SMSGT USAF Ret
Enlisted in the Air Force in July 1951 at Grand Forks, North Dakota. After basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas and Tech school at Northwest Louisiana Teachers College, Natchitoches, Louisiana was transferred to RAF Station Fairford, England. At the time Fairford was in the process of building new runways to accommodate B-36's and B-47s. Work was being done by the Army Engineers out of Germany. They were as rough and tough bunch of GI's I had ever seen.
In October 1953 was transferred to 7th Air Division, So. Ruislip, England working in the Director Material Office. This was the first meeting with Col. Herb Shingler who was Director of Material for 7th Air Division. Ironically, we met 3 years later with the 4070th.
In January 1955 transferred to a classified program with the 4070th Air Base Group, March Support Wing, March AFB, California. Security clearance wasn't granted until July 1955, during which time no one would advise what kind of program I was assigned to. Once I received my security clearance, I was flown to Area 51 in a Gooney Bird where I got my first view of the U-2 plane. Initially I was disappointed as it looked like just an airplane with huge wings. My opinion quickly changed when I saw it take off for the first time. Roaring down the runway and lifting off, I watched as the Pogos dropped off, the pilot put the craft on its tail and disappeared. What an experience!! My love for that aircraft continues to this day.
My duty was to maintain the fly-away kits for the aircraft. SAC provided airlift utilizing C-124 aircraft. They were used extensively during the deployment of Detachment A and delivery of the U-2 to Area 51 where I had the opportunity to watch 3 of the C-124s land in formation on Groom Lake. I remained with the 4070th until it was deactivated in 1957.
I remained with the U-2 program, transferring with CWO Walt Moberly back to the 807th at March AFB with duty station at Maywood Depot, Maywood, California. In April 1957 I transferred to Mira Loma Air Force Station, Riverside, California. There were four military personnel transferred to Mira Loma, CWO Walt Moberly, Tsgt Donald Northway, A1C Winegard, and myself. We became part of an Air Force depot that supplied parts to the Ranch, including engines, avionics, aircraft skins and parts. The Skunk Works provided equipment on a daily basis for shipment to the Ranch. Col. Robert Welch was the depot commander where we stored and shipped parts for Lockheed, Perkin Elmer, Pratt & Whitney, and others. In 1964 the depot was deactivated and moved to San Bernardino Air Material Area, San Bernardino, California.
The San Bernardino depot had been established to combine the U-2 and SR-71 depot support. CWO James Molloy was now our new boss over our supporting the various companies doing business with the U-2 and SR-71 programs. During my time I became the Chief of Property Management. I had 4 military and 3 civilians working for me. The military personnel performed annual property inspections on the companies doing business with the government. I remained in that business from 1965 to my retirement in 1977. I pulled two overseas assignments, one to Turkey and one to Shemya, Alaska.
I served 26 years in the Air Force of which 17 were with the spooky programs. What a great career!!! I retired a SMSGT (E-8) My spouse, Evelyn and I have 4 children; Scott D. Nelson who resides at Catalina Island, California, Patti J. Hensick who resides on a 40 acre ranch at Bennett,Colorado, Catherine Zeeb, a Doctor of Physiology at Edwards, Colorado, and Michael Nelson, a paramedic at Prescott, Arizona. All of our children are married and have given us 3 grandsons, 2 granddaughters, 3 great grandsons, and 3 great granddaughters to enjoy during our years of retirement.