Brief Bio - U-2 Program
I joined the CIA in October 1956. In January 1957, I joined the U-2 squadron then at Area 51, as an electronic technician in the Commo shop. After thirty days of familiarization with the program, I was assigned to the squadron in Geiblestadt, Germany. In late 1957 this squadron was disbanded and I finished my commitment to the program in Incerlik, Turkey. As an electronic technician, I was responsible for maintaining our communications with Hqs. and with helping to maintain the primitive Elint systems on the aircraft.
In the next ten years I became an engineer and my Agency assignments included an overseas tour, and a long assignment at the Kennedy Space Center.
In 1967, I was again assigned to the U-2 Program. I joined the squadron at Edwards AFB at the time the first U-2R models were being delivered from Burbank. The squadron was responsible for the integration, test, and acceptance for all the avionics, Sigint collection, threat warning, and jamming systems for the Air Force and Agency aircraft.
My responsibilities included supervising the systems integration, test and evaluation of each aircraft as it was delivered from Lockheed. This activity not only consisted of getting everything to work correctly on the aircraft, but also included testing the threat warning systems over our weapons simulators at Area 51. The data from these tests was then analyzed to determine if the systems provided adequate warning and protection to the pilot. My responsibility also included informing the Squadron Director of Material, Colonel Thompson, that the government could accept the aircraft and that it was operationally ready. Col. Thompson always reminded me of the seriousness of my decisions !!
One of the "folktales" of the program which I believe is worthy of preservation, is the story of the OS System. The U-2R acquisition program introduced what would now be called an ECM Suite to protect the U-2 aircraft. This of course was required in the wake of the Powers tragedy. This suite consisted of a collection of detection receivers, warning devices, and jammers to defend the aircraft from the SA-2 missile. These boxes all carried typically obscure names. There was System 3, System 6, System 9, etc. And then there was the OS System.
The OS System is the only system which never in the lifetime of the program carried a number, but was only known by this perfect description of it's function ! No doubt named by the first pilot who saw it perform. The OS System provided a warning to the pilot that a SA-2 missile was in preparation for launch and the probable direction to the missile. When launch occurred the cockpit warnings would turn red with a loud alarm! Thereby the name "OS." OS being the abbreviation for the only appropriate pilot response to a warning, “Oh Shit!”
Some other squadron events during this period included Operation Even Steven in 1970. This was a 6 month squadron deployment to Akrotiri, Cyprus to monitor a cease fire along the Suez Canal between Egypt and Israel, and I had the opportunity to manage our shop during real operations. In 1971, the first U-2R was delivered to the Nationalist Chinese in Taiwan. I deployed with the aircraft to help their avionics people adjust to the new aircraft. There also were some rather exotic intelligence collection system developments which required extensive testing, and headache. One involved launching a rocket propelled drone from under the wing of the U-2 !!
In late 1971, I was assigned to Program Hqs in Washington, D.C. and worked for the legendary Colonel Price (certainly legendary to Lockheed program managers.)
In 1973, I left the U-2 Program for other NRO programs, and in 1983 retired from the Agency, and found employment with a start-up defense contractor as the head of their Washington operations. I retired 1997.