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President's Corner - September 2009

September 2009

Dear FTVA Members,

It's early Sept and final plans are in place for the 61st Anniversary and annual reunion to be held 24-26 September.  Twenty-seven years ago Major General Doyle Larson, with the help of Colonel Bill Ballard and a few others, organized the FTVA.  USAFSS and FTVA have come a long way since then.  

Our historians report that…

"On 20 October 1948, the United States Air Force Security Service (USAFSS), forerunner of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency, was established at Arlington Hall Station, Va., as a major air command to conduct cryptology and communications security.  Upon activation, the authorized strength was 156 personnel -- 34 officers, 6 enlisted, and 116 civilians.  Colonel Roy H. Lynn was the first commander.

The transfer of HQ USAFSS from Arlington Hall Station, Va., to Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, was effective on 18 April 1949. 

Sergeant Christina Ogle, the first Women's Air Force (WAF) to join USAFSS, was assigned on 2 April 1950 to the Directorate of Security.  Major Corinne E. Edwards became the Command's first WAF officer on 1 May 1950, serving as the Assistant Adjutant General.

USAFSS activated its first units above squadron level with the stand-up of the 6910th Security Group at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, on 23 May 1951 and the 6920th Security Group at Johnson AB, Japan, on 1 Sept 1951.  

Two incidents in 1951 resulted in major U.S. air victories.  The most significant was on 29 November 1951 when a USAFSS unit provided tactical information on the North Korean Air Force, contributing directly to the largest single air victory of the war -- F-86s from Inchon shot down eleven North Korean aircraft and damaged four more.  The U.S. sustained slight damage to one F-86.  These incidents came to be known as "turkey shoots."

Two USAFSS airmen — Staff Sergeant Donald G. Hill and Air Second Class Earl W. Radlein, Jr. — were killed on 27 July 1953 when their RB-50G-2 aircraft was shot down off the Soviet coast near Vladivostok.  This marked the first loss of USAFSS airborne operators as a result of hostile action.

Headquarters USAFSS closed operations at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, effective 31 July 1953, and began operations from its new headquarters at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas.  The USAFSS School was activated at Kelly Air Force Base, on 1 August 1953, to train personnel in intelligence duties.

On 1 July 1958 USAFSS assumed control of several bases throughout the world.  Included were: Misawa Air Base, Japan; Iraklion AS, Crete; Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Chicksands, United Kingdom; Karamursel AS, Turkey, Wakkanai AS, Japan; Shu Lin Kou AS, Taiwan, and Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas.

Soviet fighters shot down a C-130 reconnaissance aircraft on 2 September 1958 after it strayed off-course over Soviet Armenia.  All crew members, including 13 USAFSS personnel, were killed.

The motto "Freedom Through Vigilance" was adopted in January 1964.  That same year, the USAFSS commander, Major General Richard P. Klocko, asked for six additional RC-135s.  The first AN/FLR-9 systems became operational, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, in March 1965 and Clark Air Base, the Philippines, in April 1965.

The TEABALL concept, implemented in 1972, provided for the relay of intelligence information to AF weapons controllers (located in the 6908th Security Squadron operations area at NKP, Thailand) who then used the data to enhance control of U.S. aircrews conducting offensive and defensive operations over North Vietnam.

Colonel (later Major General) Norma E. Brown became the first woman to command an Air Force wing when she assumed command of the 6940th Security Wing, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, on 1 December 1974.

Major General Doyle Larson replaced Major General Kenneth D. Burns on 19 Jan 1979 to become the last USAFSS Commander.  ESC stood up 1 August 1979."

This is the heritage we celebrate.

Reunion week information was outlined in detail in the last news letter and is posted on the FTVA website.  The golf tournament will be held on Thursday at the Alsatian Golf Club in Castroville, a few miles west of San Antonio.  We're thrilled that the Airborne Mission Technicians (AMTs) Association is joining us in San Antonio this year, and look forward to seeing them at the Remembrance Ceremony and picnic on Friday.  We hope to see more groups next year.   We received your nominations and selections were made by our Hall of Honor committee, chaired by CMSgt (Ret) Bob Sherwood.  We hope to see you on Saturday morning when we honor the outstanding individuals selected this year, including Col (Ret) Robert A. Leech, CMSgt (Ret) Charley R. King, CMSgt (Ret) Larry E. Mills, and Mr. Steve D. August.   Thank your for your outstanding nominations.  Major General Bradley Heithold, the AF ISR Agency commander, will be our guest speaker at the Anniversary Banquet, Saturday evening at the Lackland AFB Gateway Club.   

This will be my final President's Corner.  My two-year term as president of the FTVA is up after the September reunion.  I've enjoyed the opportunity to lead the organization, and I want to publicly thank and praise our Board of Directors for their time and effort in guiding the association's course.  Your association is strong financially, in terms of preserving and strengthening our heritage, and in our support of numerous important recognition programs.  It has been my honor and privilege to serve as your president.

I hope to see all of you during the reunion week to celebrate the 61st Anniversary of USAFSS and the new Air Force ISR Agency, and to honor those members who have served, those who continue to serve, and those who have given their lives in defense of our country.

Until then, please remain in touch.

Chris Cook 

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Freedom Through Vigilance Association
PO Box 691616
San Antonio, TX 78269-1616

File last updated: March 21, 2013 8:18:14 PM CDT