Richard A. Schaefer
Mon, 14 Feb 2005

Thank you for the great site about Shemya. I served there from Oct 69 through Oct 70. I was assigned to the Heavy Equipment Maintenance operation. At that time our duty station was in hanger 4. I lived in hanger 3 as when I arrived there were no rooms available in the C building, building 600. My room faced hanger 2 the "SAC" hanger. The aircrew that was lost lived on the other side of the hanger which remained abandoned my entire year there.

It truly was the "Best of times and the Worst of times." There remains on the Rock, I think, a part of me as I know a part of the Rock remains in me.

Thank you again. And may America Bless God, so God will continue to Bless America! Richard A. Schaefer

Harry Danner
Wed, Feb 16, 2005

It brought back many memories and times shared with old friends. Some of those memories were very painful especially the ones about us searching for our lost crewmates. It was good to see the names of many of the people I used to fly with. Most of my time was spent on Cobra Ball but I knew all the crew members on Rivet Amber. Her loss was a very sad day.

Harry Danner, SMSgt (Ret)
Offutt AFB

Dave Wilburn
Mar 4, 2005, 1:25am (CST+1)

I have spent the last several days reading through your website. I was aware of some of the aircraft, the island, and the missions from my readings and research. I was in the Air Force. I worked on electronic warfare systems for the B-52 and deployed for Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I spent quite some time living in a tent on a little island in the Indian Ocean. While nothing like what you folks experienced, I will always treasure the commaraderie and memories of those times.

Thank you very much for taking, what I am sure was, a considerable amount of time to put this all together and make it available. I have truely enjoyed reading through the portions of the site I have, and I look forward to reading through the rest of it.
Dave Wilburn

Allan R. Ehlers
Mar 7, 2005, 3:27pm (CST+1)

Thanks for your excellent site.  I served two tours on Shemya, 1976-77 and 1978-79.  I was assigned to the 2064th Communications Squadron in Ground Radio Repair.  Beside all normal communications on the island we were responsible for maintaining the Control Tower, Navaids, and the Cobra Ball radios for data transmission.

During my tours two RC135's cycled thru Shemya and they were referred to as Snoopy and the Red Baron.  Also the radar towers shown in your pictures were replaced by a huge phased array radar called Cobra Dane. It looked like a big drive in movie screen on the Northwest corner of the island, and all who served on the rock will remember it well.

The only loss we experienced was a Navy P3 which went down off the coast of the USSR and crew members were picked up by the Russians I believe.  I remember the bustle of rescue operations but not all the details.  Thanks again for your great site, it has brought back lots of memories.


Sat, Apr 2, 2005, 6:37pm (CDT-3)

I was looking through the web today and decided to type in cobra ball. I used to work the jet and was assigned to Shemya from 1981 to 1983 out on the "rock" via Eielson AFB. Thought you might like this photo. It is 663 taking off out of Shemya with the memorial for 664. It crashed 1 week prior to my arrival.

Photo Link:
N663 May 1982

Steve Williams
Sat, Apr 2, 2005, 1:52pm

A wonderful tribute to the airmen of Shemya. I knew Gene Williard and Mike White off Rivet Ball. Was at Eielson with the 6985th ESS. You wrote a great account of the good and bad times of "The Rock". One of the links, "The Ides of March" really hit home hard. Had flown many times with Harry Coogle, Tommy Woods, Steve Balcer, Dave Gerke and Tom Stuckey. Harry was my supervisor while I was there, and he and his wife threw some great parties. Had forgotten some of the terminology of "The Rock" such as "Shootin the Gap", "Gaslight", "The Gronk" (Klaxon), and when we would taxi, the Photog would place a tennis ball in the horn and place a box in the aisle.  When the pilot hit the taxi alarm, it would knock the ball out and the Photog would say over the intercom that the "Balls in the Box".  Forgot how the hanger would sway when the wind blew, the poker games, staying up all night and sleeping all day, the little blue foxes that loved hotdogs and hoping that you didn't get caught in the shower when the "Gronk" went off. Was an Airborne Mission Supervisor (AMS) and operator for the Spooks/Secret Squirrels. Was shaking down 662 at Greenville, Texas during that time and was doing a dog and pony show for the generals at Offutt AFB when 664 when down. Will never forget Chief Tennant getting the Eielson crew together and breaking the bad news. That night many beers were drank, many salutations were exhalted, but no tears were shed in public. Hated the fog, constant wind, and the sideways snow. Circleling off the end of the runway waiting and "Timing the gusts" and hoping nothing would happen between "minimums" and touchdown. One thing I am thankful for is that the best pilots that were in the Air Force flew the Cobra Ball. And I also have 3 soda bottles from the 1,000,000 dump dated slightly after WW II. When I look at them, they, like your tribute, bring back memories, good and bad. "The Rock" was a very cruel place. Here's a couple of pictures that I got from my slides.

Cobra Ball In Hangar
Cobra Ball On Runway

Robert "Clay" Jones
Fri, Apr 8, 2005, 9:09pm (CDT-1)

My name is Robert "Clay" Jones.  I was an IMT (Inflight Maintenance Tech) assigned to Rivet Amber in 1968.  June 3rd I was replaced by S/Sgt Bob Fox and returned to Offutt AFB, NE.  Upon returning home I was called to the base and informed of the loss of Amber.  I left the Air Force in April 1970.  I spent the next 30 years in data processing jobs with the Bell System.

Thanks very much for your great web pages. Clay Jones
P.S. I would be pleased to communicate with any of the Rivet Amber crew and support staff.

Web Master Note:
Clay constructed a model of Rivet Amber (-paint & decals) for display in the 6th SW / 24th SRS museum collection. If anyone knows the status of Clay's model please contact him at

Dana Nordin
Sat, 9 Apr 2005 17:28:57 -0700 (PDT)

I rarely submit comments to websites, but I must say I really enjoyed reading your page. I discovered your site in the military forum where someone had posted your link. I am currently in the Air Force myself (Sra) and recently came from an assignment at RAF Mildenhall. As an intel analyst we directly supported Rivet Joint/Cobra Ball/Combat Sent air crews (though I am not airborne myself). Although I now supprt the U-2 at my new assignment I greatly miss the RC-135 (air crew and capabilities), it truly is a great platform.

I cant even imagine what it must have been like on an uninhabited island such as Shemya. I had never even heard of the place until I read your site. Anyways, I just wanted to say thank you for making your site, it was very informative and inspiring.

Charles Davenport
Wed, Apr 27, 2005, 9:33am (CDT+1)

I flew the same basic platform when the mission was called Cobra Ball, from 81-83, just after the crash of 664. I was the #2 nav on the front end crew with Mike Reinhart, Lester Yagi, and I cannot remember my co-pilot's name (!).

Yours is an excellent website. I enjoyed the read. It recalled to mind the long weeks away from home. At that time, we had to fly windows as the Soviets had become very sophisticated in disguising their launch times. Nevertheless, we got the goods on their development of solid fueled SLBMs, which were under dispute during the SALT 2 period. Our info was directly responsible for the non-ratification of the treaty!  We got Recon Crew of the year for that one. I still have my plaque and some original Cobra Ball flight suit patches.
Thanks for the memories.

Major Chuck Davenport, USAF (Ret)

Amy Sterzenbach
Fri, May 6, 2005, 9:14pm (CDT+1)

Hi. My son and I are researching the Cold War for his high school history class. Just wanted to let you know how informative and interesting your site is. It's awesome. Thank you so much for your time and efforts!

Bart Hoekstra
Sat, May 7, 2005, 11:27pm (CDT+7)

Hi there,
Just wanted to say what a wonderful webpage you made about these two very interesting aircraft and their crews. I was doing some research in to the RC-135U/V/W Combat Sent/Rivet Joint aircraft when I came across your site. It's great to see how you keep your memories alive for the next generation! Keep up the good work.

From The Netherlands,
Gtx, Bart.

Steve Williams
May 22, 2005, 7:00am (CDT+1)

Dear Mr. Hawes, I want to thank you so much for the information that you sent to me.  I will give some of these websites that you suggested a try.  In the meantime, I would like to reiterate that I am very impressed with your website and am glad that there are people like yourself that keep the memories of these not too publicized, but highly important missions, alive. I will stay in touch and let you know about the results of my searches.

With best regards,
Steve Williams.

Jim Bard
May 29, 2005, 12:02am (CDT+1)

While going through your site I thought of how many of us there were.  It was wonderful to go back and review a sister unit.
Jim Bard
Secretary, 91st SRW Association

Jack Williams
Sun, Jun 5, 2005, 4:27pm (CDT+1)

Hi King,
June 5, 1969, a Thursday morning on Shemya. I remember the day we lost a very special aircrew and a unique aircraft. That was 36 years ago. That day was a tough one; a memorable one; a busy, busy day filled with trying to get some word to know that the worst hadn't happened. I remember those guys and the legacy they left us of a mission so well done.

I flew back to Anchorage in early May for a reunion at the old unit (the 6981st Electronic Security Squadron, now the 381st Intelligence Squadron) at Elmendorf AFB.   Although many things have changed over the years, the reunion brought back many memories of the professionalism and dedicated efforts made by all of the aircrews and support folks associated with the Rivet Amber and Rivet Ball project. Those memories remain vivid in my mind today and will not be forgotten. Remember Rivet Amber and Rivet Ball--I know I am not the only one who remembers.

Best regards, King

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Steve Hiott
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.....Missing Text.....
The last week of my tour at shemya was living in the hanger with a lot of recovered wreckage, not a pretty sight.

I left Shemya and went back to Charleston where I had been offered a position with Job control but had turned it down. After the accident I accepted the job because I needed a break. Later on someone (I can't remember who) sent me a copy of 664's last takeoff from Shemya and a picture of the Memorial. The date of the crash never really meant much to me until 16 years later when my second wife died suddenly in my arms one Saturday morning. A short time later while looking at the pictures of the Monument that I realized the crash and my wife's death were both on March 15th.

I went on and retired from the Air Force in 1988 but I still miss the bond of my Air Force family. Even today most people never realize that even in peacetime we have heroes risking and giving everything to keep us free. When I hear the sound of jet engines today I look up and watch. To those still serving remember, there are many who know what you do and appreciate it. There are some like me who miss it also.

Thanks for the opportunity to say a few words.  

Steve Hiott
MSgt. USAF (Ret.)

Allen Reeves
Sat, Jul 2, 2005, 6:15pm

I am visiting my son in Texas and Googled his name which pulled up his father's Obituary. The loss of Rivet Amber was devestating. I accompanied my husband (LTC Richard P. Reeves) as we brought the Personal effects to the widows. There ,but by the grace of GOD would have been me. Our daughter was born 1/18/1970 in Alaska and we named her Lisa Ann!! Dick never really recovered from that terrible loss and the belief that he should have been on it. Thank you for the wonderful web site.

Judy Reeves Gerdeman 

Beth Schatz
Thu, Jul 14, 2005, 12:34pm

Mr. Hawes,
My father was on the Rivet Amber. I had no idea this had been done until today. Thank you for telling their story.

Beth Schatz, E.I.
Alliance Incorporated
Bank One Tower, Suite 1200
400 Texas Street Shreveport, LA 71101
Phone: 318.221.7501
Fax: 318.221.7635
Web site:

Larry Motschenbacher
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.
Larry Motschenbacher
Anchorage, Alaska

Ernie Schatz
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.

Warmest regards,
Ernie D. Schatz, USN (Ret)

Jim Perleth
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.

Ray Brownwood
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.

Ray Brownwood
3652 Atoll St.
San Diego, Ca 92111
Tel: (858) 278-3068

Bob Elkins
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.

Bob Archer Date
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
Bob Archer
photographer of the RC fleet since the late 1960s

Jason Williams
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!
Jason Williams

Dean Schatz
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.

Dean Schatz

Jonathan Collins
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

Elmer Bukey
Wed, Feb 8, 2006, 6:43pm (CST+1)

Hello King:
Been a while since my last visit to your site and it just gets better and better.Thanks again for sharing this great site and for your service to this great country.

Sincere Regards,
An Old CBI Vet
Elmer Bukey

My China Days Web Site Index Page

Wayne Yarnall
Fri, Feb 10, 2006, 6:11pm (CST-2)


Just ran across your story about the two airplanes. Just yesterday I found my picture of Rivet Ball as it was leaving LTV - same one in your article. I scanned it in today and took a copy to my ham radio lunch group.

Nancy (McLauchlan) and I now live in Vancouver, Washington. I am disabled with Muscular Dystrophy and zip around in my power wheel chair.

There are some pictures of me at: and

I made a web site for Nancy at: at the bottom is a picture of Nancy in Homer Alaska several years ago. I stayed home.

Hope all is well with you.

Wayne Yarnall

Vance Petersen
Tue, Feb 28, 2006, 10:21am (CST-2)

I was on Shemya late 58 to late 59, AF, went from there to San Antonio. I don't think Shemya was much worse. All in all, it was a learning experience. Spent a lot of time in the FPS building, never did figure out why. Worked part time at the officers club, learned that pinch bottle is the only whisky I liked. Spent a lot of off duty time hiding out in old bunkers reading so I wouldn't get caught during alerts. Learned that fresh baked rare roast beef tastes better than dried out shoe leather from the steam tables. Learned a lot about secrecy. Met a good bunch of guys, learned just how much they gave for the people back home and how much stress they took. It was a rotton job but someone had to do it, and I'm glad I was one of them.  I was a little older, divorced, a retread from the USMC, it wasn't so much stress on me. Once there was concern about the USSR landing a party, so, because of my experience in the Marines, Korea, I was asked to checkout the LMG to setup some kind of defense. The LMG was broken. That took care of that.

Vance Petersen

Ken Herman
Tue, Feb 28, 2006, 5:15pm (CST+1)

I was on the Rock from Dec '58 until Jan '60 as a member of the 281st USASA. I always was impressed with the Air Force flights that came through and the AF and Navy stories of missions flown from Shemya. I worked the "Coast to Coast" radio station during my off hours and had a ball with that. Also remembered is the Wiliwaw around Christmas of '59. That one did a lot of damage to the aircraft hangers as well as flatten the base commander's special house that he had built on the highest point of the island. Stories of the place certainly bring back memories.  Keep up the good work. Your site will be added to my favorites list.
Ken Herman

Matt Kellum
Fri, Mar 24, 2006, 4:20pm

Dear Mr. Hawes,
I am so glad to have come across your website. I am the grandson of Mr. F. E. O'Rear, who did in fact have two (not three) daughters, Wanda Lee, and Lisa Ann, the former being my mother. I know my grandfather worked on many projects during his career with the Air Force, and I deeply regret not asking him about more them when I had the chance...not that he would have told me, of course. What little I do know is fascinating, and I am grateful to learn more about these wonderful planes and the dedicated people that flew and worked on them. I greatly appreciate all of the sacrifices that they made. Thank you for your insight into a little slice of my family history.
Matt Kellum
Dallas, Tx

Gaither Speaks
03 Apr 2006 12:10:43.0217 (UTC)

I have enjoyed the last two hours going throug your site. I must say it is well done, well  researched and brings back some fond memories of my own. I am or was, an AMT on Combat Apple from 1971 to 73 stationed out of Okinawa. The camaraderie and memories of those with whom I served are more vivid now after reading your stories and I know that there are many like myself, those who served in silence and those who keep the silence now.

be well
Gaither Speaks

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Howie Appel
Sun, Jan 20, 2008, 11:32pm (CST+1)

King, I just read through the site and it brought tears to my eyes.  As I read further, I learned that my entry had been deleted by mistake.  Herein is some of the information that may have been deleted.
I was stationed at Shemya from June, 1969 to June, 1970.  I arrived during the command of Col. Ray O'Neal and departed during the command of Col. Jack Gatewood.  Shortly after my arrival I was sent TDY to Hq, 6th SW at Eielson.  At that point I wasn't certain why I was being sent to Eielson, but I learned the full story shortly after arrival there.  After several months, I was transferred to "the rock" where I remained until my rotation date in June, 1970.  I was the NCOIC of Ops Admin and was very, very proud of the mission and my position.  I was assigned to work with Major Michael Tanzillo.  The last memory I had was of Col Gatewood walking through the about ready to depart KC141 to say good by to me.   
I remembered the windy days and the klaxon well.  I remember Hangar 2 with fond memories of the bird and the friends I'd made there.  I currently live in Orlando, FL having moved here in 1986 from Boston, MA.  After my tour in the service I attended Northeastern University in Boston, rejoined the AFRES/MAANG and finally got discharged in 1992 (after Desert Storm) as a MSgt after having been stationed at MacDill AFB, FL.  I am currently a corporate recruiter with an engineering firm in Lake Mary, Florida.
King, the site is phenomenal.  It was nice to see Col Gatewood's remarks and I'm hoping I'll see a post from the people who were at the Rock when I was there. 
Howie Appel

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John Stefan Meyers
Thu, Aug 17, 2006, 10:45pm (CST+2)

Hi, my name is John Meyers and I am currently employed as a full time technician with the California Air National Guard, 146 Airlift Wing, in Port Hueneme, California as an avionics specialist. I had been with the active duty Air Force at Malmstrom AFB, 341st Space Wing, in Great Falls, Montana as a facilities maintenance technician for the ICBM force we have there. My sister recently graduated from Air Force Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama where a "Rivet Joint" from Offut AFB performed a flyover for the graduation parade ceremonies. My father and I were so intrigued as to what the mission of this odd looking plane was. Somehow I stumbled upon your page while surfing the web- I believe there was a link to your page on a webpage regarding all of the intellegence gathering missions that the US military employs. Your stories of the the "Rivet Amber" and the "Rivet Ball" are just too interesting to me. As once being employed with the nuclear missile business and now with the aircraft business, it seemed to be in line with my continuing Air Force career. I just wanted to let you know how interesting the whole concept of your mission was and all of the stories that went along with it. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be stationed at Shemya AFB out in the middle of nowhere, just waiting for a Russian launch so you could launch and snap pictures, among other things I'm sure!

Take Care,
John Meyers, USAF, SrA, WG-12
California Air National Guard
146 Maintenace Squadron
Avionics Specialist, Guidnace and Control

Bob Klein
Wed, Aug 23, 2006, 4:05pm (CST-2)

I flew out of Shemya from 1971 to 1975 (two weeks on and two weeks off) as a pilot of 663 and 664. Your site brings back many great memories. Most of the crew members that served at Shemya consider their work there probably the most important thing they could have ever done for our country. Thanks for all the hard work that your site must have required.
Bob Klein

Rich DeYoung
Mon, Aug 28, 2006, 8:45am (CST-1)

Outstanding tribute. I flew Rivet Joint out of Kadena for 11 years. I'm very proud of my achievements and of having been part of the team. I've added your Website to my Rivet Joint page.

My site's address is:
Rich DeYoung

Ward Hobby
Tue, Sep 5, 2006, 6:46pm (CST+2)

Thank you for the great recap of the Shemya story.  I was a USAFSS NCO who spent several trips out there flying both on 663 and 664 in 1973.  Your tales and pictures brought to life the times I spent out there on the Rock.  I vividly remember flying 3 sorties on the 4th of July 1973 and I show off my form 5 entries for that fun day. 
We staged our flying gear in the plane by then and dashed to the plane wearing whatever we had on, changing after getting airborne.  Were we lax?  I don't think so, but the story of that Klaxon going off brought back the memories for sure.
I read the names of the USAFSS crewmembers involved in the accidents and was amazed in knowing some of them.  They did not talk of that in later years.  And the 81 accident was more to the point in my flying career as I was now an AMS and directly involved in crew safety and knew personally several of the operators on the plane.
Again I have to thank you for putting this together of me and others to read.
Ward Hobby,
USAF, MSgt, Ret.

Justin Hall
Thu, Oct 19, 2006, 9:00pm (CST+1)

COBRA BALL is alive and well. I'm a TC on it and so often I forget what I do for a living in the Big Picture. It's hard not to get caught up in the unimportant things. Battling personalities, aircraft availability, long TDYs and politics make me forget that you guys went before and had a lot harder time. You just didn't know it. 45 days in Diego Garcia only seems like forever, because you never know when you're going home! Thanks for going before and doing what we didn't have to. Someday we can talk about my first combat sortie. It scared me so much I was quiet. Anyone who knows me wouldn't believe that.

Justin L. Hall

Edwin Wakeman
Thu, Nov 16, 2006, 10:26pm (CST+1)

I just went through your Tale of Two Airplanes and am impressed with what you have done to the content. I am amazed to see all the things that Viper did during our tour with the 6th, plus the articles published, plus GASLIGHT that Viper has done recently. Keep up the good work. 

Team 2 Crewdog, Mother ...

John Dailey
Sat, Dec 2, 2006, 12:41pm (CST-1)

Was browsing around, looking for references to Shemya and found your site. I'm thinking that you were on the "Rock" about the same time as I was....from January '68 until January '69. I was one of the non-SAC people that worked on the flightline. I worked in Air Freight in the terminal building and we lived in the old Navy hangar, just east of the terminal. I remember "Rivet Ball" which we called the "Bitch" because of the noise and we called "Rivet Amber" the "Cadillac" because it was so much quieter. It looks like you called Rivet Ball the "Cadillac", also.

I can remember getting "real" milk, veggies and fruit from you guys. That usually made our day.
I flew out to Shemya on an Alaskan Airlines 727 combi and flew back to Anchorage on a 141. Alaskan had lost their MAC contract because they cancelled too often.

Shemya was my first duty station after tech school. From Shemya I went to Travis for 2 1/2 years and then got out. Then I went to work for Delta Air Lines for 33 1/2 years. I retired from Delta in April of 2005.

John Dailey
Fort Smith, Arkansas

Kingdon R. Hawes (Webmaster)
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