Brian Ream
Sun Nov 9 11:51:08 2003

Outstanding web site, honoring outstanding warriors! My honor, respect, and prayers for you all. Thank you! Brian Ream Lockheed-Martin Aero

Sharon Connell
Sat Nov 15 23:09:34 2003

This site is wonderful. Finally answers to many questions that I didn't even know to ask. I look forward to seeing my father James F Ray, in the bibles promised resurection. John 5:28 says "Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out. Thank You Sincerely Sharon Connell

"The McBride's" Rejina
Tue, Nov 18, 2003, 2:33pm

Dear King Hawes,
My name is Rejina McBride and I'm the youngest of James Ray's daughters. I want to thank you for all the help you have been giving us in finding information about my father. I had simply asked some military friends to look at some records I had had on my Dad and to decipher what some of it said. They presented me with this wonderful book which contained the whole Rivet Amber websight! I was absolutely overwhelmed. I shared this with my mother who began to sob. She knew nothing about this websight, the brick in Ohio, or the building dedicated to the crew. I believe that we are finally going to see some healing of some old hurts that have been repressed for a long time in our family. For the first time I don't fill an awkwardness when we talk about him. I am  excited to not only be learning so much about my father but also to see healing come to my family. Many thanks for your efforts, Rejina

Thomas M. Simundich
Mon, Nov 24, 2003, 8:05am (CST-2)

The poignant expressions of gratitude in these pages for your efforts in establishing a memorial website from the families of the perished Rivet Amber crew must ignite in you burning emotion that spreads warmth to the hearts of your loved ones and a proud light on your Team 2 brothers. We supernumeraries in the Rivet Amber tragedy sense the glow. To the thankful words of those who you console will come your Middle West modest response, "There are sympathetic others who would do the same." Yes! Take the trouble to do the same. No! Taking the trouble is what converts good intentions into noble actions.

Tom Simundich
Technical Representative to the 6th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Alaska May 1968 - July 1969

Jen Wonders
Tue Nov 25 19:39:13 2003

Thanks to you I have met many of the other children who have had the same great loss. All I know is that when you reach the Pearly Gates, you will have 19 men waiting there for you with tears in their eyes and open arms. Although they were not able to complete their mission in raising their children; you have brought all their children together as a whole and created one heck of an AMBER FAMILY that nobody shall ever forget !

Bob Armentrout
Dec 1, 2003 21:47:49.0943 (UTC)

King,  the site just keeps improving. I often think of the excitement the word "Gaslight" generated and the effort  spent on getting to the right spot at the right time. I've also thought about the dedicated wives that supported some of us. My hat is off to them. Many of them made some real sacrifices, endured uncertainties, and often put their own goals and ambitions aside to support us. To those wives and families, and especially to those whose husbands and fathers were lost on Rivet Amber, I salute you and thank you, God bless.
Bob Armentrout, Team 2 TC

Bob Davis
Mon Dec 1 17:28:21 2003

Flew as Raven 4 and TC on Cobra Ball 1, 663. Arrived Eielson in August 1969 after several tours in SEA as B-52 EWO. My almost 3 years of rotations to Shemya were filled with some of the most rewarding moments in my AF career. The people involved were top professionals and our product was the best. I had a call from Art Reid this morning and it started me searching around and I found this site. Outstanding work!

Incidentally, I designed the Cobra Ball patch during my tour with the 24SRS.

Bob Davis
Hi Res

Hi Res
Robert E. "Bob" Davis, Ltc. USAF (Ret.)

The photos and OCS link were added to Bob's entry by King Hawes (Webmaster).

J. R. Smith
Tue Dec 9 07:25:07 2003

Worked at the rock from Jan 88 till Jan 93 at Cobra Dane. Loved it and the people I met there. Would go back in a heartbeat. But now I'm too old.

John . Perry
Thu, Dec 11, 2003, 8:20pm (CST-1)

After searching for one of my buddies for about 35 yrs, I finally found the details of what happened to him. Going back to the Air Force survival training at Fairchild AFB, WA., I remember meeting Capt. Meissner who was reading his bible. Being a Christian myself and a student of the Bible, I asked him about his studies. He immediately responded and was happy to find someone to discuss the bible with. We became good friends in the short time we had at the 30 day survival course and discussed Bible topics many times. About three years later I sent he and his family a Christmas card, but it was returned with a note saying that his plane went down and all the crew were lost at sea. Although I knew he had perished, I did not know what type of plane he was on nor the details of his death. In searching the links on the "Silent Warriors" web site, I stumbled across his name and finally discovered the fate of my Christian friend. He died only two years later while serving his country. I noticed he was a Major in this article, so he must have received a promotion from the time I knew him.
By the way, I was flying missions in three of the planes 55-3121, 59-1465, & 59-1514 mentioned in "Silent Warriors" link to RC-135 site. Thanks for your efforts and others to maintain this site.

Best Regards,
John R. Perry

John Achor
Tue Dec 16 15:01:18 2003

King, It's been a while since I visited your web site and the first time since the new domain name. You have done a marvelous revamp of what was already a great site. I never tire of reading about Ball and Amber and the men who flew them. Thanks for including my two stories on your Front Enders page. Keep up the great work and enjoy your new life :-)
John Achor :-)

The last pilot to log a landing on the original Rivet Ball
Visit a Writers Web Corner

Bill Crane
Sat Dec 20 16:04:14 2003

Nice site! I was an Army enlisted Signal Analyst and FLEW as crew on a Navy EA3B attached to Fleet Air Reconissaince Squadron One (VQ-1) the summers of 63 & 64. We flew out of the "other" hanger at Shemya. I got to tour the Air Force plane. Very plush compared to our cramped quarters! Your officers were shocked to find that Army enlisted were the elint/photo crews in the Navy plane. We used to buzz your hanger when we returned and you had not chosen to go out.

Joseph C. Williams
Fri Dec 26 14:41:26 2003

I was one of two Photogs on Team 1 from 1967 to 1969 .Msgt Earl Gwathney was the other Photog .I was discharged from the USAF in 1969 after 8 1/2 years and went to work for Ford Mo. Co. in Michigan as an Instrumentation Photog , I am still at Fords and currently I am a unit supervisor in Ford Photographic .I look back on my Alaskan Tour flying on Rivet Ball as some of the most interesting, memorable, important,exciting, good times of my life.
Ssgt Joseph C. Williams.

Mark Clesh
Sat, Jan 3, 2004, 8:59am (CST+1)

Great history and excellent photo's.   I spent 1973-1974 on Shemya as a 98J in the AAFJOG.  Went from there to DEFSMAC and am still affiliated with these efforts as a government civilian (30.5 years).
Mark E. Clesh

LCDR Harford Field, Jr. USN (Ret)
Sat, Jan 3, 2004, 1:00pm (CST-2)

Absolutly FAB!!!!!  Both my cousin and son were in Air Force intelligence and my cousin sent the website to me and I fwd it to my son. Thanks so much!!!
LCDR Harford Field, Jr. USN (Ret)

Ed Gartland
Sun, Jan 4, 2004, 8:55pm (CST+1)

All gave some. Some gave all. I used to think it sounded trite, but what more can you say?
Ed Gartland
Comfy Echo / Commando Lance, Cam Ranh Bay 1969 College Eye, Khorat, 1970

Jack Riedel
Tue, Jan 6, 2004, 12:25pm (CST+1)

I enjoyed the website. That is quite a history and I appreciate all the effort put forth in producing it. I would also like to thank all involved for their efforts in behalf of the citizens of the USA and the then "Free World." I am a retired SMSgt and flew with USAFE, PACAF, SAC and TAC for over 20 years. I was trained (15 months) at Syracuse University as a Russian linguist and also as a Viet linguist at Ft G.G. Meade (9 months). I flew as crew on Combat Apple, Combat Sent and Rivet Joint on various RC-135 models (D, M, V, S to name a few.) I never had the opportunity to fly with any of the project that flew from Shemya. I spent my entire AF career serving with USAFSS and ESC. I was also involved with Senior Book/Spear and Olympic Torch operations in various parts of the world. Thanks for making your history available to me and other interested parties.

Jack Riedel

Richard Jacobs
Wed, Jan 7, 2004, 6:28pm (CST+1)

I've just visited your wonderful website and read the story of the two aircraft and their crews. It's good to record it. I have documentation of another earlier flight of one of the P2-V Neptune airplanes. This one crashed on St Lawrence Island in about June 1955. I was on-site on the island doing the same kind of work for the US Army, recorded the shootdown, and witnessed the survival of the entire crew. Many years later, in 1992, I found in the National Archives the legal research done by State Dept Legal Adviser Sam Klaus in investigating all the shootdowns of American reconnaisance planes by the Russians. All the records were declassified in 1993. I have copies of the transcripts of all crew members of that 1955 shootdown telling the story of what happened. There's a story in that, but I've never written it.

Richard Jacobs,
retired archivist, Ocean Pines, MD

Alan K. Starr
Thu, Jan 8, 2004, 1:05pm (CST-2)

Been there ... done this
Alan K. Starr, Major, USAF (Retired) ... former ABIT Program Mgr, ASC/ RAPA (1996-97) Boeing, S&IS Systems Engineering No Fear ... No Limits

Bob and Virginia Nicholl
Thu, Jan 15, 2004, 2:17pm (CST-2)

Tremendous narrative.
As Commander of 82 SRS 1968-1970 the 6th SRW augmented our unit on Okinawa while our aircraft were dispatched to Greenville, Texas for modifications. Aircraft Commanders Achor and Michaud were dispatched to assist our unit in missions over the Gulf of Tonkin. The crews were highly professional and dedicated airmen.  
It was a real pleasure to read the narrative and congratulations for such a highly documented and well descriptive story.  Articles such as this well show undertakings of men charged with a vital and important mission which often go unnoticed or appreciated.

Thanks again for an inspiring story.
Col. Robert L. Nicholl
USAF Retired

Gloria Albert C Capt 563 FTS/DOD
Tue, Jan 20, 2004, 8:11am

Thanks for the great work and effort on the site.
I flew with the 38th SRS from Mar 1987 to Dec 1992. Those were the best days of flying and deploying.
Capt Al "Gorilla" Gloria III
Randolph AFB, TX
DSN 487-9358

Bill Belew
Wed, Jan 21, 2004, 8:51pm

I honestly don't know how I got to this Web-Site, but you guys DID A GOOD JOB! I met John Achor in my travels thru the Strat Recon World around Mid-1969?....(At Offutt for LN16 School?). I was a Navigator in the 82 S.R.S./Kadena, Dec. 69 thru July 72, Then to the 55th/343 SRS, thru July 75 At  Offutt.... MAN! we were YOUNG Then!.... Great Guys at Shemya and the 6th. Wing at Eielson......(Don Hansen is retired now outside Tulsa, Ok, Jenks, Oklahoma, I think)......His wife Passed Away in 1999.

I FINALLY Retired in 89 from an Air Reserve, F-4 Unit, An O-4.....My Pay
and Entitlements FINALLY START 3/1/4...... Nice Work and Best Regards....Bill
Bill Belew

Richard B. Kehl
Sun, Jan 25, 2004, 9:01pm (CST+1)

Dear Mr. Hawes,
A friend just hooked me up with your web site concerning Rivet Ball and Rivet Amber.  Wow, it blew me away.  What a great tribute to the guys that flew and supported those missions during some really dark and troubling times.

I was Director of Sensor Data at the Foreign Technology Division during the Cobra Ball days.  I never had the pleasure of meeting any of the crew members that were flying during those times, but I admired them greatly and can guarantee that we were eager to receive and process every bit of data that they collected.  My Directorate processed and analyzed all of the imint, radint, elint, and other data obtained before passing it to the Technology and Systems Directorates.  The data obtained by the crews from Shemya was and remains some of the most important work done by the Air Force during the Cold War period.

Please accept my thanks and congratulations for the web site you have developed to recognize a magnificent group of aviators.  
Richard B. Kehl
Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Edwin Wakeman
Sat, Feb 7, 2004, 5:12pm (CST+1)

As I said before, every time I view your web site it is better than the last time. The addition of the Rivet Ball crew photos is really great. I recently discovered a lot of color slides and 8mm color film of Hanger 2, Rivet Ball and Shemya.
A Raven of Team 2 ...

Jim Gilmore
Thu, Feb 12, 2004, 10:42pm (CST-2)

King: There are not enough words to describe the  awe I feel after having just spent the last 2 hours looking through your site. I was one of those TDY maintainers who did short times (30 day TDY) on the rock in 1970-71 while stationed with the 55OMS Looking Glass Operation at Offutt. I was to see history repeat itself 6 years later. I went TDY to Eielson from Travis and was called upon to take troops back to the rock. I asked why I was chosen to take my airplane back into "Hell". The CO told me " you know the rules, you can't get there from here unless you have been there. Since I had been there, I got to go again. At least the second time in 1977 the weather was almost tolerable. 85 degrees and sunny at Eielson and four hours later, 37F, overcast, sleet and well below minimums but we yanked and banked and made what could only be described as a controlled crash as we crossed the strobes at a 45 degree angle to the runway and barely 50 feet off the deck.

Yes Sir! It was indeed the best of times and the worst of times. You have chronicled it very well and would be pleased to post a link to your site on my website.
Best Regards,
Jim Gilmore
Vallejo, CA.

John Sanders
Mon, Feb 16, 2004, 4:57am (CST+6)

I really enjoyed viewing your online storybook. I spent one year on Shemya from Nov 1993 to Nov 1994 as a firefighter. Our fire station was right next to your alert hangar. It is amazing how similar our adventures were even with the 30-something year time difference. Thanks for the memories.
John Sanders, MSgt, USAF

Richard Almassy
19 Feb 2004 19:39:51.0417 (UTC)

Thank you for your enlightening website describing the mission of the RC-135. I always wondered what you guys were doing. I was a WC-135 Aircraft Commander with the 55th WRS, TDY to Eielson off and on from 1972-1976. When at Eielson, I roomed with a former college alumni who was an RC-135 Nav. He could never tell me what your mission was because it was Top Secret. We were in MAC and our mission was unclassified. We could tell our wives and TDY wives where we were, what we were doing, and where we were flying. While you were gathering the photographic and signal evidence , we were sampling the physical evidence. We had a lab on board that within hours of the blast, we knew the yield, materials, and sophistication of the device. We would relay that information to our customer via high speed teletype on HF. You may remember those annoying, high frequency transmissions that shattered eardrums of unsuspecting copilots monitoring HF. I see by your website that Cobra Ball II was aircraft registration 12664. Our eight birds followed Cobra Ball down the C-135 assembly line: #12665 through #12674. What's left of the WC-135 fleet are now the Open Skies birds.

Incidently, our post flight game of choice was bridge. It was mandatory that any new crewmember learned the game ASAP. Our missions were 12 hours long followed by 24 hours post/premission crew rest. Marathon bridge games filled the first 12 hours of post mission time so we could sleep the 12 hours immediately prior to alert. It was good to be young and stupid back then. People look at me strange now when I tell them my job back then was to fly through nuclear clouds to see what they were made of.
Richard Almassy, Lt. Col., USAF (Ret.), AKA Lark 62

Cathy Fox Melton
Wed, Feb 25, 2004, 2:43pm (CST+1)

I am the daughter of S/Sgt. Robert W. Fox.  I have just spent the last couple of days devouring each page of this website.  I can't believe that after nearly 35 years, I finally know so much about what happened to my father.  Thank you, King Hawes, Jen Wonders, and all the contributors to this site. It is truly AWEsome.
Cathy Fox Melton

Marcy Ruth
Tue, Mar 2, 2004, 8:18pm (CST-2)

Your web site has been most helpful. Our family didn't know much about what happend on June 5, 1969. If anyone out there knew Robert Fox we sure would like to hear from them. They may contact us. He was my husbands uncle and was very much loved.

Randy & Marcy Ruth
Box 1
Skellytown, TX 79080

Richard Williams
Wed, Mar 3, 2004, 7:28pm (CST-2)

Thanks very much for  the stuff that we me and my Mother, have found out about my uncle Bob Fox. We have really enjoyed reading the whole story. If there is any more you can find out please let me know. 
Thanks very much,
Richard Williams & Mable Fox Ruth

Barbara Easley
Thu, Mar 4, 2004, 2:22pm (CST+1)

Dear Mr. Hawes,
My son found this web page and he called me about it and we have been looking ever since. I have the video and pictures you sent to me and I thank you very much. I am Bob Fox's sister. I am 2 years older than he was so we were very close. I would love to hear from anyone about Bob. I will write back to everyone. Bob is missed by all our family, we loved him so. Write me at

Thank you again,
Barbara Easley
409 Magnolia
Burkburnett, Texas

Geoffrey Polinder
Tue, Mar 9, 2004, 2:22pm

Dear Mr. Hawes,
I recently checked out your story about Rivet Ball and Rivet Amber and I have to say, wow. Although crude and militarily rough in places, it is quite an impressive work. Keep it up.
Geoffrey N. Polinder

Harry "Doug" Eyre, Jr.
Mon, Mar 15, 2004, 11:25pm (CST+1)

I am a retired SMSgt, USAF. I was a 306X0 for my entire career. My last four years were with the PACCS aircraft (EC-135H) out of RAF Mildenhall, UK.
Your website is phenomenal. I am not ashamed to say that at 57 years of age, I can still weep. I don't think many non-military individuals can relate to what you wrote and showed. Thank you for keeping the memories of those who have gone before alive.  
Harry "Doug" Eyre, Jr.
Hewitt, TX
P.S.  LTV, Greenville is now known as L-3 Communications Integrated Systems.  Greenville still works on some very special aircraft.  Myself, I am at Waco, TX, a subsidiary of Greenville but I recognize the memories and the requirements.  The term now days is "Big Safari."  Remember it well.

Michael Michaud
Tue, Mar 30, 2004, 9:47pm (CST-2)

Our gratitude:
Just how does one pay tribute to aircrew, family and friends of men like this?
Precisely as King has done.

I have no clue as to how you may ever be justly compensated for your time, energy and expense of maintaining this web site. I am sure you realize what an important gathering place it has become for those who really care.

If I may speak for the entire crew who are no longer with us without being presumptuous, know that they are in a smart row issuing a snappy salute and exclaiming, "Job well done Sir, job well done".

You carry the everlasting appreciation of us all.
My Best Regards,
Michael G. Michaud

Thomas, Guy
Wed, Mar 31, 2004, 12:58pm (CST+1)

Great Work! More folks need to know about what we did. I am still very proud of my time with the AF flying in RCs.
Guy T.
George Guy Thomas
Science & Technology Advisor
Maritime Domain Awareness
U. S. Coast Guard Headquarters
Washington, DC

Patricia Steen-Hensley
Sat, Apr 24, 2004, 1:31am (CDT+1)

Dear Mr. Hawes,
Thank you so much for this website. I have learned more from this website than I have any other source in all the years since my brothers disappearance. We (his family) have tried in numerous ways to get more information regarding the flight but were always cut short by security issues. We too heard all the different rumors, including one that they could be prisoners in Russia. Your website has finally put that fear to rest.

My brother, SSgt. Richard James Steen Jr., was on both of the flights. It is my understanding that he was not supposed to be on Rivet Amber, but took someone else's place at the last minute, so he was not a regular crew member of that group. Someone also told us that he was one of the crew members that helped everyone off after the Rivet Ball crash.

Again thank's for the great website. It's been a blessing to all of us.
Patricia Steen-Hensley

Maj. Brian G. Peck
May 10, 2004, 3:18pm (CDT-2)

I just wanted to say thank you for creating such a great web site and telling such an important and personal story. It brought back a great deal of memories. I was assigned to the 24th SRS in 1990 and spent a great deal of time at the rock flying both the COBRA BALL and COBRA EYE as a copilot. I was with the squadron when we made the big move to Offutt and the 55th SRW. I was flying the BALL out of Thailand when the hostile takeover by TAC (ACC) occurred (we always complained about mother SAC, but sorely miss her now.) After my upgrade to Aircraft Commander in 1992, I flew the RIVET JOINT and COMBAT SENT for a few of years before going to the U-2 program in 1995. Of all of my experiences in the Air Force over the past 17 years, my fondest are from my days in the COBRA BALL. The 24SRS was the most close knit group of people I have ever worked with. I still keep in touch with many members of the "Cobra Ball Mafia" and count them among my best friends. As far as airplanes go, I'm fonder of the U-2, but it was the people who made all of the difference with the RC. It gets far too little attention, but one of the things that gives me the most pride is the fact that we won the Cold War and that I had the honor of being a part of that victory.

Thanks Again,
Operations Officer, U-2 Test Pilot
Det 2, WR-ALC (U-2 Flight Test)
661-572-3393    DSN 527-4000

Ron Mitchell
May 18, 2004, 2:27pm

Hello King,
I retired from the Air Force on Sept 1989 and happened to be airborne in an RC135 on a recon mission June 5, 1969. While monitoring the HF radio prior to our second air refueling of the flight we heard Elmendorf Radio calling for Irene 92. Several years later I was one of two operations officers stationed at Shemya. During a lull in operations (both 663 & 664 aircraft had diverted to Eielson due to weather at Shemya) the maintenance officer, myself and one of the tech reps had a discussion about the lost aircraft.

I am now a pilot for the state of Nebraska and the editor/writer/photographer for their general aviation monthly newsletter called PIREPS. On occassion I write a story for PIREPS under the pen name of Jess Banks. Jess Banks story in the May issue is titled "Aircraft Lost" and presents some events that happened as a result of that fateful day.

If you would like to read the story, go to our website at   Once there, on the left side of the page, scroll down to publications and click on PIREPS. You will find the May 2004 issue at that point.

Ronnie Mitchell

Larry Wendfeldt
Wed, Jun 2, 2004, 9:46pm (CDT-2)

To my Fellow crew members all of whom I still consider not only friends, but family, my heartfelt warmest greetings.

I have but begun to survey this magnificent site and my hat is off to you King and any others who may have helped.

I read the tribute by Mitch's son and probably like so many of you, could not hold back the tears.  We truly were a "Band of Brothers."

I guess what brings this site so close to home is that it was the crew I was on that brought Lisa Ann back from Hawaii and turned it over to Mitch's crew for that fateful rotation to the Rock.  It was also our crew, Dan Custis, Burr Paul, Frank Schoonover, and me-Larry Wendfeldt, that was flying a "Brass" sortie on June 5th, and we had our mission cancelled just after refueling so that we could proceed to Shemya, wait for 4 tankers to join us, and be the first ones to begin the search.

So many memories and now a fitting tribute to those friends whose fate is known but to God.  My life is better for having known each of those brave men gone these many years.

May God continue to bless their families and may we who continue never lose our memories of them.
Larry S. Wendfeldt
Lt Colonel, USAF (Ret)
24th SRS, 6 SW
Sep 67-Feb 70 

Kristi (Meissner) Nay
Sat, Jun 5, 2004, 10:42pm (CDT+1)

35 years ago today on June 5, 1969 nineteen brave and courageous men boarded a plane that was part of their job in protecting the United States of America. Their plane disappeared but I am glad to say that thanks to other dedicated men and the surviving families that the memories and legacy have not.

As the oldest daughter of Major Rudy Meissner, I wanted to say for myself and my younger sister Jani and my mother Luci, that we are glad that our heritage is a father and husband who wasn't afraid to stand up for what he believed in- both for his country and his faith in God and Jesus Christ- even though doing his job for his country cut his life short at the age of 32.

I am sure I am joined by the other surviving children of that flight, in saying that we are proud of our fathers for being exceptional men both in character and in serving their country. A very special Thank You to King Hawes for the best website I can imagine that pays tribute to the men both living and dead that served their country by flying in and maintaining these very special reconnaissance airplanes. Thanks for ending years of "official" silence on the subject with something much better than blacked-out government documents. Instead, thanks to King and his friends, we have personal and moving accounts of what the surviving men remember and the ability to connect with others through this website.

I can't imagine all the time it has taken King to pull all this together and my family and I have gratefully spent hours perusing the wealth of information in this incredible place. Thanks to former "Raven" Les Fujimoto for pointing us to it recently and Thank you also to the others who contributed and especially to Ron Strong for his remembrance of my father in his great write- up, "The Lisa Ann Adventure" and for his website that laid things out in a way that put all the jigsaw pieces I formerly had into a more coherent puzzle.

I found it interesting from a historical perspective that former President Ronald Reagan went to join the Rivet Amber crew in heaven today on June 5th. As they said on NBC news tonight, his abilities to communicate effectively and honestly, led to engaging that new generation of Soviet leaders. His actions "leading to the first treaty to cut Soviet and American nuclear weapons" were the beginning of the end of the Cold War. I wish I could see the welcoming party tonight on those eternal shores.
Kristi (Meissner) Nay

Web Master Note:
The "website" mentioned above was created by Bruce Williamson in the United Kingdom (UK). Bruce is the Web Master for "The Spyflight Website". Ron Strong provided Bruce with the text and photos used in his article about the loss of Rivet Amber.

David Robinson
Tue, Aug 24, 2004, 9:36am (CDT+1)

Sir: Thanks for the website and sharing the "insider" knowledge of your job.
David Robinson

Robert Bozeman
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.)

Patrick Taylor
Mon, Sep 27, 2004, 10:40pm (CDT+1)

Col Hawes,
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

Dewitt Alderman
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.
Dewitt Alderman

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
SMS, USAF-Retired

John Harper
Thu, Dec 16, 2004, 2:42pm

My Story:
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

Scott Roder
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.
Scott Roder
"Rangers lead the way!"

Jack Williams
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.

Bob Minott
Feb 1, 2005, 8:13pm (CST+1)

Hi King,
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
My website:
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 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.

Kingdon R. Hawes (Webmaster)
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