Graham at email HABU5@verizon.net if you have any questions.
2004 Guest Book Entries
Updated December 31, 2004
December 13, 2004 5:23 PM, Maureen Elliott Writes about Ron Rice: Just a quick note to let you know that Ron Rice is in the hospital at Bethesda having undergone extensive surgery for cancer. The surgery was last week & he was in the intensive care unit there. I do know that he is still in the hospital at this time but not sure if he's still in intensive care. Will keep you posted when I find out more.
Thursday, December 30, 2004 1:28 AM From Kathy Rice: Ron is still in the hospital at Bethesda. He has undergone four operations in the last 3 weeks. The first major one was a 12 1/2 hour surgery to try to remove the liposarcoma cancer from several areas. They couldn't get it all but what they did should help.
He's extremely weak. His surgeons say it will be a long recovery. He needs your prayers.
Just the other day he asked if we got any more news on Tom Pugh. We hope he continues to make a full recovery.
I'll keep you posted on Ron's progress.
Editor's Note: On 15 April 1970, Major Ronald C. Rice qualified as a Reconnaissance System Operator (RSO) on the SR-71 aircraft; Crew Member #231. The Blackbird community extends to Ron a speedy recovery and a reminder that he is in our prayers each day. If you wish to send you well-wishes to Ron and his family, you may contact Kathy Rice at the following email address:
Kathy and Ron Rice: KRice88888@aol.com
Friday, December 24, 2004 at 08:16
Lonnie D. Countryman, CMSgt, USAF (Ret) Writes: I was in the SR-71 program from 1965-1970. I was one of the originals. I worked on the flight line crew chief type. I crewed 970 at ol-8 and I'm the one that had the PINK PANTHER put on the tail. My son has sent you a copy of the tail flashing I believe. I was a
SSgt at that time. After my tour at OL-8 in 1969, I left the Air Force Jan. 2 1970. I came to Tucson
and by 10 Jan I was working for the Tucson Air National Guard in which I retired from Dec. 31 1998. I retired as a
Chief. I always loved the SR-71
I always had 2-3 pictures hanging in my office. When my son found those pictures of me on the web sight I was as shocked as he was. Sure was a trip to the past. A lot of good old memories. I think if could have worked on the SR-71 my entire career I'd still be in Ha. Well I will close for now. If I can help in any way feel free to contact me. And that goes for anybody that might want to contact me.
Lonnie D. Countryman, CMSgt, USAF (Ret)
Sunday, December 19, 2004 at 13:05 Captain Frank Wilson USAF (Ret) Writes: I was an Air Surveillance Officer ASO at the SAGE Direction Center at Malmstrom AFB Montana, we measured in speed, altitude and track the SR 71 that flew through our area of responsibity for several years during the early 1970ies. So far as I know we were the only NORAD facility allowed to do so. This was a result of the fact that the FAA Air Traffic Control Center was co located with us and used our computer and radar. We were the only NORAD facility where FAA was co-located with the USAF. FAA would initiate a track on the SR 71 A/C and the SAGE computer would immediately ID it as a high priority track due to its speed, as required by its software. The SAGE Computer would then track its speed and use all available height and search radars to produce the best track, speed, and altitude data available, updating about every 15 seconds. This situation went on for several years until SAC found out we were tracking and recording the data. Then a debriefing team was sent out by SAC to tell us to disregard what we had seen and the software was changed to ignore SR-71 tracks.
Captain Frank Wilson USAF (Ret)
Sunday, December 12, 2004 at 19:34 Airman Alberto Garcia, Jr. Writes:
Security Policeman in 1971-72 at Beale AFB with 456 Security Police Squadron. I was always amazed, when I was on the flight line when the SR's did their touch and go, when they would break the first sound barrier, which is the only one that you would hear.
Airman Alberto Garcia, Jr.
Saturday, December 11, 2004 at 12:33 MSgt USAF (Ret) Albert M. Smith Writes:
I was a member of 456 Combat Defense Force (SAC) at Beale 65/66 and was assigned security for the SR 71. Have submitted a request to become a member of your organization.
Do you have any former Security Force personnel in the Blackbird Association?
MSgt USAF (Ret) Albert M. Smith
Friday, December 3, 2004 at 22:13
John Dinubilo, CMSgt, USAF, (Ret) Writes: I last posted in this great web site on Mon, 24 Dec 2001 20:06. Since then I have heard from a few of the old PSD troops from both Beale and Edwards AFB.
There are a whole bunch of untold "war stories" out of the Beale AFB and Edwards/Palmdale SR-71 operations that need to see the light of day...
There is an annual Physiological Training Reunion. It has been held 10 or 12 times and hosted by NASA Houston, or Brooks AFB, or FAA Ok City, or the Air Force Academy. The last was at Langley AFB in Oct '04. The guys and gals who worked: - long-wing B-57s pressure suit ops at Carswell, - George AFB F-104 pressure suit ops at the Williams AFB chamber (TAC couldn't afford to buy their own PSD operation!), - Davis-Monthan U-2 suit-ops (also at the Willy chamber, before the DM PSD altitude chambers were man-rated), - U-2 pressure suit ops at that nameless West-Texas base (O.K., O.K., it was Laughlin AFB), - and the Beale and Edwards operations, all talk about their respective programs at these reunions. I've tried to get some of them to make comments about SR-71 PSD operations on this web page.
I have not been able to make any of the Blackbird reunions. However, this coming June at the Nugget may be a good time and place for some of those untold war stories...
John T. Dinubilo, CMSGT, USAF, Ret.
Blackbird Association #1536
Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 20:03 Sgt Albert Sherred Writes: Wow, where to start. I was stationed at Davis Monthan June '73, Jet shop until the U2's left for Beale. I went to Beale PCS June of '76 until discharged Aug '80. I have so many good memories of my time at Beale. Friends; Charles Stewart, Alex Reyno, Dan Gunter, too many to name. I remember when we attempted to start up the SR without the start cart, and used a KC-135 instead, and they parked the two aircraft side by side on the KC ramp and the KC was running all 4 engines up to generate enough air to motor the SR and all of a sudden all the intake and exhaust plugs from the tanker were flying over the blast fences onto the taxi way . Quality Control guys were telling them to pull the throttles back, but the boys kept trying and if I remember correctly, It didn't work. I was on numerous TDY's to Osan , ERT's to Mildenhall, even a couple to Okinawa. Does anyone know what ever happened to Ron Maple? He was a U2 crew chief. Email me anytime .
Sgt Albert Sherred
Blackbird Member #1632 Writes:
Seen an obituary in the Houston Chronicle for Nov.28 for Col.
C.L (Reed) Shoemaker.
He passed away on Nov. 24.
It says the high point of his career was flying the SR-71 Blackbird.
C.L. "REED" SHOEMAKER Col. USAF (Ret.) passed away November 24, 2004 in Houston, Texas after enduring a 10 year struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. Reed was born June 23, 1933 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He graduated from Butte Valley High School and The University of Nebraska with a degree in Economics, and earned a Master's degree from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas. Entering the Air Force in 1952, Reed had a 23 year military career, with the high point being his time spent flying the SR-71 Blackbird. Reed joined USAA in San Antonio, Texas, and retired from there in 1996. He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Martha, of Houston; daughters, Melanie Avery of Grass Valley, California, Sally Anne Drexel of Vacaville, California, and seven grandchildren. He also leaves 3 step-children, Stephanie Cecere of Houston, Texas, Laura Cecere of Seattle, Washington, and Matthew Cecere of Dallas, Texas, as well as sisters, Vivian Smith and Vera Eckles of Grants Pass, Oregon, and Bonnie Brewer of Auburn, California. Reed was preceded in death by his son, Calvin. A graveside funeral service with full military honors will be held at half-past ten o'clock Monday morning, November 29th, at Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive. A memorial service will be held in early December in Live Oak, California. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Vitas Hospice Charitable Fund, 4828 Loop Central Drive, Bldg 3, Suite 890, Houston, Texas 77091, or the Shriner's Burn Center. The family wishes to extend their gratitude to the Forum at Memorial Woods, SCC #1 in Houston for the outstanding care and love they gave to Reed, and for maintaining his dignity to the end. Thank you to VITAS Hospice's inpatient unit at The Forum for making Reed's last days very peaceful. (Above data courtesy Houston Chronicle).
SR-71 RSO Captain Shoemaker and Pilot Major DeVall (1967)
Editor's Note: Colonel Shoemaker qualified as an SR-71 RSO on 10 April 1967; #165. The Blackbird Community extend their condolences to the family and friends of Colonel Shoemaker.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004 at 11:55 Sgt Russell Revell Writes:
I was assigned to the 9th SRW IND from 1985-1990. I work primarily with ELINT software thou when TDY also supported all areas of computers support for the SR-71. I worked with E.J Sharp, Jeff Kolek, Mike Schlau, Capt Will Mullens, Capt Rick Turner and many others who have been some of the finest individuals I have worked with before or since.
Sgt Russell Revell
Sunday, November 14, 2004 at 10:51 SSgt Roy Pillard Writes: I worked in the Refrigeration/Electric shop in the old SAGE Bldg from Feb '67 until my discharge Oct '69. MSgt Allen was my last NCOIC and before him was TSgt Abe Lawson. Also in our shop was Mike Brownlee, Andy Brown and Frank Franz. Our work mainly was with the MPC trailers. Anyone that remembers me or the great bunch of guys I worked with please e-mail me. I've been a Locomotive Engineer with the Kansas City Southern Railroad for 32yrs and will be retiring in May 2005.
SSgt Roy Pillard
Sunday, November 7, 2004 at 21:13 Civilian, R.D. Kantner Sr. Writes:
1957- Project Visa. RAM developed and applied to T-33 at WPAFB. 1958- Design and fabrication of the non-metallic vertical stabilizer for microwave evaluation for ADP. R&D of high temperature resistant structural composite materials, coatings and adhesives. Design, fabrication and elevated temperature testing of the non-metallic vertical stabilizer(s) for the A-11.
Civilian, R.D. Kantner Sr.
Wednesday, November 3, 2004 at 16:24
Patrick Purdy, SSgt Writes: Worked @ Beale during the mid 80's- 9th AMS Photo Shop. I see a few familiar names. Glad to see some networking going on. I especially
remember purging the cameras for those early morning flights-northern Cal can be a cold place.
Anybody heard from TSgt Harvey Smith- he has some great SR pictures- just don't ask him to tell you a war story- it could take most of the day!
Patrick Purdy, SSgt
Tuesday, November 2, 2004 at 12:42 Major Harry B. Pittman Writes: I first arrived at Beale AFB when the 9th Air Refueling Squadron was formed in 1970, coming in from Little Rock AFB. Spent 4+ years as KC-135Q co-pilot and aircraft commander. Spent part of that time as Tanker Scheduler. Move to DMAFB with the 350th Recon Sq and became a drone recovery officer (part of the Buffalo Hunter program) in 1974-1975. Became U-2 scheduler in 1976 and developed the "flow plan" to move all the U-2 pilots to Beale, maintaining their TDY rotations to the Dets plus going thru Williams AFB for transition training in T-38s. Moved back to Beale as U-2 scheduler, later became the SR-71 scheduler, then DOTT for the 9th SRW. (1976-1981) Went back to KC-135Q for awhile at Beale, then to Alconbury as Chief of Scheduling for the TR-1s (part of the initial group of 17thRW). Spent my last two years teaching the tanker crews at Beale on the SIOP. Total of 11 of 21 years at Beale. Lots of great memories. With my year in Vietnam flying EC-47s with the security service listening in the back end, most of my AF career was in recon/recon support.
Major Harry B. Pittman
Monday, October 25, 2004 at 14:20 TSgt Mark C. Ashmon Writes:
I was an airman stationed at Det 1 (88-90) as a 702XX (admin) under the command of Col Lee M. Shelton. I cannot explain how much this squadron impacted my career. I've had several great experiences throughout my career, but am still looking for something to top my first one at Kadena.
TSgt Mark C. Ashmon
Thursday, October 21, 2004 at 04:28
SSgt Jennifer Pastrick Writes: I was stationed with the air refueling group in Okinawa,
Japan from 1978 to 1980, I knew Col Jack Veth and General
John Storrie. They were good commanders and great guys. If anyone has any information as to their good health and
where-abouts, please inform me within the limits of their own privacy. I know Col
Veth was injured in a severe car accident in the early 80's and would like to know how things worked out for him.. My name is Jennifer Pastrick, USAF Retired. Living in Alaska as a guide and full time Team Leader at the Alaska Military Youth Academy.
SSgt Jennifer Pastrick
Friday, October 15, 2004 at 10:51:59 SSgt Brett Cabell Writes:
I was a SR-71 Crew Chief. I was stationed at Beale AFB. CA. from Feb. 1980 thru Feb. 1987.
I was a member of the ground crew on 956 when it flew it's 2000th sortie.
Thursday, October 14, 2004. Richard Graham, Col. Writes:
To All Habus and Friends of Habu,
I was notified yesterday (Oct 13th) by Tom Pugh's daughter that Tom experienced a stroke and is presently in ICU. His mobility does not seem to be effected but speech and memory seem to have taken a hit. Everybody is hopeful for a full recovery and only time will tell. I will keep you posted if I hear more.
I am sure Tom would love to hear from all his Habu friends. You can drop him a get well note/card at:
Tom Pugh, 6501 Marshall Rd. NE, Bainbridge Island, WA
Thursday, 14 Oct @ 1400 EST George, G.T. Morgan Writes: I just spoke with the Pugh gang and Tom has been moved to a private room.
Still not sure what the prognosis is but everyone is keeping a positive "HABU" attitude.
My best times in the Air Force were associated with flying in both the B-52 and the SR with Tom.
Let's all keep him and the family in our prayers.
George G.T. Morgan
Update October 20, 2004: Richard Graham, Col. Writes: To all Habus and Friends of Habus,
Below is a 3-4 day summary of how Tom is coming along from his daughter, Cathy. Sounds like progress is being made towards a good recovery!
Hi Rich, Pat and Friends....I spent all morning with my dad today Sat....he continues to improve SLOWLY but there is noticeable progress - he walked for the 2nd time...25ft....which is now 50 ft total. We are hoping to move him to a rehab section of the hospital OR to a rehab facility on the Island close to home. That is about it thus far - will know more again tomorrow......
Hi Rich - my dad continues to improve - doctors are amazed....he can walk - with help of walker at this point and he started eating yesterday (Sunday). We are making arrangements to move him closer to home to a rehab facility.....he still can't talk but I have a feeling will the way he's improving that he will soon. Keeping you posted........
Tom is improving day by day....should be moving him to rehab today....tomorrow....and then with intense rehab he is expected home in 2 weeks.......all back to normal we hope.
Update October 22, 2004: Richard
Graham, Col. Writes: Forwarding the latest from Tom's daughter...your get-well cards do help!
Hi Rich - went to see Pop-O today.....we threw away his walker!!!!!!!! He does GREAT at walking. He is now in re-hab and is improving daily. He still can't talk but tries SO hard. He is in intense physical, speech and occupational therapy EVERY day TWICE a day. He gets to come home next Saturday night as a trial to see if we need to make any personal home adjustments, ie maybe move a certain rug should he slip on it - basically "baby proof"....
There are still a lot of "I don't know's" which frustrates us AND the doctors.....every stroke victim is different....but they are positive and are extremely nice to him and us.
Cards are coming in by the dozens....and we bring them to him - he looks at them as though he's reading but we don't really think he can.....but they seem to thrill him. Thanks to all of you for your support, caring and kindness. He's very fortunate to have as many close friends as he has - I have a feeling when he does finally come home his friends here on the island are scheduling time to spend with him so mom and I don't get overwhelmed. For that I am grateful.......Oh they are thinking Nov 4 as a come home for good date....Deanna's birthday....what a nice gift!!!
Update October 30, 2004: Here is the latest from Tom's daughter Cathy.
Hi Rich - ok latest is......he gets to come home for a "sleepover" this Sat night. How the hell we are going to get him to GO back might be horrible......they want to see how he's going to do at home....and what other things they can do to ready him for his release date of Nov 4 - my mom's birthday......LOL....
As I've said before he is not paralyzed, can walk - and thank you God, can go to the little boys room by himself. He is in intense therapy for his speech and communication. Still not talking - but we feel he will any day and then he may never shut up......SO all is positive and things are SLOWLY improving. But they ARE improving......will let you all know how the "slumber party" goes.
I asked the docs what are we supposed to do with him at home....he said just go back to normal. And I thought to myself - ok that would mean dad laying on the couch with remote and putting his snicker candy bars on his tummy. And bossing my mom around........(when asked what my dad did all day to my boys - that is what they said....for those of you that don't know - Tom has 2 teenage grandsons living next door). Anyway - have to keep laughing....only way we are getting through this........
Take care all and thanks SO much for your cards and letters. My dad "reads" EVERY one of them...sorry to say I don't think he's reading anything - but he will soon. Cathy
Update: November 02, 2004: Another update below from Tom's daughter.
Hi Rich and all.... Tom came home for a sleepover Saturday night - kind of a trial to see how he would do at home. It was GREAT! He adjusted quite well though still can't talk his recovery is remarkable. We expect to have him home this coming Thursday, Nov 4, and are still looking for a rehab facility closer to home.
My dog Colonel (named after my dad) was overwhelmed with excitement to see my dad. Darn near knocked him over - would NOT leave him alone. Dad got a big kick out of that.
All for now....will keep you posted! As dad says often - ops normal...or getting there anyway!
Tom Pugh, Commander, 9th SRW, Beale AFB, Ca, July 1982-July 1983
Editor's Note: The Blackbird Community supports Tom Pugh and his family in this time of need. He is in our daily prayers for a speedy recovery. Send those cards to the above address.
Leland Haynes, Webmaster, SR-71 Blackbirds
Friday, September 24, 2004 at 07:54 Capt. John Fields Writes: In September of 1974 I was selected to fly to the Farnborough air show in support of the SR-71 appearance. I understood this would be the first time for USA participation and that the SR-71 would be "attempting" a world record between New York and London. This would be an "Embassy Mission", quite different from the typical Pacific runs to Southeast Asia. Flight lunch problems at Travis AFB delayed the launch of my C-141 forever, it seemed. Finally we arrived at Beale AFB to pick up the support equipment, personnel, and commander of the 9th SRW. Included in the group were Buck Adams and Chuck Machorek, who would be "attempting" a record flight from London to Los Angeles after the air show. After stopping at McGuire AFB for refueling, we took off for England. Twenty-four hours into the mission we arrived at Farnborough to discover that no one was expecting us. The American Embassy in London was quick to provide transportation and lodging for all of us. Weather for the SR-71 arrival was low, cold, and spitting rain. Everyone scanned the horizon for the first glimpse of the speeding blackbird. And there it was! It made a circle and approached straight in from the north at about a thousand feet AGL and flew down the runway and pulled up at the end while adding enough power to cavitate my heart. The pilot pulled up into closed left traffic and as he flew short final, there were lots of snaky contrails off the wings and I seem to recall the drag chute deploying just before the mains hit the first brick on a short wet runway. And the whole airframe was steaming as they did a 180 to taxi back down the runway for parking. It was an honor to have this connection to these fine folks and this magnificent machine. This was my most memorable mission.
Capt. John Fields
Wednesday, September 15, 2004 at 12:59 MSgt (Ret) Gene R. Cowell Writes:
Master Crew Chief SR-71 (USAF)(1972-1973 to 1974-1993
SR-71 Field Service Engineer, Lockheed Martin (1997-2000)
MSgt (Ret) Gene R. Cowell
Tuesday, September 14, 2004 at 17:56 A1C, Jose (Joe) Galvan Writes:
I was in the 9th RTS (in the old sage bldg when we were at Beale.) This was during 1965 -1967. I was a 40450R Photo Systems Mechanic. All I can remember is:
Best food I ever ate: Beale AFB......Worst food I ever ate: Edwards AFB.
Greetings to my fellow airmen. I hope you are all alive and kicking.
A1C, Jose (Joe) Galvan
September 12, 2004 at 07:41 SSgt Rick Maloney Writes:
I was stationed at Beale from 1975 to 1982 as a member of the SLR shop. You were all great people thanks for the memories.
What ever happened to the large bat cave wooden crest? The Latin motto was "Bats do it in the dark". Does anyone remember Jim the Greek, Tech Rep?
SSgt Rick Maloney
Thursday, September 9, 2004 at 16:16 TSgt Jim Sparks Writes:
I was stationed at Beale from 1981 to 1984 in the SLR shop. I worked with a bunch of the guys who've already entered narratives. I also worked on the ASARS II system on board the TR-1s at Alconbury from 1984 to 1988. I would like to track down Rob Rosplock who probably got out of the AF around 1986 or so. He was originally from Elmira, NY but I don't know if he went back there or not.
TSgt Jim Sparks
Thursday, September 2, 2004 at 13:20 SSgt James Flack (Ret) Writes:
I was stationed at Utapao Airfield 1970-71. I was with the 635th Security Police Squadron. My 1st week on base in May 1970 I was told to report to the chopper pad for a search mission that would need security. We found the downed SR-71 S/N 61-17969 that had crashed and I helped provide security for the crash until it was finally moved. For about 3 months I was also assigned as security for the U-2's at Utapao. I enjoyed every minute of those details.
SSgt James Flack (Ret)
Thursday, September 2, 2004 at 10:20
SSgt Dick Sargent Writes: Gee... it's good to see a well designed site dedicated to the Habu (it'll always be Habu to me). I was a KC-135Q crew chief (58-1480 and 60-0335) with the 376th Strategic Wing at Kadena, Japan from '77-'80. It's funny to see everyone sing the praise of the Habu in here, but you really know there was a lot of heartbreak and sorrow along with the "Titanium Honey Bucket" as a lot of us commonly called the Habu. The hours waiting for launch when the Habu was broke.... the hours of sitting on strip alert while she was airborne.... the days, weeks, months TDY to Diego Garcia ferrying JP-7 and rushing to hide support equipment in the Habu Huts (disassembled hangers brought in from Beale by Redhorse) so that the Russian satellites would not be able to see on overflights.... yeah, the fun times... LOL
But, it was always goose bumps watching the Habus taxi out of their huts.... all the local nationals lined up with their cameras down at the wet hammerhead for take off. All in all... there were a lot of fun times... both at Kadena and Beale... and you have to love the Beale Bandits .....
SSgt Dick Sargent
Monday, August 30, 2004 at 01:33 SSgt. E. J. "Tex" Kennedy Writes:
After reading through some of the comments in your Guest Book, I feel like a bit of a youngster. I was stationed at Beale in 84/85 then I got assigned to Det-4 until the close of the program. Are there any other Det-4 folks out there? Great sight, it really did bring back some great memories.
SSgt. E. J. "Tex" Kennedy
Thursday, August 26, 2004 at 07:29 SSgt Roy Pillard Writes:
I just stumbled onto your site and its GREAT. I was an Electrician assigned to the Refrigeration Shop with the 9th RTS on the 1st floor of the SAGE Bldg. from 02/67 to 10/69. TSgt Abe Lawson was my NCOIC when I first arrived and later MSgt Al Allen. I was TDY to Kadena 5/69 to 8/69.Beale was a great base to be assigned. I have a lot of good memories from my time at Beale.
SSgt Roy Pillard
Thursday, August 19, 2004 at 18:24 MSgt Retired Wilbert F. McLemore Writes:
I worked at the Precision Photo Processing Lab. We processed all aspects of camera systems from the SR-71,and U-2 aircraft. I was there from 1988-1992. does anyone know the where- abouts of CMS retired Bill Winston, Lewis Jordan, Bobby Gray, Dottie Sakers, Carrie Caygil, James Bender. Please E-mail me if you know any of these individuals.
MSgt Retired Wilbert F. McLemore
Wednesday, August 18, 2004 at 20:32 S/Sgt. Gerald W. Ward Writes:
I was stationed at Westover AFB from 1967 to 1970 at AFSPPF. I would like to hear from old lab workers if any of you old guys are able to use e-mail.
S/Sgt. Gerald W. Ward
Monday, August 16, 2004 at 18:20 SSgt Arthur Roberts Writes: I was stationed at Beale AFB, from March 1970 to July 1972, and assigned to the 9th RTS, working in the photo lab. While waiting for my clearance to be updated, I did a stint as a radio op at K6FBM, the phone patch station, down on the flight line. I am terrible with last names, but I remember Don, a SSgt, who was in charge of the station, and Ray, a inertial nav repair airman, who operated KR6FB, while on TDY.
I really enjoyed my time with the Blackbird operation.
SSgt Arthur Roberts
Friday, August 13, 2004 at 22:38 TSgt. Patrick Norrie Writes:
Hi guys! Anyone remember me?
To Mike Herrero: Where are you? Contact me!
Cory in Osan working for Northrup.
Just send in mail to me.
TSgt. Patrick Norrie
Thursday, August 12, 2004 at 18:39
Civilian George Adamo Writes: I started working for my company, AIL Systems, on June 16, 1969. That was the day after I graduated from college with a Bachelor's degree in Electronics. My lottery number for being drafted was 142. Anyone with a number up to 200 was certain to be doing military duty. When AIL offered me the job I told them I would probably be drafted. They said, "No, you won't. We'll write the draft board a letter". That was the beginning of my association and involvement with the SR-71 for the next 20 years.
After a few weeks on the job I was able to find out what I was hired for - to work on the Electronic Intelligence Collection System (EMR) Airborne Recording and Ground Processing Equipment. My first trip to Beale AFB for training took place in September of 1969. I met some great people there- Our reps at Beale were
Mike Fierro, Pete Calandrino,
Bob Putland, John Speth,
Joe Gioia, Tom Brown,
Charlie Schumacher, and Joe Giannone. I trained for a few months in the SAGE building and headed back to New York. The ultimate goal was to send me to the 9th SRW at Kadena to replace one of our reps who wanted to come home. When he changed his mind, I went back to Long Island and worked for a few years on the Airborne Recorders, since they were starting to need major maintenance after being in the field for a few years. Finally, with our equipment needing more support overseas, I was sent to Okinawa permanently on July 27, 1972. There I met
John Giannese, Ron Badamo,
Stan Grzebyk, and Bob Williams from my company.
Jerry Berger, Bill Burgette and
Arnie Mitchell were working across the hall on the DEF systems. Stan had two AGE carts that he loved to run simultaneously in our lead-shielded room with the incandescent lighting. The heat got pretty overbearing at times, and we ran a lot of fans to cool off. We worked hard and when we had time, we had some great parties at the barracks. I remember three shop chiefs on the TDY rotation-
SMSgt Dick Adkins, CMSgt Al Allman, and
MSgt John Speck (one of the best shop chiefs we ever had). John put on some great Daiquiri parties at the barracks.
I took up Scuba diving and went regularly with Sgt. Dwight Lockwood (Woody), Arnie Mitchell, and Bill McNelly who was an RC-130 pilot. Later I dove with TSgt Mike Hull and Sgt Mike Welch, and the night-diving we did in the coral caves southwest of Hedo Point gave new meaning to the words "living on the edge". Mike Hull had absolutely no fear of squeezing through shoulder-width corridors in the coral, if he thought there might be a lobster around the next turn.
All people who worked on the SR-71 knew that they were doing something very special. We all were in awe of the aircraft even after watching countless takeoffs and landings. I never tired of watching the HABU piercing through the clouds with afterburners glowing. The success of the program was entirely due to the cooperation and talent of all military and civilian personnel.
I was a part of the group that would line up at 5AM at the Camp Kuwae tennis courts for the Christmas tree sale described in Frank Turcany's recollections. This group included Frank, Jerry and Darlyne Berger, and Dave Adrian. Frank was right- the coffee and Bailey's Irish Cream definitely didn't help us pick a good tree. When the ritual died after Jerry and Darlyne transferred to England, the quality of the trees I bought definitely improved!
We all enjoyed eating Kobe Beef. One of the favorites was the Kyoto Hotel. Then you had Sam's Anchor Inn, owned by Ray Payne (his Japanese girlfriend's nickname was Sam), the Captains Inn, and Sam's by the Sea on the Awase Peninsula. I had a 46-foot Ketch berthed at the Awase Yacht Club for awhile, and the guys from our shop gave me a lot of help with maintaining and sailing it. We had seven individuals who became part of the "Spreader Club" one day. With outstanding sailing conditions, we kept the boat heeled over 30-40 degrees most of the day, which allowed us to grab the shrouds and climb the 57-foot mainmast to the spreaders. We always ended up in the restaurant for a few "Fog-Cutters" after the sailing trip. I contributed my Irish Coffee recipe to the manager, Mark Payne, who put it on the menu as the "Admirals Irish Coffee".
We experienced a few Tech Rep changes over the 17.5 years I was on Okinawa. Bo Sawras replaced Stan Grzebyk, Bob Wright replace Bob Williams, and then Charlie Schumacher replaced Bob Wright. Ron Badamo, myself, Charlie Schumacher and John Giannese were members of the group known as the "Final Few". In February of 1990, after 17.5 years on Okinawa, it was hard to swallow the decision to cancel our program. We all knew it was totally wrong and without technical merit, but since our capabilities were classified, there wasn't any way we could get public support on our side.
As I add my thoughts to those of others, I have now completed 35 years of service with AIL ( now merged with EDO Corporation ) and am shooting for 40. Those people I met and worked with through the years on the SR-71 Program will always be in my memories.
I would like to add with great respect and sadness, that my friend and co-worker from those years in Okinawa, Arduino (John) Giannese, passed away on July 22nd, 2004 in San Marcos, CA. from cancer. He stayed active all his life and never stopped playing tennis during his retirement. We who knew him were very lucky.
George Adamo, Civilian
Tuesday, August 10, 2004 at 14:47 SRA Jack "AJ" MacPhetridge: Writes:
Having been assigned to Beale AFB right from tech school; actually traded orders to get there, Jan.75-Dec.76, then again from Jan.78-Jul.78 (a year in Korea in between). I fell in love with the best aircraft ever built. As a Jet Mech with the 9th FMS, in shop and flightline, test cell, the trim pad, what a great experience!!!!!!!
This site is terrific, keep up the good work. Hey to anyone who might remember me.
SRA Jack "AJ" MacPhetridge
Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 15:56 Sgt (E4) Keator, Eddie Writes: I arrived as a young Airman from KAFB in May 1974, assigned to the 456th AMS, later the 17th AMS as an AV/NAV Tech. Worked B52F-H, and KC-135Q. When the 17th was relocated, I was assigned to the 9th AMS at the same time U-2's were being assigned to BAFB. Quickly got trained and certified for the U2's, T-38 and SR-71's. Loved the SR-71 when it was in the air... it was poetry in motion, but on the ground, it was a leaking rat trap, with sharp edges that could gash your head if you were not careful. I was friends with pilots like Jack Veth, Bill Crowder, to name two that I can recall at this moment. They were dad's of scouts of T-60 that I ran while stationed at BAFB. There is something to be said about the kind of comradery of the SR-71 crowd - maintenance, flight, training, photo... these were people whose acquaintances added much to your life.
Sgt (E4) Keator, Eddie
Friday, July 30, 2004 at 08:29 MSgt Dean Burdick Writes: My first duty assignment was to the 9 SRW Beale AFB from 1978 to 1982. I was assigned to Mike Borrows' crew, I think it was aircraft #972. Later I worked with Jack Riddle on aircraft #956. I worked all three shifts, had the best time of my career working with some of the best guys (and a few gals) in the world right there at Beale. Lots of good memories. I left Beale and went to George AFB and worked F-4Es for two years then got reassigned right back to the SR program, this time to Kadena from 1985 to 1989. I was the crew chief of aircraft #974 and remember all to well the morning it went down. Just like to say "Howzit" to all the guys I've met during these years. I'd list the names but it would be too long. Hope everyone is well, God bless.
MSgt Dean Burdick
Editors Note: To see the data and photos of #974 crash off the coast of the Philippines go to this URL: ./Luzon.html
Thursday, July 29, 2004 at 19:03
Colman Beulah, TSgt, USAF, Ret. Writes: Arrived at Beale 1974 photo shop, a few trips to the Rock (Det1) initial
PCS package to Det 1; SLR/photo shop chief. Retired from Beale in 1981. Proud to call myself a
HABU. Memories, softball games, Habu fish hook, Habu hill, nose change,
nose change, nose change best aircrews and ground crews in the the AF. Sheffy
Fields, Chuck, Mike Herrow,
Dave Leach, Dave Nolte.
To everyone at Det 1 1976-1980: Thanks for the memories.
Colman Beulah, TSgt, USAF, Ret.
Thursday, July 29, 2004 at 07:49 M/Sgt Gerald John Sardonia Writes:
I entered the blackbird family in April 1965 at Edwards AFB. Assigned to 4200 OET squadron. Helped out in May when the YF-12A set the records. Was NCOIC of the SAC Egress shop. Stayed there until March 1968 and then left for BEALE AFB. Was NCOIC of Egress shop at Beale until I retired in March 1973. It was the greatest way to end almost 21 years of service.
M/Sgt Gerald John Sardonia
Tuesday, July 20, 2004 at 19:16 MSgt. (Ret) Glenn Sterling Writes: I was assigned to Det 1, 9th SRW, Kadena AB, from Aug 1982 to May 1988. I was an engine mechanic and totally enjoyed working on the SR-71, an experience I would have missed if it wasn't for MSgt Mike McLean. I had no previous experience on the SR-71, but Mike knew me from the 376th FMS Engine Shop and convince MSgt. Olsen to bring me on board. I enjoyed working with these two guys and Keith Harms, Russell Bilby, Harry Harrison, Tim Carr, Chris Hjort, Kevin (forget his last name) and all the other guys and gals at the engine shop and Q.A. Also Jack Mellott of the EWS Shop.
MSgt. (Ret) Glenn Sterling
Sunday, July 18, 2004 at 09:51 Celia Rayburn Writes: My father worked for Lockheed Martin in the mid to late 1960's, and although he passed away in December 2000, I wish I could remember every story he told me while working on the SR-71. His name is Robert L. Robinson, and as far as I can remember he worked on the data recording system, and I think he worked at Edwards, but he settled our family in Yuba City when he was at Beale. I was the youngest of 3 children, so I wasn't around when he did his work, but every time a special came on television I got an earful. I want to know more about what he did, information that my mother and siblings cannot provide, and so if anybody recognizes my father's name I would like to hear from you.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004 at 14:32 William J. Kreuzer Writes: I Worked on a Civilian Mach 3.0 supersonic transport at McDonnell Douglas in the early 60's. Once you exceed Mach 1.0 the lift to drag ratio drops from about 16-17 to 8-9. This consumes a lot of fuel - the payback is speed. If the cruise speed could be increased to 3.75 (2,500 mph) the aircraft could make two round trips NY - Tokyo a day. It appears that 3.75 would be about the upper limit using conventional fuels and presently developing materials. I got the impression talking to several SR-71 pilots increasing speed was power plant limited - not the airframe. I would like to receive comments from SR-71 pilots on this possibility.
William J. Kreuzer
Thursday, July 8, 2004 at 19:15 Sgt. Robert (Max) Hughes Writes:
I served from 1969 through 1973 in 9th FMS Hydraulic Shop at Beale @ OL8 Then OLRK. I had many good friends @ have lost all of there addresses @ wood like to hear from every one. This site has brought back some good memory's. I tried to e-mail Enrico Calabrese @John Lasky. I could not get the E-mail to send.
Sgt. Robert (Max) Hughes
Thursday, July 8, 2004 at 08:37 SSgt Richard Boyce Writes: I was PCS to Beale from Korat Thailand in Jan 75 thru Aug.75. I worked for MSgt Jack Turner in the electric shop. He was TDY to Kadena when I got there. After his return from that TDY, he & I went to his house got a bunch of worms from his worm bed & went fishing. That was one of many memorable times, fishing the brooks in Grass Valley & Lassen National Forest. Jack where are you? I know you might have gone to Idaho. I will never forget that night at the Royal Oaks Cafe & the 429 F150 you had. Hinkley said you couldn't get that Ford to do 115 mph, my pants said different. Anyone out there that knows me please call 413 547 6613. All the best from Ma.
SSgt Richard Boyce
Monday, June 28, 2004 at 14:14 Clarke Vaughan, SMSgt, (Ret.) Writes: I reported to the 9th FMS fuel system shop in august 1967 after a one year tour in Vietnam. My five years in the 9th was a rewarding and memorable experience. Your web site has been a pleasant surprise. I found it while trying to locate info and photos for my 8 year old grandson. He had asked questions about the SR-71 and other Blackbirds. I recognized a lot of names when reading thru your Alma-Mater section and found several that I worked with in the fuel shop. I will email them later.
Thanks for a great web site.
Clarke Vaughan, SMSgt, (Ret.)
Thursday, June 24, 2004 at 20:59 SMSgt (Ret) Hobert Statzer Writes: You have a terrific site here. I viewed ever page but did not find a comment from anyone that served in the 9th Recon Tech Sqdn. So I hope I can start something by being the first. I have always felt honored to have been selected to go to Beale A.F. Base in early 1965 to support a new Reconnaissance platform. But to see this "Blackbird" I, along with others, had to go TDY to Edwards AFB to see it for the first time. I stayed with the Blackbird program at Beale until 1971 but still supported it for the next 10 years at other locations. At the other locations I did not have the thrill of seeing the SR-71 fly high over our house in Marysville as it made its approach to Beale. I have been told that the Space Shuttle launch is the only launch more spectacular than the SR-71. As the Blackbirds are no longer flying, I will have to see the space shuttle lift off and then I will decide for myself. God bless American and the brave men and women that are still serving.
SMSgt (Ret) Hobert Statzer
Wednesday, June 23, 2004 at 14:00 MSgt, George LaForce Writes:
Worked the SR-71 from Oct '84 until Clinton killed it, from there went over to U-2's.
Stationed at Kadena from '86-'89.
MSgt, George LaForce
May 31, 2004 at 13:53 Jim Trago Writes: It's been a long time since I've thought about Beale, the SR-71 and seen old friends names. It really sparks off memories! Life has lead me down many strange roads, and anyone who remembers me would probably never believe that I am a student advisor/sponsor and mentor to teenager's with drug and alcohol problems at a private boarding school in upstate New York. Despite my weakness for a "good party" for many years, I still stuck in there and did a total of 15 years an served in Desert Shield/Storm and got out under the RIF act in 1993. Unfortunately alcohol and drug addiction followed me out. After many years of beating myself senseless, I made a decision to turn my life around. Nine years ago I admitted myself into a drug rehabilitation clinic at the VA in Albany N.Y. and have never looked back. Since then I've decided to pursue a career that can give back to youngsters in need! Anyway, it's great to hear some familiar names like Menko Christoph, Reid Cameron (get in touch!), Brian Swartz, Wyman Wong (my trainer) and many others. All of you...Get in touch! Hope to hear from some old friends! Ah, the good ol' days!
Another Entry for Wednesday, April 21, 2004 at 18:42 Jim Trago Writes: Looking over these messages have really triggered some vivid memories of my time at Beale, from 1978 to 1983. I worked in the ANS/DINS shop with some really great people. I found a message on the message board from an old bike riding buddy named Reid Cameron. I'd really like to get in touch and talk about the "old days" for a while! If you're out there, give me a holler! I also saw a message from Gary Klien (Izzy). Sorry things didn't work out with your sister! Hope she's doing well. For some reason the numbers N39'08.6 W121'25.9 are still stuck in my head! Give me a jingle if you know me! "Jim"
Sunday, May 30, 2004 at 10:25 Col. Alan Dowling Writes:
I provided 'support' as a weapons controller in Asia.
Col. Alan Dowling
Tuesday, May 25, 2004 at 20:02 MSgt James( Gene) Kincaid Writes:
I was in the 9RTS photo lab, (no window gray bldg).
I was a photographer and a Photo Processor at Beale AFB Ca,in 66 & 67. I also went TDY to SAC/SARPF in '67. Before that I was at DMAFB with the 100 SRW. Love to hear from anyone, Gene.
MSgt James( Gene) Kincaid
Tuesday, May 25, 2004 at 04:31 Sgt. Gerald A. Maggio Writes:
Supported flight operations of the SR through the KC-135. I worked for the 9th Civil Engineering Squadron.
I would produce pure water for use in KC-135 liftoff while under heavy fuel load. Water was injected into engines for thrust augmentation.
Sgt. Gerald A. Maggio
Thursday, May 20, 2004 at 16:09 Charles L. Christian Writes: I was a CIA communications covert staff employee in the 50'-60's and after returning from overseas in 1963 (Where I did U-2 over-flight support 60-63), I was assigned to be Chief, Signal Center, at the joint USAF-CIA supply center in S. Calif. that supported all spy-in-the-skies projects including OXCART (the A-12 and development of the SR-71). I had 4 USAF S/Sgt's to man my facility and to be used for any of the projects need for TDY help.
Most enjoyable tour and proud to have had a part in the project. Long time member of the Blackbird Association.
Charles L. Christian
Sunday, May 16, 2004 at 14:28 Willie Cruz aka Pablo Writes: I crewed a KC-135Q model 63-0345 at Kadena in 1978. After 30 months on the rock, I received orders to Beale AFB in 1982. At Beale, I got the task to work on aircraft 58-0071. That is the tanker that was struck by lighting. It blew off the left wing tip and number 1 reserve tank. When I got assigned to the plane, it had sat on the ramp for 18 months. It seems that not only lighting had damaged it, but the jet had jumped chocks; climbed onto the -60 power unit and ripped a hole along the right side of the forward body tank, from the power receptacle all the way to the number 11 vent valve. That is a distance of about 18 feet. The JP-7 fuel shut down the -60 power unit. The flash point of JP-7 is high, had it been JP-4 she would have burned to the ground. Again she escaped destruction. For the next year and one half I worked her to get it FMC or some what air worthy. I spent many a long shift and weekends getting her ready to fly again. After another year of over-due TCTO's and other inspections, the time had come for Captain Tucker to fly it. He is the pilot who had the flown the cripple plane home minus the left wing tip. He taxied it out to the end of hammer head where we ran the engine to TRT mil power EPR of 1.2 and a complete system check was performed. After all the write ups were corrected, Plans and Scheduling put her in the schedule for the following Monday. That Sunday night preflight, I made sure the aircraft was ready for flight... plus! One of my most proudest moment in my air force career of 24 years was the launch. It seems that the whole maintenance complex had came out to watch the take off. As she taxi to the active runway, Captain Tucker gave me a thumbs up. He advanced the throttles up to TRT and energized the water and she began to belch black plums of smoke as she rumbled down the runway. At about the 9000 foot marker, the nose lifted off and away she went. As I drove down the ramp and back to the hanger, I heard the horns blowing from my fellow maintenance men in the trucks. In that moment in time, I felt that I had earned the respect of my contemporaries as a Crew Chief on the most talked about KC-135Q model in the USAF inventory. At that moment in time, I had been accepted as a Beale Bandit . A Goal, hard earned.
Willie Cruz aka Pablo
Wednesday, May 12, 2004 at 10:00 Robert G. Welch Writes: I'm Bob Welch, my father, Col. Robert G. Welch, USAF was involved in the U2/SR71 programs for quite a long time, 1954-1968. He died at 81 in 1998. We never did know just what he did, but he was TDY so often when we kids were young that it was a considerable hardship on the family. From reading some of the other posts here I think many families had similar experiences. I always admired my father and think he did contribute a lot. After finding this site I checked some of the few docs he left behind and can list here is duty stations - I well imaging most of his contemporaries are gone by now, but would like to hear from anyone that knew him.
This from a form called AF-11:
Nov 54 Sup Staff Off, 1007th Air Intel Svc Gp, Wash DC (HqComd)
1 Jan 60 Sup Staff Off, 1149th USAF Sp Acty SQ, Ft. Myer Va (Hq Comd)
3 Feb 60 Sup Staff Off, Det.#1, 1149th Sp ActySq, Mira Loma AFSta, Calif (Hq Comd)
25 Jan 62 Dir of Mat, Det#1 1149th Sp Acty Sq, Mira Loma AF Sta, Calif (Hq Comd)
20 Aug 62 Sup Staff Off, Distrib Sec, Comm & Elec Br, Aerospace Supp Div, D/Supp&SVS, DCS/S&L
29 Oct 63 Staff Supply Off, Mat Analysis & Policy Br, Aerospace Supp Div, D/Supp&SVS, DCS/S&L (HqUSAF)
1 Jul 64 Matl Staff Off, Sp Asst to TIG for Projects, The Inspector Gen (HqUSAF)
18 Aug 65 Supp Mgmt Staff Off, Plns & Analysis Div, Asst for Reconn, DCS/R&D (HqUSAF)
1 Jul 66 Dir of Materiel, Special Projects, Plans&Analysid Div, Asst for Reconn, DCS/R&D (HqUSAF)
1 Nov 67 Dir of Materiel, Special Activites Div, Asst for Reconn, DCS/R&D (HqUSAF)
15 Apr 68 Dir of Materiel, Special Actys Div, Dir of Reconnaissance& Electronic Warfare, DCS/R&D
Best regards to those that served and their families,
Tuesday, May 11, 2004 at 15:32
Colonel Justin "Jay" Murphy Writes: SR-71 Pilot
15th Air Force Director of Reconnaissance
Detachment 4 (Mildenhall) Commander
9 SRW Asst DO
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works SR-71 Program Manager
Great Web Site.
One correction: Marta Bon Meyer was a back-seater for NASA as was her husband Bob. She holds a civilian pilot's license
Colonel Justin "Jay" Murphy
May 08. 2004, TD Barnes Writes: California Sen. William J. "Pete" Knight, astronaut and a former record-setting military test pilot, died of leukemia Friday night. He was 74. Knight died of an acute form of the cancer at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte.
Knight was born in Noblesville, Ind., and attended Butler and Purdue universities before entering the Aviation Cadet Program in 1952 and serving in the Vietnam War.
During his stint in the Air Force, he piloted experimental planes, earning astronaut's wings in a craft that during one flight soared above 280,000 feet, according to the Edwards Air Force Base Web site.
He also set a speed record in the rocket-powered X-15-2A, piloting it on Oct. 3, 1967 to speeds exceeding Mach 6.7 - 4,520 miles per hour, nearly seven times the speed of sound.
In the Legislature, Knight represented the 17th Senate district, which includes northeastern Los Angeles County, all of Inyo County and portions of San Bernardino, Ventura and Kern counties. His seat will remain empty until the November election, when he was to have been forced out by term limits.
In addition to his wife, Knight is survived by three sons, four stepsons and 15 grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were pending. Condolences or requests for information should be sent to
Though he was not a Habu nor a Roadrunner, many of us had the honor and distinction of working with Pete, the fastest man alive.
Editors Note: William J. "Pete" Knight's contribution to aviation is without peer. On Oct. 3, 1967, he accomplished a major aviation milestone, as he piloted the modified X-15A-2 to a speed of 4,520 mph (Mach 6.7) , a speed which remains, to this day, the highest ever attained in an airplane. Knight also became one of only eight pilots to earn astronaut's wings by flying an airplane in space when he climbed to 280,500 feet on Oct. 17, 1967.
Thursday, March 25, 2004 at
10:05 CMSgt Donat E. Robitaille writes: ASSIGNED DET.11 1800TH SUPPORT GROUP, LAS VEGAS, NEV. WITH DUTY STATION SAFSS, THE PENTAGON, 1962-1967. MANNING THE AF COMMAND POST SUPPORTING, U2, RECON SATELLITES, AND THE A12. INTERESTING AND PRESSURE PACKED DUTY, ABOUT WHICH EVEN MY FAMILY NEVER NEW ANYTHING ABOUT. AM STILL RELUCTANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS PERIOD OF SERVICE. HOWEVER, IN EARLY 1966, FOLLOWING A SECURE BRIEFING ON THE A12, I PURCHASED A MODEL AIRPLANE KIT FROM THE DRUGSTORE ON THE PENTAGON CONCOURSE:
'REVELL MODEL #206:200, 1/72 SCALE, LOCKHEED YF12A(A11) INTERCEPTOR, COPYRIGHT 1966, REVELL INC. THIS KIT HAS LANGUISHED FOR APPROX 38 YEARS, STILL IN ITS ORIGINAL WRAPPING, ON THE TOP SHELF OF MY CLOTHES CLOSET. MY MODEL BUILDING SKILLS HAVE LONG SINCE EVAPORATED, SO I AM WILLING TO DONATE SAME TO A COLLECTOR WHO WOULD APPRECIATE THE KIT FOR ITS HISTORICAL VALUE. IF MANY APPLY, I RETAIN THE OPTION OF BEING THE JUDGE OF WHO GETS IT.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
Tuesday, March 23, 2004 at 21:17 Edwin Rolph Writes: I was called from the S-3A Viking program to establish the update configuration of the various SR-71 aircraft. This called me to the various locations of the aircraft to verify (by record and physical examination) the changes that had been installed and to create a configuration log book for each aircraft.
Fri, 12 Mar 2004 21:34 Steve Stenson Writes:
I am looking for B.J. Frende. PSD at Beale and then to the
UK with the TR.
Can you help?
Friday, March 5, 2004 at 15:39 SRA Edward Gioja Writes: Beale was my first assignment out of basic. I worked as a computer operator in '80-'81 Spent about as much time at Mildenhall as I did at Beale. Continued to complete 6-1/2 years in AF - most of it in Italy.
I still have a soft spot for the SR. The night take-offs were the best. They might make them stealthier, but they will never make them sexier.
SRA Edward Gioja
Thursday, March 4, 2004 at 14:13
Sgt Neal Pinkowski Writes: Former crew chief on KC-135Q 59-1520. What a time serving out of Kadena in 71 + 72 in support of the SR. So many memories and experiences that I could go on forever. Now over 30 years later I still think about them all the time. If anyone remembers me drop a line and do so even if you don't. With a bad heart do not have the tools to do it anymore if I could but never lost the desire. If anyone remembers me drop a line, do so even if you don't.
Sgt Neal Pinkowski
Tuesday, March 2, 2004 at 21:40 Richard Kilby,
Civilian Writes: Well first off, I am very glad to find this site and hopefully it will continue for many many
years. Secondly, I was born in Sacramento California and grew up watching the SR-71's fly in and out of Beale AFB all the time.
My father, who was in the US Navy and flew off of the USS Boxer carrier but then he retired from the military in 1948 and got into the aircraft business in
1950. So I had a lead into the aviation field and by the time I was 10 years old, I knew all about the SR-71 and was always fascinated by that beautiful bird. Also to any one who would like to know, I have a huge collection of SR-71 parts that I am keeping from going to the scrap yards. If you wish to contact me, you can email me at
I have tons of stories of things that I saw also growing up about the SR but not enough time to write them all down.
Regards, Richard Kilby
Tuesday, March 2, 2004 at 12:21 TSgt Vaughgn McCall Writes: Went to Edwards in 67-68 had to wait until some guy to come back off leave to find out where I was assigned. He was the only one handling “the program”. Finally found out I was assigned to SR / YF Test Egress shop. What a job, remember one test when we installed a rope (rolled weighted nylon line) in the C/P’s that the crew could throw over the side and slide over the chine, worked great except the LS guys got all upset over the torn flight suites. Anyways we had the best pinochle game at lunch in the shop, which was in the YF-12 hanger. Great job, GREAT AIRPLANE! Looking forward to visiting the new Air and Space at Dulles and the Virginia Air Museum in Richmond. Soon to reminisce over the greatest aircraft of the 20-century “THE SR-71.”
TSgt Vaughgn McCall
March 1, 2004 at 19:48 SSgt David E Burd Writes:
I came to Beale when we relocated the U-2's from Davis Monthan AZ. It was a learning time I tell ya. We U2 guys were in doubt about these fast movers but we took the mission to heart and over the next 6 years we were going to "The Rock" like my mom goes to the store. An excellent trip. I wouldn't have changed a thing. Not to many vocations you can say that about....ECM shop.
SSgt David E Burd
Monday, March 1, 2004 at 18:23 Sgt. Curtis Pesqueira Writes: Great site; Sgt Curtis Pesqueira, 9TH OMS, June '78-July '80. Asst. c/c #61-7958 thru summer '79, C/C #976 till discharged July '80. I have a copy of 9TH OMS Recall Roster SR-71 branch, Summer of '79. Lists 100 or so SR-71 Crew Chiefs, (rank, last name, address or barracks number). Anyone remember tying Sgt Dresher to a tree during a typhoon, he probably didn't or when we candy-striped the navy anchor in front of their Commanders office. I took the pictures and still have them. To: Sgt Rick Keilholz, I got a great jet #976 from you. I kept it in top condition just as I got her... thanks. You might like to know that I did a "show-and-tell" to Mr. Trindel (spelling ?); the President of Minicraft models ,just after #976 got out of paint shop. He took rolls of film and that's our jet! Got to shake hands with Kelly Johnson once. Got bumped from a TDY to Fairchild AFB for a air show. Then Mount Saint Helens erupted... them guys spent two weeks shoveling ash to get home to a double engine change. Glad I missed that one. "SENIOR CROWN" still lives with me. Drop a line. "QUINN".... you out there?
Sgt. Curtis Pesqueira
Monday, March 1, 2004 at 15:30 TSgt Ronald Clopton Retired Writes:
I'm looking for Gene Bloodworth, left Alaska in about 1982-3, went to Beale AFB, Ca, was on SR-71's lost contact, please help.
TSgt Ronald Clopton
Sunday, February 29, 2004 at 17:20 GS-13 John S. Mitchell Writes:
Had the privilege of working at Det 6 from 1981 to the closing of the program.
Was the best job I ever had with the Air Force with the best people in the world!
GS-13 John S. Mitchell
Sunday, February 29, 2004 at 15:21 MSgt Jim Overton, USAF Retired Writes:
Assigned to the Physiological Support Division (PSD) from June 1977 to July 1982. I would say the best five years of my career.
MSgt Jim Overton, USAF Retired
Wednesday, February 25, 2004 at 15:10 Sgt. Kenneth Neal Writes:
Was a K-9 handler at Kadena 04-69 - 11-70, walked the outer fences and run up revetment areas. Awed on the first early morning take-off and the AB size not to mention the growl of the engines.
Sgt. Kenneth Neal
Tuesday, February 24, 2004 at 20:20 Chris Anderson Writes: I am the Investigating Officer for a missing part on an
SR-71 (967) that was recently delivered from Edwards AFB to the 8th AF Museum at Barksdale AFB, LA. I found your address online and am curious if you can post a notice on your website and/or e-mail distribution list. I definitely am not making accusations, rather I am trying to get any information that may help me locate the missing pitot tube. Big picture, this is the most valuable part on the airplane and when the SR-71 showed up at BAFB, LA it was not in the crate. It's definitely a collector's item and the general public is not able to fully appreciate the SR-71 as it sits at the 8th AF Museum without this crucial part and frankly, looks bad.
Please let me know what you suggest and if you can direct me to any other sites or individuals to get the word out on this injustice to preserving the history of one our country's greatest aviation treasures.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004 at 20:15 Sgt. Robert East Writes: I was a Habu from 1972-1978, ground crew member, 9th OMS inspection postflight crew. Received SAC MSET award from Col. Halloran. Launched SR-71 from Beale A.F.B. to England for speed record to New York to L.A. Left Air force to work for Lockheed. Signed DD250 SR-71B model 956 to NASA as a Q.A. Rep for Lockheed MOD. Worked on the second F-117 flight test as a Quality Engineer for Lockheed & was a picked team member on the most current J.S.F. aircraft that won the Billion dollar contract. Last duties on the U.2.glass cockpit mod.......
Sgt. Robert East
Tuesday, February 24, 2004 at 19:29 Michael Serafin Writes:
My father, MSgt Andrew Serafin, was stationed at Beale from 1965 - 1970 and 1972 - 1973. He served as a radio maintenance instructor while at Beale. One of my most vivid memories of my early childhood was a private showing of the SR-71 in a hangar at Beale. My father passed away in 2002 or I would have let him know of your site. I am sure he would have been very impressed.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004 at 10:08 TSgt William (Bill) Clingan Writes:
Assigned to the SR Training section in '75 with Major Delestine as my boss, Col Sid Head was the DOT. Harry Pittman, Tom Nealy, Dale Welch, Tom Dewey, Col Bill Lawson, Do, Col Fenimore, Gen Storey, Gen Halloran, Gen O'Malley were just a few of the wonderful people I worked with and for.
TSgt William (Bill) Clingan
Sunday, February 22, 2004 at 10:48 SSgt/Capt Lawrence Savage Writes: Was in the 456th OMS and 9th OMS on the 135Q's, 52's and U-2's when they came in from AZ. Stationed "at" Beale '72-'76. Retired '94. Was a crew chief for 12 years. Finally broke loose of SAC and was able to get a college education without being sent TDY. Got a commission at the 14 year point. Did all the support TDYs. Mildenhall, Terahone, Kadena etc. Then the B52 support like your folks to Anderson, Udorn, DaNang and U-Tapao. I had a good run in with "flying" Phil Sage in Guam when he was a line chief there. He was a MSgt and I was an A1C. He had a harder head than I did. The flight line is the same wherever you are. I always will miss it.
SSgt/Capt Lawrence Savage
Saturday, February 21, 2004 at 13:49
MSgt Craig A. Meredith Writes: I will add some experiences at a later time. There are just so many great times and great people.
If you guys are out there, send me an email....
MSgt Craig A. Meredith
Editors Note: Craig was one of my Assistant Crew Chiefs on the SR-71 during the New York to London Speed Run in 1974. He also worked with me on "Operation Giant Reach" for the 11 hour flights to the Middle East during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. He was certainly a dedicated and professional Airman. I was glad to hear he stayed in the Air Force and attained the rank of MSgt.
Leland Haynes, Webmaster, SR-71 Blackbirds
Wednesday, February 18, 2004 at 18:32 MSgt Wendell Jones Writes: Hi, I worked on the SR-71 as an environmental system specialist, from Nov 1984 until it was retired in 1990. This was my favorite aircraft to work. I arrived at Beale AFB, 6 Nov 84 as an airman basic straight out of tech school. I just retired from active duty and I never left Beale AFB. I continued with the U-2 the remainder of my career for a total time of 19 years and seven months on the U-2. I love the Blackbirds. I still see a lot of people here at Beale. Recently Mr. Carmody was visiting the Lockheed Martin Tech Reps and I was there and got to visit and reminisce about the SR-71. Your web site is awesome and I put it on my favorites. Thank you.
MSgt Wendell Jones
Friday, February 13, 2004 at 07:55 Sergeant Julia A. Reynolds Writes: I was stationed with the Det 1, 9SRW in Okinawa, Japan from Dec 1979 - June 1981. I worked in the Quality Control Department. I worked with a lot of great people; although I have only been able to maintain contact with one person over the years. During the year and a half that I was stationed with the Blackbirds, I accumulated numerous memories that will forever be precious to me. I still think back to all the things we did and remember the sound of the SR71 taking off into the night. What a beautiful sight!!! Anyone that remembers me, or were stationed in Kadena during the time I was there, please contact me. God Bless You All!!!
Sergeant Julia A. Reynolds
Thursday, February 12, 2004 at 13:41 Thomas W. Transue Writes:
I was stationed at Beale A.F.B in california in 1968 and worked as a aircraft electrician on the blackbird and really enjoyed my time there. I was there from 68' or 67'till 69'. Thanks for having this site it was a good time in my life and its great to know it was for others also.
Thomas W. Transue
Wednesday, February 11, 2004 at 15:57 MSgt LeRoy E. Gamble (Ret.) Writes: Arrived at the 4200 AMS in early 1965 as a Nav/Aids tech. Re-enlisted in the cockpit of the first SR71B at Beale AFB by a slightly tipsy CO . Went to Kadena to set up OL-8. Got to fly over there in a C-141 as cargo guard, long flight. Me, the A/C crew and a whole lot of parts. My Grandmother died while on this TDY. On the next TDY 6 months later my Grandfather died ( Msgt Ed Kottke USA Ret.) I was Airman of the Quarter (A1C back then). In Jan 1966 I was the Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 2. The Troop built a huge bicycle powered raft in Capt. B.L Campbell's back yard. ( SR pilot) The raft was inspected by SAC IG Team during one of our ORI's. Lt.Col Harlin Hain was the committee chairman for our troop at that time. Almost all the Scouts were from the 9th SRW. One of the things I remember is all the jackrabbits that lived in the run up area were deaf. You could sneak up behind them and touch them before they knew you were there. Just thought I had better check in before I check out. I go down to Seattle (Museum of Flight) every now and then and visit the nose of #977. Thanks for your time. Habu's forever!
MSgt LeRoy E. Gamble ( Ret.)
February 11, 2004 Carl R. Clark Writes: To Whom it May Concern,
I am a retired enlisted man who worked at the Pentagon from 1974 to 1978. I had the pleasure of meeting Col Buck Adams and he assisted a friend of mine in getting his application for pilot training submitted. I am trying to contact him just to say hello and send him an e-mail if possible.
Thank you for your help.
Carl R. Clark
February 11, 2004 2:58 PM Dave Shohbozian Writes: My (half) brother, Ronald
Erden was stationed at Beale AFB I believe the whole time the SR was there. He retired as a Chief after serving 30 years in the Air Force starting when the Bay Of Pigs was starting. He died a
couple years ago with a lot of secrets. His son is serving now with 16 years and going. It's nice to be able to read about the things he and his
9th SRW squadron did. I know many times he would come home after just being at work for an hour, go into the bedroom and start packing. " Don't ask, you know I can't
tell you" is all he'd say, and be gone. Any information you can get on my brother would be greatly appreciated. All I know is that he was at least a TSGT. Thank you, Thank you !!
2/9/04 8:37 PM Tony Bevacqua Writes: Hello all -
Please help us celebrate the life of a good man, Joe Arel. Here is the schedule: Thursday night at Ullrey's Funeral Home in Yuba City, CA. from 5-6 pm, a viewing, then at 7pm a celebration of Joe's life. Pat wants it to be light hearted and people to talk about Joe. A funeral mass will be conducted at St Isidore Catholic Church on Clark Ave on Friday at 10:30 a.m., then to the cemetery, and back to St Isidore parish hall for a lunch reception. Please spread the word to all his many friends. Although it is a sad time, it is also a celebration and that's the way he would want it.
General Arthur C. (Sailor) Agan
Monday, February 09, 2004 7:14 PM Geoffrey Gilbert wrote:
Saw your link ./yf12~1.htm as I was
searching the Internet for "General Agan" for my wife. Her uncle Sailor died today.
If you have any anecdotes or links to forward, I would appreciate the opportunity to give them to her and her family.
Editors Note: He flew as a VIP on the SR-71 as follows: #187 VIP Lt Gen Agan Arthur C. 12-Oct-67. This entry is on the YF-12 page: Back in the days when there was an Air Defense Command, General A.C. (Sailor) Agan was lobbying for a replacement for the F-106. The YF12 was so successful that we were given a follow-on contract to up-grade one of the A/C (#934) to be a YF12A/B, prototype for a production fighter called the F12. Agan resigned under protest of Secretary Defense McNamara's treatment of the (YF-12) program ( and subsequent cancellation).
Leland Haynes, Webmaster, SR-71 Blackbirds
Sunday, February 8, 2004 at 23:42
Carlo F. Serusa, Jr. Writes: I was a machinist in the 9th FMS 1968 to 1969 & was moved to the 456th FMS 1969 to 1970.
I was married in June of 1970 & discharged in August of 1970 - Left Yuba City 3 times & came back each time. BAFB brought me here & I have accepted that I will probably never leave without coming back.
I found this site while "surfing".....have been reading, reminiscing, and looking for familiar names, & now am compelled to post my personal info - then condense the memories into a "postable form" and come back to update.
Carlo F. Serusa, Jr.
February 7, 2004 at 22:17 SGT William Ege Writes: I remember the "Blackbird" as if it were yesterday. I was stationed with the AGE unit at RAF Mildenhall England from 1976-1980. There were only 5 permanently assigned aircraft on the base (SR71, U2, KC135, RC135, EC135) and the rest were TDY C130 Hercules Squadrons that flew in from time to time. The beauty of the SR71 in its glorious early morning flights with afterburners glowing rings of fire will always remain at the top of my list.
SGT William Ege
Sun, 1 Feb 2004 01:12 LTC Philip Hubbard Writes: Following information is provided to you as I believe Gary F. Martin, (CMS, USAFR-Dcsd) worked on the SR-71, years back. He passed away on January 2, 2004. I knew him initially thru his Father, Chaplain (COL) Hal Martin, who was Chief of Chaplains, Nellis AFB in the 1960s.
Published January 07, 2004.
LTC, USAR-Retd SAO
Thu, 29 Jan 2004 10:00
Capt Gene Graham Writes: I was assigned to the 9th AMS at Beale from July 1981 through December 1982. I worked in the ANS shop. I was only there a short time, but have very fond memories of the people I worked with:
Rob "Wild Weasel" Knasin, Monte
Gingrich, Reid Cameron, Dave
Newell, Rick King, Les
Young, and many others. I pulled a 30-day rotation at Kadena, and got to know some of the people there, too. In retrospect, I had a great time working on the SR-71, even though I occasionally cursed it. Especially 956...you practically had to be a contortionist to install and remove the chronometer! It was all worth it though...I have some great memories.
Capt Gene Graham
Wed, 28 Jan 2004 07:34
HM2 Christa Vincent Writes: Although I never had the privilege of working on or flying the SR-71, I did have many opportunities to view take offs and landings while in Okinawa, Japan. I cherish the awesome memories and share them with anyone who mentions the SR-71!!
We all knew when she fired up her engines or came out of the hush house, our windows would begin to rattle and we would rush outside and, if
off base at a friend's house, would climb up to the roof (across from Kadena AFB) as quick as we could to catch a glimpse before she was gone! Several times I happened to be going through the base along the service road adjacent to the flight line when she was going to take off.
Thank you to all of the crews of the SR-71 around the world!
HM2 Christa Vincent
Tue, 27 Jan 2004 21:51
Gerald Hanner Writes: Saw your site. I knew a few of the people involved in that program; even met
Pat Halloran once when he was flying U-2s at Eielson. Do you happen to know where
Bob Helt is? I knew him at Korat AB, Thailand in the EB-66 program; we were there in 1971-72.
The DCO of the 338TFW was none other that Col Mele Vojvodich, who had been a
CIA "employee" in the Oxcart era. Helt talked to Vojvodich about becoming an SR-71
pilot; a phone call was made and Helt had an interview just like that. Helt had also acquired a measure of fame as a cool head. I launched from Korat one day
to join with Helt, who was launching from Udorn. As we approached Udorn we heard
Lion Control advising all in-bound fighters to divert because there was a B-66 burning on
the end of the runway. Unfortunately, we didn't know on which end of the runway the
B-66 was burning, the takeoff end or the departure end. As it turned out, as Helt was
running up the power for takeoff the right engine compressor disintegrated and ruptured
the forward body tank; a huge fire resulted. In the end all three crew got out with minimal
injuries, but Helt stayed in the bird long enough to make sure it didn't leave the spot on
which it destroyed itself. I talked to him a few times after he went to Beale -- and read a
few stories about records set at the time the SR-71 was retired the first time. Lost track
BTW, have you ever heard the story of how an SR-71 was almost shot down by a flight of F-4Es?
Sun, 25 Jan 2004 23:00
CMSgt James L. Paramo, USAF, Ret Writes: I was assigned to the 9SRW at Beale AFB, CA from May 1970 to December 1971, of which 75% of that time was TDY to our OL at Kadena AB, Okinawa (OL-8, OL-RK, OL-KA). Our small Special Security Office (SSO) Communications Center provide special intelligence and critical communications for all missions. Later, that function was
co-located to the 376th Strategic Wing facility across the street and many of us PCS'd to provide a transition and stay with the program. I remained from December 1971 to May 1973. Of my 30 years in the Air Force, I have never been more honored to be associated with such an airplane and its people. I still recall walking around Kadena Air Base back in those days as a three-striper sensing admiration and respect; I was wearing the HABU patch on my fatigues! We were a proud group of airmen. I will always savor those memories.
CMSgt James L. Paramo, USAF, Ret
Sun, 25 Jan 2004 21:00
Sgt James Watson Writes: I believe it was the summer of '69. I had been at Kadena since March of 69 after a 12 month tour at Ubon Royal Thai
AFB. My dog Tildy and I were working the grave yard shift near the SR-71 site on
base. There was a concrete culvert that we were walking in with walls that were
slanted. Perfect for standing but resting at the same time. I leaned backed and dozed off to the sound of Sr-71 running up there
engine. I have no idea how long I was in that position but has soon as those engines shut off it woke me
up. One week later Tildy and I were reassigned to posts on base and off of the
flightline. Not because we were sleeping on duty, a big no-no. But Tildy got a medical clearance from the Vet not to work the
flight line anymore. She was more suited to work around people and later became one of the first sentry dogs to be retrained as a patrol dog at the PACAF Dog School there at
Kadena. That's my story about the Habu.
Sgt James Watson
Tue, 20 Jan 2004 22:28 TSgt Claude Nickerson Writes: I first came to the program in 1964. We had almost a year without an aircraft and read SR-71 manuals all day. Then we went to Edwards while they test flew an SR-71 to learn how to recover one. Edwards would not let us on the airplane because it was too classified. I was the first SSgt crew Chief in the history of the program. I worked as assistant on #957 trainer and took over #956 trainer. There were three of us that knew how to refuel the B models because of forward tank differences. Then I went to Palmdale and worked along side Lockheed as we built the SR-71C. It was the front of an SR-71 and the back of a YF-12. The leaker of all leaker's. It leaked so bad because they did not put the seal breaks in the ribs to control location. It was so bad that we had to build a drip pan over the E-bay to divert the fuel. When we finally rolled the "C" model out for it's first engine run no one was qualified to run SR-71 engines except me and I was military. I was also on the first recovery crew that recovered #957 in 1965. I remember the drag races between the DCM and Wing DO every Friday at the tool crib. We had a keg of beer there every Friday after work and would all retire to the club. At one time I had the best classified picture album of the SR-71 but I am sure as the security loosened up mine is second rate. I have 981's (C model) first takeoff. I don't know if you recall the Oly (Olympia) beer can we had painted on the tail of 981 because of the leaks. The Lockheed folks were upset over it but by then we were at Edwards. I went to the dorm one night and Lockheed snuck a paint crew in to paint it out but I have a copy of it. Anyway, thanks for the memory lane....enjoyed it. My cousin says you were a third wiper on my airplane? It has been too many years, I don't recall. Maybe you could recall some things to help jog my brain. I retired after 30 years and stayed in California.
TSgt Claude Nickerson
Editors Note: I was first assigned to the Blackbirds in August of 1969 and the first aircraft I worked on was #981, one of the Trainer aircrafts. TSgt Claude Nickerson was the Crew Chief; TSgt Don Lyon was the Assistant and I was a SSgt third wiper. I worked on that aircraft for about three months and then was assigned to Recover Section doing inspections after flight. When I was promoted to TSgt, I became a Crew Chief and worked many of the different tail numbers both at Beale and Det 1, Kadena AB, Okinawa. Close to the end of my five year assignment with the Blackbirds, I was Crew Chief on #972 culminating with the World Record Speed Run from New York to London in September of 1974. Certainly an interesting five years in my career with the U.S. Air Force. Photo below shows #981 after a VIP flight; the Crew Chiefs and VIP Colonel William R. Payne on 18-Sep-69.
Leland Haynes, MSgt, USAF (Ret) & Webmaster, SR-71 Blackbirds
Wed, 21 Jan 2004 16:10 Stephanie Maxwell Writes:
I am the daughter of Senior MSgt Milton Appelhof,
(Ret). He was also with the SR-71. I can say that he enjoyed all his years with the Blackbird. I am also the ex-wife of
Russell Jaynes which was in PSD at that time. I would love to watch the night flights because of the afterburners in the nights sky. We arrived to Beale in 1979 and my father retired in 1992. I really enjoy your web site it brought back great memories. Thanks Steph
Tue, 20 Jan 2004 03:23
MSgt (Ret) Kennie Thompson Writes: I was stationed at Kadena A.B., Okinawa, and was a crew chief on an F4C. As I recall (lost all short term memory and some long term memory due to massive stroke in Feb of 2002) the "habu" was kept under lock and key. It was never brought out during daylight periods. It was seldom, if ever, brought out into the daylight. It seems to me it was around the late 60's or early 70's when I was there. Before I left Kadena, the wraps were taken off the Habu and it was seen over in it's special security area. Before that, I can recall hearing (from my off base residence just a stones throw from the end of the runway) the GPU running as the Habu was started. Boy, what a sound ! It wasn't too long after hearing it start, it would be on the end of the runway, fixing to blast off into space. I was always envious of the crew and wished I had been part of it all. I wanted badly to be the crew chief of one of them. I loved the sight of that aircraft and it's abilities. I certainly would have loved to be a part of it! Once the wraps were taken off and the word got out that it was flying out of Kadena, the local people would flock to the fence line near the end of the runway to get pictures of that beauty! It would stop traffic on the road near the end of the runway while people lined the fence to get pictures. Boy, what a sight! I loved watching it roll down the runway, gathering speed for take-off, then shooting straight up into the blue and out of sight. What a powerful aircraft, what a beauty! I was glad I was on the inside of the fence and had more of an opportunity to see it and get closer than the off base civilians. I was proud to be even remotly associated with it, even though I wasn't even in that
detachment! I was on the same side of the fence that it was. It made me proud! We had the
epitome of what an aircraft could be and what it could do! Made in the U.S.A. With what we had with the Habu then, can you imagine what we may (must) have now? It's hard to believe she still hold's so many unbroken records, even from way back then! I can hardly wait until the wraps are taken off our next replacement SR71. You don't hear anything about any aircraft that'll match or beat it in speed and performance. But, I'll bet that there is something. It's probably flying right now and only a select few know anything about it. Wouldn't I love to be a part of it! This all sounds like some re-up talk! I think I could have been persuaded to go over 20 years in the
Air Force if I could have been given an SR71 assignment. Anywhere! Guess that is out of the question now that I've retired. I have lots of fond memories of the Air Force and wish that the SR71 could have been part of them. I had some pretty good assignments but none that could have matched being with the Habu! I envy anyone that had anything to do with that bird. Well, so much for dreaming! Hurry up and let us see what's next. Let's see if there is anything to match or beat the Habu! It won't be an easy task!
Thanks for letting me go back in time for a few moments.
Ken Thompson, MSgt (Ret)
Ex crew chief on T-33's, F-100D's, RF4C's,F4D's,F-111's, but nothing close to the SR71.
Mon, 19 Jan 2004 19:15
Lt Col (Ret.) Donald E. Mathers Writes: You really have a great site, and I'm sure it is a tremendous amount of work, but also a lot of satisfaction, thanks.
I will try to get some recollections together about how the missions were planned at SAC HQ, and forwarded to Kadena OL, from 1968(?) to 1971 when I left SAC. I was at Beale from 1965 to 1967, attended the Lockheed school at Burbank on the SR-71, and was able to see it being made before I left Beale. I also attended many TDY's at Airborne Instrument Laboratories on Long Island when performance and sensor information was being developed. To the best of my knowledge, I was one of 3 staff RSO's that flew in the SR, and I did have multiple flights.
Lt Col (Ret.) Donald E. Mathers
Fri, 16 Jan 2004 20:40
SSgt Nemeth, Maria Writes: I never thought that I would be involved in such an outstanding program. Being an Immigrant from a Communist country when I enlisted I never thought I would have such a
privilege. I worked my way through all the Security Clearances that were necessary and became involved with the most awesome aircraft there was. After working my way thru all the barriers. I was a Jet Engine Technician on the flight line at Beale AFB. I am proud to have the experience of being one of the first females in the AF to be able to sit in the cockpit of the SR and run her engines after an R&R. I remember the
exhilaration as I sat there and ran those engines up. My knees locked on the brakes as she hit afterburner. Not many females have had that experience and I have to tell you that it was a once-in-a-life-time. This was my Aircraft, My Baby!, and no one can take that from me. I only crashed once, I think, in the simulator. And
now, after almost 20 + years I still have the same affinity towards this aircraft. Those of you that have had the same experience with this plane know what I mean. She's there! and no matter what congressional line item veto, this is the aircraft that meant so much. Being able to see this aircraft launch, do touch & go's and land beautifully with that wonderful orange parachute! There's nothing like it.
I am proud to have been a part of this wonderful program along with my many friends that I have made along the way. Not just at Beale but at Det 1 Kadena. If I had it to do again I wouldn't miss it for the world.
SSgt Nemeth, Maria
Thu, 15 Jan 2004 18:29 SSgt David Aguilar Writes:
I worked as a technician from the 9th FMS Electric shop. I had a blast....
SSgt David Aguilar
Thu, 15 Jan 2004 11:34 Trever Cotton Writes:
I'd like to contact James Jesson, Jeff Adkinson,
Christine Patterson, Jim Craig, Lisa Fitzpatrick.
Wed, 14 Jan 2004 11:34 David V. Finkle Writes:
Assigned 5/65 to 12/67 at Beale Air Force Base.
Navigation systems technician.
Performed maintenance, pre-flight, post-flight.
Prior was Hound Dog, launched from B52.
David V. Finkle
Wed, 14 Jan 2004 12:17
SSgt Maria Joe Nemeth Writes: It's been quite some time since I've been in contact with anyone from the 9th FMS at Beale. I
was discharged in 1987 just before all the changes started. It was quite a surprise when
Don Smith e-mailed me from Military.com and asked me if I was the same person he had known at Kadena. So now I've discovered this site and have put it on my favorites list, and as soon as I can have some of my old pictures scanned in I'll be happy to share them on this site. But for now I just want to say hello to all my SR-U2 family and wish you all a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
SSgt Maria Joe Nemeth
Mon, 12 Jan 2004 07:57
Craig Freeman Writes: When they worked on the plane prior to President Johnson press release we did not call it "the plane or the aircraft" we called it "the article". I was working on the ramp at "Edwards AFB in
California" on the "article" in July of 1967. I was in the inlet shop and we were running some checks for a early morning launch the next day. Anyway, I was in the front seat and getting a little numb having been there for over an hour. I decided to turn on the radio and listen in to the radio traffic. I had the UHF then the HF going. Then I decided to see how the HF transmitter was putting out that night. I keyed the mike and said, "This is Dutch radio, how do you read this radio, radio test." The immediate reply was, "This is Okinawa,
Kadena tower we read you 5 by." The voice was clear, clean and it sounded like it was right across the dinner table. I guess the transmitter was working well that night.
Sat, 10 Jan 2004 23:25
MSgt James F. Chester Writes: I was assigned to PSD at Davis Monthan AFB in January 1976, supporting the U-2 program. In July 1976, I was assigned to Beale AFB, with the consolidation of supporting both U-2 and SR-71 programs. I then served at Beale PSD until May 31st 1993. For the most part I supported the U-2 and SR-71 aircrews for 17+ years. I supported Launch and Recovery Operations for both U-2 and SR-71 missions. Spent almost 5 years out of 17 years TDY, supporting the worldwide reconnaissance mission, Korea, Okinawa, England, Cypress, & Saudi Arabia. Although at Beale many crewmembers probably would not know me, for I spent at least 10 years working in O2 Maintenance & Suit Maintenance. Mainly 02 Maintenance on the calibration of testers, seat kit Oxygen systems, liquid oxygen breather/ventilators, helmet regulators, and suit controllers. I was the BEST at what I did! At PSD our job was very diverse and I also supported Physiological Training for Aircrews, I was a classroom Instructor, and also participated on Altitude Chamber Flights, and Medical Treatment Dives, in the Hyperbaric Chamber. I guess my biggest role was that being assigned as Superintendent of Physiological Support, in Saudi Arabia, during the 1st Gulf War, in January 1991, with 12 U-2s, 30 crewmembers, 60 pressure suits and only 10 of us to support 24 hour operations, for 7-10 U-2/TR-1 Missions a day. I was ready to request Beale send 10 more people, at the 1st
screw up. Tent City was full. They really didn't have room for more people. But, somehow we managed to provide FLAWLESS PSD support, no late takeoffs, no pilot aborts, due to PSD equipment failures, in supporting record breaking U-2 missions, without extra help. I worked with some great PSD troops, supervisors, and U-2/SR-71 Crews. I miss the great people I had the pleasure to work with. I would do it all over again, if I could!
MSgt James F. Chester
Mon, 5 Jan 2004 16:21
George Kamburoff Writes: Thanks for your page on the Blackbird. I served around (not on) them at
Edwards AFB in 1966-67, and loved them. While there, probably in late '66, I was on top of the giant M&M hanger waiting for the XB-70 to get back in
the air after the terrible crash of its sister craft. As I waited, one SR (or YF-12A), was doing touch-and-go's, until it failed to
accelerate or slow, went off the end of the 15,000 ft runway, off the overrun, and into the desert. The gear collapsed, and the pilot jettisoned
the canopy. Before the A/C stopped sliding, the pilot was pushing himself up out of the cockpit. He jumped out and ran clear, silver-white spacesuit
gleaming, until something in the bird exploded, flattening him on the desert. Our old H-21 was there immediately, taking him to the Base
hospital. They rebuilt that bird, and it flew again before I left Edwards. A year ago, I looked
up SR-71 records, and saw an entry of a fatal crash around that time. I hope it's not the one I saw. Would you
know where to get the records? By the way, my NCOIC from my following assignment in Thailand landed in
Beale in early 1969 for a tour there. He was Senior or Chief Master Sergeant
Allman. I haven't been able to locate him since we happened to
meet in the Travis Hospital. If you would have any suggestions, I would appreciate it.
Once again, thank you for your fine page.
Mon, 5 Jan 2004 13:10
Sgt Clyde Kasten Writes: I didn't work on the "Habu", I worked on/flew on the "Hogs" on Kadena 1970/1971. The sight of the Habu ALWAYS impressed me. I envied those of you who worked on and who flew them.
The first time I saw the SR-71 was at the Air Show at Offutt in May 1968. I fell in love with the bird.
I read anything I can find about the SR-71.
I salute all who ever had anything to do with the SR-71. A beautiful aircraft, a great job keeping them flying.
Who was the president who axed the program? (Lower case on president intended.)
Sgt Clyde Kasten
Sun, 4 Jan 2004 20:16 Randall (Randy) Plumley, AIC Writes:
Was assigned to the Physiological Support Division at Edwards AFB from 1974 thru 1976. Back then we supported the blackbird program (skunk works) at Palmdale CA. and NASA's testing of the YF12 at Edwards. I'm interested in hearing from all of those who served with me in the USAF at Edwards and both support groups at Palmdale and NASA.
Randall (Randy) Plumley, AIC
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).
Your Complete Home Mailing Address. Please insure the address is correct in all aspects. Sending just your E-Mail address is not sufficient.
Email you Blackbird Association application to:
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