Orlo D.(Dale) Welch
Sun Feb 10 20:22:57 2002

This web site was very well done. Congratulations. I was a co-pilot on Wanda Bell (The Cadillac) from 1964-1967 and was on first crew to fly Rivet Amber (Lisa Ann) in 1966. I flew the test program on Lisa Ann from Hawaii to the Marshall Islands in 1966. I was on the aircraft when we lost two engines and had to divert to Wake Island.

Mon Feb 11 21:12:31 2002

Robert W. Forrest
Tue Feb 12 22:56:19 2002

What a wonderful site. Thanks for taking time to put it together for others to learn and enjoy.

George Bender
Fri Feb 15 21:50:08 2002

Very, very nice. Can't compliment you enough for the work involved. I was an FTD instructor at Offutt when the tragedy of Rivet Amber came. Lester Shatz had just graduated from my class before his TDY to the rock. I subsequently started flying myself aboard the Combat Sent platform until 1980, then to Eielson and the "BALL" out of Shemya until retirement. Thanks for the memories both good and bad.. George A. Bender MSgt ret.

James L Nelson
Tue Feb 19 12:43:22 2002

Great web site. I enjoyed the trip into the past and the memories that came with the trip. Your tribute to Chuck Michaud's fatal flight, and the crew that perished on that fight, was particularly thoughtful. I was a Nav in the 24SRS during the period of 1964 through 1967 and was on duty at Hq SAC/SRC when this happened. Jim Nelson

Sun Feb 24 13:57:38 2002

Sir, I have served as a Navigator on the Cobra Ball since 1996. Your site is exceptionally motivating and will be passed to all incoming flyers once they have earned the privilege of becoming part of our heritage. Thanks. Mark E Stratton II, Capt, USAF 55th Wing Executive Officer

Thomas F. Dodds
Sun Feb 24 14:44:40 2002

My first contact since 1969 was from bob brown about 60 days ago;; THIS IS REALLY FABULOUS; It put me in touch again with my really good friend ART REID; now there's a character for you.IF YOU EVER GET A CHANCE; ASK HIM ABOUT OUR GOOD TIMES AT "BIG SUR".

Larry O. Medina
E-mail address not given.
Sun Feb 24 15:38:54 2002

Tom Tollefsen
E-mail address not given.
Mon Feb 25 08:09:42 2002

Great site. Served with you on Shemya. I was in the ASA at the AFFJOG. While I was on Shemya, Boozer died; Ball slid off the runway; Amber went down; we were buzzed by Soviet fighters; and there was a nuclear test on Amchitka. It was a busy year. We searched the radio freqs all day for a signal from Amber but heard nothing. The guy who sat behind me kept in touch with you every five minutes using Morse. -. --- ----. ..- (NO9U). Used to drive me crazy.

Orlo Dale Welch
Sun Mar 17 23:00:44 2002

I was a member of the front end flight crew for the original test of the Lisa Ann aircraft. We flew the missions out of Hawaii to the Marshall Islands. Circa May-Jul 1966. I also flew the Wanda Belle/Rivet Ball aircraft out of Shemya from 1964 thru 1967.

Brent Lavers
Mon Mar 25 17:44:41 2002

I was a nav in the 24th SRS from 1977 to 1980. Our crew was: Major Reggie Stewart (AC), Capt. Brad Delker (CP), 1LT Rich Wilson (NAV-1), and I was the nav-2. Larry Mitchell was the squadron commander (took command from Otis G. Chambers). Thanks for putting this scrapbook together. It is like the 24th - the best! If any of you '77-'80 Ball guys are out there, you can reach me at 662-429-7647. Mailing address is: 988 Morrow Crest Drive, Hernando, MS, 38632.

Donald P. Wonders, TSgt, USAF
Sun Apr 14 21:18:55 2002

Beautiful! This is the ultimate "Ball and Amber" site. Thank you sir for everything that you have done for my family. You have truely been a Godsend.

Ben Walker
Fri May 3 08:20:09 2002

Great Web Page on the history of Det 1. I was originally stationed on Shemya with ASA at the "Bubble" and returned as a Tech Rep for LTV. I rode the replacement for Rivet Ball up from Greenville in 1969 and stayed on the "Rock" until June of 70. Sure would like to see some pictures from the above time frame. Keep up the good work.

Jennings (Butch) Heilig
Sun May 19 20:43:21 2002

GREAT SITE!! My uncle is Kay Heilig, a 203X0 with the 6985th SS at Eielson from '66-'70. His stories of Wanda Belle and Lisa Ann (plus the RC-135Ds and Ms) absolutely held me spellbound as a small kid. I have continuted my lifelong interest in Cold War reconnaissance. The candids of Shemya (which I fortunately never had to visit) are worth their weight in glass balls. Butch Heilig Staunton, VA

Anthony Mangano
Tue May 21 15:08:33 2002

This is a very good site. I stumbled on to it by typing an email address in the google site, and saw my brother-in-law there in the guestbook. I am a vietnam era veteran and am retired from the U.S.Air Force. I was also in the Army for two years and the Reserves for six months.

John C. Dailey
Thu May 23 19:19:00 2002

I was stationed on Shemya during 1968 with the 5073rd....I worked in Air first assignment out of tech school......I remember that we called Rivet Ball "the Bitch" because of how noisy she was and called Rivet Amber "the Cadillac" because of the relative silence.....we really liked you guys and the way you would sometimes share some of your REAL milk, fresh vegetables and fresh fruit with us....I left Shemya in December and was then stationed at Travis for the next 2 1/2 years

Butch Heilig
Tue May 28 17:13:46 2002

To anyone who remembers Wanda Belle/Rivet Ball: In one of the photos of the Rivet Ball crash here on the site, you can see that there is *something* painted over the crew entry hatch in the lower left side of the cockpit. None of the photos shows this area clearly enough to see what it says, but I would like to find out so I can add it to the updated profile views of '491. If anybody out there remembers, please get in touch with me. Thanks! Butch Heilig Staunton, VA

Usto Schulz (a.k.a. SAM)
Fri May 31 00:49:15 2002

King: This is great. The older I get, the more I dream of the "old" days. I was John Achor's co-pilot and one of those who limped away that night. Shemya was a fascinating place; especially some of the chalk talks some of the RAVENS held for me learning EW and other things. An especially erie feeling was when Steve Stevens and I flew -662 into the ROCK over the top of 491 getting the mission back on its feet. So many feelings, emotions, memories...

Robert E. Munger
Sat Jun 1 12:25:00 2002

Former member 55th SRW, 55th AEMS Forbes AFB, Kansas. Original member that went to Incerlick AFB Adana, Turkey in 1958. rotated back after 180 days. We never aborted a mission. I used to watch Gary Powers take off in the U2. this is June, 2002 and all that was a long time ago.

Sylvia Reeves
Mon Jun 3 22:18:29 2002

Thank you for helping me understand the wonderful work that these dedicated men did. I lost my husband, Richard P. Reeves, last year. He showed me the photos and journal that he kept, but this site brought it all together. My personal gratitude to King for this site--I hope to meet you, and I want to share a photo of the first six ravens and maintainers with Lisa Ann (incl my husband). I hope to see it on your site someday.

Fri Jun 7 00:22:57 2002


Michael L. Martel
Sat Jun 8 21:03:37 2002

I am the son of Maj. Richard N. Martel who was on the Rivet Amber. I was doing some research about the 55th on the internet and stumbled upon your webpages. Michael L. Martel

Michael Pickette
Wed Jun 12 05:56:51 2002

Association of Spanish Fliers
Powerful ! Wonderful sight and well done ! !

Charles Chalk
Wed Jun 12 06:35:13 2002

Sir, you've done a great job. I know very little about this particular subject but I share a common bond of aerial recon with you all. You educated, entertained and enlightened. Thank you.

Tony Villari
Thu Jun 13 09:16:46 2002

Hi, I'm a former 55SRW member(EWO). I spent a short 2 month stay on Shemya back in 1967 (it seemed like a year). I managed to wangle a ride on Lisa Ann. Regis Urschler was the A/C on that flight. I remember it well because we hit that bump(dip?) on the runway hard and the seat I was sitting in collapsed on landing. I left the USAF in 1968, and am now working as an engineer for Northwest Airlines in the twin cities. Keep up the good work. Best of luck!

Pete Siegel
Thu Jun 13 10:01:24 2002

Great job of preserving the history of an important mission. I was a USAFSS backender flying on C-130s from Yokota AB Japan and RC-135s out of Offutt (COMBAT SENT). Heard many funny stories about flying the Ball, and moving rocks from the north end of the island to the south to move it closer to Hawaii. Pete Siegel MSgt/Major USAF ret.

Ken Hanson
Fri Jun 14 08:30:21 2002

A very fitting and well done website. I only flew Burning Wind and Combat Sent, never the Ball, but the website brings back memories of the flights and the friends! Thanks much!! Ken "Sparky" Hanson

Joseph T. Cleary, Lt Col, USAF Ret
Wed Jun 26 17:11:16 2002

My congtatulations on a fine effort. It is a fitting memory of some very special aircraft and the crews who flew them.I was a former 55SRW Raven and knew many of the men who went to Eielson and Shemya. I was sent to SAC Hq in June 1963 and was the Project Officer for Lisa Ann, Wanda Belle, and Office Boy.

Alessandro Nati Fornetti
Sat. June 29, 2002 ( 3:24 CDT )

Roma, Italia

I first searched the web for anything about the Rivet Amber in '99: my aim was just gathering enough information to build a model... I put the project on the back burner, mainly because I couldn't work out what those mission marks represented. Three years later, I found this Site, and I must say I really love it!!! It's very informative and well made. My only suggestion is that it would be wonderful to have links to high- resolution versions of every picture...
I publish my own aircraft modelling magazine, now, and I think I'll soon start working on models of both the Rivet Amber and the "Ball". I was born just when those events were taking place (Feb. '69), but since I started studying the Cold War, I always considered my true Heroes all those who gave their lives to keep us in the free part of the world.
Thank You Very Much!
P.S. ...And now I know those mission marks were WITCHES!!!

Larry Harshfield
Fri Jul 5 11:52:23 2002

A wonderful site. I worked inertial nav on Rivet Ball 11/66 through 11/67, Remember going to Johnson Atol for a month of fun in the sun. I returned to Shemya 2 more times to work on the new Ball.

Tony Hebert
Wed Jul 10 17:52:22 2002

My Father was T/Sgt. Hervey Hebert. It's been a long time since I cried over the loss of my father, but seeing your web page brought tears to my eyes. I was 6 years old when I was told my father's plane was "missing", and I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I have often thought of what really happened to Rivet Amber, my father, and the other members of the crew. Thank you for sharing this information with me, and the world.

Ann Jusko
Fri Jul 26 06:51:28 2002

This web site explains the camaraderie of those serving at Shemya.

Craig Hutzler
Sun Aug 4 20:03:51 2002

I am impressed with this important memorial for these brave and patriotic flyers. I am a pilot type 55th'er from 1965 in RB-47's @ Forbes, then Offutt RC-135C transition. Assigned in 1969 to the 6th SRW @ Eielson as a staffer and IP in KC-135's. Flew to Shemya supporting "The Ball" and RESPECT the challanges there. I knew most of "Amber's" front enders who were lost defending freedom. Well done American heroes! Retired L/C 1984, retired from aerospace industry 1999.

Ronald Larson
Wed Aug 21 12:24:53 2002

I was a Rep at Eilson AFB from 66-69 with the WRS We knew of activity from Shemya and flew missions down the Aleutian chain, by Kamchatka to Japan.The mission was gathering of air samples and debris after nuclear testings. I flew on some and speculated if we were used as a decoy.I recall the shock of the loss in '69 and the huge search effort.This is an appropriate place to pay tribute to those who do the dangerous work of intelligence gathering.

David M. Deluca
Wed Sep 4 20:32:45 2002

Was with the 6985th at Eielson. Had 2 tdy's at shemya as a 203 on Lisa Ann. She was a wonderful Lady.

Steve Stenson
Mon Sep 16 12:38:57 2002

An absolutely great work. Thank you for the time you took to it together. I was RC-135M Nav in the 82SRS from 69 to 73.

Bruce Dakin
Tue Oct 15 19:09:35 2002

What a marvelous accomplishment and show of bravery for the sake of peace and freedom. Let us never forget or take our freedom lightly,or forget where we came from and for those responsible for bringing us this far. To the Brave Men of Rivet Amber, I salute you !

Randy Heins
Sat Nov 9 04:01:42 2002

Very impressive web site. It brought back many memories. I can now show people stories of the ROCK, instead of explaining them. You have truly memorialized Shemya. Thank You for your efforts.

Steve Tiny Fontaine
Mon Nov 18 23:32:57 2002

Now I understand what we were doing at the 6984th SS at Shemya! We were keeping track of things!!!

Stu Fisher
Sat Nov 23 19:44:09 2002

You guys are true recon legends! Water Wagons at Shemya! I would love to know about "the Ball" mission before I flew it 1987 to 1991. Gas Light! Gas Light! Gas light! How about this? XRAY! XRAY! XRAY! TM DOWN! TM DOWN! TM DOWN! Stu Fisher Raven Four COBRA BALL

Raymond Lemke
Wed Dec 18 09:17:15 2002

Keith L. Wharton
Wed Dec 25 16:05:27 2002

I flew on Cobra Ball in 1972 on several occasions and in fact flew on one of its shakedown cruises when it was being readied for deployment. I was a Russian linquist stationed at Eielson AFB from 1971 to May, 1973.

Hank Whitney
Sun Dec 29 22:04:11 2002

I flew on Cobra Ball 1 & 2 from 1972-1974 out of Shemya. I was also stationed at Eielson from 67-70 and knew many of the people lost on Rivet Amber. I was the "special communications" person in the unit and was asked to evaluate the tape we received from Elmendorf Airways. This web site is a great memorial to all those who flew and "fought" to keep the Cold War cold. I hope to see you at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio in September 2003 for the recon dedication.
Hank Whitney Hanover, Maryland

Mother (Ed Wakeman)
Sat Jan 4 15:05:13 2003

King, Received your E-Mail before Christmas,but today I installed DSL and got to view your totally Fantastic site. Each time I view this site it has more great stuff. Really a great tribute to our Cold War days in Alaska. Edwa ...

Charles F. Dreher II
Thu Jan 9 19:19:46 2003

Thank you King for all your great info. on the Rivet Amber. I'm looking into having a painting made of the last photo of her on her Heavens Bound flight.I know some very good artist's that are going to work with me on it. Have you heard of the book they are working on about the planes tragic flight? We're trying to find out why my father (Charles F. Dreher) was on that plane when there was already too many on her. Please feel free on E-mailing us. Curiously waiting... Charles F. Dreher II ...

Ron McBeth
Sun Jan 12 15:55:13 2003

I was with the 6985th SS from February 1972 to September 1973 as a 203 Russian linguist and flew many TDY missions to Shemya and Mildenhall England. We flew on the Cobra Ball at Shemya and on RC- 135's, 00356, 00357 and 00362 from Eileson. I do believe that picture in the photo gallery entitled Rivet Brass refueling, actually 00357 being refueled. I spent many hours on Position 17 and it's backward tape recorders on 00357 and was glad to fly on the other two.

Dave Knoblock
Mon, Jan 20, 2003, 3:40am (CST+1)

Rivet Amber:
Great site and a fitting tribute to some of the real heroes of the cold war. From 67 to 73 I worked on all models of KC,EC and RC-135s at Offutt, Eielson and Shemya with several TDYs to England. Also, we installed the then new Flight Director system in all the RC's. In Sep 1968, I was on the initial maintenance support team from the 55th at Offutt for Rivet Amber. We flew into Eielson first, then out to Shemya the next day. To kick off the friendly competition or rivalry between the Ball folks in Hangar No. 2 (who were affectionately known as "Ratto's Raiders"), we dubbed ourselves, in Hangar No. 3, "Chumley's Chargers". Major Raymond Chumley was the ranking man on our orders. I got to know and admire many of the crew members that I lived, ate, and worked with for their dedication and professionalism.

I was an Avionics Instrument Tech. and worked primarily on the Instrument Systems but we all helped each other when there was something to do from changing tires and brakes to polishing the engines cowls.

I remember the first operational mission after arriving for my first 120 day TDY. The klaxon went off while we were sleeping, after midnight. Within a few seconds the power cart and the Eucilid were fired up and Amber was backing out as the crews were scrambling up the ladder. The time from klaxon to wheels-up was less than 12 minutes! They got what they went after. I remember someone at a briefing after that first mission saying, "The value of the data collected could pay for the entire project." And that was just the first mission!

On my several TDY's to Det. 1, I did all the normal things that one could do at the rock to include; junkyard tours, glass ball and coke bottle searches, pinochle, lots of jigsaw puzzles, cutting my own hair, although SSgt Dreyer cut it once, reading and writing a lot, some ping-pong and seal, walrus and blue fox spotting. I also contemplated finishing the infamous bridge project………………….to Seattle.

The first week in June 69, I was supposed to return to the Rock but the TDY was delayed due, I think, to the Aleutian weather. A couple of days later while working on the flightline at Offutt I heard that Amber was missing. I was on flying orders so I ask to fly search and rescue in one of the RC-135C's from Offutt. Major Gmmitter was the A/C, I think the Nav was a guy they called "Zigzag Howe" and Sgt Minty was a photo guy on board. We flew a S/R mission from Offutt over the Bering Sea in a search pattern, refueled from a tanker 2 or 3 times and finally landing at Eielson 27 hours after take-off. Saw lots of water and white-caps from as low as 300 feet but nothing else. I didn't get back to Offutt until about 10 days later. My shop chief wanted to give me an Article 15 because I left without orders (and he had to work while I was gone), but the Commander and DCM wouldn't let him.

There was a very strong sense of mission at Det 1 and a great bunch of dedicated guys that made all the negatives bearable. I wouldn't trade those TDYs for anything.
Thanks for the memories and a great site. Keep up the good work!

All I fly these days are hot air balloons.
Dave Knoblock, MSgt, Ret
Montgomery, AL

Paul Boone [MSgt USAFSS Retired]
Mon Jan 20 11:55:41 2003

I was assigned to the 6985th as a ground analyst when Rivet Amber was lost. I spent many hours in the back of a KC135 during the search and rescue. Having known most of the backenders that were lost, to this day I often remember and wonder with dispair over what really happen. I too listened to the last transmissions, over and over, hoping for a clue. I pray that someday an answer will be found.

Jen Wonders
Mon Jan 20 16:17:14 2003

Today is my fathers birthday, Don Wonders. Whether it be his birthday, Memorial Day, or June 5, I always find myself coming back to your site. I will always forever be grateful for what you have done for me. God Bless for everything you have done for my family as well as the other families that were aboard Lisa Ann that fateful day. Although you went home and wept that day.....little did you know that you would become the Angel to so many people later on. Thank you again my dearest friend.

Sat Feb 1 23:41:50 2003

King, when people ask me about Rivet Ball, I tell them that we intercepted everything from DC to Light. That usually ends the questions. If pressed, I tell them I was an Air Force Spy! Edwa ...

Kingdon R. Hawes (Webmaster)
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