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Tom's Stories

B-36 to B-52, Head Start

<posted 05 March 2010>

I reenlisted in the Air Force in Oct 1953 and attended B-36 School at Sheppard AFB, TX.  After completion, I was assigned to the 42 Bomb Wing, Limestone AFB, Maine in June 1954. When I was on my way to Limestone, I stopped in Bangor, Maine to gas up and asked the attendant if he knew where Limestone AFB was and what road would be the shortest route, He said he never heard of the base and said "just stay on route one(1) and that should get you close".  Anyway I got to Limestone, signed in and was assigned to the 75th Bomb squadron. The eminence office (Trailers) for the squadron was near the Control Tower and Base Operations, the nose docks and the hardstands ( Parking Aircraft) were about a ¼ mile from the work area.

        When I got there I went to work on  the B-36  periodic nose dock #2. After getting checked out on the aircraft, six months later I was promoted to SSgt and became a crew chief on B-36 Tail# 1096.  In late 1955 went to B-52 school at Chanute AFB, and then went to Castle AFB for Advance training (that was the only active B-52 base at that time) then went to Boeing for more training.

In 1956 We took a B-52 over to Bengria Africa to do test landings on the desert and training the local AF people how to refuel the aircraft in case of emergency landing on return from an assigned target in case of a hostile.

We had 3 Bomb Squadrons at Limestone AFB  (Loring).  They were 69th, 70th, and the 75th.  We had 1 aircraft from ea squadron on backup for the B-52 flight around the world in 1956. 
(Note from Webmaster:  It was called Operation Quick Kick, read about this flight in Time magazine article  HERE)  
Castle was the primaries, they completed the flight - we were not used.  I crewed B-52 Aircraft  “C” Model 55-5506 &”D” Model 57-0074 , until the day I was transferred to Griffiss AFB, NY.

    Before Griffiss in 1954-1959 the 42nd BW was the first (1) all Jet Wing in 8th Air Force, I think the 1st all jet B-52 Wing in the AF.  Me and about ten other Maintenance guys went TDY to Georgia and help set up a B-52 base at (Albany) and the alert force.

Also during my tour at Loring, in 56 or 57 during the Middle East Crisis we put B-36’s, B-52”s,Kc-135’s KC-97’s on Alert Status for the length of time for it to settle down. We were the Wing to put Aircraft On (Headsart).  We were on 24Hr Alert, living in the upstairs in the nose dock hangers, the aircraft were park on the hardstand next to the hanger, if the horn blew we got the aircraft ready for the Flight Crew who were living in the barracks and came in vehicles and started engines, then we would get the stand down order and went back to the old routine, we would pull one(1) day one, one day(1) off. This was the baby of what became full time Alert during those times, During the 50’s and 60’s. 

(Note from webmaster:  You can view a documentary about Operation Head Start here:)

  • Operation Head Start (SAC Test of airborne nuclear alert at Loring)

We had a Alert pad called the “Pea Patch” up on the hill just pass the 69th’s ramp. We then lived in trailers on the patch, just before I left they built the Alert Ramp at the end of the runway for quicker response time

Then they went 7 days on 7 days off, with alert facilities and Family centers for the guys on alert, which what you still have today at Bases.

                 Oh one last thing I can remember is whenever we were Refueled by a KC-97 in the air we had to get fueled in a slow dive because the B-52 aircraft had to slow down cause the KC-97 did not have the speed  and could not refuel at hi-altitudes.