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Command Post, 1129th Special Activities Squadron, Groom Lake, Nevada - 1961 Col. Doug Nelson presenting me the USAF Commendation Medal for my reaccomplishment of the International  NOTAM System (circa 1959) while I was the NCOIC of Base Operations at Langley AFB, Va.

Command Post, 1129th Special Activities Squadron, Groom Lake, Nevada - 1961
Col. Doug Nelson presenting T/Sgt Harnage the USAF Commendation Medal for my reaccomplishment of the International NOTAM System (circa 1959) while I was the NCOIC of Base Operations at Langley AFB, Va.

My age is debatable due to the Goodson family bible recording the date of birth as 5 JUNE 1925 with birth certificate of record indicating the date of 5 JUNE 1926. I was born in Tampa, Florida to Oren Bartholomew Harnage, O.B. Harnagea cigar maker for Tampa Nugget and Bessie Orr Goodson, a lady from a prominent family in Franklin, Georgia. Circa 1929 divorce split the family with the father leaving me with his mother and grandmother. An inoperable brain tumor caused the death of my mother in 1930 and I became the ward of my grandmother and five uncles, assuming the name of Oren Goodson. I was raised on the banks of the muddy Chattachoochee River in the little West Georgia town of Franklin, just blocks away from one of the much heralded Georgia ball and chain gang prisons, where I could hear the screams of the tortured prisoners. I lived in the accepted Heard County environment of farmers, preachers and bootleggers all, vying for their place in the community. I was not advised of my true birth name and was not made aware until enlistment in The U.S. Navy in 1943. I served in the U.S. Naval Amphibious Force in the South Pacific seeing combat action in the Philippine Islands and Okinawa. After recovering from wounds received at Okinawa I was honorably discharged and located the older sister in Tampa, whom I had never seen. With her assistance I located my father, brother and two other sisters in Greensboro, North Carolina. Having not seen my father since age three, I was totally unaware there was a brother and sisters from two later marriages.

Civilian life is not kind and after eighteen months I enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps, to become an Air Operations Supervisor. In 1960Groom Lake in the 1960s I was selected for a special assignment with the Central Intelligence Agency and assigned to the 1129th Special Activity Squadron with duty at Area 51 in the Nevada Test Site as Command Post Supervisor for the Lockheed Aircraft test program of the A-12 (SR-71) Blackbird five years on this assignment brings retirement in 1965 from the United States Air Force as Master Sergeant a Master Sergeant, at which time I continued employment with the CIA at Intermountain Aviation in Tucson, continuing in air operations for the commercial air carrier. I also flew as a qualified loadmaster and flight attendant on DC-6B and C-46 aircraft. During this period I performed TDY assignments as an air operation advisor in Laos and Vietnam. I returned to Vietnam as a permanent assignment in 1967 with original assignment to Danang MR-1, as Embassy Air Operations regional air officer. In 1971 I was transferred to Saigon as the assistant Deputy Air Officer for the US Embassy Air Branch. Duties were varied and were preformed in South Vietnam and Cambodia. I flew with Air America pilots in the evacuation of Vietnamese dignitaries and others from the roof top of the Pittman building at 22 Gia Long, departing Vietnam on the night of 29 April 1975 as one of the last six Central Intelligence Agency officers remaining in Vietnam. I continued my status as a civilian with the Central Intelligence Agency with assignments as a paramilitary Air Officer, in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Africa.

Final retirement came from the Central Intelligence Agency on 28 February 1977 after serving a tour of duty In Africa as the supervisory air officer in support of liberating forces for Angola, with a total of 32 years of federal service.

In addition to previous awards by the US Navy and US Air Force, the Central Intelligence Agency bestowed the Intermountain Aviation C-46most coveted Intelligence Star CIA Intelligence Star for Valor for my heroic actions during the fall of Vietnam and the airlift of Vietnamese from atop the roof of the Pittman Building on 29 April 1975. The last remaining vestige of five Central Intelligence agents and I were airlifted to the USS Denver in late evening of that fateful last day of American tenure in Vietnam. My employment continued with the Central Intelligence Agency with my last CIA assignment to Zaire, Africa.

With 32 years of service to my country, I elected to retire from Federal Service in February 1977. After pursing an unsuccessful career as a private investigator, I settled into real estate until losing my wife to cancer in 1992, ending 44 years homeof marriage and bringing on complete final retirement. A second marriage followed and after eighteen months ended in divorce. I am now settled in Arizona and live alone on the shores of three small lakes where I continue to pursue my hobbies of fishing and playing golf at the nearby courses.

I recently published a book titled "A Thousand Faces" A book about the varied definition and duties of a paramilitary agent working under concepts that cannot be described in a manual or a directive. My book describes the duties and dangers necessary to perform normal daily functions of meeting and accepting unknown contingencies that must be surmounted to keep the ultimate purpose of intelligence evaluation A Thousand Faces and utilization the prime objective. A Thousand Faces depicts how the success of an assignment hinges on past experience, personal knowledge and individual endeavor, with successful evaluation to mission application and their utilization. Operatives have lateral military experience and are brought onboard for their specific expertise, thus wording paramilitary. It is a dangerous and necessary function utilized only in conjunction with an overall operation when contributive result will enhance or assure a successful operation. Such is depicted herein of a paramilitary agent operating within the air operations field. All instances depicted in my book are factual in nature and occurred during military conflict within a foreign country

As a contract agent my tenure with the Central Intelligence Agency was contingent upon need for my skill and mastery of my profession. Too say the least, my contractual employment was temporary and could be terminated at any time. I was lucky and managed to retire from the agency. My story is portrayed in two parts: SOUTH VIETNAM - BOOK ONE, depicting operations in up country Military Region I, and SOUTH VIETNAM - BOOK TWO, depicting operations from Saigon and extending into Cambodia.

Actions portrayed in my book A Thousand Faces are based upon fact and actual occurrences about me, a Central Intelligence Agency paramilitary agent during the Vietnam conflict, and depicts the environmental conditions encountered. In my book I depict how my seven years of gathering field intelligence and performance of daily duties put me in harms way with a constant threat to my life. Application of my efforts and daily performance greatly enhanced the success of the Central Intelligence community projects and saving of countless lives. So that you may understand importance of the impact of an ongoing daily operation the book depicts typical daily encounters, not necessarily in concurrent order but sequential over a period of a seven- year assignment to Vietnam. However, the possibility of death and encounter with danger is constant and accepted as a necessary part of daily life. During my seventeen-year tenure with the Central Intelligence Agency other hazardous paramilitary assignments were performed in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Africa, all the part of a special life of an ordinary man with special responsibilities. Among my many certificates of outstanding performances, I was awarded the coveted Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Star for valor, for participation in the roof top evacuations of Saigon on 29 April 1975.

Saigon Evacuation
Evacation of Saigon Patch Chopper on approach during evacuation of American from Saigon Helos approaching carrier during evacuation of Americans from Saigon Evacuation of Americans from Pittman Hotel in Saigon

The evacuation scene atop the Pittman Hotel depicts me offering a helping hand to persons being evacuated, and has been eulogized in People Magazine, New York Times and various xx other publications including headline stories in the Tucson and Phoenix newspapers. The photo has also appeared on the front of Time magazine and I have appeared on Life Magazines 50th anniversary aired by 20/20, and continues to be shown on epic programs by Discovery, History and major television networks. During my thirty-two years of service to my country, I served with the U.S. Navy Amphibious Forces 1943-1946 in the South Pacific, seeing combat action in the Philippine Islands and Okinawa. After being wounded at Okinawa, I was discharged in 1946, returning to a difficult adjustment period as a civilian. In 1947, I returned to military service with the U.S. Air Force, having assignments in Korea as a member of the elite 4th Fighter Interceptor Group and later to the 1129th Special Activities Squadron in Area 51 of the Nevada Test Site. Retirement came in 1965 after 20 years of military service. Seven days after military retirement service continued with the Central Intelligence Agency as a paramilitary contract agent with future assignments in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Africa, until final retirement in 1977.

More about this book is available at
Trafford Publishing
or 1-888-232-4444

13 November 2003:

After struggling with a full edit my latest book "A Predator on Our Streets" is available by contacting www.trafford.com. To purchase go on line and contact Tafford Publishing. You may order by title or ISBN 1-55369-745-9.

In about two weeks the book will be available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Baker & Taylor and all major distributors and may be purchased on line.

To preview the book and contents go to www.trafford.com and click on Bookstore and then on Search desk.

I think you will enjoy reading the 235 pages of intrigue and dangers of the narcotic undercover agent. I can supply signed copies at the purchase price of $19.95 US. I will defray S&H. Sorry, no credit cards.

Thanks for reading this.


Oren (O.B.) Harnage

WEB MASTER NOTE:  O.B. Harnage died in 2008. He was a great friend.

More about O.B.'s book is available at

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