Friday, September 06, 2002
I recently bought a PC in my old age and discovered the C-47 History Site.
I'm also glad of the USAFSS decision to de-classify. I am Herb Romero and
this is a farewell to comrades.
On 7 Oct 72, I began my 6994th tour with Det 2 at Danang. It seems like
I'd just gotten there when we had to deploy to NKP due to a typhoon alert.
Then later, word came down to close and re-open as Det 3 in Ubon.
Everyone was super busy with the move and again later in Ubon. The bad
part of it all in that short time was the loss of our ops crew, Pete
Cressman, Joe Matejov and Todd Melton and Dale Brandenburg, a flying member
from the 94th maintenance section. I remember vividly a message that came
in after we lost Baron 52, quoting a 'collateral source' that four or five
flyers were being escorted to another area.
After I returned stateside and as a parent, I wanted so much to contact
their families who I knew were suffering, and divulge that piece of
information to them but I couldn't. The many years of digesting highly
sensitive material had taken care of that.
In 1948, my mother passed away and her death was to leave me with a
strange, emotional impact. Childhood memories disappeared. The only
thing I was able to remember was her face as she lay in her coffin.
My father had passed three years prior, but it didn't bother me that
way. I decided then that I would never attend another funeral or
memorial service. I've lost two brothers and two sisters since, and
did not go to their funerals. My family and friends understood why.
However, fond memories of them remain intact.
On the day of the memorial services in Ubon for our friends, I did
not attend. I was afraid. Instead, I went to one of the base street
public phones and called my wife. She understood the grief I was going
through as I spoke to her.
I still have good memories of all three, BS'ing with them in one was
or another. I had an 8mm movie camera there and on one mission with
Joe working X, I took some candid shots of him from Y. I am willing
to give Joe's family that particular strip. It also shows scenes of
several of our guys, both ops and maint, working in and around the
compound to get it going after we moved there. I think there is another
shot of Joe helping the locals put up the posts for the 'pound fence.
There also scenes from downtown Ubon, and finally Bangkok.
Many years later, I happened to see a TV show called 'Unsolved Mysteries'
with Robert Stack I believe. He mentioned Baron 52 and that the crew
had been taken to Russia. I freaked out, crying, as I told my wife all
about the classified msg we had rcvd after we lost them. I still think
they survived and I think that whatever evidence was supposed to have
been found at the crash site decades later, was planted to pacify our
governmental inquiries. I'll go to my grave with that belief.
After our loss and with the arrival of an ops officer, I began working
on a possible transfer to Squadron level at NKP. Up to that point, I
had been deeply involved and busy with ops re-organization at our new
location. There was no one else and I had done all I could. In June
73, Responsibilities were transferred and l left.
At NKP I was to meet again with Ron Schofield who I'd known from the
31st in Crete. An outstanding and common sense man. Gene Motes, was
another one I'd known before, a wonderful guy. I was given the job of
Flt Ops NCOIC and enjoyed NKP. Mainly because I had more leisure time
and I could get to fly once in a while. I recall the 2nd Eltee in the
office, saying he could never get hold of me because I was always
flying. What could I say?
During the move from Danang, I had arranged to have the remains of a
122mm rocket and twoAK-47's shipped to Ubon. This particular rocket
had impacted by one of our shops at Danang, I wrote on it "Souvenir from
Danang" and we hung it crosswise above the compound gate. This scene is
also in the 8mm clip. I recall our Top Secret Control NCO telling me
it was against regulations to ship such things with classified material.
I know he was just doing his job, but I told him I'd take full
responsibility. Anyone know what happened to the AK-47's??
I began w/USAFSS in '57. Prior to that, we RO's were extracted for
assignment from a MOS 756 (Ground Radio Operator) pool. We were shipped
back and forth, to and from overseas, between commands. The first
organization to identify and retain experienced people qualified to
work their nets was AACS. They assigned a secondary MOS to keep track
of you. The MOS 766 I'd been given during the Korean War with them
identified me as a high speed point-to-point net op, using the
automatic speed key. I made Tech before I left.
Years after Air Force became a separate service, the MOS was dropped
and the AFSC was born. We RO's went back to the 'pool' as 293XX, and
later AACS began assigning shredouts to the AFSC as a form as
identification. Then Security Service finally woke up and came up
with AFSC 292XX.
Most of my USAFSS experience was as msn supvr, and I feel nothing but
pride for the dedication of these highly motivated guys I had the
pleasure of working with in my flight at different units. These
silent warriors continued on doing their thing, flying combat missions
all over Southeast Asia with the 6994 Security Squadron.
You, who pecked away on position, and you who was busy taping or
transcribing and you too, in traffic analysis. All of you, who are
middle aged now. I still see you as young men and have nothing but
admiration for what you did. May God bless you and your families.
This 75 year old X1 salutes you.