Thu, Aug 5, 2004, 9:39am (CDT-2)
This is for information only. I stumbled across this site and decided to take a look because I served two complete tour there in 63 and 65. I was with the first SAC team that took over from the "forty thieves" test crew. Lt. Col. Clark was the Det Commander with Maj Sampson, the operations officer.The patch that was developed and approved for the unit was by Col Clark and Maj Sampson and they also got the approval from the 4157th Wing Commander for all personnel to wear black berets with the patch on the front of them above the left eye. Boozer was a Mal-mute and got his name from the guys at the NCO club. Every day at 1400 he would catch the shuttle bus at the Comp building and the front seat was his. If someone was sitting there and didn't,t move when he got on the bus, he got on their lap. Pretty soon everyone knew to move because he was one big dog. When he got to the club he would mooch beer off the guys till he got sleepy or drunk. At 1800 he got back on the bus and went back to the Comp building for chow time. He also liked to sleep in a snow bank out in front of the Comp building. The group was all one flying crew with the exception of the camera repairmen and the crew chief/engineer. There were two camera men who alternated on flights and the two engineers did the same. The engineer who was not flying recovered the acft when it came back from a mission. All of the other enlisted men took care of their primary AFSC's and had other jobs as well. My primary job was as an Electrician, but I had other jobs also such as Refueling and Water loading, part time crew chief, mail clerk on Tuesdays and Fridays when Reeves Airlines brought in the mail, two vehicle driver and messager runner to the message center. There were 14 officers and 21 enlisted permanently assigned, three front end and two spooks that rotated in and out every two weeks. This stayed the same on both of my tours and probably the only enlisted man to ever serve two tours there. Our two teams of Ground Crews tried to race each launch time to see who could get the plane off the fastest. The fastest time that was recorded was 5 minutes and 40 seconds from Klaxton horn to gear up. The old man put a stop to the race after that before something happened safety wise. We went through an earthquake in 63 that was pretty rough. It's the first time that I ever saw a 275,000 lb aircraft two feet in the air without flying. We couldn't get the hangar doors open due to the shaking going on so we stood outside and watched the acft bounce like this for almost a minute.There was seaweed in the strobe lights at the end of the runway from the tidal wave and a 9,000 gallon tanker truck moved 200 yards up the beach for the tides. We spent 6 weeks in Fort Worth in 63 at the General Dynamics factory for modifications and a month in Hawaii on a mission there. In 65 we went to LTV at Greenville, Texas for more modifications and another trip to Hawaii for another mission.We also had to move from hangar two over to hangar five while they reconditioned hangar two. As you probably know, there was no fresh milk on the rock. I had a friend who was mess Sergeant at Eielson and when we went in there he would pull all his milk that was getting close to the expiration date and we would smuggle on to the acft to take back to the Rock. It was worth its weight in gold out there, we got firsts on everything with a little milk to grease the way. In 65 we made a landing like the one that cost 1491 her life. The runway was covered with a thin coat of ice. The brakes didn't stop or slow us down so Lt. Col Griffin, the AC cut the two left engines and powered up the right two, this got us sideways and that is how we went for the last two thousand feet. We lost so much rubber that three tires blew out and we had to change the others on the runway before we could take the acft to the hanger. Col Griffin got the acft stopped about a 100 feet from the end of the runway.
Good job on the website, it was also a joy to read. After leaving there I was assigned to Offutt where I worked on some other RC-135's including "Silent Worrier" 3121, 1465 and 1514. I guess that 3121 crashed on takeoff from Offutt in 69.
Robert F. Bozeman, MSGT (Ret.)
Mon, Sep 27, 2004, 10:40pm (CDT+1)
I just finished reading your awesome tribute for a select group of great Americans! I thoroughly enjoyed how you recaptured important reconnaissance history on the Rock.
As a former RIVET JOINT pilot (Offutt 89-95, Greenville,TX 95-99) I treasured the unique professionalism the operational RC community espoused. The Big Safari program and contractors at Greenville are equally proud of their efforts in providing the best equipment and support to execute the mission. Remarkably, all were key to winning the Cold War.
Keep up the great work! V/r,
Patrick Taylor, Lt Col, USAF
Chief OGV, 116 ACW (JSTARS)
Lamotte, Arnold Ray
20 Oct 2004 16:08:33.0610 (UTC)
I was stationed on Shemya with the 2064 CS when the Ball crashed, that is a day I will never forget, spent hours out walking the runway picking up behind the crash in the snow, not finding one crewmember until the fuselage was moved. Spending the rest of the night at the Dispensary consoling the survivors, and helping anyway I could, I will never forget that night, even with my PTSD result of Vietnam that night stands out just as much as the vietnam nightmares and are with me nightly. I can see the faces as clearly as if it happened yesterday, surfing back through the Aleution sites bring back many good memories and a few not so good. You have done a wonderful job with the Web Site I'm enjoying it very much. Arnold R. (Kujo) LaMotte on the Rock Feb 62 to Feb 63, and Jul 80 to Jul 81 volunteer both times, I loved the Place it will always be in my heart.
Thanks for the Memories,
Arnold Ray LaMotte
Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.
Phone (512) 432-8110
Wed, Nov 3, 2004, 10:58pm (CST+1)
I had the privilege and honor to serve on Shemya between October 1966 and October 1967. Previously, I was an instructor at Fort Devens, MA teaching future 98J20's the art of Elint and various supporting technologies. I made the mistake of acquiring a medical profile of "Allergic to cold weather. No duty station where cold weather is the norm" AND getting married, so I naturally was reassigned to Shemya! It made sense to someone for sure! My MOS was 98J4H (H is for instructor) and I was assigned to the "Bubble (AN-FPR 80) " on Shemya. The second month on duty, I found myself the only 98J30 (or 40) Analyst on the island and quickly tired of a cot in the bubble with food delivered from the Composite Building, so found a few deserving 98J20 operators to make 98J30 analysts. I had the dubious duty to arrange all the trick schedules and make sure all shifts were covered. Since I was senior, I got lots of duty, but what else was there to do after all! I was on duty the night the cosmonaut "streamed" into earth with parachutes entangled" (and telemetry of heartbeat really racing), and the day the Bear bomber buzzed the Bubble while we had the skin off replacing the dish from a 60' version to a 65' "new and improved" version. I also remember the stateside communications Microwave antenna firing up and our targeting computer sensing "signal up" and triggering the klaxon that alerted us to an intercept. That 60' dish would spin around and point to the Microwave antenna shaking the whole building in the process! We developed new code in the program to prevent that. But few people knew much about programming at that time.
I also am a little confused by a few facts I remember. I remember having the distinct pleasure and honor of being invited on a few missions in the Cadillac, but also remember that it had the huge side mounted radar! Possibly it was Rivet Amber, but I certainly retained the birds name in my memory as The Cadillac. I also remember it clipping the telephone pole. Of course that has been almost 37 years ago so maybe it is senility. I also thought we occasionally landed at Chitose, Japan for an overnighter so we could pick up additional intercepts on the return flight. Whatever the case, I am thrilled and honored by my experiences in ASA and on Shemya. My marriage survived the first year's separation and became stronger, to last until today. I remember my duty with fondness, and all the students I gave a jump-start to as friends. When I was teaching them Elint, I had no idea I would be one of them, but loved it every minute. ASA All the Way!
Thank you for a marvelous website with many wonderful memories.
Richard P. Campbell
Sat, Nov 13, 2004, 4:41am
Superb web site! Brought back memories for me during the years 1965-1968. Served as Command Post Controller with the SRC (SAC Reconnaisance Center) Hq SAC, Offutt AFB, NE.
Richard P. Campbell
Thu, Dec 16, 2004, 2:42pm
I flew out of Shemya 1963-1965 on temporary duty from Eielson AFB many times. I was an E-5 Russian Linguist with Security Service. I remember the dog and I remember the "plug" and, oh yes, the klaxon. Thanks for the memories.
Dr. John E. Harper Sr. CPA/CMA
Professor of Finance
Texas A&M University at Commerce
College of Education & Human Services - Department of Secondary & Higher Education
College of Business & Technology - Department of Economics & Finance
Metroplex Center, 2600 Motley Drive, Mesquite, TX 75150
Wed, Dec 29, 2004, 11:00am
First of all thanks for doing all you did! I have been to Alaska for cold weather training as a young Army Ranger and found it to a miserable existence. You lived in it, and knew you weren't going home anytime soon, and toughed it out.
Anyway I really liked your web site, I did not know all that stuff was going on, as most people probably do not either. It was a great informational site and you are to be commended.
Thanks again for the great site.
"Rangers lead the way!"
Jan 17, 2005, 2:59pm (CST+1)
Thank you very much for this web site. You've done a great job with it. For me it's a memory trip—a part of my life that I will never forget. I was tipped off to your site when I recently received my copy of the newsletter from our USAFSS/ESC/AFIC/AIA alumni association. I identify with all of the information and photos you've included in the site. I spent three tours of duty at the 6981st USAF Security Service/Electronic Security Command unit at Elmendorf beginning in early 1962. Trained as an analyst (202X0) and later as a Signals Intelligence Officer, most of my career was spent in Operations and as a result I was very closely associated with the RC-135s.
I was the Surveillance and Warning (S&W) Supervisor on duty at the operations center in the AAFJOG (Army and Air Force Joint Operations Group) the day we lost Amber and her crew. An E-5 at the time, and due to an unexpected personnel shortage, I was by-name requested to assist with S&W duties at the 6984th. I arrived at the garden spot of the Aleutians on May 17th for the 30 day TDY. I met for the first time and briefed the Security Service back-enders then assigned to the Amber crew prior to what turned out to be their final operational mission. I remember particularly TSgt Benevides, SSgt Lindsey and Sgt Arcano. (Sgt Arcano was from New York. I remember him showing me the everyday watch he wore on one wrist and his pride-and-joy Mickey Mouse watch on the other wrist.) Early on the morning of June 5th I was on my way to the AAFJOG and saw Amber warming up on the runway for her flight back to Eielson for some needed repairs following her previous operational mission. I heard her leave the runway and routinely allowed several minutes for them to reach altitude before rousing the AMS (Airborne Mission Supervisor) on our secure communications link. This day it was not to happen. I could not raise him, but kept trying--I spent all day trying. What a sad day that turned out to be, as were the days that followed when extensive search and rescue efforts failed. To say extensive efforts is an understatement. An air traffic controller friend of mine later told me that the Air Force must have lost something pretty special out there because he had never seen so much air traffic in a search and rescue effort as the one he saw over the southern Bering Sea those several days.
A sidelight to your story about Amber: In 1977-78 I was assigned as AFSSO (Air Force Special Security Officer) 314th Air Division at Osan. While there I became acquainted with Ltc. J.C. Braddock who also was assigned to the 314th AD. We were talking one day about previous assignments and Rivet Amber came up in the conversation. Colonel Braddock told me that he had been the pilot who flew shakedowns for the RC-135 that later became Lisa Ann and Rivet Amber. He said that early on he experienced a number of hard landings mainly because of the extraordinary weight of the aircraft. The result was a number of blown tires upon touchdown until he could master the extra weight and the way she handled.
I first became acquainted with Rivet Ball when she was Wanda Belle. I was an analyst/reporter in Operations at the 6981st when Rivet Ball went back into service in 1967. I was on duty at the '81st the night of January 13, 1969 when the word came in that Ball had had difficulty trying to recover at Shemya. While at Shemya in June of 1969 I saw the remains of the first Rivet Ball accident; I mourned at the site of Boozer's (what a good old dog) resting place near the plug; I was in the theatre on several occasions when the klaxon went off and the side doors of the theatre flew open and crew members scrambled into the back of vehicles for the short trip to the aircraft. Only a few minutes would pass before the theatre would shake and moviegoers were unable to hear the movie because of the brief period of loud noise generated as the bird went wheels up. But most of all I mourned the loss of Amber and her special crew members. I still mourn them today.
I was back at the '81st for the third time when survivors of the March 15, 1981 Cobra Ball II mishap were brought to Elmendorf Hospital for treatment. Those crew members were part of our family and members of the '81st rendered them as much assistance as we could.
The Rivet Ball and Rivet Amber project holds very dear memories for me as do the experiences I had with the D models from Eielson and the RC's from Offutt. Given the opportunity, I would more than welcome a chance to do what I did all over again--including the TDY to Shemya. You have pointed out quite well that to hear about and know about a special place called Shemya is one thing--to experience Shemya is quite another. Such an experience leaves you with unforgettable memories. I've been there too and I concur.
Jack Williams, Capt, USAF Retired.
Feb 1, 2005, 8:13pm (CST+1)
I really enjoyed your website and learned quite a lot of interesting stuff. You did an excellent job on the site.
I was in the Army Security Agency, but never made it to Shemya. I did meet some ASAer that had been stationed on The Rock.
I was a Communications Center Specialist. It was the most interesting job I ever had.
USASA Comm Unit - Philippines Clark AB 12/68 - 1270
USASA Field Station - Hakata, Japan 1/71 - 10/71
Davis Station - Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN 11/71 - 11-72
Bob Minott - Rockland, Maine
Pete St. Jean
Feb 2, 2005, 4:30am (CST+1)
Many thanks for a most informative & exciting shared adventure. I studied every page for the past hour, and felt like I was back "on alert in the Mole Hole" as a B-47 and B-52 crewmember. I retired in '72 after only 20...final tour flying the AC-119K out of DaNang.
A GREAT website, most appreciated by one & all... PRAISE - THE - LORD for such dedicated honorable fellow blue-suiters and the bond we have that still gives goose bumps to this day.
Pete St. Jean Major USAF ret.