Jack Gatewood  

K. Hawes
Hi Res

From: Jack Gatewood
Date: January 19, 2004 3:18:38 PM CST
To: KingdonAviation@webtv.net
Subject: Update - The Final Fate of Rivet Ball

"I just learned of your website from an old NSA (DEFSMAC) friend. He was involved in the procedure which launched Rivet Ball, Rivet Amber and, in my era, Cobra Ball One.
You have done fantastic job  ----  and you have my heartfelt thanks and gratitude. I have only had the time  to skim through it very quickly, but I have saved it to a CD for long term review.
My year on Shemya was probably the most interesting in my thirty and you will be hearing more from me later  ----  but for now, just a word on the final fate of Rivet Ball.
I took over command of Det 1, 6SW, Shemya in mid-December 1969, relieving Ray O'Neal. He had taken over from Stan Ratto the previous December.
When I got there, the relatively complete, but broken-backed hulk of Rivet Ball was still resting off of the west end of the runway. It was not an especially reassuring sight (on the rare days when the visibility permitted) to people coming on the  MAC C-141 "Garbage Birds", Reeve Aleutian DC-6s and 7s coming back eastbound from Attu, or the rare transient machine from wherever.
I am now depending on my eighty-year-old memory circuits for details of something that happened thirty-three years ago, but here is how I remember it.
The Base Commander called me one day and asked "Jack, whyinhell don't we put that poor, old bird away to its final rest?".
I felt that this was a pretty good idea, since there was nothing of material value left and, to me, it was a shame for such a proud legacy to end as just a pile of scrap metal, frightening newcomers to "The Rock". All of the folks (flight crews, back-enders, PCS and TDY staff, etc) involved in Det 1 ops at the time agreed.
After getting the go-ahead all the way up and down the line, the base fire laddies soaked the remains in avgas, JP, etc, and torched it. They got some good practice out of the operation and the fire pretty well consumed all except the most durable parts. Most of the remaining bits and pieces were scraped down to the bottom of the overrun slope and buried as best that could be done in that durable real estate. What couldn't be buried was carted off to the "Million Dollar Dump".
Again, my thanks for a great piece of history that you have made available. In the future, I hope to add my two-bits worth from the first full year of Cobra Ball operations. Like all SAC Shemya operations, we had our good days and our bad days, but there were damned few dull days."
Jack Gatewood

G. Smith
Hi Res

Kingdon R. Hawes (Webmaster)

Powered by MSN TV