Friday, September 06, 2002

Herb Romero

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.