Thu, Aug 18, 2005, 11:22am
Many, like myself, rarely send comments to a website but I just had to say "Thank you!" This is a great story and I really appreciate that you have taken the time to document and share the information so that this important contribution is not forgotten.
Sun, Aug 21, 2005, 11:18am (CDT+14)
I visited you website when my father, Dean Schatz, who is younger brother of Lester J. Schatz told me of it. He said it was an emotional moment for him to see his brother among the TDY crew standing next to the Rivet Amber.
I flew out of Adak on Navy P-3s, so I can definitely identify with references to "The Twilight Zone." We stopped in Shemya occasionally, but all we knew of the island was what we could see from the aircraft while refueling. After hearing your story, I wish we would have explored the place further.
My compliments and thanks to you for the website. I'm anxious to see Lester and crew's name on the 55SRW memorial. Thanks again.
Ernie D. Schatz, USN (Ret)
Sun, Aug 28, 2005, 5:01pm (CDT+1)
The following is from former SSGT Jim Perleth.
I joined the USAF in January 1957. Following Basic Training and Tech School (Morse Intercept), I spent the rest of my time in USAFSS with the foillowing assignments:
Sep 57 - Sep 60 6986th, Wakkanai, Japan
Sep 60 - Mar 63 6988th, Yokota/Misawa./Yokota, Japan
Mar 63 - Mar 66 6916th, Rhein Main, Germany
Mar 66 - Feb 67 6949th, Offutt AFB, NE
My best friend at the 16th and 49th was "Benny" Benevides, lost on June 5, 1969 on Rivet Amber. The memories are many and great!
John D. Fay
Sun, Sep 4, 2005, 3:49pm (CDT-1)
This has got to be one of the most interesting sites I have ever found. My name is John D. Fay I was stationed at Forbes AFB from about 1958 to 1966 or 67. I was a crew chief with the 90th SRW, the 40th BW, and the 55th SRW. Actually the last few years were as senior controller in job control for the 40th, and 55th I managed to stay on flying status untill the 55th moved to Offut. All my flying time was on bombers and RB-47H's. After a couple of years at Offut I went to U-Tapao Thailand. I got out in 1968, spent a few years out and went back in the reserves at Carswell and ended up with 33yrs credit for pay. I have never flown on a RC-135, but have many hours in the pod on RB-47's as best as I can tell from this site our Tell Two's had basically the same mission as the two birds of this story. We also monitered nuclar tests I can very well remember while in the 40th BW helping crew chief's in the 55th install flash curtians for the first time in T_T's. Yesterday was my 66th birthday and you have given me one wonderful Birthday gift. NO WE WILL NEVER FORGET, and yes I have been to Eileson, but not the Rock. God Be With Us All, We Did One Hell Of A Job.
John D. Fay SMSGT Ret.
Mon, Sep 5, 2005, 11:49am (CDT-2)
Hi KING, What a great job you have done on this great web page.
I was sent to Shemya 2 days after the start of the Korean war in June 1950. I was a corpral assigned to 1929th AACS Detachment and a Control Tower operator. As I was the SENIOR airman I was in charge for about 2 weeks until we got a M/Sgt out of Dover AFB.
We were one of the refueling stops in getting troops to Korea via the "Northern Route". About 24 hrs flying time from SF Bay area to Seattle to Anchorage to Shemya to Tokyo. There were many Contract Carriers flying troops to Tokyo at (I believe) $1,000 a head. When weather was "good" they mostly flew North, but later when it turned "bad" all except Northwest Airlines used the "Southern Route" via Hawaai and Wake which was about 40 hrs flying time. All in those days flying DC4's.
I was on Shemya about six weeks before I ever saw the Sun. There was SOOOO much fog that on three seperate occasions I saw DC4s actually touch down on GCA approach, then because they couldn't see where they were on the runway, give the gas to it and fly some 300 miles to Adak as an alternate.
On one occasion, there was a young Airman on Amchitka with a medical emergency. Our 10th Rescue B17 was to leave to fly him to Elmendorf hospital. In their haste to get airborne they forgot to take off the wing flap locks. They took off runway 28 and as soon as they were airborne of course realized had no control. Tried to set her back down, but ground looped of the left side of runway close to the old asphalt plant. No one was badly injured, but of course the plane was totaled.
Many great stories about Shemya, but I'm sure they would bore you. Your stories about Rivet Ball and others were both exciting and revealing. I never realized what went on there after I was transferred to Tyndall AFB in March 51, then later discharged in Aug 52.
3652 Atoll St.
San Diego, Ca 92111
Tel: (858) 278-3068
Fri, Nov 18, 2005, 12:21pm (CST+1)
Just found your site and found it a great tribute to those airmen. After the loss of Rivet Amber I was part of a joint Navy/Army team (SAD-1) that filled in until a new aircraft could be constructed to replace it (and the one lost off the end of the runway). We flew in a Navy EA-3B which was the Navy equivalent (without ejection seats) of the Air Force EB-66.
A year or so after I got out I was at a friend's house who was having a small get together. As it was known that I was recently out of the military one of the couples started to tell me about their son who had lost his life while in the Air Force. After a few minutes it became clear to me that he had been on Rivet Amber when it went down. They were not totally comfortable that the Air Force was telling them the whole truth as they knew the general nature of his assignment. While I was at Shemya I had reviewed all of the info available (including classified) on the loss. For me it was a matter of insuring I knew what really happen if I was replacing them. I asked the couple to tell me what they had been told by the Air Force about their son's death. After they gave me their story, I had a chance to tell them that the Air Force had told them the truth and how I knew the details of the accident. It didn't relieve their pain but it seemed to comfort them that at least they knew the truth about his loss.
Like most of us who did this kind of work, I loved the opportunity and enjoyed every mission. However, I would rather not have had to replace a lost crew. It was painful to think of their personal loss and have a reminder of the dangers of the missions we flew.
Mon, Dec 26, 2005, 4:06am (CST+1)
Hi all - l guess many of you readers are retired, and no longer (or rarely) see the RC fleet in action. I am at R.A.F. Mildenhall, and recently had the pleasure of Cobra Ball 2, RC-135S 62-4128 transit from Soudha Bay to Eielson. This, the latest RC, was resplendent with the new F-108 engines, but retaining the matt black leading edge and engine nacelles. The new CB2 looks strange with little or no sensor aerials protruding from the side. Just small windows on both sides to enable powerful optics to do their work. And the elliptical sensor on the rear fuselage.
I am sure many of the Rivet Ball and Rivet Amber personnel would love to have the current mission fit to ease their workload, but that has evolved through scientists and technicians poring over the latest technology to develop capabilities only dreamed about 4 decades ago.
In closing, the 55th has also applied special markings to the tail of Rivet Joint/Glass 64-14846. The aircraft carries a multicoloured fin stripe, and the legend "Fightin 55th Wing" on the tail.
Best wishes to all
photographer of the RC fleet since the late 1960s
Fri, Jan 20, 2006, 4:02pm (CST+1)
I would really like to thank you for creating such a great and informative web site. My Dad was one of the Photogs on Team 1 in the late 60's (SSgt Joseph Williams). Growing up, the most that I knew about his AF career is that he was a Photog stationed in AK and that he once drove his motorcycle straight from CA to Eielson AFB! He found your web site about a year ago and let us in on the "Top Secret Mission." I'm pretty sure if you wouldn't have published this site, he would have taken it to his grave. Thank you so much for sharing the information!
Tue, Jan 31, 2006, 7:39pm (CST-1)
Mr. Hawes, many thanks for the wonderful website that has helped to remove the guessing as to the fate of my brother and the rest of the great crew. It's been an emotional roller coaster seeing his name & picture on the website, I actually feel I idolized him & his dedicated service to our great country. One great positive as a result of all this is re-connecting with my 2 nieces (Lester's daughters). I've come to realize at the age of 69 that emotions really do run deep for a very long time.
Again I thank & salute you for the hard work to create this site.
Mon, Feb 6, 2006, 1:56pm (CST-2)
My Name is A1C Collins, currently stationed at the Presidio of Monterey and awaiting further training at Goodfellow AFB. I happened to come across your site while browsing the net, and i was truly...well, after a year and a half of Korean language studies it's hard to come up with good English expressions, but regardless it was a good feeling. It's always great to hear about stories from the guys who did what i will be doing later, because it gives a glimpse of motivation and pride, something which is hard to get in a military service so young. It's wierd how so much has changed but so much is the same; just reading about the relationships within the aircrew members immediately brought thoughts of myself and my friends. i hope that my future years in the air force will be as rewarding as the ones you've experienced, and thank you for releasing a story that will guide me through the rest of my career.
A1C Jonathan D Collins
1A811 Airborne Cryptologic Linguist