I was assigned to the 4080th Strat Recon Wing at Del Rio, Texas in October 1958 after requesting the unit as a condition to my re-enlistment. It was the only time I ever received my first choice of duty station in the Air Force.
I was trained as an Aerial Camera Tech at Denver and assigned to the RF-84 group at Moses Lake, Washington. This unit was disbanded when General LeMay acquired the U2's as part of SAC. At the 4080th reunion at Del Rio in May 2002, I found out two of the RF-84 pilots volunteered for the top secret U-2 program without knowing what the program was. It is my understanding that one of the pilots was Rudolph Anderson.
I was sent to Great Falls where there was no need for aerial camera tech's. After reading about a U-2 that landed on a frozen lake in Canada after a flameout, I took a chance that an outfit with the word recon in its name had to have aerial cameras. Hence by request at re-enlistment.
At Del Rio I was assigned to the 4080th A&E Squadron, Nephography Section. At that time the dictionary definition of nephography was taking pictures of clouds.
I was trained on all cameras but eventually got heavily involved with the T-70 Tracking Camera manufactured by Perkin Elmer. This was a 70mm camera that turned on at engine start and off at shutdown. It photographed the mission route from start to finish with horizon to horizon photos. I eventually became NCOIC of the Tracker Group.
In April 1961, I went on a TDY to East Sale, Australia for high altitude sampling missions. Although we did not have cameras I was responsible for the maintenance of the driftsight, which included dry nitrogen purging until after engine start. After we left Australia we stayed in Hawaii for more sampling missions.
In June 1962, I was sent to Alaska where we were taking pictures close to Russia.
In May 1962, I was in Florida during the Cuban crisis. I was one of the nepho group waiting to download the cameras for Anderson's U-2 when we were notified of his being shot down over Banes, Cuba.
In September 1963, I went on a TDY to Louisiana where we maintained surveillance over Cuba.
In March 1964, I went to Bien Hoi, Vietnam for Lucky Dragon support.
In October 1964, I left the Air Force with the rank of Tech Sergeant and went to work for Perkin Elmer and was sent to the North Base at Edwards AFB. While there we got the new T35 Tracking Camera, (35mm film), to test for production. This included many visits to Lockheed at Burbank to fly the camera. We were successful and the camera went into production and replaced the T70 Tracking Camera. After the T35 replaced the T70, I was sent to the 4080th at Tucson to conduct training on the T35.
While at North Base, my only TDY was to Tak Li in Thailand.
I was with the U-2 program for 6 years with the AF and 4 years with Perkin Elmer, from 1958-1968.