EMAILS I HAVE RECEIVED FROM GRADUATES OF THE 11-E-36 / 905.1 SCHOOL AT FT. MONMOUTH, NJ AND ELSEWHERE
PART 1: FROM ITS BEGINNING THROUGH 1958
Compiled by Paul A. Roales Note: The email below are arranged in order of graduation date from the school. Created January 1, 2007. Updated Feb. 15, 2011 with a photo from that 1954 graduate. Updated November 15, 2011 with a station photo and email from a 1955 graduate. Updated Dec. 1, 2011 with an email and picture from a 1957 graduate; and 2 1955 pictures from a publication. Updated Jan. 24, 2012 with emails from two class members: October, 1952 and November, 1957. Updated Feb. 11, 2013 with email and photos from a 1955 graduate.
October, 1952. In November, 2006 I heard from Francis Szymanski from Texas. That is a picture of Frank and his weather equiptment taken in Korea at X Corps Headquarters on the left. He says: "I believe I was part of the first group to graduate from the Signal School at Fort Monouth in 1952. It was made up of seven officers and forty four enlisted men. The forty-four enlisted men were a mixture of draftees and Regular Army. The group were from the New England States, New York and New Jersey. We did our basic training at Fort Dix and were in our final cycle when we were transfered to Fort Monmouth. Here we met the seven Officers who were ROTC and a few Regular Army. We were assigned to SCEL (Signal Corps Engineer Laboratory) for our housing, meals and our schooling. The school was located on the base and we marched from Hq.Co 9460TSU area to it. The first person we met at Fort Monmouth was Master Sergeant Howard F. Willey. We learned that he held the only MOS in the Army. He was transfered from Yuma Arizonia to New Jersey. His job there was the testing of equipment to see if they would work in the heat and cold. His present assignment was to help select, train and bring the group to Korea.
According to Master Sergeant Willey, the reason we were being formed was there was a disagreement between the Air Force and the Army. The Army wanted the Air Force to provide weathermen down to Division Level. The Air Force refused saying they had men at Army Headquarters and that is where they would stay. So the Army decided to produce their own weathermen and send them down to Division Level. We needed weather equipment and according to Sergeant Willey, it had to be made. Doctor Donald M Swingle, a graduate of MIT, was assigned to SCEL, where he was developing radar for weather. Also he would come to the school to teach us various subjects. School began on September15, 1952 and ended on October23, 1952, which was our graduation day and then we were sent to Korea.
When we were sent to Korea, we brought with us our weather equipment. All the equipment fitted in a box, which you could hand carry. Because we were mobile, we could move from one location to another if we needed to and then set up quickly. The team I was part of was sent to the 73ECB to set up our weather station which was North of the 38th Parallel. I believe my team was the only one that was set up in North Korea. We provided the 73ECB with temperature readings and the latest forecasts and continued to provided our weather information to X th Corps Headquarters. After coming to Korea and setting up our weather stations, we began to provide weather infiormation to the 40th Weather Squadron of rhe Air Force. This information was included in their weather maps. Later the Air Force finally provided weathermen, fixed weather station and a forecaster to Corps Level to improve their forecasting. Just before the end of the war, the Air Force replaced our group with their people. The Army finally got them to Division Level. We were mentioned in the Eight Army Newspaper. An article written by M/Sgt. Dick Bartlett under the title "Signalmen Cite Achievements" listed us. When we returned to the States, the group was separated. Most went to work at SCEL, but a few like myself went to the school. My job was to be in charge of the instructors. The class had started before I returned and I remember the Officers in it. Amoung the instructors who graduated while we were overseas, some had been sent to Thule, Greenland. I came across pictures of men who were attending weather classes. They were: A. Mike Lia, B. Duxburg - I believed he came from Mass., C. Roberts, D. Possus, E. Wordowski - I believe he was an instructor and was in Greenland. I remain at my position until my discharge."
Here is a list of those first graduates provided by Frank: The seven Officers were: Albert W.Damanda, John J. Flynn, John H. Kuhn, Thomas E. Little, John G. McEhlaney, Marvin Polan, and Paul F. Wilkinson. The enlisted men were: Thomas J. Adams, Harold G. Allen, Charles F. Beers, Jr., Robert M. Breenan, Michael J. Deloughery,Jr., Charles DiVencenzo, Joseph P. DiPerna, Jean Duraffough, Paul C. Ewing, Jr., Augustine Fabiani, Alfred Fratoni, Harvey S. Freund, Kenneth E. Gordon, Ralph J. Hockman, Joseph A. Horvath, Bert D. Hyland, Robert F. Kennedy, Richard A. Lambert, Joseph Lersky, Joseph F. Luthner, Michael J. Lynch, Raymond G. Mayer, Charles W. McCorkle, Nelson D. Moriarity, Charles B. Mulligan, Angelo Nichele, Donald S. O'Reilly, John M. Ousta,Jr., Nicholas V. Paul, Arthur W. Perlot, Allen B. Pooler, Ralph J. Rankin, John S.Rice, Joseph P. Robinson, William F. Rogers, Donald W. Rooksby, John S. Rossi, Kenneth J. Rossman, Joseph Saia,Jr., Robert J. Shattuck, Francis A. Szymanski (standing in the back row, forth from the left) , William A. Thorpe, Hugh B. Tweedie, and Lawance E. Vallentin. 41 of the 44 enlisted graduates of that first class are shown below in a picture taken at a Red Bank, NJ restraunt after they returned from Korea. It is dated Feb. 8, 1954 on the reverse.
In August, 2008 I got an email from a relative of Ralph Rankin asking which person in the photo below was Ralph. Francis Szymanski was able to answer that question. Ralph is located on the left side,second row from the top. He is the first person and wearing a sweater. To his left is a guy in uniform.
October, 1952. In January, 2007 I heard from another member of the first meteorology class. He also provided the picture on the right which shows: Gus Fabiani, Allan Pooler, Angelo Nichele, Tom Sullivan and Hush Tweedie at Ft. Monmouth in 1952. He says: Let me introduce myself. I am Allan Pooler one of the 44 enlisted men trained at Ft. Monmouth (the very first class) and sent to Korea in 1952 as weather observers. I am located in Yardley PA, which is about 25 miles NE of Phila. We along with Sergeant Willey and 7 second lieutenants established a network of weather stations. There were stations at each corps i.e. I, IX, X, IROK, IIROK, and several at division level i.e. 2nd, 3rd, First Marines etc. I was with II ROK which was just about in the middle east to west and many miles above the 38th parallel. There were two reporting stations.
Another member of the Ole 44 (Angelo Nichele) saw your great Web site and sent some of us the link. What a surprise to see a photograph of myself! In the group photo I am first from the left third row from the top; Angelo same row third from the left. Since 1996 many of us have gotten together every two years. We call ourselves the Ole 44. The last time was in 2006 in Gettysburg PA.. I am sure with a little time and jogging of memories we could give you a pretty complete picture of the mission and some pretty interesting tales as well. Many members of the Ole 44 have weather related photos."
October, 1952. In January, 2012 I heard from another member of the first meteorology class, Alfred Fratoni. He said: "I am one of the frst to go to that class in 1952 .I enjoyed your article very much. My name is Alfred Fratoni I am that guy to the left of Francis Szmanski in that photo. We still have reunions as we try to stay in touch with each other, the group is getting smaller every year. I was stationed on the East coast of Korea above the 38th Parrell attached to the IROK corp. I showed the article to my Family and they were really glad to see what I did in the Army so that was a good atricle so thank you for that."
1954. Information on the history of Signal Corps meteorologists shortly after the Korean War is hard to come by. We know that the Army Weather School at Ft. Monmouth continued to turn out classes after its initial class graduated on October 23, 1952, but I have very little information about those men. In Feb., 2005 I was in contact with the daughter of Kenneth Nolte who died of cancer in 1967. She was trying to find out more about her fathers' Army service record. She sent me the picture on the left.
It was taken in March, 1954 at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. (The man on the right is unidentified.) She knew very little about what her father did, other than that his work was classified. Since the sign in the photo says: "U. S. Army Meteorology Branch" with the Chemical Corps emblem (the 2 crossed flasks) he was apparently attached to the Chemical Corps. Some research on the WWW determined that the 2nd. Chemical Bn. was stationed at Dugway from Jan. '53 until March of '63 (http://www.hood.army.mil/13coscom_64csg/page26a.html ). So the 2nd. Bn was probably running the Meteorology Branch Office in the photo. Recently I came across a declassified document from HEADQUARTERS, CHEMICAL CORPS RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING COMMAND, ARMY CHEMICAL CENTER. MARYLAND, RCC2.950320.003, dated 5 May 1953. It states that on March 3, 1953: "A request from DPG for Signal Corps meteorological personnel support of two officers and 28 enlisted men was coordinated by Lt. Hamilton with Meteorological Section OCSigO, and Prov Gd Div, R&E Comd. It was pointed out to Prov Gd Div that Signal Corps personnel will be loaned to the Cml Corps only, and no transfer of personnel will take place." So apparently some Army Weather Observers trained at Ft. Monmouth were sent to Dugway Proving Grounds shortly after that. Kenneth Nolte is the first one I have heard about. Since he is still a Pvt. in this photo he must have just arrived at Dugway.
Late, 1954. I heard from Richard Rubino on November 11, 2010. He says: "Wow! I happened across your coverage of graduates of the Army Weather School at Ft. Monmouth. What a fascinating compilation of information. Good for you! I am one of 13 graduates of the school in 1954. From there I went to Ft. Huachuca. My path for getting there was a bit convoluted, however. At the suggestion of my high school meteorology teacher I joined the Air Force Reserve in July 1950. This was right after the beginning of the Korean Conflict. I was assigned to the 13th Weather Squadron, AFB Weather Detachment at Hanscom Field, MA. In 1951, my unit was mobilized, and I reported to Westover AFB, MA, for active duty. My unit was told it would be assigned to Tindell AFB, FL, to replace a unit being sent to Korea. However, within about a week we were sent home to await further orders while, I was told, AF Weather Headquarters was moved to Colorado. Shortly thereafter, we were demobilized and reassigned to Hanscom Field. But in April 1954 my status changed: I was drafted into the Army. Yes drafted, despite still being listed as active AF Reserve. Actually, since 1952, I had been working with the Procter & Gamble Company traveling around the country, but keeping myself in the “active reserve” by virtue of a USAF officer candidate correspondence course. So really, I did not have a strong argument against being drafted. Since I could not be in the AF Reserve and the Army at the same time, I was honorably discharged from the Air Force on Apr 6, the day before I was sworn into the Army. The reason for the discharge: “Entry into Incompatible Occupation”—in other words, drafted into the Army. My basic training was at Fort Dix, NJ. After eight weeks, I was assigned to Electronic Fire Control School at Fort Monmouth, NJ. Upon graduation I was to be sent to White Sands, NM. However, while at Monmouth I asked for and received a transfer from the Ordinance Corps to the Signal Corps so that I could participate in the Army weather observer course offered at the same base. Though the course was already in its first week I was added to the original class of twelve trainees. After graduation, most of us were assigned to the Aviation and Meteorology Department at Fort Huachuca, AZ, which at that time was the Army Electronics Proving Ground. Four of our number, me included, remained at Huachuca. My buddy, Tom Sovak, also stayed. Others (I cannot remember their names) were transferred to the Yuma Test Station, AZ; Dugway Proving Grounds, UT; Big Delta, AK; Thule, Greenland; and the Panama Canal Zone. Two of our number, educated as chemists, had already been assigned to Fort Detrick, MD. As for the rest of my life, I have already mentioned that I worked for Procter & Gamble, but I have also worked as a planning consultant out of St. Louis, director of the Vermont State Planning Office, with an institute at the University of North Carolina, taught at universities in Australia, and taught at Florida State University, where I am now professor emeritus of urban and regional planning. I spend part of each year in Tallahassee, FL, and the other part near Asheville, NC."
Richard supplied the photo on the left of the Headquarters Aviation & Meteorology Department at Fort Huachuca in 1954.
1955 In November, 2011 I bought a copy of "Life of the Soldier and the Airman" for November, 1955 at the flea market. It was a magazine distributed to Army Recruiting Stations. This issue had an article on the Signal Corps School at Ft. Monmouth entitled "Presenting Signal Opportunities". The two photos below were part of that article. The one on the left was captioned "Modern equipment is employed to familiarize students with weather study". The one on the right was captioned "Three weather students test their skills at the Signal Corps School." Can anyone identify the students or instructor?
1955 In August, 2011 I heard from Jose Arroyo a 1955 graduate of Ft. Monmouth. His Yuma station photo is shown below. He said:"Paul,I’ve been reading your intresting posting on line. I was at Yuma test station early in 1955 throug 1960. I was mentioned in the posting in June 1959, Sgt Arroyo. Here is a picture I have with all the people in our team at that time. I went through Ft monmouth,in 1955 Jan- march. Upon graduating we were send to Ft Huachuca. Stayed at the test station performing diferent duties until Dec 1960. Let me know if you still in contact with any of people."
February 1955 In Feb., 2013 I heard from Sy Liebergot, another graduate of the class of 1955. He also supplied the photos on the right. Sy said: After basic training I was sent to Ft. Monmouth, NJ in 1955. Eighteen regular army enlistees and I were not be allowed to take the training courses for which we had applied. We were to form the core of a new group called the Army Weather Observers Corps (AWOC). The course was only six weeks in length. After receiving an accelerated exposure to meteorological subjects and a bit of hands-on training with balloons and associated equipment, even generating hydrogen, we all graduated and were told of our next destination. It was to be Fort Huachuca, Arizona. We departed Fort Monmouth in February, 1955. After only six weeks at Fort Huachuca, all nineteen of us received orders to report to Yuma Test Station, Arizona. I spent the remainder of my military career at Yuma Test Station.
I was one of four G.I.s assigned to the Rawinsonde Section of the weather station on post. In fact, Air Force personnel conducted the Rawinsonde balloon launches. Upon learning of the limited training that we had received at Fort Monmouth, they proceeded to give us OJT training. John Hruby and I formed one of the two teams that launched Rawinsonde balloons twice a day, seven days a week. Al Freberg and Tony “The Greek” Sotiropolous comprised the other team.
There was the time, during windy conditions, that I “boloed” (wrapped) a Rawinsonde balloon train around the R&D area power lines, the train pulled the main power wires together, shorting out most of the area power as well as to the Main post. Another time, we launched a small pilot balloon, called a PIBAL, with a sign hanging from it inscribed with a silly statement. It had just enough helium in it to float at fifty feet above the ground. It stayed up all day, too high for anyone to retrieve it. Then there was further confirmation in the “Weather Words” weekly column I wrote for the post newspaper, in which I satirized the activities by the weather station personnel.
I moved to the Field Crew. We had many field satellite weather stations scattered around the desert and they had to be serviced with fresh charts, ink and storage batteries. I was teamed with Earl McCracken. We had access to all areas on the huge reservation, irrespective of its security classification. One of the restricted areas scattered around the desert was the Chemical Storage Area, a high fenced-off place that contained cylinders of nerve gas and other toxic products such as mustard gas stored under an open-air pavilion. Chemical experiments were still conducted at the R&D area where our weather station building was located. Mac pulled the truck up to the padlocked gate and I climbed onto the hood to observe the wind direction from our automatic weather station and to check to see if the rabbits were still alive in their hutch next to the hundreds of cylinders of nerve gas. If they were, then and only then would we go in to service our remote weather station. We were not issued protective clothing of any kind."
Here are the names of 13 of the 19 class members that Sy can remember: Andreas, John;
Arroyo, Jose (Broken Arrow, Oklahoma); Borgett, Tony; Freberg, Al; Hruby, John; Koneke, Gil; Lapp, Bob (Cleveland, Ohio); Liebergot, Sy (Pearland, Texas); McCracken, Earl (Deceased); Phares, Don; Randazzo, Sal (AWOC 1958); Sotiropolous,Tony; and Trzaska, Lou (Philadelphia?). Others he remembers from that time are: Isaac Harter III, from Beaver, Pennsylvania; Sgt. Orick; Captain Hewitt (C.O. of the weather station); and First Sergeant Middlebrook.
He was discharged at Fort Bliss, Texas in July, 1957,and headed west to Los Angeles. After his wedding, he enrolled in Los Angeles City College (LACC) and ultimately graduated from Los Angeles State University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. On June 12, 1961, he was hired at North American Aviation. He transferred to Houston, Texas with NAA. A year and a half after moving to Houston, he switched over to NASA and began a career as a flight controller in the Manned Spacecraft Center’s Mission Operation Control Room. He worked as a flight controller through the Apollo program, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz, early Shuttle, and International Space Station. He is now retired from NASA and is a lecturer and author.
October, 1957 In November, 2011 I heard from Olie Plimpton. He said:"I also graduated from the meteorology school at Ft Monmouth. I went there after graduating from basic training at Ft Benning in July, 1957 and graduated from the school with a MOS of 905.1 in October of that year. I was at Ft Monmouth just long enough to be accepted into the Drum and Bugle Corps, but only had to participate in a Saturday parade once. After that it was on to Ft Huachuca AZ for the rest of my time in the army. While at Ft Huachuca I was a weather observer at Libby Army Airfield for a time, and a member of the Micro Meteorology team under Philip Los for the balance of my time there. As part of the Micro Meteorology team we had charge of several remote weather stations scattered around southern Arizona from Wilcox to the San Rafael Valley, Tombstone, Tumacacori Mission, and Benson, which we had to visit on a weekly basis, usually in a pickup truck or a Jeep, but sometimes in a Chevy staff car. When the Sergeant in charge was transferred out I was the ranking PFC on the team and signed the schedules as PFCIC. Not exactly army protocol, but it worked, and no one seemed to notice. Looking back on that time of my life I realize that was the best job I ever had! Our group was the first unit be moved from the old wooden barracks across the street from the stockade to a brand new two story concrete block building. That seemed like the lap of luxury. While at Libby Field we usually worked rotating shifts, and they were changed frequently from 8 hour shifts, to 12 hour shifts, with varying time off between shifts, and back again. One of the advantages of the rotating shifts was no duties, such as KP, etc. The First Sergeant gave up on those duties since he could never keep track of when we were working. When I went into the army as a volunteer from the artillery Army Reserve unit I was in I committed to 2 years active duty and my serial number started with ER********. When I was separated from active duty in April of 1959 I was transferred back to my reserve unit. The first mail I received from them stated they did not have any opening for my MOS 905.1 and I was listed as inactive reserve so I never had to attend any meetings or other training. Here are a few names I remember from Sig C Met Co, R & D Support at Ft Huachuca;
Paul Fellers, George Gates, Lowell Warner, Sgt Goodwin,Sgt Wayne Winsentcen (I don't have any idea of correct spelling of that one), and "Dutch" Schultz. These were all between October 1957 and April 1959. Here are more names of more guys in our unit at Ft Huachuca. They are all MOS 905.1, and all PFC E3s on 1 Oct 1958. William Beers, Ralph E Earl, Jimmie Golden, William L Herr, Max J Hindinger, John C Hudson, Lester J Kauppi, Richard Kestel, Thomas R Krause, Walter J Larsh, Douglas Lovell, Robert Millard, Paul L Miller, Felix Raschiatore, Thomas Uhrinak. I am not positive they all graduated from Ft Monmouth but I assume they did. I have no record or recollection of anyone that was in my class from Met School at Ft Monmouth when I graduated on 25 Oct 1957. Attached is the only photo I have of Ft Huachuca days, showing my snow covered 1951 Morris Minor in the parking lot at our old barracks. In those days I was a skier and skied as often as I could on Mt Lemmon, northeast of Tucson, and my skies barely show on the roof. Snow at Ft Huachuca was an unusual occurrence! Upon completion of my schooling at Ft Monmouth, when asked where I would like to be stationed I opted for the weather station on the top of Mt Washington NH, thinking I could ski year round. In his infinite wisdom Uncle Sam told me I was going to Ft Huachuca, AZ. My only comment was "What the heck is that, I can't even spell it."I really enjoy your site and reading about the Signal Corps Meteorology Company at Ft Huachuca."
November, 1957 In January, 2012 I got a couple emails from Carl Kuntz. He said: "Hey! Great site. I've looked at it a couple of time. I went to Met school summer - Nov. 1957. Went to Ft. Huachuca and stayed there until May 1958. I remember many of the names popping up on your site. Had to laugh at Ollie Plimton's little car. He and I, and Stu Rosenburg travelled around Cochise County on a few Sat. weekends sightseeing. I hung around with Bob Goodwin, Rob Rebidoux, Lowell Warner. We explored a lot of Cochise County on weekends Didn't get to really do any met work there - we had more people than work assignments to keep them busy. I became a duty detail Sgt and traning NCO until I transferred to a new unit - Special Communications Det, part of SMSA at White Sands. I met Curley Knepp there at that time. Spent a little time there - left in July '58 for Clark AFB Philippines. (SRU # 4) Stayed there until November 1959, then returned to WSMR. Spent next 8 years there in the metro business supporting range operations. Also spent a lot of time offrange at places like Green River Launch Complex, UT, Ft. Wingate, NM; Black Mesa, UT Monticello; and Blanding among others. We shot a lot of missiles back to WSMR from those locations - Sergeants, Pershings, The AF research rockets from Green River. We provided met support, forecasts, and impact prediction. We were a mix of Army, civilian and contractor personnel. We also fired from the Plains of San Augustine west of Socorro near Magdalena NM - Sergeant missiles - I and another met trooper were there to suppport that. The Pershing Bns from Ft. Sill came out to Blanding and Black Mesa as their graduation exercise where they got to fire off some Pershings back into WSMR. We - Atmospheric Sciences Office staff - were always part of these firings providing met support and impact prediction services. I think I do have a picture of one of those. Also, the German Air Force - who were the Pershing people - not the Army, also came to these places for their Annual Service Practice. There was no place in Europe where they could do that. Again ASO people supported these firings. The Green River Launch Complex fired the 4 stage Athena missiles - 2 stages up - then 2 stages fired back down - studying space reentry issues. We had a permament team there in mid to late '60's. MSgt "Jack" Frost was NCOIC. I had been taking met teams up there in the earlier days when we were studying the feasibility of launching from that area. An interesting tale is this: When Capt Joe Kittinger jumped from one of his balloon flights - I forget which one - he actually landed just acroos the line near Columbus NM. One of my coworkers - Charlie Craig - was out in that area gathering met information and he saw Kittinger land. Since the Mexican government was very sensetive to any incursions into their country, Charlie sped across the border - in an US Army identified pickup - and brought Kittinger back across the line where he was picked up by AF personnel. (Charlie later went back to Special Forces and was severly wounded in Vietnam I heard) If the Mexican forces or police had captured Kittinger it would have been - at least - a small crisis between the countries. Interesting side note was that Kittinger served at least 2 tours in Vietnam later and retired as a General. I ran teams out there. Became Lower Range Branch NCOIC, then NCOIC Atmospheric Sciences Office, then back to LRB. That was the end of my Met Chief days. Left Jan 1968 for training assignment at Ft. Gordon Ga, then Vietnam July 1968 - November 1970 returned to Ft. Huachuca and retired 2/18/1971 Lots of good people at all those places and assignments. I'll look around for some pics, but most of my Army stuff was lost in a storage locker burglary some years ago. Thanks for the memories. Carl Kuntz 1/Sgt (Ret) USA"
April, 1958 In June of 2010 I got a series of emails from Retired Major Curley B. Knepp about his Army career as a 93E. He also sent me a number of photographs, but I will only post 2 with this report. The first one shows Curley heating the GMD Housing at Ft. Churchill, Canada. The second one shows Curley as an officer with one of his classes at the 93E School just before it left Ft. Monmouth for Ft. Sill. Curley served for 27 1/2 years and spent about 10 years as a 93E. His report is longer than most I have posted because of that lenght of service. He started his Army career as a Infantryman in Korea during the war. Here is a condensed version of what he had to say starting with his 93E schooling:
"Paul, I was a 93E for a number of years, but got my training at Chanute AFB IL in 1958 as part of a classified project to track nuclear explosions world wide. I started training as a Met observer in October, 1957 at Chanute AFB IL, graduating in April 1958, awarded a 905.6 MOS (I was a SFC at the time) and sent to White Sands Missile Range where we trained prior to being formed into teams and sent to various destinations. We had teams at WSMR, Hawaii, the Phillipines, and a couple mobile teams in the southwest working out of WSMR if I remember correctly. Our team went to Africa in August 1958. At Kagnew Station in Asmara. We spent 13 months there and did not lift a finger, fly a balloon, or take a surfact reading. The American council told our team leader we should have gotten permission to fly balloons prior to our arrival. We left in September 1969, two of us by ship with the equipment and the rest (approx 11) by air. We reported in to Fort Hamilton, NY and they gave us tickets to Puerto Rico where we joined another team awaiting the equipment.
I arrived in Puerto Rico in early October, 1959 and left in Mid-May 1960. We numbered about a dozen and were assigned to the Special Communications Detachment #5 at a closed-up Army Air Field named Losey Field. It was later taken over by the Signal Corps and re-named Fort Allen. It was outside the city of Ponce. We set up the GMD on the roof of the morgue and proceeded to launch our plastic, constant level balloons. These balloons were developed at White Sands Missile Range and designed to rise to approximately 70,000 feet and float in the air currents at that altitude. The balloons carried a small, (about 5 pounds) payload with a paper parachute between the balloon and the instrument which was designed to detect sound waves in the upper atmosphere. Using sound ranging techniques and information from all of our teams we were able to pretty much pinpoint the location of an atomic explosion. I have a very vivid memory of our recording sensors going wild across the graph paper when the French conducted a test in the Sahara.
After wintering it out in Puerto Rico I re-enlisted and went home for a 30
day leave before reporting in to WSMR. Once there, I was hoping to
volunteer for one of the overseas teams. At the time I left Puerto Rico we
had teams in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Philippines. We also had some
senior NCOs on their way to Scotland to establish a team there and had
surveyed Iran with a possibility of setting up a team there. I am not sure
about the stateside teams at that time. I do know we had a GMD and
associated equipment at Penn. State and Deming NM. However, during my 30
day leave Congress pulled the rug out from under the organization. The guys
on their way to Scotland had gotten as far as England and were called home.
The teams overseas were told to fold their tents and come back to WSMR.
This occurred in May of 60. It was a dissapointment but I was single and
WSMR wasn't too bad an assignment. My first job was as technical advisor to
a documentary movie producer the Army had hired to document the unit and
it's activities. That lasted about a month or two and then someone decided
there was no reason to document an incomplete project. I worked on the
range out of WSMR until December of that year. The Army looked around and
decided to help out the Air
Force by establishing a unit at Holloman AFB which was about mid-way up the
range. I got sent up there with the initial unit and we proceeded to
support the Air Force with surface readings, theodolite readings, and GMD
big balloon support. We gave the data to Air Force Forecasters. As an
added duty we supported the AF Balloon branch which was involved in projects with Captain Kittinger and extremely high altitude
balloons. Also, work at WSMR and HAFB supported rocket launches for all
kinds of expermental rockets from small weather Loki's to the initial stages
of space launch vehicles. We did get
from one end of the range to the other--a distance of about 120 miles and 40
miles wide. We had instrumentation all
throughout the range. In May of 1961 I once again got itchy feet and
decided to volunteer for Fort Churchill. Canada.
Holloman AFB in early May of 1961, and after a few weeks at home in
Pennsylvania, I made my way to Winnipeg, Canada. I reported to a Canadian Army Base there in town. They
made arrangements for me to catch a military flight to Fort Churchill in a
few days arriving there the last day of May, 1961. There had been a fire at
the launch complex where they launched some rather large rockets with
scientific payloads. However there was still balloon work to be done.
There were scientists from the Argon National Labs there and from other
places. Not long after I arrived the Fort got word to get the launch pad
back in working order and prepare for a launch. The Russians were
conducting atmospheric nuclear tests. The project was called "Project
Grasp." A rather large rocket, the name of which escapes me, was outfitted
with a nosecone that opened up at altitude and sucked in a sample of air.
It had a flotation device on it and was recovered from Hudson Bay. There
was a Master Sgt. Harrison there, a weather forecaster, that took the
balloon data furnished him and predicted where the package would impact. It
was an interesting year. Polar bears on the top of the officer's mess,
blizzards, green flies that would eat you alive, mosquitoes aplenty. The tour at Fort Churchill was one year and I spent 365
days there. The last part of my tour was spent on inventory work. The
Arctic Test Center moved out to Fort Greeley, Alaska and we were turning over
all of our inventory and equipment to a civilian contractor hired by the Air
Force. The Army presence at Fort Churchill was coming to a close.
I left Fort Churchill on 1 June 1962, exactly 1 year after I
arrived. I was reassigned to the USA Signal Missile Support Activity whose
purpose was to support all the missile firings on the range. I was a senior
E-6 having been promoted to that grade nearly 10 years prior. In August 1962. I became the general all around "go fer" for the commander of the USA Electronic Research and Development Activity (W). On 27
April, 1963 I was promoted to SFC (E-7). Then still in the same job the
following year, 24 June 1964 I was promoted to Master Sgt. (E-8) The unit
was filled with scientists; mathematicians, personnel with degrees in
forecasting, and physicists. In early 1965 I applied for and was accepted
to the weather forecasters course at Chanute AFB, Illinois leaving for there
in April 1965. I finished school in December 1965 and returned to WSMR and
was once again assigned to USA Electronics Research and Development Activity
(W); this time as operations NCO responsible for all 93Es working the
range. I believe there were over 100. I held that job till 28
October 1966 at which time I was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant. After
commissioning I was assigned to USA Electric Command Met Team Fort Monmouth
with duty station Belmar, NJ which is where we operated out of. We
supported experiments conducted by the team of scientists at Belmar Labs and
were under the direct control of Fort Huachuca, Arizona. I thought it
rather ironic that when I was in WSMR as an E-8 operations NCO I had well
over 100 troops to take care of, and then when I got commissioned a 1st Lt.
I only had about a dozen at the most. While at Belmar I was sent TDY
to Yuma, Arizona for a week to ovserve the workings of the met team there to
get an idea of what my duties were. I stopped in at Fort Huachuca on my way
to Yuma and met my boss. I had to take a trip to West Point, NY to the USMA because we had
loaned them some met equipment and had to inventory it and make sure it was
still operating properly. My time at Belmar lasted about 1 year. I was
promoted to Captain on 28 September 1967, about 11 months after becoming a
1st Lt and sent to Korea as a general signal officer spending from September
1967 to February 1969 with the 122nd Signal Bn. 2nd Inf Div. there. After
Korea I went back to Fort Monmouth with the weather school there.
My first assignment at Ft. Monmouth as a
Captain was as a shift supervisor in the Pictorial Branch at the School. I
think the 93Es were under the Pictorial Branch at the time. That was in
February 1969. I was shortly thereafter sent to the instructors course and
became an instructor in the 93E course in June of 1969.
In October of 1969
I was reassigned as Operations Officer of the Radar Division, and on 1
January left for Vietnam as a general signal officer once again. In August
1970 I was evacuated out of Vietnam to Valley Forge General Hospital in
Southeastern Penna (with eye problems) where I
spent about a month until the condition was stabilized. Upon release from
the hospital I was re-assigned to Germany with the 143rd Signal Bn., 3rd
Armored Division as the Radio Officer and Assistant Division Signal
Officer. Then in 1974 I was released from active duty because I was a
reserve officer and the Army was down sizing in the aftermath of Vietnam. I
reverted back to my permanent grade of Master Sgt. and was sent to Dugway
Proving Grounds, Utah as NCOIC of the Met team there. The Met Team was not
very activity engaged in weather work as Congress had declared a moratorium
on gas munitions experimentation. We did however do a little theodolite
work for some of the ongoing projects and also had some fancy infra red
thermometers that looked like guns that we used to measure surface
temperature of large objects that had been exposed to different types of
radiation. Mostly though, I went to college, as did most of the team.
Brigham Young University offered classes in a lot of different subjects, and
I got most of my core accounting subjects out of the way during the two
years I was there. Shortly after I arrived at DPG I was promoted to
Sergeant Major. We did, while I was there, do some work at Toole Army Depot about
halfway between DPG and Salt Lake City. They were building a chemical agent
burning facility that would take a rocket filled with poison gas, saw it in
several pieces, and burn it to destroy the gas. There was a real concern
about some of the box canyons around there getting those fumes trapped in
them and the people living there breathing that residue. It involved a lot
of small balloon work and air movement up to several hundred feet. I
retired from the Army in the late summer of 1976 as a Sergeant Major and
moved to New Hampshire. I could not retire as a commissioned officer
because you needed 10 years of active commissioned duty and I only had 8.
That ends my experiences as a 93E and the officer equivalent of 93E.
However, my story would not be complete without explaining what happened
next. In December 1976 I picked up a copy of the Army Times
at the BX and noticed an article on the front page about a re-look promotion
board. Apparently, back in 1974 there had been a promotion board to promote
Captains to Major and the board was improperly constituted somehow. The re-look board selected a couple hundred Captains to be promoted to Major that
had been passed over in 1974. Lo and behold, my name was among them. I
soon got a call from the Dept. of the Army informing me of the decision and
asking if I wanted to come back on active duty. They said I could come back
in and serve till September 1969. I took them up on it, pinned on my Major
insignia, and left for Fort Drum in Western New York state right after the
worst blizzard in 100 years. When they called me back in as a Major all
personnel actions after I converted from Captain to Master Sgt. were
revoked. I got back pay as a Major (the difference between SGM and Major
for the two years I was at DPG and full pay while I was completely out of
work after I retired as a SGM) I put in a year and then retired on 31
December 1977 as a Major. My total time in the Army was 27 and 1/2 years
with about 10 years or so of that as a weatherman. So ends my saga."
NOTE: I received word from Major Knepp's daughter that he died on August 4, 2010. I last heard from Curley on July 20, 2010 when he reviewed and approved the above posting of his Army story, so it was quite a shock to hear of his death only 2 weeks later.
August, 1958 Apparently there was a shortage of Meteorological Observers around 1958 because Lacy Hancock tells me he was trained at Ft. Huachuca, not Ft. Monmouth. Here is what he had to say about his training: "I finally contacted my school buddy, as near as we can determine, the 905 school at Fort Huachuca was in July and August of 1958 with about 40 to 50 students. The school was supposedly the same format as Monmouth but was only 84 total hours. Most grads were sent out, about 10, including myself, were held over for an additional 2 months of rawinsonde training. The diploma did have the 905.1 mos. While training we were split into 3 or 4 groups. Also, this was the one and only class taught at Huachuca."
Late 1958 I was not quite sure where to place this entry. Lon Allen contacted me in December, 2006. He never attended the Army meteorology school, but was an officer and CO of several meteorology teams in the early ‘60's. I decided to place it here because he graduated from the Air Force Forecaster school at Chanute in 1958. "My name is Lon Allen and I have often wondered what happened to all of the good men who were in the Army Meteorology Department in the 1950's. My story is probably similar to many.
I was stationed in Japan from late 1954 through 1957, a three year tour since I had my family there. I was a Tech Sergeant at the time and was
assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. I applied and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Reserves but was not called to active duty in that grade at the time I was commissioned. I saw an article in the Army Times in 1956 where the Army was looking for a few good men to attend Weather Forecaster School run by the Air Force at Chanute Field, IL. I was interested and applied. I was accepted fairly quickly and was sent to the school in mid year 1957. Since I had no weather experience the Air Force was in a quandary with what to do with me when I arrived because the prerequisite for Forecasting School was attendance and completion of Weather Observer School and Rawin School, each of which was several weeks long. Well, they decided to give me special training and pushed me through the Observer Course and the Rawin Course fairly quickly, and then placed me in the Forecaster Course which was 55 weeks long. Needless to say, I had to study extra hard because most of the Air Force personnel in the course were experienced weather people and way ahead of me.
I did make it however, and was assigned to Yuma Test Station in 1958. There I worked with Mr. Brown ("Brownie"), Mr. Baldwin, and S/Sgt Richard Carney. Dick Carney and I were good friends and I often wonder what became of him. If you know, please tell me. I know that his wife was from Missouri and a graduate of Stephens College in Columbia, MO. He may have been from Missouri also. We four were the forecasters assigned to Yuma. We all did a lot more than that, however. We worked in the field on test firings to make field artillery firing tables for guns and rockets, primarily the "Honest John" and some other rockets undergoing acceptance tests, such as the "Lobber." A lot of them never made it. We ran tests on drones, air drops of equipment and personnel such as HALO, and even tests on meteorological equipment. One of my most interesting assignments was to prepare a study of winds aloft of the southwestern desert. Sgt Carney and I worked on this project. This study was later used by an Air Force Colonel (then a Capt) in testing parachute drops from balloons as extremely high altitudes. He was at some site in New Mexico, Alamogordo I think, and he contacted me for information about the best time for such an undertaking. He later set a record for jumping from a high altitude, a record that I believe he still holds and the story of which appeared in National Geographic just a few years ago. [PAR Note: This refers to Joe Kittinger who parachuted from 102,800’ in 1960.]
In early 1959 I applied for and was accepted for active duty in my reserve grade of 2nd Lieutenant, and changed my branch to the Signal Corps. I was sent to the Signal Officer Basic Course at Fort Monmouth, NJ. In the summer and after completion, I was assigned to the Army Meteorology Department at Fort Huachuca, AZ, and to the SigC Meteorology Team, Huachuca under the command of Captain William Barton. Let me take a moment to say that I recognize many of the names in your chronicles of personnel from Yuma, Monmouth, Huachuca and Greely. Lt. Buck, for example, mentioned somewhere in your memoirs, was a good friend and one of the first persons I got to
know upon my arrival at Fort Huachuca. Lt Buck was an ex-Navy man. The Army was building is meteorological expertise at this time and many of the officers were ex-Navy personnel. I also remember many of the civilians who were working for the Meteorology Department at that time. Captain Barton was assigned to the SigC Met Team Greenland at Thule, Greenland in early 1960 and I took command of the Huachuca Team until the summer of 1960 when I received orders to take a brand new Meteorological Team to Fort Greely, Alaska.
That was quite a challenge since we were relieving an Air Force Weather Detachment and really did not know what to expect. Sgt Reigert, also
mentioned in your tales, was already stationed in Alaska and assigned to a Chemical Test unit that was responsible for the testing of chemical agents at a site removed from Greely called the Gerstle River site. It was a closed site because many of the chemicals tested consisted of deadly nerve and blood gases under arctic conditions. Sgt Reigert and three or four other Signal Corps meteorological personnel were responsible for checking the meteorological parameters during these tests. The Air Force had never been involved in these tests and they were now assigned to the Army Met Team and Sgt Reigert and the others were assigned to the new Met Team Greely. At full strength we numbered 16 and if I do say so myself I think that all of these men were great and performed very difficult tasks under truly adverse weather conditions in an exemplary manner. I remember that the coldest day I saw there the temperature was 76 below zero. I can also remember that in the winter of 1961 there was one long period where the temperature never got warmer that 40 degrees below zero. Perhaps one of the most interesting items that occurred during my time at Fort Greely was the time when the Russians tested a hydrogen bomb in far north Siberia. The pressure wave was so great that it caused a large jump on the barograph in the station, and we were a thousand+ miles away. We were told to send the barograph chart immediately to the US for examination. As an aside, there was an Air Force Captain in charge of the USAF Weather Det that we relieved at Fort Greely. He and I had served together in the USAF many years before when we were both sergeants.
Then, in early 1962, I applied for advanced training in meteorology and the Army sent me to the university of Utah for a degree in Meteorology. I
completed that school and received a degree in June of 1964 and immediately received orders to attend the Advanced Signal Officer Career Course at Fort Monmouth with further assignment to Korea after completing the course. I was supposed to serve for two years in a meteorological assignment after the school, but never made it. When I returned from Korea in 1966 I received orders for Dugway Proving Ground, Utah which were later changed to Fort Gordon, GA. The Vietnam conflict was heating up and meteorology was forgotten. I went to Vietnam in 1968 and then again in 1973. I retired after that. I don't know if there is still any meteorology in the Signal Corps.
If there is anyone out there who would like to talk about old times, just give me a holler."
December, 1958. In December, 2006 I heard from Steve (Tex) Fortenberry. He says: " I stumbled on to your web site and it brought back a lot of memories. Since then I have had lunch with a couple of my old friends (Howard Martin and Jerry Park) that I knew in the Army and I am going to meet another one (Robert S. Robinson) in January. I have attached a picture of our graduating class at Fort Monmouth. We graduated on December 4th, 1958 and the entire class was sent to Fort Huachuca. Walter Cherry, Bob (Goldy) Goldsmith and George (Andy) Anderson retired from the Army. I reenlisted in 1961. I spent a total of four years at Fort Huachuca and a couple of years at Dugway Proving Ground before my discharge in July 1964. I spent three TDY tours to Greenland. I was station chief at Camp Century the first winter they kept the base open for the winter (1960). I was station chief at Tuto East and Tuto West the other two tours. I was hired by the National Weather Service (Weather Bureau) in September 1964 and retired on September 3, 1994. It would be nice to have a website where prior Army weathermen could register their e-mail and telephone numbers. I'll bet there are a lot of people who would like to contact their Army buddies.
Thanks for your efforts on the websites.
I have attached a picture of the class of December 4, 1958.
Standing from left:
SSG Walter E. Cherry
Pvt Ronald J. Brown
Pfc Robert J. Goldsmith
Pvt Russell E. Twiford
Pfc George E. Anderson
Sitting from left:
Pvt Charles T. Coker
Pvt Stephen W. Fortenberry
Pvt Roger W. Lilly
Pvt Glen A. Drew
Pvt William N. Gehrke"
December 1958. In April, 2006 I heard from David Olsen. David stayed in meteorology after the Army. He provided the partial class photo shown here and one other photo on the equiptment page. He says:
"The photo is of most of the people who attended the Sig Met school at Ft. Monmouth, NJ. If I recall from left to right the people are: Paul Swing, Paul Shirley, Unknown, William Black, ____Kelly, and Bob Ebert. These folks attended the Sig Met school from late September 1958 to December 19, 1958. Swing, Ebert and myself went to Dugway, Shirley and Black to Yuma. The unknowns were not on any orders I still have in my files so don't know where they were assigned. As for myself I was at Dugway from December 1958 to April 1959. But early in 1959 I was sent to Ft Greely, AK. After 18 months at Ft Greely (actually Gerstle River test site) I returned to Dugway October 1960 and was discharged along with Ken Knowlton in May 1961. At Ft Greely I was attached to a unit called the Chemical Corp Test Activity (CATA). For quite a while I was the only sig met team member attached to CATA and really wasn't trained to handle the duties assigned. By Summer 1959 there were two of us in Sig Met and I was the PFCIC. By Summer 1960 a full Sig Met unit from Ft Huachuca was assigned to Ft Greely but because I was a short timer I spent most of my time with CATA. After I got out of the Army I went to college and became a meteorologist with the National Weather Service and then retired after 34 years."
To view email messages from people who graduated from 1959 up to my class in 1964 go HERE.
To view the email messages from people who graduated after my class in January, 1964 go HERE.
To view the email messages from those who graduated after the school moved from Ft. Monmouth go HERE.
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E-mail feedback or questions to Paul Roales. I hope you have enjoyed my efforts. I want to extend thanks to everyone who provided information for this page. Feel free to email me with suggestions for improvements using the link above. You can return to my MOS 93E2 page HERE, or go to my HOMEPAGE here. You can access my other web pages from there. Page and all contents copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 by Paul A. Roales